Music and Introversion

Yesterday was the first day of Daylight Savings where I am which means that winter is definitely on it’s way out here. This brought on an idea I had been pondering for the past few days.

About a week ago I was walking around the city listening to my iPod as per usual when I was struck by how overwhelmingly negative I had been for the past few weeks and/or months. Don’t get me wrong I know there’s nothing really wrong with me, it’s just that I had been quite down and in a rut a little bit. I would find any and every excuse to not leave the house and stay home watching my new favorite TV show (right now it’s The Office) – oftentimes I wouldn’t even change out of my PJs cause I was home all day (I know that everyone goes through bouts of this throughout the year). I was tempted to write it off as just being Seasonal Affective Disorder since I was in the middle of winter when this low was at an extreme point, but I’ve since decided it can’t be only that. I don’t discount it being a contributing factor but it is definitely not the whole reason for my constant low mood recently.

Fundamentally what I realized was that the music I had been increasingly listening to over that period of time might have majorly influenced my unconscious equilibrium state of mind and thus manifested itself in my daily mood. Now we all know that when we listen to music we experience emotions to varying degrees depending on the particular music we listen to. To an extent though, this is quite temporary. When we cease listening to music there’s nothing actively altering our mood in that instant and thus it starts to lose its effect. However, when you listen to music as often as I do (nearly every available minute that I can get away with it), then a factor one must consider is the type of music being listened to, the quantity and consistency of listening to this music, and over what time period it is being listened to. Because that can permanently affect one’s emotions.

Over this period of time when I was feeling low I was listening to majorly rock music but constantly with an emotional/sad lean to the music. Which – I hypothesize – is the main culprit for my down mood.

Contrast this to a period of my life which I experienced a lot of successes and had been consistently quite happy with myself. This was in the first half of this year from around January until May. The music I had been predominantly listening to during this time was hip hop and rap music. If there was a guitar anywhere in the music I was listening to in this time it was most likely a feel-good type of rock song. Definitely not the melodic, emotional ballad-type songs I’ve recently been hammering.

Upon this realization I theorize that being the massive introvert that I am, my internal environment is crucial towards influencing my external environment and how well I feel as an individual. To an extent this is true for everyone but I do think more so for introverted individuals. And also being as impressionable that I am it’s a very important decision what types of information I choose to absorb and consume because inevitably it will make a mark on my subconscious self in some way shape or form. Like they always say if you want to change you have to change your environment. And for an introvert one’s environment is their inner thoughts and the influxes of information that get taken in from all senses in every waking minute of every day. Thus part of daily introvert life is picking and filtering what information take in and what to leave out.

So: extended listening of a certain type of music influences my subconscious and manifests itself in how I feel on average day-to-day basically (in my opinion).

I realize that there might be a missing link in the logic I’ve laid out above. If my theory is correct and music does influence my subconscious in the way I have described, what is the link between listening to hip-hop/rap music and my perceived happiness/success? I think the answer to this is unique and very personal. I’ve never had consistently positive self-esteem or a positive sense of self-image and it’s always been that I had a default leaning towards an emotional/depressed mood in general. I’m not sure why but that’s just the way it is. When I listen to emotional music I think I click with it so deeply that it becomes addictive to keep listening more often. This in turn influences my constant state of mind and I think from here it becomes a vicious cycle.

Contrast this type of music with what hip hop and rap fundamentally is. It is a type of music which expresses everything that it is to be confident, alpha, self-assured, and to feel like you run the world (of course most hip hop and rap goes way beyond these things but bear with me). These are the polar opposite states of mind to what I’m accustomed to and what most people who are constantly down and low feel. Thus, in my personal opinion, listening to this music unconsciously and artificially replaces the missing link required to feel confident and good about yourself in individuals who do not normally feel this way about themselves – which I admit is heavily addictive in its own way as well. But in an entirely different way than it is addictive to listening to emotional music (does that make sense?).

If I was consistently listening to this type of music during the first half of this year then that means that both on a conscious and unconscious level my general frame of mind in that period was positive – and I definitely felt like it was.

Everything from studying right down to taking care of myself, if I was listening to hip hop I felt genuinely good about myself. For the first time in a looong time I consistently took care of myself thinking that I was worth taking care of. I was more into my magic, I was hustling a lot more with all my endeavors, I engaged in life a hell of a lot more. From A-Z it made an immense impact on how I interacted with myself and others. In a positive way.

The one caveat that I would always have to remind myself of during this period (because I wasn’t entirely oblivious to this at the time, I had my speculations) was that the confidence that I was feeling from rap music was actually artificial. The confidence experienced from listening to extended rap/hip-hop music was an illusion; an incredibly vivid mirage. It wasn’t true confidence that came from within my being and thus wasn’t sustainable (it didn’t stop me from reaping some of the benefits however). Cue my epiphany that I needed to discover myself (refer to earlier blog post) – it was then that I realized that I needed to find a permanent and sustainable source of confidence. Update: still looking.

So I’ve resolved to alter my iPod’s song list for the time being until I find a more sustainable source of confidence. I know – it is a bit of a cop-out. But I’ve been in a rut for long enough and if this will help to keep my bleak mood at bay then so be it. Less emotional music and more hip hop. As long as I’m aware that I’m only artificially bridging the gap between feeling blue and feeling happy then I should be ok – I’ll live.

It’s either that or I actually do have some form of S.A.D. Either way – summer is definitely on it’s way.

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