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Teach Yourself Codependence with Music!

Teach Yourself Codependence with Music!
…I would die for you baby
but you won’t do the same….

Bruno Mars — “Grenade”
We have evidence-based studies that the words we learn to music become part of our permanent memory. Think about the songs you learned as a kid: do you still remember the words and the melodies?
We also have studies suggesting that the music we listened to as adolescents is “our” music. Music we enjoyed when when we were young — whatever it was for each of us — evokes stronger memories and nostalgia than music from other periods of our lives.
Lastly, there’s plenty of evidence-based data and an overwhelming body of “anecdotal evidence” that early childhood development enhanced by music results in … wait for it … more promising children.
So back to my facetious headline, and I’ll phrase it again the form of a question:
Is your music teaching you what you want?
Codependence is so last century. Or not. Bruno Mars seems to have found fans willing to pay for it. If I were a psychotherapist (and I’m not) I’d fly my banner ad wherever “Grenade” appears online. Here’s why:
Every — no mistake — every relationship animated by “Grenade” is in the codependent danger zone.

Brain researchers these days like to say that “neurons that fire together wire together.” That’s a powerful sound-bite. If you aren’t aware that this is happening to you every time you hear your favorite songs, here’s a news flash: there’s a good probability that your favorite songs are neuro-plasticizing you into choices you aren’t aware that you are making.
Don’t get me wrong: I have no issue with you expressing your commitment in such powerful terms. Many of us are prepared to die for our beliefs, or for our families and significant others. There’s a certain kind of honor in that and I have no problem teaching myself how important it is to feel that deeply.
My issue is that, in “Grenade,” the singer accuses his significant other of not feeling the same way he does: “I’d die for you…but you won’t do the same.” Check out the complete lyric here.
As “Grenade” gets embedded in your brain, so does a subconscious message that it’s OK to be in a one-way relationship. Maybe you’re already familiar with such things; in that case “Grenade” functions as a kind of affirmation that codependence is OK. Maybe you’re just learning about relationships and the message of “Grenade” becomes a subconscious measuring stick, similar to the way the tune for “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” acts as a key for recalling correct alphabetical order. 
If you weren’t aware of this until now, good: you have a chance to make a conscious choice about the message in the music. If you were aware of this already, good: you are already making choices about your musical diet.
Let’s try another. I love Coldplay’s music, but the song “Fix You” is a total whiner. But wait but wait! It’s beautiful and entrancing! Yes…and it has a powerful message: our relationship can start with me trying to repair whatever is broken about you. That’s a noble goal, but the truth is that nobody is going to get fixed until they themselves take some action to do so.
The singer in “Fix You” tries to make the point that his love is strong enough to cushion the fall of his lover’s rebound, and worse yet he attempts to convince his lover that self worth is all about giving this new relationship — with him — a try. Wrong-O: this guy’s already screwed up by thinking he’s going to be able to fix his new S.O. (who most likely is screwed up, too, for thinking anyone else can be the fix she — or he — needs).
This is going to sound so old-school of me, but I just have to say it:
Are these the kinds of messages we want our kids to hear?
Here’s a challenge: take a quick inventory of the music you love, especially songs with words, and then focus on the lyrics. Both the words and music are already a part of you: you remembered them.
Think carefully about the lyrics to your favorite music. Can you do this objectively? Ask yourself: Can I see someone else singing those words to a third person, as in a movie? Can I see the possibility of something satisfying resulting from that movie, or something dissatisfying? If you can’t “put it on the screen” you may want to talk with a close friend about how meaningful your music is to you, even if the lyrics give you a feeling of satisfaction, to help put a little objectivity into your music. I promise you that doing so will promote your objectivity, and that’s a good thing.
I also promise you that this can be hard work. Being able to separate myself from a musical message is a powerful tool that took me years to master, and I’ve been deeply engaged in music for almost 50 years. Don’t get me wrong: I appreciate music, but I have to tell myself to make a choice when it comes to viewing lyrics objectively. Here’s how….
If I could talk to the singers in “Grenade” and “Fix You” I’d ask them to get help before they hurt themselves or anyone else. It sounds like “Grenade’s” S.O. already has the right idea and I hope she/he gets the hell out of that trap fast before becoming collateral damage. I’m more concerned with the S.O. in “Fix You” who’s about to repeat another disturbing romance without healing from the last one — this isn’t a good spin cycle.
I hear you saying: “Bill, you’re full of it!!!! How can a simple song do that??!!!” Think about the commercial jingles you sing (to yourself!): do advertisers know how well this works? Duh.
It’s about your choices — the musical ones. If you now have a deeper awareness of — or some curiosity about — what those choices mean to you then I’ve done my job. Let me know how it goes!

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