Tips on How Music Can Help Manage Emotions

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VIDEO | 07:12

MSK music therapist Holly Mentzer shares a song and explains how listening to or writing music can help regulate your feelings.

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Hi, my name is Holly Mentzer.  I'm a board-certified Music Therapist at MSK.  And I'm here today to share a song I wrote about anger.  Anger is a really strong feeling of being upset or annoyed because of something wrong or bad.  When you're sick, especially if you're in the hospital, there's a lot of things that can make you feel those emotions.  Sometimes, we get angry about things that we can't control.  We might feel angry, because we're anxious, sad, or worried, or even scared.  It's a feeling that sometimes might make us want to yell or not want to talk to anyone, or maybe even hurt someone.  So, anger is really a secondary emotion.  Think about your primary colors like blue, red and yellow. When you put blue and yellow together, what color do you get?  That's right, green.

So typically, one of the primary emotions like fear or sadness, can be found underneath the anger.  Feeling fear or sadness is quite uncomfortable for most people.  So, they may want to avoid those feelings.  And one way to do this is by going into anger mode.  Anger can give you a lot of energy and make us feel strong, instead of feeling vulnerable or helpless.  Anger can help us feel like we're in control.  Even though anger can help us feel better when we're scared or sad, it might hurt the people around you who are trying to help you.  It might be a parent, a brother or sister, a nurse, or even a doctor.  Sometimes when I feel angry, I try to think how the person who I'm directing my anger at is experiencing it.

How does it feel if someone is yelling at you or punching, or biting you?  Right, you want to hide or run away.  It makes you feel scared.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that we're all in this together.  Sometimes when I'm feeling upset, I'll listen to music or even make my own song.  This is a song about anger that I wrote one night when I was having trouble falling asleep.  When you listen to it, try to think about how you might make it your own song by changing up some of the words.  Let's listen.

Sometimes, I think nobody understands me at all
Nobody understands who I am or what it feels to be going through with this fight.
I'm all alone tonight
I'm all alone in this fight
That's how I feel, that's how I feel, that's how I feel tonight.

All around me, I can feel your love
But I still can't break out of this angry feeling of
Feeling so frightened, angry, and not knowing why
I'm all alone tonight
I'm all alone in this fight.
That's how I feel, that's how I feel, that's how I feel tonight.

Sometimes, I hate how this anger makes me feel inside
Like I don't want to feel this way inside
But I can't stop how I'm feeling now tonight.

I'm all alone tonight
I'm all alone in this fight
That's how I feel, that's how I feel, that's how I feel tonight.

Sometimes, I think I don't know this child at all
I don't know what's going on inside
And I can't break through that wall pain at all.

I'm all alone tonight
I'm all alone in this fight
That's how I feel, that's how I feel, that's how I feel tonight.

All around me I can feel your love
But I still can't break out of this angry feeling of
Feeling so frightened, angry and not knowing why.

I'm all alone tonight
I'm all alone in this fight
That's how I feel, that's how I feel, that's how I feel tonight.

I am not a little child anymore
I want to see what's on the other side
Of this wall of pain, I'm going to make it through tonight.

I'm all alone tonight
I'm all alone in this fight
That's how I feel, that's how I feel, that's how I feel tonight.
Baby, it's going to be all right.

I hope this song helped you think about anger.  And maybe think about some ways you might move out from an angry feeling to a different feeling.  And just know that it's okay to feel sad or scared, or tired.  You could even take this song and make it your own by changing some of the words like, “Sometimes I want to be left alone” or “Sometimes I don't want to get up out of bed at all.”  Or “I'm not going to eat anymore, don't like this hospital food at all.  Go to throw it out or throw it up right now.”  You get the idea.  You can own your anger, it's real to you.  But move through it and find out what's causing it.  You've got this. We're all in this together.