Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My Inner Thought DJ

Out of the 600-some-odd CDs in my family's collection, the one I listen to most is ABBA Gold, the greatest hits of the world's most popular Swedish disco quartet.

This CD is probably not even in my top 20 favorites. Still, hands down, it gets listened to ten times more than anything else. Let me explain.

In our 200-CD changer, we have a "top 10" section, the first chunk of spaces we keep open so we can load whatever artist we feel most in the mood for. (Today feels like an Eva Cassidy day, by the way.) The other 190 slots my husband has loaded alphabetically, and even typed a tiny key for, so we can select number 102 for Annie Lennox, for example or 133 for Bruce Springsteen. ABBA, as the alphabet dictates, is number 11, the first CD in line after the top 10.

So say I have picked out my favorite Mary Chapin Carpenter CD ("Come On Come On" Go buy it. Now. It's amazing.) and loaded it in an empty slot. When it's finished, and I'm still kind of basking in the joy of her husky blues/country vocals and brilliant lyrics, all of a sudden I'll be blasted with the flamboyant piano and hi-hat intro of "Dancing Queen."

Sometimes, ABBA sneaks up on my slowly. Like, I'm upstairs cleaning, with some nice Motown collection on for background noise, and before I realize it, I'm singing along with the synthetic sounds of "Lay All Your Love on Me," which is track four, and this is the first moment I've been conscious of the change. At this point, I usually listen to the whole dang album, because it's so much easier than going downstairs, consulting Jeff's little 7-point-font list and changing the CD with our extremely involved remote control. The short term fallout is that I'll be singing "Mama Mia" for the rest of the week; the long term consequence is my daughters and I know every single word to every single song on ABBA Gold, which is kind of embarrassing.

How similar this scenario is to the way I relate to my inner thought soundtrack. In the last three years, starting with my bout with postpartum depression, which led to an understanding of how my brain works in general, I've become aware of how important it is to control what thoughts I allow my brain to play over and over.

Before this minor breakdown that led to a major breakthrough, I had a CD in the default slot of my brain that played some negative -- and usually untrue -- lyrics. My brain would play the soundtrack entitled "Worry and Fear" in the background quite often if I wasn't careful. Really, I wasn't careful a lot of the time. b Another one that got a lot of play was "You Ought to be Perfect by Now and You Aren't." I heard those songs played so many times, I began to believe them a lot of untrue thoughts simply because I'd thought them so often.

Fortunately, I had some other thought CDs in my collection, many of which came directly from the Bible (my Heavenly Father's word), and was sung or spoken in my earthly father's voice, who taught me to memorize Scripture when I was a little girl. Those CDs had titles like "God is Good," "You are my Loved Child," and "Be Thankful Always."

I am always thinking (I guess we are all always thinking -- except my husband, who always answers "Nothing" when I ask what he is thinking about). So these days I try to be conscious of what I am thinking. I try to take the time to stop what I'm doing when my inner DJ has played the default "Worry" record, so I can play "Thankful" or some other more upbeat tune instead. When I first became conscious of the fact that my thoughts could lie to me, so I better be master of them, I would get to track 4 of a bad thought CD (just like I do with ABBA Gold), before I recognized what was happening. Then bad thoughts would get stuck in my head like campy lyrics.

Now, thanks to the grace of God and some really good therapy, a few intro beats into the worry record and I'm reaching for the remote control.

So what's your bad default CD? And whose voice is it playing? Some lousy teacher you had in the fourth grade? A cutting remark a friend made that you can't seem to let go of? Whether you inherited it from your parents or wrote it all on your own, that CD isn't doing you any good. Switch it out with something better, something truer. What you think matters -- especially what you think about habitually. You're the DJ of your own life, so today, listen to your favorite song -- all day long if if you have to.

P.S. Here are the lyrics to my favorite "song."

"Don't be anxious about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition, with Thanksgiving, present your requests to God and the peace of Christ, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

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