When I was a music teacher, I would give my students this assignment: Watch a scary movie, but with the sound off. Jaws, Psycho, Friday the 13th. Watch one of these movies on mute and you realize that the images, by themselves, aren’t nearly so terrifying. Without creepy music and sound effects to take hold of your nervous system, your body is not so easily tricked into thinking it’s in danger.
Life is like this. Things happen–but rather than just letting things play out, we try to grab hold of them emotionally. We apply our own dramatic “soundtrack,” turning even the most mundane experience into an unfolding drama.
You go to the grocery store to buy some juice. The cashier is rude to you. Then you’re back at home, drinking your juice, adding “sound effects” to what just happened. Why was he rude to me? People can be such jerks! Or was it me? Did I say something? Do I give off a bad vibe? How am I ever going to get that promotion if I keep giving off a bad vibe?
When you make everything into a personal movie, you give yourself a job. You give yourself a plot line, a problem to solve, a conflict to overcome. Can you learn to just go to the store for some juice without a Hollywood orchestra swirling around in your head?