The healing power of music

A broken heart. A sad ending to a love affair. That’s something most of us have experienced, or probably will. After all, it’s part of human life; needed, at least one time, to become more fully adult. But no question, the experience can be devastating, crushing. You might find yourself listening more to sad music, sad songs. It can resonate with your feelings of despair, that you’ll never heal from your broken heart. Or worse, that you’ve sunk into a pervasive sense of hopelessness about life itself.

New research finds that sad music can help heal and uplift you from your broken heart. Or, from any negative, despairing life situation. For example, a recent study from Germany found the emotional impact of listening to sad music is an arousal of feelings of empathy, compassion, and a desire for positive connection with others. That, itself, is psychologically healing. It draws you away from preoccupation with yourself, and possibly towards helping others in need of comfort.

Another experiment, from the University of Kent, found that when people were experiencing sadness, listening to music that was “beautiful but sad” enhanced their mood. In fact, it did so when the person first consciously embraced their awareness of the situation causing their sadness, and then began listening to the sad music. That is, when they intended that the sad music might help, they found that it did. But that wasn’t true if they just listened to sad music without first thinking about the sad situation.

These findings link with other studies that show embracing your sad situation emotionally – accepting reality as it is – stirs healing and growth beyond it. In short, acknowledging your full experience arouses hope – another seeming paradox. For example, research from Cornell University, described here and published in Psychological Science, found that embracing discomfort about a life experience or new situation, and viewing it as a step towards growth and change, generates motivation to find a pathway through it, beyond it. That discomfort points you towards creating a plan, a new action. It fuels hope.

Source: Psychology Today