Contributed by Sara Tawney, Adolescent Care Coordinator at The Cove
A song can make you cry, can give you goose bumps, and can get you pumped up to exercise. To no surprise, music affects our mood & thoughts.
People often say “Good Vibes Only.” You see it on walls, social media posts, and even T-shirts. We as humans are always sharing vibrations.
When someone screams at you, you might immediately feel your vibrations shift quickly to match the other persons vibration. When we listen to music, our vibrations shift to that frequency as well. I have playlists that I use to match how I am feeling or to help shift my mood. Music can be very beneficial.
Music plays a big role in our personal views, how we perceive the world, and behave.
Our taste in music says a lot about what we tend to focus on, as well as our values and beliefs. Music has the ability to seep into our unconscious mind.
What is the unconscious mind?
The unconscious mind includes the processes we function on that are not carefully thought out or planned.
Before the age of seven, our brain has begun creating our unconscious mind. This includes how we go about getting our physical, social, and emotional needs met.
Our unconscious mind registers what makes us feel discomfort physically or emotionally when we try to change patterns. It is always working to keep us safe and prefers what is comfortable. It influences a response from us according to our programming.
Impulsive behavior is generated in the unconscious mind. This includes emotional outbursts, avoiding emotions, talking through emotions, or however it is that we react to emotions. It is formed mostly from our environment, by observing those around us, and what we witness and listen to daily. Violent lyrics enforce these behaviors and thoughts of violence. This in turn can create a negative mindset for our children.
Before the age of 7 the mind has started downloading....
* Social norms
* What is "cool"
* What is not "cool"
* How to communicate our needs
* What to avoid
* How to respect others
* What is disrespectful
* How to handle conflict
* Pretty much everything, including what we like to call "common sense"
This is also the source of where our manipulative behavior can come from, but that is for another blog.
How Much Of Our Brain’s Activity Is Unconscious?
A whopping 95% of our brain activity is unconscious. This includes breathing, and automatic bodily functions like our heart pumping blood, liver function, etc. Did you know the unconscious mind also plays an important role in impacting our values, desires, feelings, motives, habits, and patterns? Yes, this is all unconscious programming in our brains.
Violent and Sexually Explicit Music
“Some studies indicate that children who are allowed to listen to music containing sexually explicit or violent lyrics may be more emotionally charged, depressed, emotionally confused, and possibly even more suicidal or homicidal. Children who are exposed to lyrics that promote hate and violence will likely reap the benefits of listening to music, but will the stimulation have a good effect or a bad effect overall? Being exposed to inappropriate language, lyrics that promote violence, and sexual or racial slurs can influence children to adopt these kinds of attitudes” (Good, 2023).
"Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become your character." -Lao Tze
Sexually explicit and violent music slips into our energy and thoughts. Blogger Richard Pratt has written extensively on this topic - see my references for his full article. “Most research suggests violent lyrics both increase anger and aggressiveness and decrease positive emotions” (Pratt, 2023).
“Adults have the development and experience to sift through messaging that a child cannot yet process” (Pratt, 2023). For example when an adult listens to sexually explicit music they have the ability to put that thought into an appropriate context. A child on the other hand might take these same sexually explicit lyrics and place it into the “this is who I aspire to be all the time” category or “this is what’s cool” category in their unconscious minds.
This can affect whom the child associates with, what the child thinks about and what is programmed into their unconscious mind. Violent and sexually explicit lyrics can be more dangerous than a lot of us realize.
“Personality, self-view, and cognitive abilities influence what kind of music people enjoy. For instance, those who score lower for agreeableness and conscientiousness are more likely to be fans of violent music genres, such as death metal or gangsta rap. When a child within our influence struggles in these ways, decreasing access to violent music and increasing exposure to positive music, regardless of the genre, is a best practice” (Pratt,
Tip of the day: Identify the music you listen to and what type of downloads it is creating in your mind and in the minds of any children in your world.
Bargh, J. A., & Morsella, E. (2008, January). The unconscious mind. Perspectives on psychological science : a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2440575/
Connection, D. (n.d.). The role of the unconscious, conscious and Subconscious Mind. The Role of the Unconscious, Conscious and Subconscious Mind. https://divineconnection.com/knowledge/the-role-of-the-unconscious-conscious-and-subconscious-mind
F;, Y. D. (n.d.). Physiology, motor cortical. National Center for Biotechnology Information. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31194345/#:~:text=The%20primary%20function%20of%20the,and%20the%20supplementary%20motor%20area.
Good and bad effects of music on children. (n.d.). https://wehavekids.com/parenting/Good-And-Bad-Effects-Of-Music-On-Children
Pratt, J. (2023, May 16). The impact of violent music lyrics on kids. Gabb. https://gabb.com/blog/violent-musics-impact-on-youth/
SoP. (2021, April 4). Prefrontal cortex. The Science of Psychotherapy. https://www.thescienceofpsychotherapy.com/prefrontal-cortex/
Your brain on music: The sound system between your ears. The Kennedy Center. (n.d.). https://www.kennedy-center.org/education/resources-for-educators/classroom-resources/media-and-interactives/media/music/your-brain-on-music/your-brain-on-music/your-brain-on-music-the-sound-system-between-your-ears/#:~:text=Music%20has%20the%20power%20to%20trigger%20feelings%20in%20listeners.,%2C%20amygdala%2C%20and%20the%20cerebellum.