HUMAN CONDITIONING, STRESS MANAGEMENT and MUSIC
The predominant role human conditioning plays in a stressful environment. Perspective, reaction and remedy.How music can help.
By Bill Reddie
Creating music for stress management can be a rather complicated process. Due to nature of stress, music must promote and sustain a therapeutic ambience and provide a calming influence that opens door to reflection, corrective action and ultimately, inner peace. Consequently, creative effort in this genre often leads to considerations that have more to do with psychology than music per se.
In its development stages a musical sequence may point to possibilities for music therapy, but to successfully complete final sequence, one must consider variables of human nature.
Whether or not these musical possibilities grow into something of benefit depends upon many factors, not least of which is creation of sound structures that are compatible with and beneficial to human organism.
Another extremely important issue that must be considered during composition process is that all humans are conditioned since birth and there is little that humans experience throughout their lives that is not filtered through previous layers of conditioning.
At first glance, human conditioning may appear to have little if any relationship to stress management, anxiety, burnout - or for that matter, music. But a closer look reveals connection.
To understand how this connection works, we'll need to dig into some information that may seem a bit 'heavy'. The subject of conditioning is extensive and of necessity, comment here must be confined to only a few of its more prominent twists and turns.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with statements presented here, following is result of years of observation, study and application. Its presentation here is intended to promote a better understanding of how and why we so often react in counter-productive ways when dealing with stressful conditions.
Admittedly, this information is but a small part of a much deeper subject. Nonetheless, it is my sincere hope that what is presented here will provide some insight for those who suffer from unpleasant, debilitating and unhealthy conditions of stress. That said, please read on and it will become apparent that where human conditioning is concerned, almost everything is related.
When one studies work of men such as Roger Sperry, Freud, Jung, Wilhem Reich and others, it becomes clear that (1) general reaction to stressful conditions tends to be aberrant and (2) manner in which humans perceive and react is, for most part, a learned behavior.
This learned behavior has much to do with how we view ourselves and our place in society. The picture that we present to outside world is our identity, or image, of who we think we are and that image is direct result of everything we have been taught and everything that has ever happened to us.
Consequently, each new encounter or situation we experience is filtered through previous conditioning and in this way, previous conditioning becomes measurement we apply to all future experience. Unfortunately, this measurement is often flawed and when used to evaluate and respond to stressful conditions, tends to produce reaction rather than remedy and this in turn can lead to errors in judgment that may actually make matters worse.
Why don't we recognize these reaction patterns when they occur?
Well, for most of us, basic underlying causes of conditioned reaction have been lost to conscious memory. Yet, without realizing why, we often continue to react in a sort of robotic way to emotional stimuli of circumstances that occurred long ago and which contain little if any corrective value for resolving here-and-now problems of today.
How does this relate to stress management?
The relevance to stress management lies in fact that conditioning is like a one-way street, paved with beliefs, opinions and prejudgments that often lead us in very subtle ways to wrong destination. In other words, when belief, opinion and prejudgment are used as a measurement of stressful conditions, results of that measurement will most likely be erroneous due to a lack of facts.
Stated another way, one might say that in lieu of facts, we are more likely to create and / or contribute to stressful conditions that we seek to resolve.
Truth or Belief?
Belief, opinion and prejudgment indicate a lack of fact or truth. One reason this lack occurs is because of a widespread assumption that word 'believe' is synonymous with word 'truth'. When we say we believe in something or believe something to be true, what we are really saying is that we do not possess all facts. Conversely, if we possessed all facts we would no longer believe - we would know.
Thus, disparity between 'belief' and 'truth' becomes one of main reasons we react to stress rather than take remedial or constructive action to minimize it. In other words, tendency is to make judgments ( based on belief or opinion ) before obtaining all facts in a given situation.
According to statistics, sources below are most commonly mentioned as a cause of stress:
The boss Not enough sleep Family pressures The workload Not enough money Societal pressures Co-workers Not enough time Marital issues Traffic Health crises Divorce When stress enters our lives, tendency is to blame someone or something other than ourselves. In some cases we may be right. But many times stressful conditions are of our own making. One example would be stress created as a result of maxed-out credit cards or a lack of financial discipline.
Another cause might originate with any one of sources in list above, but because of our tendency to misunderstand and mishandle these experiences we often proceed to make problem worse and thereby increase level of stress. Regardless of causes, how we deal with these conditions is of paramount importance if we are to resolve them successfully.
Generally speaking, we react emotionally to stress when we have something to defend and when we allow defensive emotion to get out of hand, we're not being rational - we're merely reacting. By reacting we compound problem because our reaction tends to produce a counter-reaction.
Why a counter-reaction? Well, if object of our wrath happens to be another person, that person will most likely have something to defend also and our emotional display may therefore be interpreted as a threat. Remember, that other person is conditioned too!
The Sky is Falling!
Conditioned reaction also indicates a fear of something. Eugene Albright, author of Unichotometrics-A New Way of Life, once said, "There is only one valid fear - a direct threat to survival of organism. All others can be traced to false concepts of one sort or another."