Altering Your Mood with Music (DBT: Opposite Action)

A reader on my Facebook page asked me an interesting question about emotional triggers yesterday. She asked if triggers, which are normally referenced in mental health discussions as things/stimuli that can bring up traumatic past experiences, can also call up "good" memories through listening to certain songs, smells, or sights that remind you of good times in your life.

I'm glad she brought this up, as this is absolutely the other side of what we commonly refer to as "triggers." We can be triggered into remembering pleasant memories just as we can be triggered into remembering the unpleasant ones.

One of the DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) skills that we can use to help us with purposefully inducing a different state of mood or emotions is called "Opposite Action."  This skill is used when we wish to change the emotion we are currently experiencing, and we do so primarily through the senses.

For example, if you're feeling angry, and you want to feel calm, you would take an action that would help produce the desired emotion of calmness. In this case, you would select and listen to music that you know helps calm you down.

I've been very nostalgic lately about my later high school years. I've noticed that if I play certain music from that time period, I feel soothed and remember a simpler time in my life. Some of my favorite music that I listened to at that time (late 1990s) does the trick.

Last night, to do this, I fell asleep to Enya's Paint the Sky with Stars CD (highly recommended if you are soothed by pleasant, smooth, new age music). 

Here's are two songs (my favorites) off of that CD. If you need to relax, sit back, close your eyes, and enjoy this for a few moments.

Do you notice that music can have a profound effect on your moods? What has been your experience? What are some songs that soothe you? Some that get you out of an emotional funk?

Thanks for reading.
More Soon.


  1. First off great choices relaxing indeed. Music has always helped with my mood. I usually like to listen to something upbeat if I'm feeling low sometimes that's all it takes to get me feeling better. Music can take you back much like scents can to pleasant memories and feelings. Sometimes I like to listen to music that directly reflects or relates to however I'm feeling and it can help as well.

    1. I also notice that, Kat -- music can also be used to enhance your current mood. Thanks for commenting. ♥

  2. Music is top of my list for helping me to feel better. I love to sing too and that always lifts my spirits.
    Thank you, as always for sharing ur experience strength and hope.

  3. Music has been KEY to my healing. I am a singer/songwriter and throughout my music career for the past 10 years I suffered from BPD and did not know what was wrong with me until finally I was diagnosed. Thankfully I am now doing so well practicing DBT and I am finally able to have success in my career where as before it was too painful and I was self-sabotaging. My website is for anyone who needs some soothing music from my heart to yours.



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