Your preferred music genre gives a lot of insight into your personality. Researchers have recently made a connection between the big five personality traits and the music we listen to. To start, take your test HERE.This is a pretty cool test and helps out the folks continuing to do this research.
How do vibrating molecules in the air striking a nerve and sending a signal to our brain cause such an defining experience?
What does the music you listen to say about you and others?
I don’t know…
How Music Works in Our Brains
Your favorite song comes on. The vibrating molecules send the sound waves through the air. They travel from the speaker (or headphones) down your auditory canal and vibrate the eardrum. From there, the raw data becomes perceived.
The Temporal Lobe processes the sound. In the language processing center, music is truly appreciated. Words are typically perceived in the right hemisphere and sound in the left.
The Frontal Lobe, responsible for decision making, thinking and planning, can be enhanced and influenced by music.
Broca’s Area is the part of the brain that expresses speech. Relatedly, the part responsible for the ability to perform music. Suggesting that playing an instrument or the ability to perform music may enhance the ability to communicate.
Wernicke’s Area is the place in the brain where we enjoy and analyze the music. This area is also where we comprehend language.
Vision is processed in the Occipital Lobe. While most won’t perceive music here, there is evidence that musicians use this part of the brain to visualise music.
The Nucleus Accumbens is in charge of rewards, releasing dopamine. Music causes this dopamine reaction in much the same way as cocaine. Also associated with addiction, music can become addictive.
The Amygdala commands our emotions, their triggers. Emotions caused by music might cause physical reactions in much the same way. Have you ever had goosebumps during your favorite song? Cried at a live performance?
Memories are both stored and created in the Hippocampus. This area of the brain also helps regulate emotional responses among a host of other functions. Music may help with regenerating neurons improving memory.
Our body’s baseline regulated by the Hypothalamus. For example, body temperature, sex drive and appetite. Music can have an influence on this function as well. Relaxing music will lower blood pressure and reduce the heart rate.
The Putamen is where our rhythm and body movements are coordinated. Dopamine released here will cause use to want to dance, particularly if the music is rhythmic14.
Music is truly a very powerful force on our brains.
Fans of Pop appear to be honest, conventional and extraverted2. They score low on Openness and high on just about everything else6.
Rock fans were found to be gentle, introverted and had low self-esteem2. They scored increasingly high on Agreeableness, were less likely to be practical but more imaginative. They scored high on Openness6.
High self-esteem, introverted, at ease with the world and creative2. Relatedly, classical music may improve visual attention10.
Like the rockers, these folks are introverted, tend to have lower self-esteem and scored high on Openness. However, they scored low on Agreeableness and higher on Neuroticism6.
Similar to our punkers, high in Openness and Neuroticism and similar to rock fans in Agreeableness6. Liberalism is more strongly associate with this preference as well as punk/metal, classical and rock5.
Outgoing and high self-esteem2, higher in Extroversion. Research that has taken a deeper dive suggests that these folks tend to display more politeness and compassion5.
Outgoing and assertive, not as gentle as the others2. These folks rate high in Conscientiousness and Extraversion. Furthermore, they score low on Agreeableness and tend to prioritize goals over relationships6.
These folks tend to be outgoing, have high self-esteem. They are creative, at ease and intelligent2. Rating high in Openness and Neuroticism, these trends are characteristic of Jazz fans6.
Additionally, intelligence is highly correlated with the a preference for music without words12.
The Music You Don’t Like
Much of our musical tastes are the cause of nature and nurture. Mainly, the physical structure of our auditory system. In relation, research explored how dissonance (lack of harmony) impacts the enjoyment of music. Trained musicians who knew the notes individually played in the chords, were able to enjoy the music more8. There are number of ideas to draw from this.
First, this suggests that the more we learn about the music, the more we can enjoy it. Simply put, we can learn to enjoy any kind of music. Second, the assumption that what we find appealing is due to its physicality can’t be true.
So, while we can judge others’ musical tastes. Or, we can decide there is music that we just don’t like, it seems we can learn to like it.
A study done in 2017 discovered that our brains come up with a baseline of what we consider our “favorite music” pretty early on. For females, from 11 to 13 and for males, 13 to 16. We also get another dose of “influence” in our early twenties14. In another sense, your tastes may already be made (if you’re older than sixteen or past your mid twenties, of course).
However, there are some folks among us that can’t enjoy music. This is called Musical Anhedonia. This is a neurological disorder in which the communication between the grey matter and white matter, cannot communicate the pleasure of music15.
While research is still in its beginning phases in fully understanding the relationship between music and personality, it remains interesting. I believe that this is another effective baseline and starting point in self-discovery.
There are two … personality … trends I find in myself. They aren’t separate personalities, they’re trends…
One, an Old Wise Man, and the other, a Little Boy. These are feelings or impressions that I get on myself, regarding myself.
It’s a little strange, I admit.
I feel like the Little Boy when I am wrong or challenged. He gets his feelings hurt, pouts and often says things like: You don’t love me!
I’m leaving, you wouldn’t notice anyway!
Why don’t you care about my feelings!
Who do you think you are! Let’s just be happy, okay?
The Little Boy is breaking things. He’s huffing and puffing, stomping and yelling. The “boy” is angry that he can’t always be the center of attention. Upset that other people’s lives aren’t revolving around his. (well … mine.)
In comparison, the Old Wise Man tendency helps in guiding others in my proximity along their road to self-discovery. Imbuing some wisdom that I have found viable along the way. I immediately jump to the big picture. Down the road, everyone will get where they’re going, no matter the bumps they hit today…type of attitude. Always, philosophical and non-emotional.
In these cases, I may share experiences or ask questions to lead them to their answer. Sometimes, I feel like I must have seen it all. I must’ve dealt with every possible situation, scenario or catastrophe. Consequently, I often act as counsel, trending towards the Old Wise Man.
In these cases, it is often necessary to be the one counseling others. I know better than they do how to proceed with their life.
I know, I read that, too.
Carl Gustav Jung, a contemporary of Sigmund Freud, named four archetypes. He referred to them as the persona, the animus/anima, the shadow and the self. In addition, Jung believed that archetypes were images and themes that held universal human meaning across cultures4.
Persona – Who we project to the world that we are
Animus/Anima – Opposite of biological sex. IE a woman’s masculine side.
Shadow – Source of creative and destructive energies
Self – Provides a sense of unity
Archetypes are illustrated in dreams, art, religion and literature4. From these, were derived brand archetypes. Twelve in all, brand archetypes have been adopted by companies as a marketing concept to exude a certain “character” for its customers to related to.
The Innocent – Exhibits happiness, goodness, optimism, safety, romance, and youth
The Everyman – Seeks connections; is recognized as supportive, faithful and down-to-earth
The Hero – On a mission to make the world a better place, courageous, bold, inspirational.
The Rebel – Questions authority, breaks, rules; craves rebellion and revolution.
The Explorer – Finds inspiration in travel, risk, discovery, and the thrill of new experiences.
The Creator – Imaginative, inventive; driven to build things of enduring meaning and value
The Ruler – Creates order from the chaos, controlling and stern, yet responsible, organized
The Magician – Wishes to create something special, make dreams reality; visionary, spiritual
The Lover – Creates intimate moments, inspires love, passion, romance and commitment
The Caregiver – Protects and cares for others, is compassionate, nurturing and generous
The Jester – Brings joy to the world, humor, fun, irreverence; makes mischief
The Sage – Helps the world gain deeper insight and wisdom, thoughtful mentor or advisor7.
The Innocent is the Little Boy. Their greatest fear is doing something wrong8. This is exactly what drives me to the Little Boy tendency.
Throughout my life, in several settings, I have been in the role of leader. The main reason for this is simply default. I was the oldest of six boys. Similarly, I led a rock band as a singer for many years. Now, I run a business.
I’ve been a mentor and advisor. The downside, is that I haven’t learned to handle being wrong, taking feedback or pushback. In these situations, it makes me feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. I may feel I’m wrong, my worst fear! I shrink and feel like a Little Boy who needs his mother.
At an interview last year, after several questions, the interviewer became concerned that I “…wasn’t creating the kind of culture [at work] in which my team could give me feedback.”
This comment shook me at the foundation. Suddenly aware, I saw that I was simply being unapproachable. Although I believed I was being ruthless, I was leading in fear.
Ihope they don’t ask me a question me!
I’m going to have to make an example out of someone!
Why can’t anyone be on my side?
The key idea is that the Little Boy lives in fear.Nothing good comes from fear. I’ve made mistakes. Hired the wrong people. Didn’t count on some people enough. Let others get away with murder. Had no idea how to relate my experience in my marriage. a
The Little Boy hides.
For example, the Little Boy would rather let everyone go along happily instead of own up to a mistake. Certainly, he isn’t going to actively do anything to make anyone aware of anything negative. The Little Boy (the innocent) can be oblivious to the bad things going on around him/her. Above all, this is due to the fact that they believe in happy endings12.
The Old Wise Man is The Sage. The Old Wise Man is often known for his philosophies, wisdom and sound judgement. A kind and wise older-father type. He may appear absent-minded. I embody these traits. Often, The Sage may appear foreign or alien from those he advises. Most often, this is due to the Old Wise Man seeking to differentiate his/herself10.
After all, my friend Nick told me when I was twenty-two that I should write a book called The Art of Living. I was out to give people advice.
Denial of feelings is part of the “shadow” (destructive energy) of The Sage. The anxiety of running away from the shadow, can cause the perception of life as a series of uncontrollable events. It can feel helpless10. The result may be that the Old Wise Man becomes pompous and self-important11.
A Close Third…
Not related to the topic at all, there are other brand archetypes I can identify with, but this is definitely up there with The Innocent and The Sage.
This is the shit you’re reading.
Creator’s want to create meaningful and beautiful things through the creative process. They mainly express themselves through their chosen creative medium. At times, the Creator may be obsessive and perfectionisic13.
For example, I’ve been in my office all day writing this thing, getting it just right.
The Old Wise Man and the Little Boy seem to be at two opposite ends of the spectrum. Yet, there is some connective tissue. The optimistic Little Boy hopes for the best. He tries to hide all the “badness”. The Old Wise Man has many of the answers. However, when the Wise Man gets shaken, he has to retreat to do the math on his/her positions of wisdom. Thus, the Little Boy is thrown into the heat of the moment. He feels small, vulnerable and just wants all the “bad stuff” to be over with.
The reality of the transition from the Old Wise Man to the Little Boy, is jarring. In one moment, you are endowed with all the answers. In the next, you find out you’ve made a mistake in your calculation, just when they were counting on you most. (That’s how it feels, anyhow).
Consequently, the thought train dives down the rabbit hole. Furthering its quest, searching for the necessary information to ease the anxiety. Nonetheless, a state of insecurity.
The Little Boy shows up, always co-dependently hoping things will work out. The Old Wise Man will return with the answers. The Little Boy just knows it.
Mr. Spock and Dorothy Gale…in one…
In sum, most of the time I feel like Mr. Spock. I’m attempting to be logical, fighting through the fog of human emotion to assess real value of events and happenings. My purpose is grandiose, my breadth of knowledge vast.
Consequently, when my significant other says “Mr. Spock, you slept through your alarm and didn’t wake me up?” Of course, they’re frustrated, angry at the thought of lateness and particularly at me. Because I let them down.
Somehow, I instantaneously convert to Dorothy Gale.
My dog is my best and only friend, I’m wearing a technicolored blue dress and I want to run away. Even though I was mad at my uncle, inevitably I’ll be chanting “There’s no place like home” as soon as the shit hits the fan with the wizard and the wicked witch. But, I’ll still be pretending that Somewhere over the rainbow … all of your dreams come true.
My significant other will look at me like I am crazy when I’m so hurt that I let her down. I am angry, I want to slam things around expressing how a feel in small acts of destruction. My chest tightens, I’m being attacked. There’s no hope. All of my innocence is gone, I’ve fallen out of favor in her eyes. Everything is terrible.
Where’s my blanky?
And there you have it.
Eventually, I spend enough time retracing my every step finding the root cause of my error. At this juncture, I approach my significant other and say:
“The way you spoke to me this morning cannot be tolerated any further.”
Jung’s archetypes and his analytic psychology help us create a framework of how to think about psychology, our subconscious and human nature at large. The metaphor of the archetypes is sufficient to get across a personal experience I’ve had with my sense of self and how it relates to the world.
Often, discovering the language to bare the emotional weight of our experiences difficult.
Luckily, Jung has provided an important tool: the emotion-bearing archetypes. A common metaphor to share ourselves with one another. And finally, a tool in our ever deepening self-awareness and self-discovery.
We’ve barely scratched the surface on the brand archetypes. Which BA’s are fighting in your psyche?
Draper’s words hit an emotional core. As a result, I’ve used this scene several times to express my feelings and experiences. I felt like I was just watching my life. I wasn’t actually in it. It was impossible for me to get in to.
In its extreme, this is called Depersonalization or Derealization Disorder. Symptoms include detachment from reality, feeling emotionless or empty (not feeling like you love those closest to you), not being able to relate to people, in a constant mental fog as well as constantly physically and mentally exhausted1.
This disorder is well documented and recognized by the DSM-5. I’ve certainly suffered some of the symptoms, perhaps not enough for a diagnosis. I felt I was “in there”… just waiting to return to…life.
It is interesting how we have the ability to experience our lives by proxy. That is, proxy: something serving to replace or substitute for another thing3. Examples of our “proxies” are social media, television and our own thought patterns. Some old, some new; research rushes to understand the world’s pace of change and its impact on human experience.
In a study done before the COVID -19 pandemic, quarantine’s effects on its participants is significant. Almost 30% of subjects had symptoms of PTSD and more than 30% suffered depression4. The longer the quarantine, the more prevalent the symptoms. Connection with family and friends through technology, (IE Social Media) seemed to have a positive effect. However, more research should be done.
It is known that social media is associated with higher levels of anxiety, loneliness and fear of missing out5. In one study, nearly half of the subjects reported feeling lonely some of the time or all of the time. In those who use social media as a replacement for person to person human interaction, feelings of loneliness are likely to increase6.
Studies show that people often post their “best” on social media. This may not be authentic. It certainly is not enough for the deep connections that human beings desire8.
Dr. Brene Brown says, “We are psychologically, emotionally, cognitively, and spiritually hard-wired for connection, love, and belonging.”8
Depending on how it’s used, social media can be beneficial. When there is already a person to person connection, it is valuable. When it takes the place of person to person interaction, the more negative effects of SM are more likely to occur.
How many of your friends on Facebook, are friends in reality?
Could you call many of these people on the phone? Right now?
Have you actually met these folks?
What does it mean if the answer to these questions is “not many”?
I don’t know. But it might point to the reason you feel like you can’t “get in” to your life.
Like Don Draper.
Depersonalization is a feeling of detachment or estrangement from yourself. This is the third most described psychiatric symptom after depression and anxiety. Under severe stress, it is theorized that half of adults experience depersonalization9.
I’ve never felt this way, specifically. But, I did use to pinch my arms and elbows. It was a fleeting thought, but I used to be concerned that I didn’t feel it. At times, I did it hard enough so that I could.
How about you?
2. You don’t feel connected to your reflection.
I, like many of you, hate the way I look and feel like it is a deformed cactus with googly eyes looking back at me in the mirror. It’s just not me.
3. You feel a sense of detachment from your environment.
Sometimes, it’s like there’s a switch. Tnrow the switch and I have to remind myself of where I’m at. It’s brief but real.
4. You feel like a robot.
At a very dark time in my life, I remember waking up feel like I wasn’t going to work. I didn’t care if I lost my job. But as if I wasn’t in control, I got up and went to work. When I walked to my car after work, it was like the events of that day were years ago. At the same time, it felt like the day was very short. I started to wonder who was sailing the ship, if you know what I mean.
5. You think your memories belong to someone else.
Sometimes, I’ve told stories so many times, that I honestly don’t remember if they’re true or not.
6. You know there’s something wrong10.
I’ve known there’s something wrong my whole life. That’s one large reason that I started this blog.
How did you do on the signs?
Are you freaking out a little, like me?
As I began this post, it was because this episode of Mad Men left a mark on me. I thought it was interesting that I spent a lot of my life…trying to …get “in” to my life. And as I researched, I am beginning to understand why.
Love and Connection
People with Depersonalization or Derealization Disorder report not being able to feel love. “You know you love your family, but you know it academically – rather than feeling it in the normal way.”11
Leonard in Mad Men’s series finale, shares with the therapy group. He admits he doesn’t know what love is, though he supposes they do. “No one cares that I’m gone.” Leonard shares.
These themes echo through the caverns of my memory. These feelings, these…bouts of numbness and confusion. I intellectually know that others love me, but I didn’t know what “IT”, even was.
There is no consensus on the root cause of Depersonalization or Derealization Disorder. It does seemed to be related to or caused by exposure to traumatic experiences.
And so, talk therapy is a great way to treat depersonalization. An example of the impact of this is demonstrated in the Mad Men clip above. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, focuses on changing negative thoughts and feelings and is also very helpful. Of course, mindfulness and meditation help with Depersonalization Disorder as well.
Although I am gearing this request to a population who doesn’t connect, please share your experiences with me in the comments or at RPWatts@whoarewe.blog.
(This was always was a sticking point for me – I actually completed my 40th year and am now 40. We don’t refer to newborn babies as being one. They complete their first year and then become one. Silly, I know.)
So for conformity’s sake, today I am 40.
I am taking this moment to set an aim for the decade before me. That is, if I am so lucky to have the whole decade. That comment does not come from a place of lack. In fact, just the opposite. It comes from a place of gratitude. I literally have every material, social and relational “thing” I could ever want. I am complete, in a way. Though, I stumbled here, fell into it. This “manifesto” is an attempt to exponentiate quality and meaning of the strengths in my life.
When I turned thirty, I thought I would never do my twenties again! And now that I am forty, I am more likely to do my thirties than twenties, but still…no thanks. I want to look back at my forties and think I would love to do all that again. So here we are.
I’ll examine the era’s in my life in an attempt to extract the lessons that I should carry forward.
Early Years – Teenager
When I was young, I had thoughts of grandeur regarding my impact on the world. I dreamed early on about being like Joe Montana (this was during the 49ers championship streak), being a quarterback, the hero.
Then came music.
I truly felt, to a delusional extent, that I was destined to be a rockstar. I’m being serious. I really didn’t have an interest in being a serious musician. I wanted to know the bare minimum necessary to write a song. If there was any grace involved at all, it was that I grasped the idea of how to write a song early. Looking back, I felt this had made me the “chosen one”. I would change lives with my gift.
In hindsight, I was … okay.
This habit of setting myself apart as the hero quarterback or the destined-to-be rockstar has done its work in my life. Once I realized that “hey, maybe I wont be a rockstar?“, I suddenly had to think like everyone else. Now it seems pretty clear that I was using music as a primary way to connect with people. Because of this, I failed to develop the normal ways in which people connect. Talking, touching and initiating the interactions.
For example, I could never just ask a girl out. I had to write a song, a fantasy about what it would be like for us to be together. I never considered how to make it actually come true. I could never come through. The girls paid the price.
Oops. Sorry about that…. I know…a little late, now.
Lesson learned: Work on connection.
This decade, is the decade that I broke others’ hearts. I had my fair share of heartache, yes. Not much you can do about that in any case.
So, I started out this decade pretty good. I wasn’t much of a partier. A lot of my friends who were into drugs and consequently messed up their lives. I had no interest in that. I had a steady girlfriend, she was good to me. But, she couldn’t see the fantasy of who I WANTED to be. I wanted her to believe in that. I needed to believe that I was something better than what I was.
This and other relationships I had in my twenties suffered from the same type of issue. These ladies loved me for who I was, they just couldn’t and didn’t love me for who I wanted them to believe I was.
I didn’t put together these traits with this moniker at the time.
Underneath it all, I didn’t feel good about myself. Expectations were not taken from any realistic baseline in my life. I needed who I thought I should be to be reflected back through my partner(s). It all came from feeling inferior, less-than, weak and like an impending failure. To make it worse, what I really needed was to be loved for what and who I was. Yet, I wouldn’t accept it. I hated myself.
I was trying to get approval from an entity that only existed in my mind. You know, the voices: You’re not sexy, so you’ll never have good sex. You’re not alpha enough, you’ll never be recognized as a leader. You’re not athletic enough, so you’ll always be flabby. You don’t have the money for that, you’re a piece of trash. You can’t raise kids, you’re too selfish.
And on it went.
Lessons Learned: 1. Be authentic. 2. Accept love.
My thirties began with me very painfully exiting a relationship. I exited for much of the reason I name above. I was loved, but wasn’t who I wanted to be. The real me was reflected in those folks and I hated myself. So…I cut them loose.
The subsequent relationship I entered was a situation where I was the adult. I had the resources and the knowledge. Not a lot of input was sought from the other. A big mistake. Again, loved, I was left because I wouldn’t open up and be authentic.
Personally, I went from being an angry workaholic obsessed with work to a vacationing yuppy. I didn’t go on a lot of vacations when I was a kid. We had a large family, it was expensive and a logistics nightmare when we did embark. So when I finally had the money, I went to the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Mexico and so on. I drank and wondered why people like vacation! I’m not a vacation person, at least not to a resort or a cruise line.
I wasted a lot of time, trying to be someone I just wasn’t. Though, this time it was in a much different way.
Also, I was very busy. There wasn’t much self care. So I became a walking anxiety and stress machine. I began feeling a lack of time for everything. As a result, this evolved into a general feeling of being overwhelmed, even when I wasn’t.
I thought less. I consider myself a thinker, but I just thought about my feelings. Not why or if my feelings were accurate. Deep thinking, breaking through the layers, is imperative to growth and understanding.
Nonetheless, I did work very hard this past decade. I earned an MBA and a promotion, was transferred three different times for my job. I had a successful open heart surgery to which I emerged better than before. Also, I ran several marathons, half marathons, read many books and learned a lot. At the end of my thirties, I felt happier and healthier than I have in the entirety of my life.
Lessons Learned: 1. Think deeply, emotions aside. 2. Engage in the reality of relationships, roll around in the mud of life.
So… summing it up…life lessons, thus far:
Work on connection
Engage in relationships
My 40’s Manifesto
Work on Connection.
I will connect with people through music, blogging (obviously) and Podcasting. But, I also want to do it the old fashioned way, person to person. I will call people on the phone, share my thoughts and experiences with them. Historically, I’d feel like I am letting that person down if I don’t act like a motivational speaker or share some great or impressive news. I don’t want to tell them that I am stuck in a rut or stressed out, yet perhaps I should.
Also, I want to connect to the community at large. Volunteer, give back and do more to impact the cause. Fostering a sense of community. I’m not sure exactly what this looks like, but the thirst for this type of connection is there.
I’m going to be me. Through and through. Can’t hide it or try to change it. It’s okay if people don’t like me. It’s okay if I don’t get promoted. Life will be fine as long as I’m authentic. I know what I really want/like. Others don’t have to be into what I’m into. And to the voice that says “Oh, No. What if I’m not…”
My response to this voice: It’s fucking okay. It’s probably a signal that I’m not where I should be!
And it’s not fair to the people I care about. They really want to know me, just like I really want to know them.
Just take it! I’m going to get over myself and accept it. Even those times when I’m not happy with myself. Jesus. I’m lucky enough to have a whole shit load of people love me. Treating them like shit for loving me is as bullshit as it gets. And I’ve done my fair share of that exact thing.
I believe Nietzsche said “whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster”.
Yeah, monster? No thank you. I won’t become my thoughts.
I’m going to get a hold of my mind.
Human beings have somewhere between 12,000 and 60,000 thoughts per day. They are also mostly negative…like 80%. More bad news, they are almost the same thoughts every… single… day1. Considering where they are coming from is the first step to changing them. Mindfulness is the next, but it starts with the initial awareness.
When boss really irritates me, I’m going to think about why I am feeling that way. This, instead of simply emotionally reacting. Most of the time, I can more easily and constructively share my feelings with those around and close to me with this beginning step.
Engage in Relationships
The good, the bad, the difficult…all of it. I don’t want to avoid any of it. It’s okay to go to not believe that every little thing a person (friend or significant other) is a sign that they should not be in my life. Confront the obvious issues, talk about how it feels to be in the relationship. Talk about everything, experience everything. Have a good idea about what the other person is on the inside.