Relationship Truth in Song and Science

Brandi_Carlile_-_The_StoryMy previous blog entry mentioned both my love of music and the fact that I’ve been listening to Dr. Dan Siegel’s audio presentation “The Neurobiology of We”.

As a seeker of truth about relationships, I’m willing to take inspiration from a variety of sources. I’ve really been struck over recent days about how I’ve been hearing the same messages from Dan Siegel, scientist and Brandi Carlile, singer- songwriter.

I’m a little late to the game in learning about Carlile’s song “The Story”. Apparently it’s been featured in everything from an episode of Grey’s Anatomy to a GM commercial. However, it has only made it to my ears recently.

The song starts,

All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am

Siegel describes integration as the key task of mental health. An integrated mind is one that can process its information and emotional energy in an effective manner. One of what he calls the “domains of integration” is narrative integration. In narrative integration, we become the storyteller of our own mind. Siegel explains that we don’t run from our past if we can bring it into mindful awareness. Carlile beautifully describes her own mindful awareness of her own stories.

She goes on to sing,

But these stories don’t mean anything
When you’ve got no one to tell them to
It’s true, I was made for you

This brings us to another of Siegel’s domains of integration – interpersonal integration. As Siegel’s presentation title suggests (The Neurobiology of We) he sees human relationships as being key to our well-being. Individuals are meant to integrate with other individuals – not becoming clones, but honouring differences and being influenced by one another for the good of both.

Carlile goes on to describe how this integration between human beings happen most effectively in our most intimate relationships.

You see the smile that’s on my mouth
It’s hiding the words that don’t come out
And all of my friends who think that I’m blessed
They don’t know my head is a mess

No they don’t know who I really am
And they don’t know what I’ve been through
Like you do, and I was made for you

Bringing two distinct human beings into close relationship is rarely without significant work, but Siegel and Carlile seem to be in agreement that the results can have immense meaning.

I invite you to have a listen to Brandi Carlile’s The Story, either Live at Red RocksLive with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra (with lyrics) or on iTunes.  Dr. Daniel J. Siegel’s works are available here.

One thought on “Relationship Truth in Song and Science

  1. Thanks for making these connections, Terry. That line about “they don’t know my head is a mess” makes me think of me sometimes, and I value those, like you, who are able to see that, and help me figure out ways to straighten it out. I’m really interested in how I can help my students work to become better storytellers of their own minds. I wonder if the music they relate to, and that they see as reflecting their stories might help with that.

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