Taylor Swift’s new hit album 1989 has the hit song “Shake it off” on it and that song is currently all over the airwaves. Taylor is singing about “shaking off” the opinions or gossip of others, ostensibly about her, but in reality about all of her young fans – female and male. The underlying message is not to let the opinions of others get you down; just go on with your life as you are leading it.
Recent events in the sports world have certainly discredited the “shake it off” mentality, especially as it pertains to head injuries such as concussions. There are many other examples of athletes at all levels being told or encouraged to “shake it off” and “play through the pain.” None of that has proven to be good advice in the long run and we now have many,. many cases of former athletes who are now crippled or suffering dementia that was likely cause by trying to “shake it off” one time too many.
But, what about the emotional hits that we take in life? What about that rejection or that break-up or the loss of a loved one for whatever reason? Can we really shake them off? Is that good advice? I think not.
Just like we can and should seek medical help for a physical injury; an emotional blow is a shot to the head that needs attention and not something that you can just shake off by yourself. Physical blows may leave marks or bruises on the body; but, emotional blows leave a bruise in our minds. There are many times consequences that go well beyond the body’s initial reaction to a physical injury, especially those involving the brain.
The same is true of emotional injuries, maybe even more so. Our minds are wondrous things that can take an initial emotional injury and blow it all out of proportions. Left to it’s own devices, our imagination can take what might have been a simple initial injury to our pride and ego and from that simple beginning conjure up the worst, compound the initial injury and invents conspiracies to make it even worse. For some a snub or rejection, weather real or perceived, starts them out on the slippery slope towards depression.
So, what’s the answer for people who are reacting badly to an emotional bruise? I don’t think it’s found in the advice to “shake it off.” Perhaps that is the time to listen to this song by Wade Jacoby and then go find that friend. There have been any number of songs about friends being there when you need them. That’s what true friend are for – to be there when you need them. So, don’t try to shake it off, at least not alone. Find your friend. Have a wine, Go out dancing. Put the balm of happiness on your emotional wound. There is always tomorrow. There will always be a tomorrow; and, things will get better tomorrow. But, first you have to get there.
If you are the quiet and contemplative type who wants a slow peon to hope, listen to Michel Stipe of R.E. M. in their song “Everybody Hurts.” However, if you are more of an energetic type and love a rousing call for hope and happiness try this song by Pharrell Williams – Happy.
The bottom line is not to try to just shake it off. Get help with it. Get with a friend and share. Have a good cry, then play the Happy song again and dig your way out of that hole. There’s no future in wallowing around down there.