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Music can be like an empathetic friend, voicing the thoughts and feelings we have cooped up inside of us that are just aching to get out in a singing-at-the-top-of-our-lungs-in-the-car sort of way.
We all have that song we turn to when life goes awry, when the stress gets too much and we just need to feel like someone, be it Lady Gaga or Martina McBride or Aretha Franklin, understands us.
Licensed professional counselor Courtney Armstrong says she encourages patients who are dealing with grief and trauma to make a playlist of songs that are healing, but not heartbreaking. Start with one or two songs that reflect your current emotional state, then add three or four songs that gradually move towards your desired emotional state, she advises.
The American Music Therapy Association says that music therapy—basically, using music to evoke or resolve emotions—can promote wellness, manage stress, improve communication and even alleviate pain.
“Even when music evokes painful emotions, most people find it consoling,” Armstrong says.
We asked survivors to chime in with their favorite, most inspirational and most empowering songs on Facebook and Twitter. Here are your picks:
Survivors’ Empowerment Playlist
- “A Broken Wing,” Martina McBride
- “A Little Bit Stronger,” Sara Evans
- “Alive,” Jennifer Lopez
- “Alive,” Sia
- “Amaryllis,” Shinedown
- “Behind the Wall,” Tracy Chapman
- “Brave,” Sara Bareilles
- “Eagle When She Flies,” Dolly Parton
- “F**kin’ Perfect,” P!nk
- “Facedown,” The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
- “Fight Song,” Rachel Platten
- “Firework,” Katy Perry
- “Good Enough,” Jussie Smullett
- “Goodbye Earl,” Dixie Chicks
- “Gunpowder and Lead,” Miranda Lambert
- “Human,” Christina Perri
- “I Am the Fire,” Halestorm
- “I Believe,” Elvis Presley
- “I Will Survive,” Gloria Gaynor
- “Independence Day,” Martina McBride
- “Mean,” Taylor Swift
- “No Man’s Woman,” Sinead O’Connor
- “No More,” Kuzie James
- “Not As We,” Alanis Morissette
- “Respect,” Aretha Franklin
- “Rise Up,” Andra Day (From survivor Candace: “In the worst of those moments I put this song on, turn it up and remember who I'm fighting for and why. I fight for my friends who fought and still fight for and alongside of me; I fight for myself; and most of all, I fight for my two children because they need me to keep fighting. I need them to know that they can do hard things and together we can find the strength to do them and we can and will and have survived.”)
- “Rise,” Katy Perry (From survivor Dianna: “Every time before court, I’d play this!”)
- “Shining Star,” Earth, Wind and Fire (From survivor Debbie: “This song would always cheer me up when I had a day where I was made fun of and made to look stupid.”)
- “Skyscraper,” Demi Lovato
- “Spectrum,” Florence and the Machine
- “Stronger,” Kelly Clarkson
- “Survivor,” Destiny’s Child (From survivor Jenn, “This song got me through a lot of hard times and reminds me that I overcame a lot and deserve nothing but the best!”)“The Door,” J.J. Essen
- “The Reckoning,” Halestorm
- “The Sun is Rising,” Britt Nicole (From survivor Lori: “Because even though I have been through a lot for the past 19 years, my life is better now! I am a survivor and I am very proud of where I am now. I actually look forward to things and seeing where my life is going to take me.”)
- “Til It Happens to You,” Lady Gaga (This was the most liked selection on Facebook.)
- “Warrior,” Patti Smyth
- “Wide Awake,” Katy Perry
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Read how ex-military police officer and survivor of childhood domestic violence, Terry Josiah Sharpe, is now making it his life’s mission to create social change through music in “Creating a Gratitude Movement.” And take a look at his “Angels Will Soar,” music video dedicated to domestic violence survivors.
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