Spin control: DJ your own life
It’s your party, and you can go ahead and cry if you want to. But maybe there’s a better option…?
I have always been passionate about the idea that DJs are musicians and that a set of turntables are a musical instrument. I’m not talking here about someone that simply spins classic records one after another. I’m talking about someone who remixes and reinvents on the fly. As I consider any ordered set of sounds music, I don’t understand how people don’t consider DJs “real musicians.”
One thing I’ve always enjoyed about a good DJ set/mix is the way certain themes or vocals samples may pop up at different times to give the set a thematic unity. Knowing next to nothing about actually being a DJ, I’ve assumed that the reason that DJs do this is because, well, people like it. They’re entertainers, right? They want people to dance and have fun so they’re invited back to spin again. If I were a DJ, I would choose a sample/beat/phrase that people responded to as my “theme” for the set.
So why not take a similar approach in our personal lives? I’ve often seen advice about job interviews that suggest you should go into the interview room with one or two anecdotes ready to tell and make sure you work them in. This strategy is proactive, causing you to consider the questions and a way to make them work to highlight your particular strength. Perhaps about a particular skill that you perceive as valuable or maybe a story about a change or innovation you brought to the table that later increased productivity, sales or whatever.
What I’m suggesting is that you see each day as a sort of DJ set. What is a skill that has helped you solve problems in the past, and how can you apply it to new challenges each day brings? You have to be prepared to spin that particular sample all day long. Are you good at scheduling at the office? Maybe you should work on keeping your kids on a schedule if you are frustrated with getting them to behave. Maybe you should schedule your free time in order to increase productivity, as opposed to saying “after work I need to clean and give the dog a bath.” Are your friends often telling you that you’re funny? Perhaps you should apply that sense of humor to frustrating situations, as opposed to blowing up, pounding your fist, or whatever it is you do. The strength you choose should be active and applicable to multiple situations. When asked about their strengths, clients will frequently tell me “I’m nice.” That’s great—we need more nice people in the world. But how will being “nice” be applied in a functional way to challenges that you face? Keep in mind as well that a sample is generally a small part of a longer work, such as a song or movie. You likely have a multitude of strengths to pull from, but some may not be as valuable or applicable as others.
So how about it? What is your key strength? And how will you make it the theme of your day?
Mike McMahan is a psychotherapist in private practice in San Antonio, Tx.
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Perspectives on therapy and mental health as viewed through the lens of popular culture