Music To Soothe Your Worried Sensitive Soul

photo courtesy of Leio Mclaren, Unsplash

I have discovered playlists. I know. You are rolling your eyes. I realize that playlists have been around for a while now. But you must understand that I was alive when TV was the newest thing. I am that old. But, playlists. OMG. All of my favorite songs in one place. Over and over and over. Maybe playlists will replace therapy. OK. Maybe you will still need therapy. Let’s hope you will still need therapy. I need to have a job, after all. 

I used to have a thing for Broadway musicals. I still do. In fact, right now I’m Defying Gravity. (For those of you not in the know, that is from the musical Wicked.) “My future is unlimited…Flying so high. I’m defying gravity. Everyone deserves the chance to fly…” 

And what does all of this have to do with your rainforest mind?

I am glad you asked.

You are highly sensitive. Empathetic. Deep, complex, smart, analytical. Imaginative. All of which might cause ruminating tendencies. (not to mention the effects of childhood trauma) I suspect that this pandemic experience has you seriously discombobulated. Your ruminating (not to be confused with overthinking) may be taking over. For so many good reasons. And, smart person that you are, you might feel pressure to do something monumental. Which does not help. (although you are welcome to do something monumental if you want)

What, then, can you do about these ruminating tendencies?

In addition to using all of the tools that you already know about such as: slow breathing, yoga, meditation, journaling, self-talk, calming apps, time in nature, spiritual practices, warm baths, getting an emotional support animal, intellectual stimulation, self-compassion, and, of course, reading my blog, why not create a pandemic playlist?

What songs might you include?

Maybe Breathe In Breathe Out by Mat Kearney.

“There is a light in your eyes. In your eyes…Breathe in and breathe out…” 

Maybe Courage by Pink.

“Rain it falls. Rain it falls. Sowing the seeds of love and hope…” 

Or “You Will Be Found.” from the musical, Dear Evan Hansen.

“Have you ever felt like nobody was there. Have you ever felt forgotten, in the middle of nowhere…let that lonely feeling wash away, maybe there’s a reason to believe you’ll be ok…even when the dark comes crashing through…you will be found…”

So, my darlings, start defying gravity, breathe in and breathe out, and, I guarantee, you will be found.


To my bloggEEs: What songs are on your pandemic playlist? Share some of them with us! Sending you all love. And hope.


Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

35 responses to “Music To Soothe Your Worried Sensitive Soul”

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  1.  Avatar

    Elgar cello concerto!

  2. Ian Avatar

    I have struggled to get into popular music with few and far between exceptions such as Radiohead (there are some who find their stuff depressing, but I tend to focus on the music rather than lyrics) and Black’s Wonderful Life album. And I agree with Toren’s sentiments: it seems to me that well over half of ‘pop’ music seems to be about romantic relationships, falling in love and break-ups.

    For me, it’s mainly movie soundtracks, with a bit of video game music and classical music thrown in there. I am particularly partial to many of Thomas Newman’s film scores – Meet Joe Black, Road to Perdition, Revolutionary Road, American Beauty, Shawshank Redemption etc. Of the ‘classical’ composers I tend to particularly like Claude Debussy for similar reasons – it’s that emphasis on atmosphere and relatively vague harmonies that generates a contradictory mix of relaxation and dissonance/forboding that I seem to click with easily.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you for sharing your musical preferences, Ian!

  3. When Crying Is The Right Answer — High Sensitivity, Despair, Overwhelm, And Strawberry Rhubarb Pie | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] are grateful for nothing. Some days your pile of cool books to read just depresses you. Some days your playlist is out of tune. Some days your cozy chenille emotional support animal sweater makes you sweat. Some […]

  4. Toren Avatar

    I like most music as long as it’s got a decent melody to it. Some of the artists I like are… Gordon Lightfoot, The Irish Rovers, Stan Rogers, Two Steps From Hell, Immediate Music, Stompin’ Tom Connors, Hank Snow, Sabaton, Dragonforce, Alestorm, Celtic Connection, Antti Martikainen, and many more that I couldn’t think of at the moment.

    The music I don’t like: What’s on top 40. Can’t we have music that’s not about falling in love and breakup, please?

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks, Toren!

    2. Someti Avatar

      Oh! I like some of those artists/composers too! I particularly like Gordon Lightfoot and Thomas Bergersen’s music (the composer behind “Two Steps From Hell”)

  5. May Avatar

    I’m sorry that this is unrelated to the post, I have a question: Why some gifted people do not have a rainforestmind? I’ve met some who possess high intelligence, highly gifted, but very unlikely to experience what a rainforestmind usually have. It’s very disheartening to see these people do not concern much about society etc, less emphatic, when I think they have so much potential to offer help for others. they have the power but don’t act, while i do not have the power but wish to act.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      There are people who have high levels of intellectual giftedness, high cognitive abilities, but don’t have rainforest minds. Over the years of writing about RFMs, I’ve realized that I need to make this differentiation. All RFMs are gifted but not all who are gifted are RFMs. I don’t know why this is true but I have seen this in my work with gifted folks.

    2. Someti Avatar

      I may be mistaken, but my guess is that most (or nearly all) gifted are RFMs too. But people change with time, thereby some RFMs change their habits, behaviors, etc. And after the years, they are gifted but do not resemble RFMs. I will explain this a bit further:

      I am not a psychologist and this is just my personal guess, but my opinion has still a little foundation: when I read Paula’s blog I relate to many of the things she tells us. A lot of them, but not all of them. However, when I think of myself when I was a child, I discover that I have even more traits in common with the examples that Paula provides in her blog. Or when I take “the RFM Quizz by Paula”, I answer more often “yes” to her questions if I think of me as if I were asked myself those questions in my childhood.
      [Sidenote: By the way, this was something that attracted my attention the first times I read Paula’s blog, because I could see that Paula was describing what I call “my real me” and not the “me that I have evolved into after years in society”. end of sidenote]

      Could it be that gifted-non-RFMs are old RFMs that “evolved” quite a lot? 🤔

      I guess this may happen the other way around: people with less of those traits becomes more “RFM-ized”. Maybe, if that person is surrounded by RFMs. I do not know. Just a guess… I have never been in a different body as far as I know haha.

      Did I explain it properly…? Does it even makes sense for you? Remember: just my guess.

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        Interesting theory, Someti. I’m guessing that there are people who shut down their sensitivities, intuitions, creativity, and empathy over the years for many reasons, like you’re saying. Yes!! But I suspect there are folks who have very advanced cognitive/mental abilities or academic strengths but never really had strengths in empathy, sensitivity, creativity, or intuition. They are still fine people, of course, just not RFMs. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!! Maybe others will have more to say.

        1. Ian Avatar

          Personally in recent years I have increasingly thought in terms of a “rainforest mind” as having a mix of high intelligence and the “overexcitabilities” that were especially studied by Kazimierz Dabrowski, and that are the main subject of Jessie Mannisto’s Third Factor website. Some highly intelligent people don’t seem to have these accompanying overexcitabilities apart from perhaps the Intellectual one.
          I wonder if the experience of becoming less of a RFM when growing up owes a lot to two things: (a) a biological mellowing with age, and (b) being socialised into taming these overexcitabilities in order to be socially acceptable, in both cases leading to a watering down of that inner rainforest. I know quite a lot of men in particular who were probably originally RFMs but became emotionally repressed in order to be socially “appropriate”, often at the cost of numbness and feeling that they are living on autopilot, but thinking they must “grin and bear it”.

          1. Paula Prober Avatar
            Paula Prober

            I would agree, Ian. I think being “socially acceptable” is an issue for many RFMs and having to hide sensitivities and emotions are particular pressures on men due to outdated views of masculinity.

  6. Dr. Dad Avatar
    Dr. Dad

    For some reason playlists don’t really do it for me. Maybe it’s the same reason I can’t listen to podcasts or audiobooks. My mind wanders away from my ears too much or something. But I do love to listen to music. I tend to buy music on CDs and then just leave the CDs on repeat until I feel sick of them, then I change them. They go into a massive cabinet, and get rotated back out when I miss them. The one in my car right now is Ayo, by Bomba Estereo. The one on the cd player in the house I’m working on is Urban Cuban, by P18.

    At home, because it’s not just me, the CD keeps changing (mostly at the hands of others), or we listen to online radio stations. For a long time now my favorite online radio station is Radio Gladys Palmera. If there’s anybody I’ve never met who I love and worry about in this pandemic, it’s Gladys Palmera. All my favorite actors and musicians can go and I’ll only feel momentarily sad, but losing Sra. Palmera would hurt me. I hope she stays safe.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I will have to look into Sra. Palmera, Dr. Dad. Thanks for the suggestion.

  7. Sherri Avatar

    Hi Paula,
    Playlists are the new mix tape! I loved making mix tapes in my (much) younger days. I make playlists for various moods. I just have to be careful not to get caught in the sad ones for too long. Also, some end up being related to certain events occurring in my life. But in general here are some of my favourites that I wanted to share with you. I am Canadian so you will maybe find a few artists a little less known in the US. Also I have a 9 and 7 year old, so they might have had some influence as well! Enjoy!

    Brave – Sara Bareilles
    Firework – Katy Perry
    Both Sides Now – Joni Mitchell
    Closer to Fine – Indigo Girls
    Galileo – Indigo Girls
    Good Mother – Jann Arden
    What a Good Boy – the Barenaked Ladies
    My Life – Billy Joel
    Shake It Off – Sing Soundtrack version 🙂
    Higher Ground – Stevie Wonder
    Better When I’m Dancin & Good To Be Alive – Meghan Trainor (Peanuts Movie Soundtrack)
    High Hopes – Panic! At the Disco

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for the list, Sherri!

      1. Sherri Avatar

        I realize now it isn’t so much my soothing play list but an empowering / energizing list. I hope you enjoy it anyway 🙂

        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          I will! Empowering and energizing are needed, too!

  8. Carlita Avatar

    Seguir en terapia…. hace unos años comentaba con un amigo psiquiatra que los humanos deberíamos venir al mundo con manual de instrucciones, manual de usuario, tener que descubrir nuestro funcionamiento a lo largo del tiempo no era eficiente…. Casualmente respondió: “Y si venimos con manual de usuario, de qué vamos a vivir los psiquiatras!”…. me reí a montones… tiene razón… Entonces ustedes son los responsables!!!! jejejejeej!… Pero la música… aaaaahhh! la música libera… con listas o no, así tengas que buscar cada pieza… yo puedo escuchar todo CASI todo, de cada país (excepto regeeatton)… y me hace feliz… pero dejar de rumiar… por dios!!!! nwcesito el Manual!!!!… abrazos y mil Gracias Paula…. estoy haciendo la tarea que me planteaste en el correo y pronto sabrás de mí… Gracias por estar…

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Good to hear from you, Carlita.

  9. Rosie Avatar

    there is nothing more fun than crawling into your own personal music cave, noise cancelling headphones on and the beat thumping away somewhere inside the middle of your head – I swear I am going to be deaf by the time I hit 50 – but it is the most sensory experience to have your own music concert banging away inside your head, close your eyes and just dance like no-one is watching – some candles, a touch of essential oils in a burner, I have a room light that scatters the night stars across the ceiling and one that plunges me into the depths of the ocean – and then a touch of Linkin Park, some Beethoven, a dollop of Indie Rock, some Roo Panes or SayWeCanFly, my guilty secret 80″s rock and a bit of instrumental in the playlist and we are off soaring into another dimension, or just curling up and letting a little bit of Yin Yoga sounds drizzle and drip into your soul – playlists help you create your own little universes, song notes for healing

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Sounds enticing, Rosie! Thanks for sharing.

  10. chris shuraleff Avatar
    chris shuraleff

    Hi there lady, You are not alone…how in the heck do you make a playlist?Is it on your phone, computer?My nephews wife started a podcast calledThis is My Truth by JessiShuraleffmost interesting.Have you thought of doing one?  I know you reacha lot with your blog….take care,love,chris

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Hey chris. You can probably google how to make a playlist on your phone. If I can do it, so can you! Or your nephews can help you. 🙂

  11. Lesa Hiben Avatar
    Lesa Hiben

    Burn the Ships by FOR KING & COUNTRY is my mantra since early November 2019!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks, Lesa. Will look for it.

  12. Someti Avatar

    Yay! Playlists! I wouldn’t be able to imagine my life without music -the music I listen to, the music I play and the music I create.

    I do not know most of the titles you posted, Paula. But I am eager to check them out! Thanks for sharing them, thanks for writing your blog, thanks for being there and thanks for make us, foreigners from non-English speaking countries, learn new words like doscombobe… discom-bim-bimb-bing… discs… discombobulated!! (OMG!) 🤪 😵

    Even if I did already know about playlists, I didn’t know about that funny word! I wouldn’t dare to roll eyes on your discoveries. 😉

    Some of the songs of my playlists are classical ones (orchestra, chamber music and the like) that I suppose everyone knows or has heard about at least. Some other pieces may be a mix of languages, cultures and sounds, such as:
    – Viva la Vida (Cold Play)
    – Qué bonito (Soraya) –> This is particularly for Spanish people who understand the lyrics saying something like “♫it is beautiful to be with those who love you♫ […]”
    – Madre Tierra, oye (Chayanne) –> Also with nice Spanish lyrics saying “Open your eyes, look upwards and enjoy the beautiful things that life has to offer”
    – Na Gode, swahili version (Yemi Alade) –> A song with nice lyrics in Swahili saying “be thankful for what you have in life. Forgive and be thankful”… somethig like that.
    – Kuningi (Thee Legacy) –> A really beautiful song from a South African band. “Kuningi” meaning “plenty of time” (as in “we have plenty of time”) I really love this one! Check it out and tell me what do you think! even if you do not understand the lyrics.

    Well, it is funny how I trend to collect music from different places when I travel around the World. It’s like a hobby. A weird fancy hobby, I have to admit.

    And, I may dare to share an interesting YouTube video with English lyrics so that you do not need to use a translator:

    Hope you like it 🙂

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I love how blogs are international! Wonderful to see your song suggestions, Someti. I will check out the YouTube video, too.

  13. ellabirt Avatar

    I would never roll my eyes at your newfound joy. 🙂

    And yes, I have been ruminating! I went to my go-to of thinking I’m insane, then I chose to implement my new self-care strategy of asking, “How stressed am I right now?” I take a moment to actually feel my body, check in with how much stress I’m feeling emotionally – when I’m ruminating I am always tense physically and the stress is monumental.

    This dang pandemic and the Orange Man-Baby are really very stressful, and my 14-year-old cat crossed the rainbow bridge with the help of our veterinarian on Friday also. I couldn’t go inside the building to be with her at her passing though because of COVID measures, but I know they were sweet to her.

    Music is the best remedy! I put on the Pretty in Pink soundtrack (Left of Center by Suzanne Vega is very apropos for gifted folks) and deep cleaned my kitchen.

    Wishing you well!! Thanks for this post.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Oh, so sorry to hear about your kitty, ella. What a loss! Thank you for the song suggestion. Wishing you well, too.

  14. Wellbean blog Avatar
    Wellbean blog

    I love that you have recently discovered playlists! I also love listening to musicals. Wicked is one of my favourites x

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      The total truth is I’ve known about playlists for a while but recently made a collection of songs that I love!

  15. lauralynnwalsh Avatar

    Haha. My playlist is my own music. I am selfish like that. 31 tracks on SoundCloud. But my musicals aren’t there.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Well, that makes sense, lauralynn!