You Are The Conductor


Don’t you hate it when your thoughts and worries and brain train just feel like they will not settle down and cooperate? When thoughts are stirring in your head so loudly that you’re just not able to function and focus at the level you want? And it actually feels like you just…can’t? Of course you hate it. That’s pretty much a rhetorical question because we all experience this. It’s part of being human and for most of us, it’s just part of our monkey brain– the crazy ways our brain can jump from one topic or idea or anxious thought to the next, a little out of control…

Recently during another conversation with my older and wiser brother Robert, [You know, the one who told me THIS] he used the illustration of an orchestra to explain a powerful concept to me. I love metaphors because I’m a word nerd  because they can so clearly illustrate and help us see life through a different lens than we have become accustomed to viewing it through.



Picture yourself as the conductor of a full orchestra. You are standing on stage, with absolute power and authority over every piece of this stunning instrumental collaboration before you. Each section uniquely valuable and beautiful in its own right, with its own sound, tone, timbre, and purpose.

And now imagine that each one of these sections represents an emotion.

You look out and you can see and hear the fullness of range:

Joy. Sorrow. Peace. Happiness. Excitement. Grief. Anger. Anxiety. Depression. Arousal. Complacency. Contentment. Frustration. Ambition. Loneliness. Fear. Exhaustion. Worry. Anticipation. Timidity. Indignation. Love. Hate.

And on some days, the orchestra plays so well and so melodious and so smoothly, you forget to remember that you’re the conductor! These are very good days, indeed.

But on other days, it does not sound like music at all– it sounds like noise. Like racket. Like clamor and pandemonium. One of the sections is out of sync. Out of tune. Playing louder than the others. Not in balance. Upsetting and ruining the quality of sound being produced.

And even on these days, we are still likely to forget to remember that we are the conductor! We have the power and ability to stand from the place of command and give direction to the unruly sections!

Conductor Daniel Barenboim

Conductor Daniel Barenboim

“Ok, Anxiety. I see you and I hear you. I understand that you have your place. You are a valuable part of this orchestra. And sometimes, I NEED you to play louder– you are my internal warning system that something might be wrong and needs attention.

But today, I need you to soften. I need to turn down your volume. Everything is okay and I NEED you to get back in sync and in line with the rest of the group here. You are being too loud. You are overpowering the rest of the music and it causes chaos. “

{Big Exhale… Thank you, Anxiety}

“Yes, Grief. You are seen and heard. But your volume is getting louder and it’s making it hard for me to think straight and focus on what needs to be done. I love you– and I know you hurt– and you have been a steady, steady companion. But when you’re too loud, I’m not happy. I get stuck. So I want you to stay; you have an important place, but you need to play softly so that I can still hear joy and peace and contentment.”

Conductor Christian Schumann

Conductor Christian Schumann

This is a word picture that kids can grasp easily, as well, and even for more positive emotions like excitement or anticipation. Sometimes those need to be turned down and tempered too, so that we can keep our focus and do what needs to be done, even just for the sake of sleep or peacefulness.

Trouble comes our way if we forget that we’re the conductor and have all of this control. We get so caught up in emotions that are playing too loudly and pounding in our ears that sometimes we allow the orchestra to say, “Screw It” and let sections run rampant, overtaking common sense, impulse control, or our good conscience. Many a bad decision, a bad day, or just.. bad has ensued when the conductor has walked off the stage.

Can it really be this simple? Well maybe not always, but much of the time, I actually think it can.  And so close your eyes for a minute and listen to the music your brain has been playing. Listen to the sound your life has been making. Ask yourself if you like it. Ask yourself what it sounds like. And if the answer is no, you’re the conductor. Change the tune.

Conductor Gustavo Dudamel

Conductor Gustavo Dudamel

2 thoughts on “You Are The Conductor

  1. Bob Bielecki says:

    It’s important to remember that some days a particular instrument will resist being tuned. The out of tune instrument may require repeated affectionate though firm guidance. This is not a failure of the conductor, rather the extent to which the instrument believes their assistance (THEIR TUNE) is necessary. The conductor needs to be patient, persistent and non-judgmental of either them-self nor the instrument.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s