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  • Writer's pictureSusan Stubbings

Earworm - To be or not to be!

There’s a song going round my head over and over …. I’d like to teacher the world to sing, in perfect harmony …..

We’ve all had that experience at one time or another. I recognise the song from my childhood. I woke up with it playing in my mind, so it attracted my attention, and I wondered what it meant.

I didn’t remember dreaming through the night, we don’t always recall dreams on waking, do we, but then that’s the mystery of our mind, a thought passed through my mind, well a question, what is this all about?

In psychological terms this is known as an “earworm”, don’t worry it’s not an actual worm, defined as a cognitive itch and if you look up the term earworm you can find all sorts of interesting stuff about the psychological mysteries and cognitive findings about the primary auditory cortex in the brain responsible for hearing. You could check out Dr James Kellaris studies into the phenomenon of earworms for a more scientific understanding.

What I’m more interested in is reflecting upon what it might mean to me today as it plays over and over in my mind. This brought me to reflecting upon the time I first heard the song; I must have been around 14 years old when it first reached the charts. I recall thinking at the time, wouldn’t it be lovely if all the world just lived in love and peace…. a young girls’ idealistic fantasies and wishes.

Memories started opening up and I remember ‘the gang’ I was a member of and the members and what a magical mystery tour being a teenager again with seeming no worries in the world.

Ummmmmm or was it such a magical time or were there things I wasn’t open too or what was happening in the rest of the world around me. Lots and lots of memories triggered ………

…….. and goodness knowns, we all need a lot of love and peace here and now, throughout the world, with the wars and natural disasters occurring.

I’m thinking about what this means to me here and now, reflecting to what I do for a living counselling and helping others to overcome adversity and find their peace and love within. But not before overcoming my own adversities first and I reflected over the arduous voyager I embarked upon some 26 years ago. To where I am now, today in my life .......... asking what then is success ... perhaps an answer to be found another day.

Which then led me to thinking there’s lots of ways to sing other than with the voice … my mind was singing as I awoke after all.

The New Seekers sang the song …. I became a seeker of my truth and that’s where my career started, although I didn’t know this for years and years before someone encouraged me to seek out counselling training and the rest is history as they say.

This cognitive itch or involuntary musical imagery that is perhaps not wanted and can get annoying if it sticks in our head. Exposure to the song or environmental triggers may have evoked the earworm, but I don't remember hearing the New Seekers singing recently and not for years.

We may see something that triggers the music, our social and emotional links to memories make us susceptible to triggers, it could have even been a TV program that I subconsciously saw or a smell or even a taste, that triggered the song. I might never know what!

So what did I do with my earworm, well I wrote this blog, listened to the song on utube and other songs of the New Seekers and others from my teenage years. Took a walk down memory lane, acknowledging all the emotions, sensations, imagery, thoughts and feelings not paying anyone of them any more attention then the other. Equalizing their importance good, bad and the ugly.

Counselling is a collaborative journey of two people one person as client and one person as counsellor keeping the client company on their travels. Providing a safe and confidential space for talking freely as a professionally trained counsellor, I will support you to explore your thoughts, feelings, sensations, imagery, somatic experiences and earworms if this is what you bring to our sessions.

This is the music behind the song I heard in my head this morning my earworm wriggling itself around in its mind-wandering ways … uncovering some positive memories, some, well not quite positive and clarifying where I am in my life which has been interesting and enlightening to my day.

If you’d like to come and learn about the meaning of your earworms and what lays beneath, or anything else that may be niggling or causing you concern, please contact me and we can wander around together. If you don’t want your earworm or it has triggered you to the not so positive memories of your past and you feel stressed about them.

Contact me securely at and we can wander around and find your meaning and peace from your triggered and involuntary earworm memories.

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