How to Get Rid of That Song Stuck In Your Head


My family and I like to play this game where we try to get a song stuck in somebody’s head. My favorite go-to song for mind sticking is “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell.

“Sometimes I feel I’ve got to … duh duh … Run away I’ve got to … duh duh … get away…”

You get the picture. All anyone has to do is to say (or text) “duh duh … tainted love” and that song is stuck in your head. Sometimes for days. You start pouring yourself a cup of coffee in the morning and you hear yourself singing “Once I ran to you … duh duh.” It’s crazy.

The other day I came across a story explaining why that happens and how to get rid of it. Let me try to summarize.

Our minds love patterns. It’s a good thing to, I guess. Whenever we have an experience, our mind goes through millions, yay billions, of examples of other things that we have experienced to try to find a pattern. It compares and contrasts what’s happening with other things that have happened (whether real or imagined) and finds a pattern. “Oh here’s what’s happening now,” the mind says. “You need to … duh duh … run away … duh duh … get away.”

Okay, maybe it doesn’t sing a Soft Cell song, but it looks for those patterns so that experiences can be categorized to keep us safe, or help us thrive or whatever needs to happen based on millions of years of evolution. It’s pretty handy most of the time. That’s what keeps us from having all new experiences every minute, so that we can learn and memorize things like faces and language or dancing and walking. Simple things.

This type of thing happens every day hundreds of times. And sometimes it’s frustrating.

Just yesterday, I was driving around doing some rideshare work when one of my passenger took me to Garland, Texas, a lovely suburb just north and east of Dallas. It’s a great old city but over the last couple of years whenever I do rideshare and one of my passengers takes me to Garland, I automatically think “Oh no, the black hole of Garland. There’s not many rides. They are all short. And nobody tips in Garland.” And guess what? When it happens, this pattern pops up, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I didn’t get many rides. And they were all short. And nobody tipped.


But what if all of that was incorrect? What if the pattern was broken?  It was just another city. There are plenty of other rideshare drivers out there getting plenty of rides in Garland. And they are good rides too, with beautiful, energetic, interesting people, who love to tip. That has to be true. That’s another pattern. That’s a positive pattern. One I prefer. I don’t mind when that prophecy comes to pass. And it works too because there are other parts of town where I know I’m going to get an enjoyable ride really quickly.

How do I change my “stinkin’ thinkin’.” I have to complete the old pattern first.

That’s how we get rid of the song in our head: complete the pattern. Finish the song. Our mind is trying to do that but we just keep singing the same old part of the song over and over and over again.

Duh … Duh … Tainted love.

But once we finish the song, our mind moves on to the next pattern. The song vanishes into the ether, disappearing like a puff of smoke.

Now, the pattern is complete. I didn’t get an easy ride. I had to drive 15 minutes for a no-show. Okay, I completed that pattern. Now, let me create a new pattern.

New pattern: Garland is a great city full of wonderful people that love to ride and talk and tip. Haha.

That’s a great pattern. A lot more productive pattern. It doesn’t matter if it’s true. Our mind looks for patterns — real or imagined. I might as well play along with the game and create some new, more helpful patterns. Then the mind says,  “oh perfect, we are here in this city where it’s always busy with great rides. I’m about to make a lot of money.”

And just like that, a new pattern in born. The old one was completed.

Try it sometime. Something is going to happen you don’t like for whatever reason — real or imagined. Let the pattern play out. Experience all the emotions — anger, disgust, jealousy, rage, whatever it is — and then complete the pattern, as quickly as possible. Then move on. Establish a new story, a new pattern. Ask what if? What if this isn’t true? What if the opposite is true? What if this can be a good thing? What if I’ve been telling myself the wrong story?

Get rid of that song stuck in your head. Let it play out. Sing it until the end. Then sing a new song. See what happens.

Happy traveling.

Duh … duh, Tainted Love.

You’re welcome.

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