The Song of Sirens

What We Can Learn from Mythology By: Courtney Stevenson

In Greek mythology, Sirens were part human, part bird and lived on a rocky island in the middle of the sea. Sirens sang melodies so beautiful that passing sailors couldn't resist getting closer to them. Following the melodious sound, sailors would steer their boats towards them, leading them to their doom. There are two accounts of sailors successfully passing by. One such sailor was Jason and the Argonauts. Myth has it that Jason had Orpheus play even more beautiful music than the Sirens, so they were drowned out. The sailors could no longer hear the Siren's music as they focused on Orpheus, and therefore sailed by the island.

What does this have to do with psychology?

We may not have half-bird/half-human creatures enticing us with their music, but we do have negative thoughts running through our mind which inevitably lead us to doom, whether it be in the form of hopelessness, depression, anxiety, or unhealthy behaviors. How do we combat these thoughts? We can actually take a note from the Argonauts. They withstood the voice of the Sirens by playing different music and playing it louder than the Siren's music. Perhaps we should be telling ourself a different message and saying it more intensely than the negative thoughts in our mind. Telling yourself something positive is not going to instantaneously silence the negative voice, just as Orpheus's music didn't silence the Siren's. Both were still playing, but it was Orpheus's that they focused on. The more you inundate your mind with healthy, rational, positive thoughts, the more you begin to believe them, and the quieter the negative thoughts become. You then will find that you are still heading in the right direction, not being led astray to your own demise, and you no longer hear the song of Sirens.

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