EAT A HOT DOG and how easily we misunderstand…

Years ago, a friend and I were in the car, iPod plugged into the stereo system, singing and laughing. The playlist shuffled to a song by Van McCoy. He was predominantly a songwriter and producer, but in 1975 he had a hit that went to #1 and won a Grammy.

We were both singing…

Do do do do do do do do do
Do do do do do do do do do
Do do do do do do do do do

Then my friend yelled, “EAT A HOT DOG!”
Me: (while laughing and choking) DO THE HUSTLE!
Her: What?
Me: Those are the words – Do the Hustle.
Her: REALLY? I always thought he said, “Eat a hot dog.”
You have been on both sides of that conversation, haven’t you? How many times have you heard someone singing along with Creedence Clearwater Revival…There’s a bathroom on the right.

After Taylor Swift released “Blank Space” she had to release a statement saying she was not singing about Starbucks lovers, but “all my ex-lovers.”

I still sing “Starbucks lovers” – I just like it better.

We laugh about song lyrics, and rightfully so. But a study released in January 2014 indicates the challenge is not only with lyrics.

Conducted through the University of Tuebingen by Claudia Beck, Bernd Kardatzki and Thomas Ethofer, the study determined the influence of alternative lyrics on the listener. The link for the study is at the bottom of this page*, but essentially there were three parts:

1.   Participants heard a bit of a song and rated their familiarity with it
2.   Participants heard the same part of the song but were shown alternative lyrics, then judged if they were familiar with the alternative lyrics
3.   Participants judged how strongly they heard the alternative lyrics as opposed to the true lyrics.
Two statements in the results jumped out at me.

1.   previous knowledge of the alternative lyrics strongly influenced whether or not misperceptions occurred, which is in line with the reports of many of our study participants that induced misperceptions can result in long-lasting effects that occur each time the respective song is heard. 
2.   Interestingly, the occurrence of induced misperceptions was independent of knowledge of the original, but not of the alternative percept, which is in line with observations made in the visual domain for reversible figures demonstrating that we can get stuck in one interpretation until we are informed that there is an alternative interpretation.

Did you hear it? 
Induced misperceptions can result in long-lasting effects that occur every time that song is heard…every time those words are heard…every time that feeling is replicated.

Did you hear it? 
We get stuck in one interpretation.

So it isn’t just about Starbucks lovers, is it?

How many times have you said something and a person who knows and loves you well heard something completely different?


But it isn’t simply the meaning of words. Often, it is what those words touch in us. 
If I grew up feeling nothing I did was good enough, I might hear harsh criticism when none was intended.

If I grew up feeling any sort of rejection from important people, I might be incredibly sensitive to what I view as rejection from others.

The hypothetical scenarios are endless – but the result is the same. Until I know myself well, and understand my emotions, the way I hear your words and the reactions I allow are LARGELY based on MY perceptions and MY expectations.

Same for you.

We get what we expect, what we firmly believe we will get, what we think about most, what we focus on often – whether we want it or not.

That isn’t psychobabble. It is truth. It is Biblical and it is also found in the teachings of every other esteemed master.

If I think about it long enough, if I focus on it hard enough, and believe it, I will get it…whether I want it or not!

If I decide I dislike a person or a situation, and I repeat that dislike to myself, I can be sure evidence will arise frequently. Then I say, “SEE!!!” and the cycle starts again.

Messed up song lyrics are funny. Messed up thinking patterns aren’t.

Read these words again…

We get what we expect, what we firmly believe we will get, what we think about most, what we focus on often – whether we want it or not.

It is my determined purpose to be more aware of what I choose to allow and how that creates my world, and less focused on “what you make me feel.”

Always with a smile on my face. Never in a morose, heavy-handed way.

Joy and well-being are everywhere. I get to decide how much I embrace.

Maybe you will join me.

Do do do do do do do do do
Do do do do do do do do do

We will talk again soon,
Beth Painter is, among many other things, a writer and motivational speaker. You can follow her on Facebook on the “Think Big focus small” page.

Beth is available to speak to your group about how to make your dreams and desires come to life! 

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