It’s been covered by everyone from Walk Off The Earth to babies. It’s spent 21 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s arguably one of the most positive tracks of 2014. It’s now 2015, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. However, we couldn’t help but wonder, is Taylor Swift really dispensing the best advice when she tells us to “Shake It Off”?
To answer that query, we hit up someone who knows just a little bit more about mental well-being than we do: Simon A. Rego, director of the cognitive behavioral therapy (or CBT) training program at the Montefiore Medical Center. CBT — for those not in the know — is a kind of talk therapy that targets the way you think about things or the way you do things to uncover the root of your emotional distress. Translation: If you can figure out how to bust out of harmful patterns, it’s possible to feel a whole hell of a lot better.
According to Rego, Swift’s “Shake It Off” kind of fits the CBT model to a T (pun intended). To explain what he means by that, Rego first targeted the lyric, “I keep cruisin’/Can’t stop, won’t stop moving,” which he said is a “behavioral principle.”
“She’s saying basically, regardless, of the chitter-chatter or buzz around her, ’I’m going to focus on moving on to what’s important in my life or things that I value or goals that I have,'” Rego told MTV News. “That’s a behavioral principle that helps point our compass to what’s important despite what life’s throwing us at the moment.”
“So that’s good advice — doing what’s important to you regardless of what the world around you is giving you helps you get through those inevitable potholes on the road to your goals,” he added.
Next, he highlighted the lyric: “It’s like I got this music in my mind saying it’s gonna be alright.”
“To me, [that lyric] is cognitive,” Rego said. “It’s like, she’s got her own hit song in her own head — which is an interesting parallel to this hit song being an inspiration to everyone else — saying she’s going to be alright. That’s a coping thought — it’s a coping strategy, which to me says a lot about the notion in cognitive behavioral therapy about acceptance.”
And the haters that Taylor’s coping with? Well, Rego had some thoughts on those trolls, too.
“We tell our patients all the time, people around you are going to be who they are and unfortunately we often have to deal with people in our lives that are negative,” he said. “The idea is, you don’t have to put your focus externally on those situations, you can turn your lens inward and instead focus on what’s important to you and work on yourself. If you do that, you have much more likelihood of controlling your own thoughts and actions than you ever will controlling the thoughts and actions of the people around you. It’s much better to ’shake it off.'”
Yup, you heard it here first, dudes: Taylor Swift is actually good for your mental well-being (you know, in addition to your regularly scheduled therapy and whatnot).