3 Timeless Life Lessons to Master: Life Lessons through Songwriting

When we think about coaching a young person using unconventional methods like songwriting, it’s easy to focus on the basics: teaching them how to write songs, and that's it. When we take things one step further, and realize that it's a fantastic way to help them process their emotions, and express themselves creatively, it can be incredibly powerful. However, Youth Empowerment [emphasis on the empowerment] through Songwriting (YES) coaching goes far beyond these elements. It’s not just about crafting lyrics or managing stress; it’s about instilling key life lessons that teenagers can apply to all aspects of their lives. Here are three crucial lessons that I use with my YES coaching clients that emphasize and demonstrate how songwriting can be a powerful tool for personal development, growth, and healing.

A Life Lesson One: The Awesome Stuff Happens Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Sharing our authentic truth can be super scary—especially for teenagers who feel isolated in their experiences. And let's be real: how many times did you, as a teenager, often accuse people of not understanding?

Well, songwriting acts as an emotional security blanket, offering young people the permission to discuss and express their vulnerable thoughts without feeling overly exposed. "It's creative expression" after all... but, as with all forms of expression, there's always at least a sliver of truth under the lyrics. So when teens lean into this vulnerability and share their authentic truth, they not only feel a weight off of their shoulders, but they also often begin to feel better understood by their peers and parents. This connection helps them deal with overwhelming thoughts and emotions in a healthy, constructive manner. By stepping out of their comfort zone, they find that the world is full of others who share their experiences and emotions, leading to greater empathy and understanding.

And connection.

I've experienced this first hand in my own life - recognizing that, my comfort zone often impedes me from recognizing that, realistically, I have all the answers to my overwhelm and stress inside me. The issue is that it's much easier to go rushing full speed ahead in doing all of the things as opposed to sitting in our discomfort, and pushing our comfort zones a little bit to understand and recognize what those answers may be.

Especially if we're feeling vulnerable.

But, again, this is where that songwriting security blanket comes to play. Writing and singing about our own lives, lyrically exploring the full extent of our emotions, thoughts and feelings... it's uncomfortable, but it's necessary for our healing and growth. Better yet: by practicing this for the purposes of songwriting, we're also subconsciously learning how to develop better habits around self awareness, mindfulness, and navigating our thoughts and feelings in the future, even when we're not writing songs. 

This is a Hard Life Lesson Too: The KISS Method - Keep It Simple, Songwriter

You might recognize the KISS principle from school. I distinctly remember being in middle school when my teacher at the time told me [during an essay writing assignment] to “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” Well, er, I'm not a fan of calling anyone stupid, let alone teenagers. Luckily, the word "songwriter" also begins with an "s", so when it comes to YES coaching, I've adapted the KISS method to translate to “Keep It Simple, Songwriter.”

But why? This isn't an essay!

Glad you asked.

Overwhelm often stems from not taking the time to break down swirling thoughts. In fact, the dictionary definition of "overwhelm" is "to overpower in thought or feeling". However, we don't have to stay in those overpowering thoughts and feelings. By allowing ourselves, or our teenagers, to spend time on each song and stay focused on one key thought: using the verses and choruses to simplify and understand those individual thoughts, then the choruses to work our way through the thought or feeling, teens can take small, meaningful steps toward overcoming their overwhelm. One song at a time.

This method can transform a multitude of overwhelming thoughts and feelings into an album of songs that evidence their ability to manage and conquer their struggles. By keeping things simple and focused, teens learn to navigate their emotions more effectively.

Lesson Three: Don’t Give Me Problems: Give Me Solutions

It’s easy for anyone, especially teenagers, to wallow in negative feelings. While it’s crucial to let young people feel all their emotions, it’s equally important not to dwell in unproductive negativity. One of the key lessons that I focus on with my YES coaching clients is to teach young songwriters to explore, understand, and communicate their overwhelming feelings during the verses of their songs. The magic happens when they reframe that negativity into something positive and empowering during the choruses. For instance, a recent teen songwriter wrote about her traumatic hospital experience in the verses, vividly describing her fear and pain. However, by the bridge and final chorus, she reached a resolution, expressing newfound strength and understanding. This transformation shows how stepping out of one’s comfort zone and expressing difficult emotions can lead to profound personal growth.

Here's how it started in the verse:

An illness in my brain that can't go away

One minute with my mind and I feel afraid

They diagnose me with unheard words

I am a stone and pain is my sword

I'm stuck in a bed with a white paper gown

Feel like a dog that's about to be put down

Leg bouncing as they interview me

I want to wake up from this dream

And here's how the first chorus went:

I'm stuck in circles

Going round and round again

The pain is immortal

I just want this all to end

I am trapped in a prison Of never-ending woe

Why can't my brain just listen

When I tell it to slow

... intense, right? But there is an evolution. With the right support, coaching, and cognitive reframe, her song took a turn in the bridge:

I was lost in the forest of my mind

I wasn't me, and I wasn't my kind

Hear me, see me, can you please feel me?

I'm alive, it's my epiphany

And that final chorus? Powerfully affirming:

I was stuck in circles

I went round and round again

Yeah the pain was mortal

It all tied up to an end

I was trapped in a prison

Of never ending woe

But my brain, well it listened

When I told it to slow.


As a Youth Empowerment through Songwriting coach, the entire aim is to recognize that songwriting becomes more than just a creative outlet—it’s a tool for teaching teenagers valuable life lessons. By encouraging them to step outside their comfort zones, simplify their overwhelming thoughts, and focus on resilience and solutions rather than problems, we help them develop emotional intelligence, and a stronger sense of self.

If you’re looking to empower your teenager, or even yourself, consider the transformative power of songwriting, and let's hop on a call to discuss how I can help. I have room for only three more clients this summer, so get in quick! After all: it’s not just about the music; it’s about creating a life for your teenager that is filled with growth, connection, and harmony.

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