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Mental Health Themes in Music: The Hymn of Acxiom

Welcome to the next entry in Mental Health Themes in Music! Today we’ll look at the indie folk song, The Hymn of Acxiom, by Vienna Teng, which was released in 2013 on the album Aims. While the intended message is a commentary on targeted advertising algorithms (Acxiom being the name of an Arkansas-based database marketing company), my hope in sharing this with you is that you will have a moment for reflection using the lyrical content of this beautifully composed, a cappella piece. For this purpose, I invite you to consider the definition of “Axiom,” which is, “a statement or proposition which is regarded as being established, accepted or self-evidently true.” Let’s take a look…

somebody hears you, you know that inside

someone is learning the colors of all your moods, to

(say just the right thing and) show that you’re understood.

here you’re known

Being and feeling “heard” is a basic human emotional need, and this is often such a profound need because the antidote for shame is being known. Truly known. Take a moment to think about what makes you feel validated by others. Now, notice what that validation feels like in your body.

leave your life open. you don’t have to hide.

someone is gathering every crumb you drop, these

(mindless decisions and) moments you long forgot

keep them all

One of the main ways we feel seen is when someone remembers things about us, especially the little things that we assume most people don’t notice. Take a moment to think about what makes you feel seen. Now, notice what are the hardest and easiest parts of you to share with others.

Now we will build you an endlessly upward world,

(reach in your pocket) embrace you for all you’re worth.

Acceptance from others makes us feel a sense of emotional security, which gives us space to lean into our fullest potentials. Take a moment to place your hand on your heart and whisper to yourself something that you long to hear from others. Do your best to believe it.

I hope that taking this moment gives you a sense of comfort and validation to build upon. While self-compassion can be challenging, I encourage you to find small ways that resonate with you specifically that help you to access it. Regardless, I would like to offer the following: If no one else has said this to you recently, let it be said now that I see you, I hear you and you aren’t alone.


Kim Johnson, LMHC, MT-BC, is a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) and board certified music therapist (MT-BC) who graduated with her master’s from Lesley University in 2017. She has experience with adults and adolescents in group private practice and community mental health settings. The levels of care she has worked in are outpatient, with both individual and group therapy and in partial hospital programs for mental health and substance use disorders. Additionally, she has had intensive training in dialectical behavioral therapy and cognitive processing therapy for PTSD.

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