by Stephanie Grossman, M.A.
Although her new style may be a bit controversial, I know I’m not alone in my enjoyment of Taylor Swift’s latest hit, “Look What You Made Me Do.” Though it’s no 1989, I do like the song, and I also admit I like the themes in it too—there’s blame, revenge, karma, redemption, and strength. Who doesn’t empathize with Taylor’s desire to get back at those who’ve wronged her?! However, besides dancing around in my bedroom, my initial response to this song was: No one can make you do anything, Taylor!
Taylor’s lyrics lead us to believe that someone (likely Kanye West) had made her out to be a fool. As a result, Taylor underlines his name in red on her revenge list, and she’s about to do something to him. And he’s the one who’s responsible. In reality though, according to REBT, the “A” (the activating event), in this case Kanye leaking a telephone call (among other offenses), is not what leads to the “C” (the consequences) of Taylor’s unhealthy negative emotion (anger) and her behaviors (threatening him and calling him out). In fact, it is Taylor’s “B” (beliefs; one can guess— “He should not have leaked our private telephone call!”) that led to her anger towards him and her desire for revenge. It is therefore Taylor’s irrational belief that Kanye West should act in a certain way that “made” her “do” whatever it is she’s going to do.
Though likely in her financial interest, it may not be in Taylor’s best emotional interest to hold onto these irrational beliefs and perpetuate her anger. She says “The world moves on, another day, another drama, drama/ But not for me, not for me, all I think about is karma.” Taylor’s obsessive rumination about karma for Kanye is unfortunately only harming her. While it may be nice to believe, as Taylor does, that “maybe I got mine, but you’ll all get yours,” sadly, life is unfair, and there is no guarantee that Kanye or anyone else will “get his.” And if Taylor actually tries to harm him, she will likely have to face the consequences.
If Taylor is curious about how to change her thoughts in order to turn her anger into annoyance (which likely won’t happen given the 503 million views of this song on YouTube), I would provide the following advice. I would suggest she stop placing demands on Kanye and also recognize that holding onto her anger will not restore justice. I would validate her initial preferences (e.g., “I don’t like your little games/ Don’t like your tilted stage/ The role you made me play, of the fool, no, I don’t like you”). While it’s perfectly fine for Taylor to dislike Kanye and dislike his actions (who wouldn’t?), there is no reason that he should not call Taylor out on her lies and no reason he shouldn’t want to come out looking good publicly. He’s acting in his best interest, and while it would be preferable for him to look out for Taylor’s too, there is no rule that says he has to. By replacing her irrational beliefs with rational ones, perhaps Taylor won’t have to spend her days plotting ways to get back at Kanye (though I really like this song, so I’m not mad about it…).