AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: self-help

    This topic has been on my mind a lot lately and something I often address in therapy because, well, it’s a damn good subject matter. Creating the balance I refer to in the title is part of becoming empowered and awesome and yadda, yadda, happy, great, amazing, rad, fabulous and so on. 2015 has begun, and if you need some extra help getting those sweet ass-butt cheeks in gear so you can actually achieve the goals you have set for yourself (resolution or not), I really think this topic is going to help you. So… let’s discuss.


    Often times we confuse what we need and what we want as being the same thing. Yes, we need necessities like food, shelter and water, but when I refer to “need” in this sense, I’m talking about the things in our modern world that assault our consciousness and trick us into believing we need something that more accurately reflects something we want. As the lines between ||need||and||want|| become blurred, we can lose focus of what is important in our life. We get further and further away from ourselves and can become disconnected from our own conscious state. The more disconnected we get, the more we start to act like zombies. Seriously, damn zombies. Continuing to act strictly on wants and desires will eventually decrease your awareness of some really important things. Like the things that keep you healthy and functioning optimally, and the things you know you should be doing because they benefit you in the long run. When you lose//forfeit your awareness, you forget about what you truly need. This is scary for a lot of reasons, mostly because when desires overrun needs, we can lose control over our life.


    Here are a few examples:



    I love my phone and my computer, but do you ever stop to think, “Fuck, when did I get so dependent on these physical items?”



    Who has control over your drinking, you or the beer company?


    Your weight

    How did you gain so many lbs? It wasn’t by eating consciously.


    I’m not berating anyone. Lord knows I’m huskier than I’d like to be, that I’m sometimes tethered to Apple products, and that I know what it’s like to feel addicted to a drink (not the sauce, but my on again/off again affair with damn dirty stinking Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi).


    I know it feels good to lose control, to be impulsive, to not give a damn about what you’re eating, drinking, saying and doing all the time. We have a lot of obligations to fulfill in order to live the lives we lead. We have jobs we sometimes hate, school, debt, fucked up family/friend/relationship drama and lots of other things, so sometimes losing control, or not giving a shit can feel supremely magnificent. Keyword being: SOMETIMES. It’s not bad to get what you want: to eat cake for breakfast, to take a personal day from work in order to hang out and get nice with your mate, to spend $$$ on yourself because you work hard and don’t need to justify it. All these things are A-OK when they are balanced by you also fulfilling your true needs.


    It’s not just about food, sex and money (even though those are really great things). Emotional needs and wants are important too. If there is a topic you don’t want to broach with your partner, but know you need to, you might want to avoid it, but ultimately it needs to be addressed. For example, you’ve been dating your mate for 4 years, you’re totally in love and really want to get married, but that partner of yours just ain’t feeling it. You can avoid dealing with this sometimes (so it doesn’t consume all your thoughts and mental energy) but, if it’s important to you it needs to get discussed, and the sooner the better. Avoidance tends to breed resentment and you don’t want that. A surefire way to prevent this is to pay attention to your needs and vest energy into getting them met in healthy ways. In this case, a need of yours might be to discuss your future, for purposes of determining where you stand with your partner. This is out of your need for safety and security. This is all 100% valid and 100% normal.


    Quit Being a Zomb-oner and Start Being Awesome


    To get reconnected to oneself, my advice is to simply begin asking, “Do I really need this, or is it something I want?” An important thing to remember is:


    ***B A L A N C E  I S   K E Y***


    I’m not a party pooper, and life is no fun without being able to do what you want, but it’s also no fun when all you do is hedonistically feed your desires and act on impulse. That’s two-dimensional living that will leave you empty and unfulfilled, and you deserve better than that – you’re better than that. You’ll have more power, control, command, meaning, validation, fulfillment and happiness in your life IF you can create balance between what you want, and what you need. So, raise your consciousness and open that third eye. If you can’t find your third eye, poke around your face until you feel it. OK, so don’t really poke yourself, but do ask and re-ask and re-re-ask, “Do I need this, or do I want this?” “Is this serving me well?” “Is this truly fulfilling?” “Am I acting on impulse?” “Is this fucking critical to my existence, or do I simply want it?”


    You are capable of amazing things. You have free will and can make choices that serve your life in healthy ways and promote your wellbeing/awesomeness. Balance. Is. Key!


    Thank you for reading this! As always, I hope this sparked some inspirational activity in your beautiful brain. Please send me a shemail or hemail and tell me what ya think! Peace in your crease- by which I mean your magnificent brain creases!


    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: self-help

    Why do we like the things we like? Why do we dig the music, art, movies and company we keep? It’s because of how these stimuli make us feel. All of these “things” are extensions of who we are. They help us express, emote and experience feeling. Everything we do is motivated by emotion. Whether you realize it or not, human beings desperately seek emotion. We thirst, hunger, long, yearn, all-that-kind-of-stuff for it. Emotions compel us. We are forever chasing emotion, and even if you think you are evading it, you are still running directly towards it.


    “Tiff, are you high? You sound like a baked spaceball from planet Weirdy. What are you talking about here?”


    Here is what I mean: Emotion motivates essentially all of life. The reasons underlying why we do just about anything is to feel. And what we want to feel is good. We want to feel good things like love, joy, happiness, connection, belongingness, acceptance, validation, support, significance, meaning, competency, purpose and…relief. This blog will discuss how all of us humanoids are relief chasers, and why it’s so important for you to acknowledge how your relief-seeking behavior plays out.


    ++ POINT #1 ++

    We want to feel positive emotions and when we’re not feeling them we seek relief.


    Relief can look like a lot of different things, such as getting plastered every night to numb or forget one’s feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, sadness, loneliness, misery, despair, guilt, remorse, defeat, dejection, depression, frustration, aggravation, rage, suffering and pain // OR // getting mega-aggro, calling your partner an “ass-butt” or “flaming diarrhea fire cunt,” // OR // causing physical harm to a living thing, including one’s self // OR // gorging on food, shopping, drugs, or sex. In all of the examples above, the person behaving in these hypothetical ways is seeking relief from the emotional difficulty, torment or pain they are experiencing.


    Coping with these types of painfully colossal emotions is difficult. When you strip it down to its simplest, most basic and fundamental form, your process of coping = fighting emotion with emotion.


    “I experience hopelessness [emotion] and I want to experience relief [also an emotion].”


    So, you’re trying to fight the dank stuff that really hurts you – in the depths of your heart and soul, with relief. But dealing with it in the ways I mentioned up ‘ehr is like fighting a wild fire with a squirt gun. It will not work. In fact, it perpetuates toxic coping styles and drills the severity of your problems further. If your goal is to be better, healthier, happier and more fulfilled in life, you need to adopt alternate strategies for experiencing relief. This is reality.



    ++ POINT #2 ++

    You can trade in your squirt gun for an ocean.


    Relief can also look like: crying, talking to a friend, family member or mental health professional, writing, drawing, sculpting, cooking, walking, meditating, praying, exercising, lifting weights, doing yoga, working in your yard, engaging in your favorite hobby, volunteering, watching a movie and, of course, listening to music. Listening to Jeff Buckley, or any other musician you feel a connection to, can help you cope because the pain you’re dealing with can feel as though it is being mirrored back. Hence: validation (ok, so I love Jeff Buckley and wanted to give him a shout). When you are able to get the relief you seek in ways like these, you are fighting that raging fire of pain with an ocean of water. This will work.


    “This is lots to digest. Can you put it in a hairless little nutshell for me @tifftutts?”


    Human behavior is motivated by emotion. We seek to experience positive emotion.

    When we’re not experiencing positive emotion, we are trying our hardest to do so. That “trying” part is where life gets tricky (or, supremely fucked up). If you want to be healthy, happy and live fulfilled, you must spend time reflecting on whether the relief you get supports or stymies your wellbeing. Be accountable for yourself and take responsibility for the behavior you display. We’re all in the process of growing and evolving and owning your shit is not a bad thing. It signifies strength and wisdom, so please don’t be defensive about it.


    A big part of my work in psychotherapy is to help people understand how their emotions and behaviors are connected. Yes, experience is subjective. What I feel when I hear Miles Davis, or see Holy Motors, might be entirely different than what you feel, but experience is much less subjective when it comes to the fundamentals of emotion. When you or I, or the Queen of Sheba, or Joseph Gordon Levitt, or Ruth Buzzi feel dank, chances are we will try to feel less dank by seeking relief. I believe that individuals, whether they are coping maladaptively (the bummer ways I mentioned) or adaptively (the healthy, posi-ways I mentioned), have a unified purpose, which is to feel good. This is why people deserve empathy. Folks who struggle a bit more with coping in “good” ways are suffering too. But empathy can take you only so far, and eventually people have to make themselves accountable. No matter your past, you are capable of getting your emotional needs met in healthy ways (including feeling relief). Developing a greater connection between yourself and your behavior requires that you cultivate a deepened understanding of yourself. So start asking and answering the question: “Am I getting my needs met in a healthy way?” If not, make a change. We all have free will, choice, and amazing capabilities. We can exercise them to become the awesome people we were destined to be.


    For your health! Thank you for reading my blog!!


    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: self-help

    I am getting more bananas with each blog title, but hey, what can you do?


    This entry will borrow 5-7 minutes of your time to discuss risk. What I hope to show you is that sometimes taking risks, in all their horrifying, terrifying, “this makes me feel like piranhas are swimming in my stomach and slowly moving out of my intestines” glory, is necessary in order to achieve personal growth. I also hope to show that you are capable of surviving and recovering from a risk gone badly. In other words, when you take a risk and it doesn’t turn out the way you wanted/hoped/expected/thought, you can pick yourself up, dust your sweet ass off and get back to standing tall.


    Risks are scary to many of us because of the uncertainty inherent within them. The reality is, we don’t know how things will turn out, and not knowing is fucking frightening. Not knowing means it could turn out badly. People sometimes/often/frequently have the tendency to catastrophize in situations of uncertainty. Catastrophizing is basically what we do when we think the worst. In part, we do this as a defense. It’s our psyche’s way of attempting to prepare for, and survive, the ultimate worst-case scenario. Another part of it is insecurity. Dealing with the insecurity part is an issue I would help a psychotherapy client work on, as in, “Well Tiff, it could turn out badly, and I don’t know if I could handle that.” Short answer is, “Ya damn right you can handle that.” My job as a therapist would be to help a person see this for him or herself.


    Not knowing how something will turn out also induces anxiety. How many of you like feeling anxiety? You know anxiety, that agonizing feeling of dread, wrapped in fear, wrapped in worry, wrapped in excrement. Maybe there are some anxo-masochists out there, but I’m guessing most of us ain’t. Anxiety BLOWS! Actually, somehow, it sucks and blows at the same time (there’s a whole chapter in my book about helping you with it, so don’t worry, it’s going to be fine).


    So, you can see why when it comes to risk, uncertainty does the dirty with anxiety, and it can work to deter you from leaving your comfort zone and going for that “thing” you really want to do but have reservations about.


    How can a person overcome this?!


    (1) Identify at least 3 truthful statements that provide you with the reassurance you’d need to recover from a worst-case scenario. In other words, if you take said risk and the world takes a supreme dump on you in response, what could you remind yourself of that would comfort and console you?


    I’ll give you my 3 because in light of having my book come out in August (which is taking a risk and makes me feel nervous and scared and vulnerable and all that) I have them ready:


    #1 – My family loves me and accepts me.

    #2 – My friends love me and will not turn their backs on me.

    #3 – I’m a pretty good person (~ 88% good / 12% ass-holey sometimes) with good intentions and I genuinely want to help people.


    For me these 3 statements resonate loudly and this helps give me the reassurance (and courage) I need to expose myself, take a risk, and do “it.” So, if you want to have more courage to take risks, prepare some of your own statements, which will reassure you that you’ll be okay if you put yourself out there and things don’t turn out the way you wanted.


    (2) Don’t frame things not going your way as a failure.


    You ask a girl out who you think is pretty and she rejects you. You tryout for a band, or a play, or a commercial and don’t get it. You write a blog and only 10 people read it. If you frame these events as a failure you are reinforcing a negative belief that it’s not good to try, not good to leave your comfort zone, or not good to put yourself out there. This is false. Just because you don’t get the reaction you want does not mean you failed. REPEAT: Just because I didn’t get the reaction I wanted does not mean I failed. This is a reality. You succeeded at taking a risk and that is very important to acknowledge. Yes it burns when you get rejected. It stinks butt, but if you frame it positively you can cope with the disappointment better, recover faster and be more inclined to not give up. This means you’ll be more inclined to keep on keepin’ on. If you frame it as growth, as in, “Sucks nard it didn’t turn out the way I wanted, but HELL yeah, I did something that was out of my comfort zone and I survived,” then you did not fail. If you let yourself feel defeated, then failure wins.


    (3) Take calculated risks.


    “Calculated” in the sense that you really should put some thought into the risk you want to take. The tricky thing here is not to over think it. You have to find the right amount of thought to vest into something, but too much can leave you feeling flooded and overwhelmed. Think in terms of a recipe as you try to determine how much thought you should put into a risk. If the risk you’re contemplating will effect a very large portion of your life (you, your family, your kids, your friends, etc.) then you might need a few hefty cups of thought. If, on the other hand, you’re trying to decide, “Hmmm… do I want Sriracha on my vegetables or not?” Just a pinch of thought is needed. So, the bigger the chunk of life that will be affected, the bigger the amount of thought needed.


    *People sometimes struggle with the level of thought they put into things (i.e. 5 cups when only 1 teaspoon is really required) and this is yet another topic that comes up in therapy.


    (4) Have realistic expectations.


    This means you’re in touch with reality and aware that things could go this way, OR that way. Things could go the way you want, hope and expect, but they may not. It’s not guaranteed. I want you to stay hopeful with beautiful bright eyes, but you also have to keep your feet on the ground and remember that the universe grants you no certainty when it comes to risk taking. This will minimize the devastation you feel if things don’t turn out the way you wanted and help you recover from the disappointment of a risk that turns out shitski. Hope for the best indeed, but be prepared for things not exactly working out the way you envisioned.


    That’s all she wrote this time! Thanks so much for reading this and as always, I truly, deeply, sincerely hope you found something useful from it. I love people and my goal is to give you something meaningful that you can apply to improve the quality of your life. You matter. You are precious and beautiful to behold.


    And… A BOOK UPDATE! Oh man, it’s really happening. My book, “Being and Awesomeness: Get Rad, Stay Rad,” is finished, printed and ready for the public… kind of. I will be having a book release/rock show/party at the Loving Touch, in Ferndale, Michigan on Friday August 29th. It will also mark the very first show of my husband’s new band Malo Konjche (the spazzy excitement I feel to see this performance keeps me smiling at all hours. I think I even sleep with a smile knowing I get to see it soon). Also appearing will be The Thornbills (swoon, swoon, SWOON) and our hometown hero’s, Touch the Clouds (who’ll probably be on SNL in 2015). Everyone is welcome. It’s the Friday before Labor Day and I hope you can come.


    In the meantime, I will be in San Francisco (July 19 + 20) and Los Angeles (July 26 + 27) to participate in the Renegade Craft Fair, where I’ll be selling my metal designs (search “Spazz Happy Line Design” if you’re curious to see what I make). Since I’ll be there, I decided to try selling some books too. Please don’t be mad East Coast. I’m forever your girl, but wanted to make it available to the West Coast buddies too. So, West Coast can pick it up in person at the fairs, East Coast at the party on August 29th and the rest of the world can get it on August 30th.


    You’ll be able to purchase and download it right off this site. It’s going to be $5 for the actual book, but also available as a totally free PDF download. It’s a little different than my original plan but still pretty A-ok I think. Many sincere thanks to those of you who have encouraged, supported and expressed genuine excitement for me. I hope you like LOVE the book! Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!! THANK YOU!!!