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!!