1. How to manage your states
state 1. n.
Existing condition or position of thing or person; condition of being excited, anxious etc.
The word 'state' can be a collective noun for all states or to describe a particular, and usually unwanted, state as in 'being in a state'. Words are often used to describe how we are or feel, which give a description of the state which we then recognise through checking in with our own experience of similar emotions.
The interesting thing about the language of state is that it usually describes a person in terms like "Oh he got into a real state over that", "She was in a terrible state" or "You should have seen the state he was in". Usually these are describing extreme states of emotion like fear, anger, frustration or anxiety and these phrases imply that the person was, at that moment in time, in that state. Also we presuppose that they were not in it before it occurred and are not in it now. It was a temporary state which they got into and we presume got out of.
So if we can get into a state, is it possible we can get out of it again or change to adopt a more useful state by deciding that is what we want?
Being in states
We are, in fact, always in a state of something. It could be calm, tense, eager, loving, friendly, expectant, serious, listening, anticipating, caring, playful, you can continue making your own list. What is it that enables us to enter these states? And do we choose our states or do we just find ourselves in them? How often do we notice the state we are in? Usually it is when we enter an extreme state like excitement, anger or elation that we notice because it is a strong feeling that drives and shapes our experience. Our hearts beat faster, our body temperature changes, we perspire or our muscles tense, or we laugh or cry or feel violent or tender.
Most of the time being in a state is not a problem and sometimes it is even beneficial to release and display emotions in healthy ways. Occasionally though we get into a state that is not useful or appropriate. The piano player who gets a state of nerves before playing, the best man before speaking to two hundred guests, the parent who gets angry and hits a child, the salesman who is anxious about cold calling or the motorist with road rage.
Wouldn’t it be great then to be able to change our states at will? What if you could learn to notice the state you are in and then ask yourself is this how I want to be right now? What if you then had a choice? What if you could choose a better or more useful state and simply change at will? The good news is you can, by learning a few new skills and then practising them until you have perfected the art!
How to change state
Choose a positive state that you have experienced recently and that would be useful to have as a resource state at any time you choose. For example a state of calm. Float back in time to the actual experience and imagine being there as if it were the present. Notice as you do this what you are seeing. Is it a scene as if you are watching a movie or are you experiencing it as if watching through your own eyes? Is the picture in colour or black and white? does it have a frame? Is it clear and sharp? Are you seeing it from above or below? Is it wide angle or close up? As you get the picture make it brighter, more colourful and more intense so it fills your whole vision. Now do the same with what you heard and what you were feeling. Go there again as if you are there now and hear the sounds you heard. Are they loud or soft are there many sounds or just one. Now turn up the volume until it fills your ears. Where in your body do you experience this state. Is it in your chest or your head or somewhere else? What kind of a feeling is it? How do you physically experience it? Now let this feeling grow and expand to fill your whole being.
Now as you bring all three senses of sight, sound and feeling to a peak anchor the state. Do this with either a word, a colour, a picture or a touch or in some other way that when you fire this anchor again by repeating the word, thinking of the colour or seeing the picture or touching your index finger and thumb together it will bring back the whole experience of the state. This is called anchoring. With practice this can be a powerful tool to access any state you have chosen as useful and anchored as described above.
Finally test the anchor. Break from the state by thinking or talking about or doing something completely different like listen to a piece of music, read the paper, do some exercise. Now fire your anchor and test if brings back your resource state. If it does you are done if it doesn’t repeat the process and recreate your resource state even more vividly and anchor just before the state reaches its peak. Break state and test again.
You need to use the anchors or they will fade. The best anchors are those that you anchor when you are actually experiencing a positive state. Go ahead and anchor it there and then.
Now you have a choice you can be in a negative state and be OK with that or you can chose to fire your anchor to change to a positive state. With practice this is a great resource.