Posts Tagged ‘state’

The Power of State

January 11, 2011 Leave a comment

What is state?

State refers to your emotional state.  The way you are feeling in a given moment.  We are creatures of emotions.  This is true for all of us, even if some of us show it less.

People who are highly successful in one area of their lives all have one common ability.  They know the importance of using their emotions to support their work.  Not all people who achieve success achieve mastery however.  Mastery is being able to perform at a high level of expertise nearly 100% of the time.  There are many successful people out there, but the best are masters of their skill.  It is not uncommon to hear an artist say, “I simply don’t feel it right now,” or “I can’t connect with my work.”  In fact, this is a problem we all encounter at some point in our lives.  Have you ever been trying to write a paper or an essay only to run into writers-block?

What’s really going on here?  I constantly ask myself questions like that.  Why is that sometimes when I sit down to write, words flow out of me, and other times I can barely spell my name?  The answer is state.

The way we feel plays a major impact what we do, and how we do it.  Interestingly, the way we use our body and our breathing creates our state.  Essentially, all emotion we feel has a certain physiology that accompanies it.  Some people go through life trying to figure out how to never feel a certain emotion.  I’ve been in this position before.  Why must I feel anxiety in certain social situations.  I hate this anxiety.  It builds from there.

This is pointless.  WE ARE CREATURES OF EMOTION.  It’s what makes us beautiful.  You cannot stop having emotions.  Please don’t try, it’s not healthy and makes for a not very interesting person.

However, it is entirely possible to control your state.  The first step of self-mastery is state-mastery.  Okay this is confusing right?  Let’s go back to the writing example.

Have you ever sat down to write, not been able to and decided to distract yourself for a little while?  Maybe you listened to music that pumped you up, inspired you, or was relaxing.  Maybe you watched a comedian telling a couple hilarious jokes.  Maybe you went for a run.  Maybe you took a shower.  Then you returned to your desk to write, and guess what, you were able to write.  Your writer’s block was gone.  Why did this happen?

Your state changed.  Emotions are a pattern.  When we feel a certain way, we use our bodies a certain way, we breathe a certain way, we think a certain way, and we continue to feel the same way, often worse.  We link emotions to memories we have in our lives, and when we encounter an experience similar to an old memory, we link similar emotions to this new memory.  The thing is, it’s not entire memories that we only associate emotion to.  It’s also, and more significantly, specific details within the memory.

For example, let’s say that in 3rd grade you wrote an essay in freehand using a yellow number 2 pencil and handed it in for grading.  Later that day, as you sat thumbing your pencil, the teacher hands your paper back.  You stare down at a giant F written in red ink.  Immediately you begin to feel negative emotions.  You feel depressed, stupid, unimaginative, foolish, and like a failure.  As you are feeling these things, your posture changes, and now your breathing must change.  You slouch over, hunch your shoulders, let your neck hang low, and let out a slow sigh.  Your physiology has changed completely.

Now fast forward to today.  You sit down at your desk to write, pickup a yellow number 2 pencil, and thumb the eraser.  Bam! An emotion fires off.  Your memory has anchored certain emotions to the act of thumbing a yellow number two pencil.  Seriously, this is how your brains work.  You link emotions to your senses.  In this case, it’s feel.  Immediately, and without knowing it, your physiology changes based on this emotion.  You suddenly feel unimaginative, sluggish, and unable to write.  When you distract yourself through music, comedy, exercise, or a shower, these actions change your physiology, and thus change your emotional state.  You come back to write, and the words flow.

What about people who just hate to write and it has nothing to do with a pencil?  These people have linked certain emotions to the act of writing itself.  At some point in their lives, they experienced major negative emotions while having to write.  Often times this occurred over many occasions, and the size of the emotions associated with writing grew.

If you’re one of these people, don’t feel bad, we all have things in our lives that trigger bad emotions.  The difference is how a person responds to these emotions, and their ability to change the emotions on command.  I will tell you right now that anyone who has truly mastered a specific skill first had to master his emotions.  A professional baseball player plays in 162 games each season.  The best players are the best because they are able to produce consistent results.  Do you think a great hitter feels great every morning when he wakes up?  Heck no!  No one feels great all the time.  However, when he steps onto the field, he is able to put himself in the right mindset to succeed.  He is able to call up the right emotional state for success.  Have you ever wondered why baseball players are so superstitious?  It is because they have a very specific routine that is required to put themselves in state.  They are using specific items from past memories to recreate the same emotions that often lead to success.

How do we keep ourselves in a positive state?  How do we take an activity that usually puts us in a negative state and change it puts us in a positive state?

We do by firing off positive emotions and taking notice of how we use our body and our breathing when we feel great.  This is called anchoring and I’ll talk about it in another post.