About State Management

I believe the way we manage our state tells us a lot about how we handle change and how we learn as individuals. Let me elaborate on this and please be patient: it gets a bit abstract before it gets simple.

During my studies, one of my professors stated, multiple times, that “Our language is our world“. As a young and rebellious person, I really wanted to challenge him, to prove him wrong. This thing can’t be that simple, right? Turns out, that it is harder than one can expect. Apparently, language is the thing that makes us conscious of other things in the world. For example, people who live in certain areas made sure that their language described the natural environment quite nuanced. Because of this Inuit people (Eskimos) have 40-50 words for different types of snow, depending on the dialect, or British people have approximately 100 words & expressions for rain. Having words for labelling the world around us is a practical way for our brain to do a quick assessment, and act on that with precision. The more nuanced these descriptions are, the more efficient our actions become. Thanks to the language we could become who we are now as a species.

Our language makes invisible things – visible. Probably in the beginning, we didn’t have any need for words, we could process the phenomena of the world (we still can), but since language plays a big part in our life, we often unconsciously perceive the things which we can compress into words as facts. And this behaviour is logical: if we burn our hands by touching the fire when we are kids it is safe to consider that any fire, red, yellow or blue-flamed is hot enough to hurt you. It is very practical this feature of ours, the trouble starts when we use language to navigate human connections & interactions at work and in our private life (friends, family, love life). The words we are using to describe ourselves, our situation, our surrounding, our connections, and our attitude towards our past, present and future very often (I believe always) describe our attitude and our judgement upon them, rather than the facts from reality. And these descriptions have a deep impact on our energy and power over us and over the world.

The key to understanding state management is through language. You see, language is a quite violent thing. There is no problem until we just use words, but when we start creating connections between those words, things get messy. The languages were designed for efficiency and quick response (cooperation), but it wasn’t designed to have a correct, deep understanding of the world (this is a solo process usually). It was designed to manipulate you into doing what you do because you see the results (got empowered and endorsed by others or celebrated by others), or quickly change your behaviour because what you do isn’t working (you got shunned by others and punished by others), and usually based on the social environment of ours. The way we use words usually describes how we approach our state, our attitude towards our challenges and our opportunities.

Language definitely can be used to deeply understand our surroundings. For that, we, as individuals have to on one hand transcend a mainly automatic process of the language: labelling. The older we are, the quicker the process of labelling becomes a process of judgement. We live busy lives, and for practical reasons & for efficiency, we think that if we have seen a pattern many times (possible), then everything similar to the parameters of the pattern (this also is possible) would result in the pattern itself (which is likely to happen but is far from being 100% sure). You can identify these features by using the logic of the language: All English teachers are boring, and John is an English teacher, then we can say, that John is boring. This could be true, but there is a probability that it isn’t. Something similar happens to us, on a daily basis. Can you identify similar simplification traps in your life, which brought you trouble? On other hand, we have to understand the words that we are using, choose more empowering words instead of them and maybe learn some new words which help us navigate better the relationships that surround us. Do you have words which are a go-to in challenging situations but they don’t actually do not help you to understand the connections and they obstruct you to find easy solutions?

We can’t fight invisible monsters. First, we have to observe a bit our surrounding, taking in all of it and without judgement, without labelling. For a while, we have to consider that we don’t know what means and even if we do know, we do not know why people behave the way they are behaving. There is no way of knowing, without asking them. However if we are quick to label (and, by default: judge) a situation, then our practical & proactive brain considers the job done, restraining us from further understanding, from other potential assessments. Once we manage to observe phenomena for a while something will happen which is something simple, yet it is hard to describe: the phenomena which we considered to be known to us (a person, a situation, an environment) reveal to us a new angle. If we consider a person just bad, then he does something good. If we consider a situation a lucky one we realize that there is a price to pay.

Through observation, new understanding will take place. Prior to this new understanding, we change because our attitude changed. We no longer consider, that we know that thing or understand inside and out that person. We allow ourselves not to know, in order to be able to find out more about it. The harsh truth about this new understanding is that it was always available to you, it’s just that you were not available to it, not until you declared that you don’t know. But look at you: now you are.

The key to state management is presence. Being present is something simple, yet it is such a challenge most of the time. Our brain is working constantly, mapping out the world and updating this interactive, holistic map second by second by second. One has to tone down this noise for a while. Once you are where you are (not in your thoughts being sad about the past or worried about the future), you will perceive your surrounding and you have the chance in the unique moment to understand what is happening around you and in you. This is why presence is the key to managing efficiently your state: once you are aware of it, you can carefully label it and once labelled, you can change things if you see it fitting.

Breathe, smile and be kind to yourself. The process of state management (not state control, not mind control, not conquering the mind, not dominating your state, or whatever) is something that requires time and patience. Like a garden: it needs attention, it needs care and it needs acceptance if something goes off track. Life is about playing and trying out new things. It is important to leave space for this as well. For me, whenever I feel stressed, under pressure, lost, or sad – and I realize it: I do these things. I breathe in and out, consciously because this helps me anchor myself in the present moment and I smile, because I have reasons to smile, and smiling invites the mind to relax: there is no danger. I choose to be kind to myself, because it is a learning process, and most of the time I am successful in managing my state, yet there are moments when I am losing oversite. By breathing, smiling and being kind to myself I am allowing learning to happen, while I steer my attention back to what matters: my state and how to manage it.

Thanks for reading. If you are interested in building habits that empower state management or you need support in some other way, feel free to check out our state management programs. Or contact me through the website.

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