The 10,000 pound elephant takes a step forward, feels the tug against its ankle. It’s a thin rope attached its ankle, tied to a stake hammered into the earth. The elephant looks back at the rope and stake, sighs and steps back to its original position.
Why is it that this massive and incredibly powerful creature, capable of ripping trees right out of the ground, is beaten by a trivial rope and stake?
It’s because when the elephant was young, the stake and rope were enough to hold it in place. Now that the elephant is fully grown, it’s only the memory that restrains it.
The rope is no longer the problem, the elephant’s ‘state’ has become the problem.
Problems and deficit thinking
What is ‘state,’ you ask. For our purposes, state is how you feel at any moment. You are always in a state and can move back and forth from resourceful to unresourceful states through the day. State includes our physical, emotional and spiritual aspects.
When we consider a previous event, sometimes we can see, hear and feel things as if they were happening to us again. In NLP, we call this an associated state. Being associated to pleasant memories allows us to experience the happiness we felt all over again. Likewise, when we are associated with a problem, it leads to deficit thinking – i.e. whenever we think about our problem, it feels as though it is happening again and we revert to the same state we were in at that moment. We are not able to access any internal resources that may facilitate a solution. We become ‘stuck’ inside the content of the problem.
The difficulty is that you can’t fix the problem from inside the problem.
Let me explain: Imagine walking along an overgrown path. You turn a bend and walk right into a boulder blocking the path. With your nose pressed up against the boulder, you have limited options. You don’t know how wide the boulder is. You don’t know how high it is. You are in a deficit state, with little information available to you for solving the problem.
Accessing extra information in order to solve your problem is easy with the boulder, just step back a few paces. Options for moving past the boulder can immediately become clear. It may not always be so easy to do with other problems you may find yourself facing.
The stronger your emotional attachment to the issue, the tighter and more restrictive your boundaries become. This greatly reduces your access to solutions.
Enter the Solution State
Stepping back emotionally from your problems is called dissociation in NLP.
In the problem state, we are seeing, hearing and feeling from our own perspective. Dissociation involves moving the internal representation of your problem to a movie screen. You become the audience instead of the actor. From this position, you are able to view the problem objectively.
Once you let go of the emotional restriction to your thinking, you gain access to the vast opportunities for a solution that reside in your resource state.
How then can you access this resource state? You can use the State Triad to interrupt your current strategy and access options for your future.
The Triad is your Body, Mind and Voice. If you think of a sad person, you can describe what they would look like physically – head down, shoulders slumped. They are thinking about what is making them sad and they will be talking to themselves and others, about their problem and how it came to be. Conversely, someone who has just won the lottery could also be described in terms of the State Triad, and their physical mental and vocal characteristics would be completely different.
By disrupting the process at any of the Triad points, you can shift the state in an instant.
Choosing your state
Those trained in NLP know that the combination of our Internal Representations (our coded experiences), our State and our Physiology will determine our Behaviour. We also know that each one of these, influences the others.
Stepping into a more resourceful state gives you a vantage point from which you can use a range of NLP tools to help you find the path to sustainable transformation; reframing, perceptual positions and new behaviour generator to name but a few.
Changing state is only useful however, if you access a state that allows access to the resources you need. So, if you want to change your thinking or behaviour and solve your problems, you need to know what state would serve you best. You need to determine your peak state.
The ideal state is the one that provides you with the greatest access to the resources needed to manage the problem you are facing.
NLP tells us that all the resources we need are already within us. We just need to access them.
The way you engage with and think about problems, directly influences your ability to solve them. Break the tethers of your deficit thinking, access your solution state and walk free in your newfound resourcefulness.
State management is one of the many areas of learning you will find in our NLP Practitioner training at www.inlpcenter.org