“What in the eff is ‘state management’? Is that, like, politics??
Not quite, Chief. State management is the ability to change your mood in order to elicit a desired outcome of a specific interaction (more or less). This is important for you because your psychological state determines tons and tons of unconscious associations you make during everyday interactions.
Let’s say you’re in a really bad mood for whatever reason and you’re required to talk to a group of your peers. How do you think that meeting will go? Will you be receptive to listening to ideas that you don’t really agree with, or will you shoot them down and call them idiots? Are you willing to swallow your ego and listen to others’ criticism, or will you just say, “no, I’m right; you’re wrong; na-na-friggin’-boo-boo, you idiot”?
What if you had the ability change your state beforehand? What if you could go from pissed off to Mr. Sociable? How many more people would you be able to positively affect? How many people would you be able to influence? How many people could you make better just by them being around you? Don’t you want to positively affect people’s lives? I know I do…..if I can.
What if you knew exactly how your state would affect specific interactions? Could you not then predict the outcomes of that interaction? If you could predict the outcome, could you not decide to ONLY participate in situations that make you better? Furthermore, if you know how to change your state, could you not change it to make EVERY outcome of every interaction positive? Put your Broca area of your frontal lobe of your cerebral cortex to good use! (Don’t worry, I’m not that smrt. Frankie told me to start with cerebral cortex, and I decided to do some research while travelling down this rabbit hole.)
[Additionally, check out this general information from Jeffry Ricker, Ph. D. at Scottsdale Community College. It's pretty basic, Psych 101 type stuff so it's not too hard to understand.]
You see, state management is absolutely vital in your everyday interactions (and not just with people).
I Suck at State Management
True story….but I used to be absolutely superb.
And this is where my talks with Megan K and Frankie started.
I am really good at being pissed off. Like, really good. I sit at a job I hate for about 9 hours a day. I come home and have household chores that I hate doing (just like everyone else). I choose to be a social media whoore where I disagree with 95% of the people I interact with (“whoore” kinda sounds like “hoover” without the “v”). I’m so incredibly good at being in a bad mood that I can do things I enjoy while still being in a bad mood. For instance, I’ve gone on dates while thinking I’d love nothing more than to just get up and walk away, yet still received a call back because I made her laugh and she had a good time. Not me. I’ve gone to training sessions, shot the shit, drank beers afterwards, and had fun just like the “good ‘ol days”. When in reality, I wasn’t really into the conversations or beers I was drinking. Shit, I wasn’t even in the mood to train, but I went anyway. I was just going through the motions and making sure I didn’t let them see my lack of enthusiasm. I guess you could say I’m a really good at faking it.
Hell, I’m getting so good at being in a bad mood, that being in a bad mood almost puts me in a good mood. Wait, wut?? When I’m highly cynical and filled with hate from the dark side, I make a lot of non-politically correct jokes to myself. (Believe it or not, I do sensor a lot of what I say on Twitter. That should be really surprising if you follow me on there.) I make so many off-color jokes, that I eventually make myself laugh. Does that make sense? Probably not. But if we understood the human brain, I wouldn’t be writing this, and depression would no longer be a disease.
However, in the rare case that I am in a genuine good mood (eustress), I absolutely excel at most things. Things that I normally can’t stand to begin with. I’m like f*ckin Billy Mays. (S’rsly, did anyone hate him? Doubt it.) My best training days are days where I get to the gym in a good mood. My best interactions with random strangers are on days I’ve got my true happy face on. These days seem to be getting further and further apart. (The main reason my posts have been getting further and further apart since I can normally only write well in a eustress state.)
Fixing Your Shit
In my talks with the afore mentioned, I’ve learned there are 3 primary ways to change your state:
- Psychologically (duhhhhhh)
Chemical can be anything from a chocolate chip cookie to recreational drugs to huffing magic markers. Though, I highly highly caution against the recreational drugs.
My chemical dependence, erm, I mean, solutions are sugar-free Rockstar energy drink, coffee, or trailmix. My associations with these are caffeine buzz and a woman-like love for chocolate. Work is even [shortly] tolerable when any of these items are consumed. I’ll get to this later, but those are just associations I make with them and a positive mood. They may or may not be the actual cause of why they change my state.
Physical state change can normally be achieved by movement or “pleasure”. How many times have you felt better after you go for a walk? How many times have you been in a piss poor mood when you got to the gym and felt 10x better when you left? Have you ever read any of the numerous, scientific feel good reasons about orgasms? This article is hardly scientific, but does a good job of dumbing it down to my level (and the first result of a Google search). From this example, an orgasm is associated with feeling good; however, the cause has to do with chemicals released in the brain. Do you see how the two are different?
So, my associations with going to the gym are A) a place where I go to resolve my issues or B) a place I go when I’m already in a good state to ensure maximum training capacity. The fact that those two are at the opposite end of the spectrum should demonstrate that association is not causation since the same stimuli is associated with two different outcomes.
Eliciting a state change with just a psychological stimulation is the one I need the most help with. Like, a lot. I don’t hardly ever have either of my 3 choices of chemicals around me in an instant (and they dont always work). I’m not always at the gym or in a situation where I can just up and go for a walk or do some kettlebell juggling. The other example of physical state change is not going to happen during any one of the 9 hours I’m at work, nor is it guaranteed any other time of the day. And because these are just associations and not the cause of the state change, none of them are guranteed to work everytime.
“Alright, then how do you (I) achieve a psychological state change?”
Well, pert near anything that isn’t chemical or physical, duh! Music, talking to a friend, seeing your dog, going for a drive, paying off a credit card, spending time with your family….any of those things. Those are all things that are nothing more than mental stimulations, and can be had at a moments notice…most of the time. The downfall is that they also require some other type of input too. About the only tool I have in my arsenal that is 100% mental is the example of telling myself bad jokes.
What I’m getting at is that I’m not very mentally flexible. When I’m in a bad mood, it takes an act of Zeus to get me out of it. Conversely, when I am cheesing like a fat kid at Chuck E. Cheese, it takes forever to get myself settled down. The days I’m able to go full retard in the gym, I usually can’t fall asleep until 1:00 am. I mentioned that here after the TSC. So, I need to figure out what I can do to elicit a change, either to make me better or calm me down. And this is where associations finally come in…
Associations are Crucial
A lot of this is what I learned from Frankie during The Movement coaching seminar, but he left a little room for us to connect some dots on our own. Basically, this is what I’ve “discovered” in addition to what he’s flat out told us:
Correlation is not causation. Correlation is association. Therefore, association is not causation. An event is associated with a specific stimuli, but it may not be the cause. i.e. if listening to music makes you happy and then you have an awesome training session, music is associated with having a great session. However, the cause may be increased positive hormonal production, resulting in higher CNS performance.
At the seminar, it was related to the mechanical properties of tissue and training adaptation. However, can’t we also relate that everything else too? And by everything, I mean evryfing. Seriously.
Basically stating, we can never truly know the real cause and effect. All we really know is what precedes the event, a black box (the event), and the outcome. All we can do is test different stimuli one variable at a time with that same event and see what comes out, either a positive or negative. This is trial and error or an extremely informal way of describing the scientific method.
The example a couple of paragraphs above is related to training. However, I am currently struggling with person-to-person interaction whilst in a negative state. When Im in a positive state, I am everybody’s best friend and the coolest dude in the world. When I’m in a negative state, I’m not very friendly…even to unsuspecting victims that have done nothing to me. This is why my state management is so important to me. I’m in the business of making friends, not enemies.
Again, what does this have to do with associations? Well, I have associated all of my bad interactions with people to a negative state. Then you have to dig deeper and make associations to the things that have put me in a negative state. From there, I can start to make associations about what can get me out of that state in order to have good interactions with people.
Through trial and error, I’ve been able to correct wrong associations and make new ones. I’ve eliminated variables. I’ve retested certain events.
The scientific method is nothing more than that. It only differs because it requires making an educated hypothesis based on previous data and writing it down. Understanding the points I’ve made here is just the beginning. I’m not sure how far I will take it, but I know I will take it far enough to ensure I’m a better person and back to my old self.