Photo by Patrick Robert Doyle on Unsplash
We all want to feel good, be happy, live peacefully, safely, feel loved, be seen and heard, belong and connect in meaningful ways with the world. But, we are living in challenging times. Pressure is everywhere around us, the world is behaving in strange ways and we end up feeling depleted, stressed, powerless, confused and overwhelmed. It is so easy to lose our state these days. It is very easy to give our power away and be affected by what is going on in the world and blame the circumstances around us for our misfortunes.
“How do you manage to keep your energy these days? Aren’t you affected by the events?“, my client asked me.
“Of course it affects me, it affects us all”, I replied, “But, I know that I am the only guardian of my state.”
What is a state? The Oxford English Dictionary defines state as “The particular condition that someone or something is in at a specific time”. Our state shows ‘how we are’ at any given moment and this includes our emotions, our thoughts, stories we tell ourselves, images, sounds, sensations in our body and how we deal with all of it. It is our mood, our point of view, the frame we are in – it is not only how we are in a particular moment, but also who we are in that moment.
“So how do you guard your state?”she asked.
First, if I don’t have the power to change something, I don’t give it my power. I focus on the things that are under my control! That is only my Self: my actions, my reactions, my feelings, my thoughts. It is my responsibility how I take in the world and how I show up in the world. In psychological literature this is called locus of control, which is “an individual’s belief system regarding the causes of his or her experiences and the factors to which that person attributes success or failure” (you can read more here). So, where is your locus of control: inside of you or outside of you?
Second, improving my self-awareness is a daily practice. Meditation, dance, silent walks in nature, journaling are all part of my daily rituals. They help me slow down. The more aware I am about my Self, the easier it is for me to calibrate when my state shifts. Awareness of what has affected it, whether it is something inside of me like an internal thought pattern or an image, or something outside of me and my reaction to it. Awareness is the first step in all change work. Connecting with the Self and Self-knowledge is the key to resilience and to managing your state.
Third, I begin each day with movement. I gave up coffee in the morning many years ago and replaced it with 60 jumping jacks. This is the best wake up for the body and brings up the energy level immediately! Recently I added pranayama breathing exercises and a few sun salutations. After which I jump into a cold shower. This whole ritual takes 15 minutes and does magic for a getting yourself into a peak performance state. In case you say “I don’t have time”, we all have 15 minutes.
Fourth, news and social media have a specifically allocated time frame. Social media (all of it) is limited to 1 hour a day maximum and I rarely even come close to the limit. News are limited to maximum two hours per week, with a clear intention of being informed about the current situation. As much as I know that I matter in this world, I also know that I will not affect the world by knowing every single detail about the horrors that are presented in the news. There are so many studies about the adverse effects social media and news have on our mental health, confidence, sleep and overall well being. There is an option on your smartphone to limit your social media time, use it! Become aware of how much time you spend on these activities. And, what do we know about time? You either spend it or invest it.
Finally, I connect meaningfully on a daily basis. I show my care for my family, friends and clients. It brings me joy to bring light to the lives of the people in my universe and help towards progress. Connection improves my state! When I am truly present for the other person and the other person is truly present for me. We are social creatures and we thrive when we are connected.
In fact, feeling connected leads to a “50% increased chance of longevity, it strengthens your immune system, helps you recover from disease faster and may even lengthen your life!” – according to Emma Seppala from the Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.
Now, we are all unique and what works for me might not work for you. The important thing to remember is: your state affects the state of others. And vice versa, the state of others affects your state. Therefore, becoming aware of your state, what affects it and in which way, will help you become more resilient and less affected by the crazy times we live in.
It is because of how you are, that’s how the world around you will be.
Do you want to learn more and find what works best for you and your state? Do you want to easily let go of old patterns that are not useful anymore?