Can’t fix the problem, change your State!

The 10,000 lb elephant takes a step forward, feels the tug of the thin rope attached its ankle and to the 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 length of rope and stake?

When the elephant was young, the stake and rope were adequate to hold it in place. Now that the elephant is fully grown, it is only its 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 throughout your day. State includes our physical, emotional and spiritual aspects.

In NLP, when we see, hear and feel things as if they were happening to us again, we call it being associated. Being associated to pleasant memories allows us to experience the happiness again; however, having a problem puts us in a deficit, associated state. You are not able to access internal resources that may facilitate a solution. You become ‘stuck’ inside the content of the problem. Whenever you think about your problem, it is as if it is happening again and you find yourself back in the same state you were in when it first happened.

You can’t fix the problem from inside the problem.

Imagine walking along an overgrown path. You turn a bend and walk right into a boulder which is blocking the path. With your nose pressed up against the boulder you are very limited in 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 the emotional attachment you have to the issue, the tighter and more restrictive your boundaries become and this reduces access to solutions, even more.

Enter the Solution State

Stepping back emotionally from your problems is called dissociation in NLP.
Instead of seeing, hearing and feeling from your own perspective, you can move the internal representation of your problem to a movie screen and 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. Their thinking will be all about what is making them sad and they will be talking to themselves and others, about their problem and how it came to be. If you were now to imagine a person who has just won the lottery you would be able to describe them in terms of the Triad also, with major differences to the first person.

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 best state to choose, 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 you need are already within us. You 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

Categories: NLP Coach