States of Being
“Our mind is capable of passing beyond the dividing line we have drawn for it. Beyond the pairs of opposites of which the world consists, other, new insights begin.” – Hermann Hesse
Who am I? Why am I here? These are thoughts that separate us from animals. We also have the ability to drive, finger dexterity with opposable thumbs, and a very strong impulse to cover our animal bodies with clothes, not only to protect us from the elements, but to look sharp and stylish.
When we’re talking about the big questions — the ones philosophers have been asking for — well, since the dawn of man — we are expressing the very essence of being human, the state in which we examine our primary state.
Primary states refer to something in our external environment. When we’re dealing with our states of being, we are dealing with emotions. When we talk about our primary state, we are referring to events, people, information, etcetera, in our outside or external world. I am happy.
Animals do that. My dog does that. He is happy. He is sad when I leave. He’s ecstatic when I throw a stick for him or give him a treat. He is excited for dinner or a walk. His primary state is an absolute pure emotional state. He’s not excited about his happiness. He doesn’t experience how he feels about feeling sad that he has to be on a leash. My dog doesn’t examine his feelings about me leaving, throwing a stick, giving him a treat, having his dinner or taking a walk. He just is. It’s a Zen, ‘be here now’ existence for him.
What distinguishes the way we humans think — in addition to being happy or excited or sad — is that we can further examine our primary states within meta states. We can take a bird’s eye view and reflect.
A meta state is above or about a primary state or another meta state. When we are in a meta state, we are examining and/or talking about another state. It’s that simple.
In order to achieve a meta state, we have to dissociate from our primary state. We can’t be ‘in the feeling’ but instead take that step back, remove ourselves from the actual feeling, and then look at the feeling or what we’re thinking about that feeling.
What does this have to do with persuasion? Well, knowing about primary and meta states leads us to an understanding of how people’s beliefs work. When we understand our prospects and clients at their core, when we latch on to their values and criteria and examine them in their primary state and then bring them to a meta state about their primary state, we can add in to their model of the world — maybe marry what we are offering with their criteria.
As Herman Hesse, a writer who was known for his exploration of the individual’s search for spirituality outside of organized religion, wrote, “Our mind is capable of passing beyond the dividing line we have drawn for it.” This is an extraordinarily meta observation and an exciting place to be.
Until Next Time,
Kenrick E. Cleveland