NLP Techniques – Anchoring

Photo © Givaga

For my March Challenge, I will practice one or more  NLP techniques every day.

In these posts, I will go into the NLP techniques in more depth. My goal is to not just give you a better understanding of what the techniques are and how they could be helpful to you, but also to leave you with some exercises so you can start practicing these techniques yourself.

In this post I will explain Anchoring.

What is anchoring?

We all know what an anchor is. An anchor is used to keep a ship from drifting with the current, ensuring it is right where its crew left it when they come back.

This is exactly what an anchor is in NLP, as well. An anchor can be used to fix an emotional state in place so that when you need it, it will be right where you left it.

To put it formally, an anchor is a specific (visual, auditory or kinesthetic) stimulus that triggers a specific response, usually an emotional state. Anchoring is the creation of those triggers.

We all have anchors.

Anchors are everywhere around us. The sun breaking through the clouds, for most people, is an anchor that triggers a state of happiness. The sound of sirens or seeing blue lights flashing in our rear-view mirror can trigger anxiety or irritation. A baby crying triggers our maternal or paternal instinct. The smell of freshly baked bread or mowed grass may trigger a memory of a holiday we though we’d forgotten and take us back there in an instant.

Music is a particularly powerful anchor. Almost everyone has a song that reminds them of something and puts them into the state they were in at that time. Upbeat music might make you feel upbeat. Sad music may make you sad. Fast music might make your heart pump just a little bit faster while slow music might help you slowly drift..off..to..sleep.

Anchors are used by politicians and the makers of TV commercials to evoke certain emotional responses. When the president of the USA makes a speech he stands in front of the star spangled banner because he knows that most Americans have a strong emotional response to it. A military leader will put on his uniform and every single medal, badge and award he has received since he was a Boy Scout because he wants to trigger emotions like respect and trust. TV commercials will repeat a certain phrase over and over again while showing you their product. Until just hearing the phrase will make you think of the product.

Anchors are largely subconscious. Most of the time, we don’t know we are being triggered to feel, do or say a certain thing. But the more aware you are of the fact anchors exist, the more you can take control of them.

How can we use anchors?

Imagine you have a job interview. Or you need to give a speech. Or you see an attractive man or woman and you’d love to approach them.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could be in exactly the right state whenever you are in these situations? Perhaps you’d like to be confident, or powerful, or sexy.

Using anchors, you can create a trigger that will put you in your desired state in an instant. Need confidence? Fire your confidence anchor. Want to feel sexy? Use your sexiness trigger.

It is literally that simple. And the possibilities are endless.

How do we create anchors?

Creating a powerful anchor only takes 2 simple steps:

Step 1: Put yourself (or someone else) in the emotional state you’d like to have available. Make sure the state is as intense as possible.

When we were exploring Submodalities and Visualization, you learned that you can use submodalities to intensify your emotions. This is a great place to put submodalities to good use.

Step 2: While at the peak of the intensity, repeatedly do something unique.

While you can use anything as an anchor, the most powerful anchors are those that are unique. A handshake, for example, is not unique enough because people shake hands all the time. Pinching the skin between your index and middle fingers, however, is very unique. This would make a good anchor. Other examples of good anchors are saying a phrase or word, or radically changing your body. Anthony Robbins teaches a technique called a Power Move, which is a unique movement you make whenever you want to feel energetic and powerful.

That’s it! No wonder TV commercials are so effective, eh?

Now, if you want to test whether your anchor works, put yourself into a neutral state and repeat the trigger. You should immediately feel the difference. If not, it could be that your state wasn’t at the height of its intensity or the trigger isn’t unique enough. Just repeat step 1 and 2 to add more intensity to the anchor.

Submodalities and anchoring are a very powerful combination. If you use them often, you can take complete control over your emotions and emotional states. What’s more, you can easily teach these techniques to others so they, too, can take control.

I invite you to play around with these two techniques so you can experience the breath of possibilities you have for applying them.

In my next post, I will introduce the technique called the Visual Swish. Using the Visual Swish we can take any undesired behavior (biting your fingernails, for example) and replace it with a desired behavior. It’s easy, it’s fast and it’s a lot of fun.