Imagine a situation that has been driving you crazy. Maybe your workplace wants you to give presentations from time to time that you desperately fear. Maybe you are afraid of flying. Or maybe you hate going out on dates because you feel so anxious and awkward. Now imagine that you were able to change all of that with a snap of a finger. Wouldn’t that be incredible? “But how?!” – I hear you saying. The answer lies in NLP anchoring.
What NLP anchoring is
NLP anchoring is a technique widely used by NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming) practitioners. It is very similar to Pavlov’s classical conditioning principle.
In his experiment, Pavlov observed how a dog salivated in the presence of food. He was then able to pair a neutral stimulus, which was, in that case, a sound of a metronome, to the act of giving food to the dog. He simply showed the food to the dog, while the metronome made a ticking sound.
After this process was repeated a number of times, he then observed the dog salivating to the ticking of the metronome even when no food was in sight. An association between the metronome ticking and the food was formed.
In a nutshell, NLP anchoring is the act of creating an anchor (external stimulus) that would call the desired emotional resource state (internal response). In other words, in a situation in which you normally feel sad or anxious, you could do something, as simple as snapping a finger, and it would make you feel happy or confident.
Anchoring is not uncommon. It’s a pretty normal way for us to learn, and we constantly experience it on an unconscious level. We experience it in a positive way, but also in a negative way. For example, when our friend calls us, we may immediately experience joy because we know that good news are coming our way. On the other hand, if we see our boss calling, we may immediately begin to feel worried, because we know that it means being asked to come to work on a Saturday morning.
Recommended read: Want to Change the World? Change Yourself First – The Rest Will Follow
With the help of NLP anchoring, we can tap into our hidden resources when we need them the most. We can turn any situation that was previously considered as negative, into a positive one.
5 types of NLP anchors
We experience life through the five senses that we have. Therefore, anchors can be created and experienced also through these five senses.
Visual NLP anchors are experienced when you see something through your eyes. It may be an image of something (i.e. sunset), some kind of symbol (i.e. Christian cross), a facial expression (i.e. frown), a phone number, flag, etc.
Auditory NLP anchors are experienced when you hear something. For example, it may be a ringtone on your mobile phone, an alarm clock, car horn, favorite soundtrack, a sound that someone makes, etc.
Kinesthetic NLP anchors are related to the sense of touch. For example, you may feel something special every time you touch a fresh towel, lie down on a bed, touch sand on the beach, etc.
Gustatory NLP anchors are experienced through taste. This may occur when you are eating different types of food. For example, you eat cheese, and it takes you back to when you were 8 years old, living at your grandparents’ farm.
Olfactory NLP anchors are experienced through the sense of smell. I personally experience these anchors quite often when I smell a perfume on someone that reminds me of a perfume I have smelled before on some other person. Another example is when I am visiting a place that has its own very unique smell.
Applying the NLP anchoring technique
If you have decided that you want to create an NLP anchor for yourself, for whatever reason it may be (happiness, excitement, relaxation, self-confidence), all you have to do is spend the next 15 minutes applying the following NLP anchoring technique. Fortunately, it’s very easy to do this.
1. Decide on the anchor action that you will do every time you will want to experience the resource state. It may be touching your toes, gripping around your wrist, or any other. Just make sure the action is unique. You don’t want to be calling on your anchor accidentally all the time.
Also, make sure your anchor looks natural in case you will want to do it in the public. Getting up and jumping on one foot in the middle of your office will cause your co-workers to worry a bit.
2. Begin recalling some past memory in which you experienced the resource state that you are after. If the state is confidence, for example, then look for a memory in which you were really confident.
3. Spend some time recalling that memory. To make it as real and as intense as it can possibly be, think about everything that you saw then, heard, felt and touched. Think about what was said to you and what you said to others, and anything else that may intensify that memory.
4. Your goal is to then look out for the peak of intensity of your memory. And once you feel the peak, apply the anchor, the unique action that you have decided on earlier. Hold the anchor for a while, and as soon as you begin to feel the intensity coming down, let go of the anchor.
One very important key to remember is that you really want to hit that peak of intensity. If you apply the anchor too early, then the anchor won’t be too powerful. The same will happen if you apply the anchor too late, when the peak of intensity is coming down.
5. You can repeat the process of anchoring a few more times to solidify the results.
6. Break the state you are in by doing something else.
7. Test whether your anchor works.
Now that you have successfully created an anchor with the desired resource state, you can use it whenever you need to. Just do the action that you have programmed yourself into, and you will instantly feel its positive effects.
As you can see, NLP anchoring is a pretty useful tool that can significantly improve your life. All you have to do now is think of situations in which you felt super happy, ambitious, self-confident, relaxed, etc., and begin consciously anchoring them.
To learn more about NLP:
Book: NLP: The Essential Guide to Neuro-Linguistic Programming
Online course: NLP Practitioner Certification Course (Beginner to Advanced)
Thank you for stopping by and good luck!