NLP In Action

Welcome to NLP In Action. NLP insights and practical tips to help you discover what NLP has for you.

This is Episode 007 of the NLP In Action podcast. This episode is all about NLP Anchoring, What it is, how to use it and the benefits of its application. Discover how to use an NLP anchor.

What is anchoring?

The most straightforward explanation for anchoring is to create a bookmark that is easy to return to in a person’s psychology and experience. Anchoring, as the name suggests puts a lock into a particular position which allows a person to go back to that same point/experience and more importantly state.

Typically, anchoring is used to allow a person to go back to a desired state or experience efficiently. However, so much of what we do and what we experience is attached to anchors, some positively and others not so. Understanding anchoring is extremely important as so much of our day-to-day lives can be dictated by negatively associated anchors. In a nutshell, understanding anchors, how to create them, how to break them (also called collapsing anchors) is an extremely useful personal development strategy.

An example of anchoring

Perhaps the most popular occurrence of anchoring which dates back to the 1800s was that of Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov. Ivan did some research where he was able to get dogs to associate eating with the ringing of a bell. During this experiment, he would ring a bell and then feed the dogs. He did this many times to set the anchor. So it is indeed a case of association. Then, the twist in the experiment was when Ivan rang the bell, before feeding the dogs, the dogs would begin to salivate as they knew the response to follow.

Next, and perhaps something a little easier to absorb. Think for a moment how certain songs can take you back to a place or experience, some people can access old states and emotions by certain smells. Smells of an Ex’s perfume/aftershave is a sure fire way to get anyone in trouble. “Ummm…. That smell reminds me of ………….. !” Err.. I’ve lost it now. lol.

Music and songs can take you back to a place or experience; some people can access old states and emotions by individual songs, smells etc. Even something so simple like the smell of bread or certain cooking smells can take people back 20 or 30 years to a specific time in their life when this state was anchored to that particular smell or taste. Anchors are being created and collapsed all of the time, but when we create anchors specifically to have a desirable effect, this is when the magic happens. Anchors give us the rapid access to certain desirable and repeatable states. Smells, touch, sounds, locations are all enablers of how to use an NLP anchor.

Strategies, anchors and creation

Creating an anchor and a strategy for a new desirable habit or state can be extremely beneficial. Think of the people who would really love to get up early in the morning, as soon as their alarm goes off. We all know that this the very best way to start the day

But when that “morning mind” kicks in and begins “selling” you excuses of why those five minutes extra are so significant. Then the internal conflict can sometimes be too much, and the old strategy of snoozing seven times was then charging round in the morning can become a habit tough to break, and incredibly frustrating.

So the desirable outcome, in this case, is to be able to get straight out of bed, as soon as the alarm goes off. Can you imagine how amazing this would be if it were you? Here are the stages below of how I would set that anchor.

  • Pick your favourite alarm tone on your phone or alarm clock! (It might as well be your favourite, you’ll hear it every morning, once!)
  • Set your alarm for 15 minutes time, and lie down in bed relaxing with your eyes closed, just as you would if you were asleep.
  • Beep, Beep, Beep!  Turn straight around, put your feet on the floor stand up and stretch.
  • Now repeat this process, three, four or more times. The real art is to do the get-up action as soon as you hear the alarm.

Also, add in that you only turn the alarm off once you’ve done your stretch while standing for three seconds.
This conditioned response will become far more comfortable to follow when it comes to the first morning using this anchor.

This is merely an auditory anchor that will have profound benefits on your life and productivity.

As discussed in one of my podcasts, called why we like what’s familiar we are hardwired to follow actions far more simply that we have practised before. Or, put it another way, once we have anchored a particular state, action and strategy we are far more likely to follow this procedure without consciously thinking. And we all know that practice makes…………… permanent! Well, at least permanent until re-practised another way.

More examples

NLP anchoring steps laid out

  1. Create a strong state using state elicitation – for instance by remembering a time when you were very much in that state.
  2. Recall, repeat or act out what you saw, heard and felt in the situation.
  3. Get associated. This means as if your looking out of your eyes.
  4. Create an anchor. This can be a word you say, an action you take, simple act of squeezing your finger and thumb together is a very common first anchor trigger for people.
  5. Break state is a way for you to find a neutral state. For example, what did you have for breakfast on Wednesday? This is a great question to break someone state.
  6. Repeat, and practice. Practice makes permanent remember.
  7. Once practised and repeated for several times, fire the anchor and see if you’re able to get the desired state or action. If not go back to step six in practice some more.
  8. Use the anchor any time you want to experience that desired state, or action.

    Successful anchoring tips

High intensity of the state you want to anchor. e.g. Jump out of bed with passion.
Only fire the anchor in the peak of the state to set.
Repeat until permanent.
Anchors can fade so keep up the good work.