Anchoring in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) refers to the process of establishing a connection between a particular sensory experience and a specific state of mind or emotion. Anchoring can be used to evoke a certain feeling, emotion, or behavior by recalling a specific stimulus that is associated with that state.
The process of anchoring typically involves identifying a particular trigger or stimulus that is associated with a desired state, such as a feeling of confidence or motivation. This trigger could be anything from a particular sound or word to a physical touch or gesture. Once the trigger has been identified, the process involves consciously pairing it with the desired state in order to create an association in the mind.
For example, imagine that you have a favorite song that always makes you feel energized and motivated. By consciously linking that song with the feeling of motivation, you could create an anchor that would allow you to quickly and easily access that state of mind whenever you needed it, simply by listening to the song.
Anchoring can be a powerful tool for personal growth and self-improvement, and is often used in areas such as sports psychology, business coaching, and therapy. However, it’s important to note that the effectiveness of anchoring can vary depending on the individual and the context, and it should always be approached with caution and with the guidance of a trained professional.
Why Use Anchors?
An anchor is a stimulus that triggers a response in you or another person. When a person reaches the peak of this intense emotional state, if a specific stimulus is applied, a link is neurologically created between the stimulus and the state. An anchored state is always a rich, fully associated psychological state or experience. They occur quite naturally and unconsciously. You may stimulate altered psychological states
in other people; for example, your intention may be for the best yet may have an undesired effect. Hugging a crying person may seem like a comforting thing to do, but you are creating an ‘anchored response’ in that person, ‘you hugging’ them becomes linked to their upset state. Next time you give them a welcoming hug they may feel upset – a response that was never your intention and may be confusing to the both of you.
Some anchors, under certain conditions, appear to last for life. The skill of successful anchoring is to be able to anchor a state in any person, at any time, in any context, regardless of whether the ‘anchor’ is a visual one, an auditory anchor, a kinaesthetic one, an olfactory or gustatory anchor, or a mixture of those just mentioned. An example from my childhood would be my grandmother, who washed with a particular brand of soap (olfactory), which I smelt when she greeted me with a kiss and a hug (kinaesthetic), then she cupped my chin in her hand, making me look up at her (visual) before saying, “What’s my little man been up to?” (auditory). I was only 40 years old! Well, ten years old actually!
Love, at first sight, is a naturally occurring anchor that can last a lifetime.
The Fours Steps To Anchoring
First, get into rapport with the other person.
Get the person’s permission to touch them.
Coach the person on an appropriate location of the kinaesthetic anchor (e.g. on the knuckles), that would provide a unique stimulus/anchor for the person to link with the altered, desired psychological state as it arises in them.
1. Recall: Have the person recall a past, vivid, intense Associated State.
2. Unique Anchor: Provide a specific stimulus as the State reaches its peak intensity. Take off the anchor before it goes over the peak.
3. State Break: Break the State with the person so their State changes.
4. Test: Test the Anchor by inviting them to fire the same stimulus (touching the same point in exactly the same way) and watching to see that they go into the anchored State.
N.B. In the ‘training’ period when you are getting the other person to associate into the chosen state, the anchor FOLLOWS accessing the psychological state. In the TEST period, the anchor is applied to check that the altered state arises as a result of ‘firing’ the anchor.
THE FIVE KEYS TO SUCCESSFUL ANCHORING
1. An ‘Anchor’ is applied when the person is fully associated into an intensely rich experience of an altered psychological state.
2. Timing The Anchor – it must be applied at the same time that the altered state is developing/increasing towards its peak. As the state approaches its peak take the anchor off; i.e. remove the kinaesthetic touch that is triggering the altered state.
(N.B. To leave the kinaesthetic touch on beyond the peak means you will anchor a diminishing state. Removing the ‘trigger’ touch before the peak means that you anchor an always ‘growing’ state.)
3. The stimulus used for the Anchor, i.e. the touchpoint, must be unique.
4. Replication – The Anchor must be repeatable to reinforce it.
5. Number of times – The more times the Anchor is created, the better the Anchor.
Timing For The Application Of An Anchor during ‘Training’/Installation:
Watch for the growing intensity and come off BEFORE the peak.
PREFERRED STATES FOR ANCHORING
1. The most intense states are those that occur naturally e.g. laughter.
2. A single, fully associated, vivid and specific memory that they can relive again, as if now, is best.
3. Generalised memories of the past are much less intense and tend to be far less useful for anchoring purposes.
4. By far the least preferred are Imagined or Constructed States as they lack the intensity of real experiences.
STATE ELICITION SCRIPT
1. First get into Rapport with your client.
2. Go first! Access your own memories. Get into the Desired State yourself.
3. “Can you remember a time when you were totally (choose state) x’d ?
4. “Can you remember a specific time?”
5. “As you go back to that time now… go right back to that time, float into your body and relive it again now. See what you saw, hear what you heard, notice what you noticed and really feel the feelings now of being totally x’d .”
Eliciting And Creating Anchors:
Below is a list of possible, naturally occurring anchors, that may, or may not, be familiar to you. Determine the Representational System for each anchor.
What would be an example of an Auditory Digital anchor?
STATES FOR STACKED RESOURCE ANCHORS
Sometimes a single anchor is not strong enough to get the desired psychological state in the other person. This is when we can ‘stack’ a
number of experience ‘anchors’ on the same anchor point, (the kinaesthetic trigger point that we touch), thereby making it sufficiently powerful.
A specific time when you felt ‘Really Powerful.’
A specific time when you felt ‘Utterly Loved.’
A specific time when you felt ‘Utterly Energised.’
A specific time when you felt ‘Totally Confident.’
A specific time when you felt the feeling that you could have whatever you wanted, a time when you felt you could have it all.
A specific time when you had the feeling that you could ‘fall down laughing.
(Manual instructions below)
1. First, gain Rapport with the other person.
2. Set up the frame with the person by explaining, “In just a moment I am going to do a process called ‘Collapse Anchors’ (explain briefly), and that will necessitate that I touch you on the knuckles. Is that O.K.?”
3. Discuss and decide with the other person the Negative State they want collapsing. Next, do the same for what Positive Resource States the person wants to have, instead of the Negative State.
4. Elicit each of the Resource States and stack them onto the same Anchor.
5. Now test the Positive Resource Anchor to ensure that it creates a considerably stronger and significantly more intense State than the Negative State that is to be collapsed.
6. Access and Anchor the Negative State once only.
7. Have your full attention on the person and first ‘Fire’ the Negative State Anchor, then, leaving the negative anchor ‘on’, quickly trigger the Positive Resource States Anchors leaving them ‘on’ at the same time until they peak, and the integration is complete. (As you watch the person, you’ll notice that they [usually] exhibit signs of physiological asymmetry or confusion until the integration is complete when any ‘agitation’ calms down and the person is left ‘settled’.)
8. At the point of complete integration release the Negative Anchor.
9. Continue to hold the Positive Anchor for a further 5 seconds and then release.
10. Test the integration by firing the old Negative State Anchor. The other person will be unable to access the old, unwanted feeling.
11. Test: “Can you remember an event in the past which if you’d thought about it previously you would have felt that old feeling and notice how you’re feeling differently now.”
12. Future pace: “Can you think of a similar event that may occur in the future and just notice how you feel differently now.”
NEW ORLEANS FLEXIBILITY DRILL
This alternate version of the ‘Collapse Anchors’ technique requires two practitioners to work with the other, third person.
1. First, the person you are working with identifies an external stimulus that triggers an Unresourceful State on a consistent basis. (In other words, this is a Negative Anchored State) E.g. Having to give the weekly report to the line manager puts the individual into a negative state.
2. Practitioner 1 anchors a powerful Stacked Resource Anchor for the person experiencing the effects of this drill. Ensure that the appropriate resources to successfully deal with the situation identified in Step 1 are accessed for stacking anchors.
3. Practitioner 1 tests it to ensure that it is powerful and creates a much more intense State than the Unresourceful State. The person provides a detailed description of the scenario identified in Step 1. The person then coaches Practitioner 2 in the specific behaviours necessary to role-play the external negative stimulus so Practitioner 2 is able to consistently recreate the trigger that fires the Unresourceful State.
4. Practitioner 1 triggers the person’s Resource Anchor as Practitioner 2 begins to role-play the external stimulus. As Practitioner 2 continues to role-play, Practitioner 1, intermittently releases the person’s Anchor, whilst using sensory acuity to calibrate the individual’s responses. At the slightest sign of the person reverting to the Unresourceful State, Practitioner 1 fires the Resource Anchor again.
5. Continue until it is unnecessary for Practitioner 1 to fire the Resource Anchor for the person. i.e.: The person stays completely resourceful whilst Practitioner 2 continues to role-play. What has happened is that now the External Stimulus that previously triggered an unresourceful response in the client has ‘collapsed’ and the External Stimulus now triggers a Resourceful State.
NLP CHANGE PERSONAL HISTORY
The purpose of ‘Change Personal History’ is to change a number of memories in the past by adding resources that nullify a Negative State.
1. Identify the Outcome. Get Rapport with the other person and check Desired Outcome and especially Ecology.
2. Elicit the Negative State (sometimes referred to in NLP as the ‘Problem State’). Have the person identify an event in the past that still causes them a problem (Negative Emotion). Get the earliest experience and calibrate it and anchor it once, kinaesthetically.
3. Break State & Test Problem State by firing it and tracking calibrated reactions. Break State.
4. Identify Resource States by asking the person what Resources (Positive States) they needed back then, but didn’t have in the past event; Resources which, if they had had them back then, the event would never have been a problem.
5. Create a Stacked Resource Anchor for the person including all the resources they mentioned in Step 4. Ensure the Stacked Resource Anchor is significantly more intense than the Negative State associated with the event.
6. Break State & Test the Resource Anchor.
7. Fire Negative Anchor whilst the person relives the event whilst the practitioner fires the Resource Anchor. Continue until all of the Negative State has collapsed.
8. Break State & Test by having the person remember the past event without both anchors.
9. If unchanged or negative ‘residue’ present, cycle through Steps 5 – 8.
10. Future Pace by asking, “Can you think of an event in the future, that, if it had happened in the past, you would have felt that old, negative state and just notice how it is different now?” Check that the physiology of the ‘problem state’ is congruently changed as you listen to the verbal report.
Chaining Anchors is a technique that is used when the Desired/Resource State is significantly different from the Present State. The technique is a sequential process of moving to a significantly different state.
1. Get into Rapport with the person you are working with.
2. Set up the frame with the person by explaining, “In just a moment I am going to do a process called ‘Chaining Anchors’ (explain briefly), and that will necessitate that I touch you on the knuckles. Is that O.K.?” a) Get the other person to identify the undesirable Present State – E.g. Procrastination or Confusion and decide on the Positive/Resource End State – E.g. Motivation or Understanding.
3. Design the chain: Get the person to decide on what the Intermediate States are and what order they need to be in to lead to the End Desired State.
4. Elicit and Anchor each of the States, beginning with the Present State, through to the End State (you may want to stack all the states to get a high enough intensity.) Make sure that the person is ‘out of’ the previous state by using a ‘break state’ between each one prior to anchoring the next one. Test each state as you go. Make sure that the person goes into each one. Repeat if necessary.
5. Break State.
6. Repeat steps 5 to 6 for each of the subsequent States.
7. Make sure you Test each State. Chain each State together by:
Firing Anchor 1, and when it is at its peak, fire Anchor 2 and release Anchor 1.
When Anchor 2 reaches its peak, fire Anchor 3 and release Anchor 2.
When Anchor 3 reaches its peak, fire Anchor 4 and release Anchor 3.
When Anchor 4 reaches its peak, fire Anchor 5 release Anchor 4 and keep the final Anchor held for 5 seconds.
8. Test 1: Fire the Present State Anchor. The person should go into the final, Desired State.
9. Test 2: Ask the person, “Now how do you feel about _________?” E.g. ‘How do you feel about procrastination?
10. Test 2 continued: Ask the person, “Can you remember a time in the past, which if you’d thought about it previously, would have caused you to feel that old feeling and notice how you feel different now.”
11. Future Pace: “Can you think of a time in the future which if it had happened in the past you would have Xd (e.g. Procrastinated) and notice how are you feeling differently now and what happens instead?”
1. Pick two widely separate steps, involving a ‘Negative Present State’ and a ‘Desired State’.
2. Design chains usually have no less than two and no more than three ‘Intermediary States’.
3. The first Intermediary State (#2) can be a mild “Away From” State e.g. Frustration, to take the person out of the stuck ‘Negative Present State’.
4. N.B. Each of the States must have a movement that will move the person to the next state. The person chooses the intermediate states. You may guide by asking,” What would be better than that?”
5. The next Intermediate State step (i.e. Intermediate State #3) should take the person ”Towards” the End Desired State.
6. The person should be able to move directly from one State to the next. This is why the order of the ‘chain’ is key.
7. Each and every State needs to be sufficiently intense in itself, to move the person onto the next State in the ‘chain’.
8. The last Intermediary State should be a “Towards” State. That means a positive state that draws the person towards the outcome, such as ‘desire’.
9. Each of the States should be self-initiated, i.e. the person needs no external stimulus, all the states are accessed internally.
10. No more than four steps involving moving through five states.
11. Steps must not be too far apart; i.e. each ‘leap’ to the next step in the chain, must be accessible from the previous one.
12. Must be ecological. In other words, the Desired State must be beneficial in all areas of the person’s life. They need to consider the impact on family, friends, and work if they achieve their desired state. Harmonious impact across all areas is ‘ecological’.
13. The Intermediary States should not be how the person does it now; it is not the strategy currently run.
CIRCLE OF EXCELLENCE
This paired exercise is a form of ‘Collapse Anchors’.
1. Ask the person you are working with to identify a recurring/patterned situation where they would like to be more resourceful. Break State.
2. Ask the person what States they would like to be included in the Resource Anchor. Aim for a list of 3 positive States (4 is acceptable, but no more).
3. Ask the person to imagine a circle in front of them of about a yard or a metre across and ask them what colour it is. Most will pick their favourite colour.
4. Elicit each state, fully associated, in turn: “Go back to a specific time when you had a strong feeling of ___________ , see what you saw, hear what you heard and feel what you felt, right now and as you experience it increasing, step into your circle. As it peaks, now leave it there and step back out.”
5. Test by having the person step back into their circle and using Sensory Acuity, notice the physiological changes that denote the individual has successfully re-accessed the State. Have them step back out. Do this for each of the chosen States.
6. Once the Resource Anchor has been created, ask the person to come up with a specific word or phrase that will act as a trigger to ‘activate’ the Resource Anchor.
7. Have the person step into their Circle of Excellence and as the Resource States peak then the person says the trigger word or phrase in their mind and then steps back out.
8. You can at this point get the person to also choose a physical gesture to anchor the Resource Anchor. The person then steps into their Circle of Excellence, says the trigger word to themselves, and as the States peak, they make the physical gesture and step out of the circle.
9. Break State.
10. Test by having the person think of a future situation that was like the original problem. Whilst imagining this situation they step into their imaginary circle, say their Trigger Word, and make their Trigger Gesture. Notice that they become fully associated into the Resource State.