If you want to control your state of mind and be able to change it intentionally, NLP anchoring is the right technique to try.

When something is anchored, we react automatically without thinking. This can be beneficial or painful. For example, some food cooked by your grandmother might make you feel like in childhood. Or maybe, every time when you see some object, it reminds you of a bad experience or situation where it was presented.

Anchoring technique allows us to create or break those associations deliberately. It uses stimulus such as a sound, an image, a touch, smell or a taste to trigger a consistent response in you or someone else.

Pavlov’s experiments with dogs is a good example of anchoring. Ivan Pavlov found a strong association of a stimulus such as a bell with a response such as salivation in dogs. By presenting food and at the same time ringing the bell, they anchored the ringing to eating. After some time, the bell alone elicited salivation.

You can link desirable states to just about anything. For instance, advertising tries to create anchors associating their products with feel good states picturing happy people, enjoyment and success.

The downside is that the same way almost anything can link to negative states like anxiety and irritation. For instance, if you are wearing a particular shirt during a painful dental operation, the next time you are wearing the same shirt, you might feel uncomfortable for no apparent reason. Your mind has anchored or linked your pain to the shirt.

Most anchors are developed accidentally when something in the environment is associated with a given state.

NLP Anchors can occur in all perceptional systems:

  • Visual anchors – images that bring back memories and feelings, colors that affect our mood
  • Auditory anchors – songs that take you back to a given time and place, siren that makes you alert
  • Kinesthetic anchors – a comforting hug, the feel of breeze that reminds you of the last vacation
  • Olfactory anchors – perfume that reminds you of someone, smell of coffee
  • Gustatory anchors – exotic fruit or dishes that remind you of a special summer

What can you use NLP anchoring for?

The most common use of anchoring is to access resources, feelings and states when you want them and replacing unwanted feelings and thoughts with desirable ones.

Other uses are gaining control over emotions, accessing memories and creativity and influencing responses in other people.

Basic NLP anchoring steps

  1. Create a strong state using state elicitation – for instance by remembering a time when you were very much in that state.
  2. Recalling what you saw, heard and felt in that situation can intensify the state.
  3. Make sure you experience it out of your own eyes – associated.
  4. Associate an anchor with the state – a word, some part of the experience or some external action when the state is at its strongest. For example rubbing your/their earlobe.
  5. Break the state by stepping into another location, shaking yourself, thinking of something neutral etc.
  6. Repeat accessing the state and associating the anchor a few times.
  7. Test the association by “firing the anchor”. That is saying the word or rubbing your earlobe. You should re-experience the state. If not, repeat step 6.
  8. Use the anchor when you want to experience the desired state, for instance when you are feeling unresourceful. This way you are transferring positive resources from past experiences.

The keys to anchoring successfully are:

  • The intensity of the state;
  • Repetition of the anchor – anchors will fade over time unless very strong (usually bad ones);
  • The type of state you want to anchor or overcome – primary states work well. Meta states do not (states about states or feelings about feelings for example being embarrassed about being angry).

Try this technique and feel free to contact us should you have any questions or would like to learn more about NLP.