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NLP Anchoring Techniques


NLP anchoring is one of the most popular NLP techniques out there because of it’s power and immediate impact. With it you can choose to deliberately put yourself in any chosen state such as happiness, energetic, confident, cheerful, creative, calm etc. in the blink of an eye.

The term NLP anchors came about by liking the impact of the technique to that of a ship’s anchor. What is the use of a ship anchor? It is to keep a ship in place when it is not sailing. This is to prevent the ocean waves from pushing the ship away. The anchor locks the ship in a specific location.

In the same way, NLP anchors does to us what a ship anchor does to a ship. It keeps us in a certain place (or rather a certain state for a more accurate depiction). By setting up NLP anchors to different states/mood, whenever we trigger that anchor we will immediately be brought to that state.

How does NLP anchoring works?

Ever heard of Russian physiologist & psychologist Ivan Pavlov? He is most well known for his findings on human and animal conditioning. While doing a research on dogs’ digestion, he discovered this phenomenon. When it came to meal time, Pavlov would use bells to call his dogs to the food. After repeating this numerous times, he found that even without any food, the dogs would salivate from hearing the sound of the bell.

By doing so, Pavlov associated the ringing sound of the bell to food. And the numerous repetitions have conditioned the dogs to respond to the ringing bell just like how they respond to food.

This is how NLP anchoring works. By conditioning responses to unique NLP anchors, we are able to deliberately get into specific states just by triggering the unique NLP anchor. Just like Pavlov’s dogs.

So NLP anchors are really a stimulus for us to get into whatever states we want. Similarly as Pavlov uses the ringing bell sound to act as a stimulus, with NLP anchoring, we can set certain anchors to act as the stimulus to certain states. And after many repetitions, the association between the NLP anchor and the state will be conditioned.

How do I set NLP anchors?

The premise of setting NLP anchors is basically the same as Pavlov and his dogs. You set an NLP anchor by associating a unique trigger to a certain state. When in that state, trigger a unique anchor to associate the anchor and the state together.

After repeating that process numerous times, that state will be conditioned to the anchor. Subsequently when you trigger that anchor later on, it will bring you to that state.

Here’s an example. When you are in happy state, anchor that feeling to a unique trigger, let’s say a light pinch on the palm of your left hand. Repeat that process numerous times. Once it is conditioned, each time you pinch your left palm you will be in a state of happiness.

The steps below are the way to set NLP anchors. Let’s say you want to set an anchor for happiness.

1. Get yourself into a happy state. Think of a past experience when you were happy. Construct happy thoughts and images. Visualize yourself and your loved ones smiling, laughing etc.

2. At the peak of your state, at the most intense feeling happiness, fire off a unique anchor. Let’s say to pinch your left palm. Fire off the anchor a few more times (means pinching your palm a few more times) as long as you are still in that peak state.

3. Change to a neutral state. Break your state by standing up, moving around, shaking yourself out of it. Then repeat the process again. After numerous repetitions, the state will be anchored into you.

A fairly simple process although getting into the desired state in the first place may prove to be a problem for some people. The best way to get into the desired state would be to remember and re-live the memory of past experiences when you were in that state. When there isn’t any relevant past experiences, constructing images or sounds of situations with that experience may help.

Another NLP method may help to get you into a desired state as well. NLP submodalities involves mapping the blueprint of feelings & states, so that whenever you run the blueprint, it will get you into that state.

Your anchors can be a touch at a specific area, a pinch, pressure (pushing in), saying a word or making a sound, looking at a certain image, listening to a sound, a certain music, song, ring a bell etc. It can be anything that our sensory cells can pick up.

However a point to note is that anchors that are made of any type of physical touch is usually a stronger compared against the sounds or visual triggers because biologically a physical touch or pressure has a stronger sensory impact on the body.

The effectiveness of an NLP anchor that you set depends on the following ;

• The intensity of the state – the stronger the intensity the better. Likewise if you set the anchor in a low intensity state, the effect will weak.

• Timing of the anchor – The timing of triggering the anchor is just as important. To be most effective, only trigger the anchor at the peak moment of the state. At it’s most intense moment.

• Uniqueness of the anchor – Make sure your anchor is unique. Something that you don’t normally do, see or hear everyday. For example actions like scratching, snapping your fingers or clapping hands are pretty common and we do it quite often. Use something really unique which isn’t part of your daily routine or gestures.

• Number of repetitions – Naturally the more repetitions you make, the more conditioned the anchor becomes. So make sure you do enough repetitions to make it conditioned.

Advanced NLP anchoring

Moving forward from the basic anchoring technique, in the more advanced NLP anchoring technique we involve 2 anchors. There are 2 ways to use this technique ;

• 2 positive anchors can be paired up together so that the 2 strong states will be integrated together. This is called Integrating Anchors.

• 1 positive and 1 negative anchor are paired up. This is done to chain the negative anchor to the positive one. By doing so, whenever you start to feel the negative state it will flow to the positive state. This is called chaining anchors.

Integrating Anchors

Here is the process for integrating anchors.

1. Using the same method as above, get yourself into a desired state #1.

2. At the peak of the state, fire off a unique anchor, anchor #1.

3. Break your state by standing up, moving around, shaking yourself out of it.

4. Repeat a few times.

5. Now repeat the first 4 steps with another state and anchor. (state #2 and anchor #2)

6. Integration. Get into state #1 & fire anchor #1. While experiencing that state fire anchor #2. Let the 2 experiences mix and watch and listen to everything that happens as those two experiences combine to make you even stronger and better.

This can be used for example in integrating energy and creativity together so that you can perform even better in your job.

Chaining anchors

Chaining anchors can be used to bring yourself from a negative state that you usually feel to a positive one. For example you usually get upset when stuck in traffic jam. By chaining anchors, you can chain the state of calmness to it so that the next time you are stuck in traffic, you instead of being upset you will be calm.

Here is how to chain anchors using the example above;

1. Get yourself into a calm and relaxed state.

2. At the peak of the state, fire off anchor #1.

3. Break state and repeat steps a few times.

4. Now visualize yourself stuck in traffic. Experience the unhappiness and feeling upset.

5. Fire off anchor #2 at the peak of the state. 6. Break state and repeat a few times.

7. Now chain both anchors together. Start by visualizing yourself in traffic, then fire off anchor #2. Visualize yourself as you start to feel upset because of the traffic (fire off anchor #1) suddenly you feel a calmness and relaxed feeling.

In chaining anchors, make sure that your negative anchor is not too intense. Your positive anchor must be stronger than the negative anchor. Or else the stronger negative anchor will overpower the positive anchor instead and turn it negative.

Going from here

That’s about it for NLP anchoring. Practice makes perfect. The best way is to have someone who has mastered it physically guide you through it. Nevertheless you can follow the guidelines above and experiment with it. The good thing is that if you are doing it right, you will immediately know it because of it’s impact. So there’s no guessing whether you got it right or not.

Take some time to master it. As long as you follow the steps and take note of the 4 keys to effective anchoring, you’ll be fine.

Have fun!


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