Based on the work of Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Ivan Pavlov, essential anchoring is a NLP (or Neuro Linguistic Programming) technique which is done by pairing physical touch with a positive emotion that you want to have at your disposal. The tool is adaptable to all kinds of circumstances and situations. It works by tapping into past times when you have experienced positive emotions. It is a simple way to access feelings that enable you to be more resourceful, confident and grounded in a matter of moments.
By creating an Anchor, you set up a stimulus-response pattern to access past positive experiences and sensations when you feel the need, for example, if you are overwhelmed or anxious about something. Remember that you while you cannot control every situation, you can always choose your response. Anchoring helps you to purposely choose a strong positive emotion that will support you, particularly when you are facing hardship or difficulties.
Here is a simple Anchoring technique to try for yourself:
- Select a feeling that you would like to have in a particular situation. For example, you might want to feel confident, calm, valued or appreciated. Take a few moments to remember a time when you had that feeling. Make sure the memory is a strong one. For me, it is a memory of winning my first kick-boxing belt and even writing this now brings back the sensation of pride, achievement and belonging with my fellow students.
- Close your eyes and remember that feeling in vivid detail. Put yourself back there now and relive it in all its intensity. Think about what you could you see, hear, smell and feel.
- As you relive the memory, create a physical association with a gesture, for example, squeeze your thumb, press your middle finger and thumb together or pull your earlobe. Alternatively, if you always wear a particular watch or use a special pen, then touch it once firmly.
- As the feeling fades, release your ‘anchor’ and relax. Take a moment and breathe deeply in through the nose, out through the mouth three times.
- Repeat the process three times. Use the same gesture.
- Now relive the memory until you begin to feel the positive emotion in the same way you handled it at the time. As you experience the sensation coming on, activate your anchoring device from step 3. If you’ve set up the anchor well, then you will feel a strong feeling of positivity. If the sensation is not intense enough, repeat the procedure or change the positive memory to one that is stronger
Experiment with anchoring and see what works for you. It takes practice so be kind to yourself as you give it a go. Anchoring isn’t a cure-all – just one tool. You can learn more from the NLP UK training and resource website.