The Secrets of NLP Anchoring

Filed under: NLP Techniques

NLP Anchoring

Can saying just a single word cause a powerful emotional shift?

Could a person make a single hand gesture to stir up feelings of chaos or create change?

You may be thinking, “Wow! That sure sounds like some wizard-like power!”

Well buckaroo, that’s because anchoring in neuro-linguistic programming sure feels like grand-wizardry, but it’s none other than good ole’ fashioned neuroscience!

No need to be sad, pal!

Just because you can’t cast magic missile or shoot a fireball out of your hands doesn’t mean you aren’t a wizard!

It just means the idea of being a wizard has been anchored into your mind. 

And when that anchor receives the right stimuli - BOOM - it’s like some type of voodoo magic happens!

In the same way that you probably imagined a wizard after reading the first few lines of this blog post, anchors in other aspects of our lives have a direct cause & effect.

This cause & effect anchor is based on the science of brain neurons firing and rewiring.

For now, just know that what you are about to learn will change the way you experience (and interact with) the world.

Why Anchoring Seems Like Magic

Like we mentioned earlier, it can totally feel like you are doing some woo woo magic or performing some type of voodoo, but using NLP and anchors is as natural as that fear you probably have about public speaking.

Note: We are just guessing that you have a fear of public speaking, because about 80% of people DO have this fear. Just sayin’...

When you think about something that causes anxiety, fear, panic, or any other emotional shift, you are firing off an internal anchor.

This internal anchor, in reality, is just a clump of neurons that have the job of turning on whenever a specific stimulus is created.

The stimuli can be anything external or internal.

Internal Stimuli can be something as simple as a random thought that pops in your head or intentionally recalling a memory.

External Stimuli can be overhearing someone say a specific word or phrase, being physically touched on a certain part of your body, or seeing something that triggers you.

When this specific stimulus happens, your internal mechanisms begin to run.

For some people, the internal mechanisms might be fight, flight, or freeze.

For others, the internal mechanisms could be tears, laughter, or total relaxation.

Whatever the case may be, when you start becoming aware of what the internal mechanisms and the specific stimulus are, you get to move into the control room of cause & effect.

Cause & Effect = Control

Think of the last time you felt in total control.

When you were in that zone of total control, you probably felt like nothing could hold you back. You were able to overcome every obstacle and you were the creator of your own reality. You were in what would be called the locus of control.

That means that you were in the driver's seat of being at cause in your life.

Now imagine a time where you felt completely out of control of your life. During that time you probably felt like everything bad was happening to you.

This is what’s called being at effect.

A person who lives their life at effect will be at the mercy of the world and feel as though they have absolutely no control of their life.

When someone is living at cause, they are the ones who get to make the choices and decisions of how they want their life to go.

So what does this have to do with anchoring or NLP?

Since you now understand cause & effect relationships, you can form a deeper appreciation for the power of anchoring.

Using Anchors To Drool

Have you ever heard of classical conditioning? Does the name Pavlov ring a bell? Did I just cause a mental ding to happen?

Ok, okay...I could make these puns all day but then you might get hungry.

Robert Downey Jr. Meme

Did you make this face when reading the puns?

You probably were conditioned from a young age to roll your eyes and sigh when you heard an awful joke or a terrible pun.

If this was the case with you, then congratulations! You just experienced an anchor.

Back to this Pavlov guy.

Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist who was known for his work with training his dogs to drool on command.

Essentially, through repeated stimulus, his dogs learned to recognize the sound of a bell and  associate the ringing of the bell with getting food.

When he would ring the bell, the dogs would start to salivate because they knew they were about to be fed.

Pavlov soon realized during his experiments that even if he wasn’t going to feed the dogs, just the act of him ringing the bell caused the same effect of them drooling and salivating.

But enough about dogs ...

How Do We Use Anchors?

By now you are probably asking, “Ok - so how do I be at cause of my life?”

This is where the power of using anchors comes into play.

During their research, the founders of neuro-linguistic programming, Richard Bandler and John Grinder realized that anchors could be set intentionally and they would have the same type of cause & effect trigger as Pavlov’s dogs had.

The difference, though, is that classical conditioning requires repetition to be used successfully, but anchors only require a single event.

This meant that if they wanted to get themselves or a client into a powerful and resourceful emotional state, all they had to do was set up the anchor for that state.

When the anchor was triggered it would fire off the preset emotional state.

So this means that if we have a fear of public speaking, instead of drowning in self-deprecation and loathing, we can intentionally change the emotion of fear into something much more useful.

Even in times of uncertainty, the ability to intentionally set off an anchor, and put us in a much more resourceful state, will help us maintain our locus of control so we can still be at cause.

Now that you have a much better understanding of what anchors are, how they are adapted from a scientific model, and how they are useful, let’s discuss ways we can setup anchors.

Then we are going to give you our super-secret sauce that we call the Awesome Anchor.

Setting Up & Using The Awesome Anchor

You already have millions of anchors set up unconsciously. These anchors link an emotional state of being to a specific triggering stimulus.

Mike Mandel, for instance, loves Christmas time. When he smells the scent of pine needles, sees the falling snow, and hears the sound of Christmas music, his internal emotional state of “Christmasy” turns on.

What are some ways that you know for certain you end up triggering an anchor of your own?

A common anchor that people have when they are driving on the road is a red light. You know when you see a red light and are driving in a vehicle, the red light is an indicator to stop.

However - if you are riding your bicycle on the sidewalk and see a ride light, you may or may not stop, depending on traffic.

Let’s go over just a few of the different types of anchors you can use.

Spacial Anchor

One type of anchor is based on context and setting or space within our three-dimensional reality. We call this type of anchor a spacial anchor.

This anchor is set and triggered through the context of location and setting.

An easy way to understand this anchor is by imagining you are about to go to a job that you absolutely can’t stand.

Do you remember a time in your life where you were working a job you disliked and every time you walked into the building you could feel the tension rise?

Going to a place you hate can trigger internal feelings of stress. That physical space can become an anchor. It can trigger those negative feelings.

This is why for some people, going back to the home where they grew up can elicit feelings of comfort and safety, while for others it can bring about feelings of distress.

Touch Anchor

Another type of really powerful anchor that can be set is called a touch anchor.

This type of anchor can be intentionally or unintentionally set and for the purposes of NLP, this will be the most widely used anchor.

Touch anchors are exactly what you would expect them to be; anchors that are set and triggered by physical touch.

Mike tells the story of a being at the funeral to support a friend who had sadly lost his parents.

People were walking up to his friend and putting their hands on his shoulder and saying stuff like, “This must be really difficult for you…” and “You must be feeling so awful…”

Later that year, long after the funeral, Mike remembers being at a gathering with this friend. Everyone was in good spirits. Suddenly one guy reached out and put his hand on the his shoulder in the same manner as his friends at the funeral. It immediately triggered that same sad emotional state from that day.

This is because an anchor was set at the funeral. The spoken words of sorrow and the direct touch on this young man’s shoulder all became anchored to the sad feelings. When the same touch was later applied at a fun social event, BANG, the anchor (trigger) unleashed unpleasant emotions.

Creating Your Awesome Anchor

By now, if you’ve been following our content for a while, you know of something called the VAK.

VAK stands for Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic.

These are just representational systems and everybody uses them.

Most people have a primary and secondary representational system, meaning that they learn and communicate in a very specific way.

For some people they are highly visual and will use words like: see, visualize, and look. Others are high auditory and will use words like: hear, listen, and sounds. And others are highly kinesthetic and will use words like: feel, sense, and felt.

Since you now know about how anchors can be set and triggered and you are aware of the representational systems, let's add it all together to create a really powerful anchor that you can use whenever you need an extra boost.

Whenever something awesome happens in your life, like a moment of celebration or a really funny joke, your emotions will simulate a rollercoaster.

There will be a moment of increased emotional response, the peak of the emotion, and then a decline.

It’s at the peak of this emotion where you would want to set the anchor. Doing so is as simple as pressing on a spot that you would like the anchor to be set at.

For our students and for you, we would recommend picking a spot on your body that:

  1. Won’t accidentally be pressed at the wrong time.
  2. Won’t accidentally be pressed too much.

Because of these two reasons, we recommend using your non-dominant hand and pressing the tip of your ring finger and thumb together.

Thumb And Ring Finger Touching

Why the heck do we call this an “Awesome Anchor”? That’s because we teach our students to set their anchors by combining all 3 of the VAK (visual, auditory, & kinesthetic).

Here’s how you do it.

First, notice when you’re in an absolutely awesome state. Then, just set the anchor. You’ll do this using all 3 primary systems: You’ll look (visual) at the fingers that you’re touching together. You’ll be pressing them together and feeling it (kinesthetic). And finally, you’ll use the auditory system by speaking the word “awesome!” out loud.

This connects the emotion to all 3 representational systems AND sets a really powerful anchor.

The best part about this is you can stack anchors. This means you can start to notice all of the times you naturally feel awesome. And when you notice those moments, just fire your awesome anchor. You’ll build the anchor up into something even more powerful.

At this point you have an anchor that you can fire when necessary. When you fire it, you’ll immediately flood your mind and body with all of those compounded awesome emotional states.

And we think that’s pretty darn awesome, don’t you?

Curiously Wanting to Learn More?

We trust you found this information useful and valuable!

Go ahead and set up your awesome anchor right now if you would like!

If you would love to learn more about anchors and other incredibly useful NLP techniques and principles that you can use to improve your own life or the lives of others then check out NLP Essentials.

There’s no need to spend thousands of dollars on expensive courses. NLP Essentials makes it super easy for you to learn the essentials of NLP. You can study at your own pace because once you buy this course, you own it. 

The best part is with bite-sized, fun videos, you'll automatically learn & understand while naturally implementing and using NLP in your everyday life.