Have you ever wished that you could control anxiety at a crucial moment like an interview or driving test or during an important exam? When you feel very happy, don’t you wish you could ‘bottle’ that feeling so that you could summon it up whenever you like? With NLP anchors you can. Read on and in a few simple steps, we’ll tell you how!
What is NLP?
NLP stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming. Simply put, it is a method of re-training your mind to think another way. It abolishes ‘old’ and less than helpful reactions and replaces them with new, empowering ones. The best thing about NLP is that you are in control all of the time and you work at your own pace. Creating anchors is a basic, safe and easy NLP technique that everyone can – and should – try. Let’s get started!
Which emotional state do you want to anchor? This is an important step so take your time over it. Just saying that you don’t want to feel worried or low in confidence isn’t good enough at this stage because although you’ve identified what you don’t want, this is all about identifying what you do want. Try to define how you want to feel and be specific. For example, you could choose to feel enthusiastic or powerful. And don’t forget, you can create as many anchors as you wish, so this isn’t an either/or list.
Once you have chosen how you would like to feel, remember back to a time when you felt like that. It doesn’t matter when it was, as long as it was a strongly felt feeling that you can remember clearly.
Now, relax as much as possible and take yourself back to the time that you felt that strong, positive emotion. Take a little while to really feel it. Once you are feeling it strongly, try to notice what you were seeing at that time. What were you hearing? How did your body feel? Were you standing tall? Smiling? Confident? Really get back into that moment of time. As you’re re-living it, notice how the emotional state builds up to its most powerful and then the intensity gradually starts to fade. That is completely normal, so don’t worry!
Repeat Step Three but just as the emotion is reaching its strongest point, make a gesture with your hand. This gesture will be unique to this emotion. This could be balling it into a fist, or touching the thumb and finger of one hand together. Don’t forget, this is something that you will do in public to recreate that emotional state so don’t make it too way out! You can leave it at just the gesture but if you wish to anchor it even more firmly, you need to do the following. While still making the gesture, quietly say a word or two that describes the emotion i.e. “cool”, “calm”, “happy” etc. For even more strength, visualise a picture at the same time of something that you can associate with that emotion. Take your time choosing as it works better if it is a picture that you can summon easily.
Hold that gesture / word(s) / image for a few moments then release the gesture and break state. That’s an NLP term for changing your emotions fast by thinking about something completely different – like what was the name of your first pet?
Once you have completed Steps One through Step Five, you need to repeat them again at least five times. This is crucial and will make sure that your NLP anchor is strong and will be easy for you to summon when you need it. So don’t skip this step or it won’t work!
Now it’s time to test the anchor that you have made. Trigger the anchor by making the hand gesture, saying the word(s) and picturing the image. If the anchor has worked, you should feel the desired emotion within 15 seconds. If you don’t or it’s not strong enough, you may need to choose a different experience from your memory that really gives you the feeling that you’re after.
Creating more anchors
If you are happy with your first anchor, you can go on to make more. Make as many as you like, as long as each one has its own gesture, word(s) and image. If you’re making a lot, do it over a few days or keep a list to learn off by heart so that you don’t mix up your anchors!
Only anchor a strongly felt experience that you can intensely recreate in your mind.
Choose an experience that was purely to do with one, predominant emotion and not mixed with other feelings.
Remember to create a unique anchor for each desired feeling so that the state may be easily accessed when you need it.
Timing is crucial, create the anchor before the peak of the remembered emotion and release it before the peak fades away.
You need to be prepared to put some time into doing this. You’re learning a new skill so don’t rush it and don’t worry if you don’t ‘get it right’ first time. Expect to spend around 20-30 minutes creating each anchor.
If you feel the anchor fading, once it’s in use, take some time to repeat Steps One through Seven to re-strengthen the anchor.
Once you get used to the concept and creation of anchors, you may like to try ‘stacking’ them. This simply means that you choose the emotional state that you want and anchor it as we did in Steps One through Seven. Then you repeat the steps using the same gesture, word(s) and image – but to achieve a different state.
For example, let’s imagine that you wished to anchor confidence. You’ve chosen to clench your right fist, quietly say “strength” and visualize a picture of Superman. When you repeat the steps, you may choose to have a big smile on your face, so visualize that, clench your right fist, say “strength” and picture Superman. When you try out this stacked anchor, you will feel confident and have a big smile. See how it works?
Once you have mastered anchoring, it can make a huge difference to your life. The only limit is your imagination and the amount of time that you are willing to put in, in creating, refining and testing your anchors. The rewards are so great, it’s time very well spent! Good luck!