What is Anchor in NLP?
Anchor is a reaction to a specific stimulus that has been programmed in our minds to behave in a certain way in Neuro-Linguistic Programming. When we hear, see, or taste something, it may remind us of something from our past that is still present in our subconscious, and we respond to that stimulus either consciously or subconsciously.
For example: You see an advertisement for a new television from a specific brand and begin to imagine yourself owning it. That feeling has been so good that you get it every time you see that brand’s logo. That’s what anchoring is.
You can also become Anchored to negative emotions. For example, if you were in an accident at a certain location, you will be reminded of those feelings whenever you visit that location.
Your Anchored responses are not inherited. Anchor is a pre-programmed hot button that causes you to enter a specific state without your intervention. Once you are anchored to a state, you will always be hooked on to it, regardless of what is causing it, until you consciously or unconsciously diffuse it.
Anchoring has two components:
- The stimulus or trigger.
- The automatic or unconscious emotional reaction to a trigger or stimulus.
Some pleasant Anchors are as follows:
- The aroma of freshly baked homemade bread brings back childhood memories.
- Hearing a song from the times of your first love brings back wonderful memories of your love life.
- After many years, visiting a hill station or another location with your loved one brings back happy memories.
Some unpleasant Anchors are as follows:
- A dog approaches you, and you become agitated because of a bad experience in the past.
- You got food poisoning after eating a dish at a restaurant. So, whenever you go to that restaurant, you will not order that dish, you will stop going to that restaurant, or you will stop eating that dish forever.
- As some of you were told to do this or that since childhood, and sometimes even more strongly, a comment like; do it like this…blah blah… can elicit a rebellious response from you. Because you do not want to be dictated to right now.
- The impolite salesperson has trained herself/himself to lose her/his nerve at the first sign of rejection in the prospect’s behavior.
- The nervous public speaker has learned to lose confidence at the sight of a large and glaring audience.
Why Anchors can make us feel out of control?
Anchors kick in almost instantly, usually in less than 60 seconds. They are unconsciously triggered, bypassing rational thought. Positive thinking and positive intentions have little effect on Anchors unless they are sustained over time.
I’m aware of my negative Anchor. Will it still have an impact on my behavior?
Uncovering them will not result in its abolition. However, bringing those subconscious Anchors to light will significantly reduce their impact. But there’s a catch: it’s still lurking in your subconscious, ready to spring back and propel you into an unfavorable emotional state if you let down your guard.
For example: A baby would cry a lot until he or she was a toddler. Whenever the baby started crying, the mother would panic because it was extremely difficult to calm her down. The baby’s crying lessened as she grew older, but the mother was still anchored to the baby’s wailing and felt the same agony even when the child cried infrequently.
The mother became aware of the source of her anguish. When she gained this knowledge, she discovered that it gave her some control over it, and the agonizing feeling subsided. But there were times when she had to deal with multiple challenges at once. Her child crying, her favorite dinner set broken, and an argument with her husband are just a few examples. Because the agony was still present in her subconscious, she began to feel it even more intensely.
You may not have had much say in how your negative Anchors came to be, but you do have the option of not allowing them to continue to influence your moods. The best way to deal with them is to diffuse them.
How is a negative Anchor different from a negative thought?
Some thoughts serve as anchors. If you dwell on a negative thought for too long, it can lead to negative anchoring.
For example: After a long day at work, you’re relaxing at home when you recall how your colleague, Jack, treated you disrespectfully that morning. If you continue to dwell on this, replaying the incident in your mind and talking to yourself about it, your mood will crash.
This is not a real negative Anchor because it did not relate to a previous unpleasant experience to instantly put you in a bad mood! The change in your mood caused by Jack’s words could have harmed your pride, which is why your mood changed. If you do not diffuse your hurt or reconcile with Jack, this event may become a negative anchor in the future, where you may become upset just thinking about Jack and relive the same feelings you felt when he spoke rudely to you.
Normally, such events can fade from memory if the impact on you was not as strong or if the person or location in question has changed.
Does positive thinking work?
When there are too many powerful negative anchors, it can be quite demoralizing. We know we shouldn’t be so easily influenced by events and people. We want to feel like we have more control over our emotions. We try to think positive thoughts, read books, watch inspiring stories about how other people seem to have gotten over their negative experiences and achieved their goals – but we can’t seem to control our own mood swings. Why?
Positive thinking is a skill that can help us achieve the life we want. However, it is not always the solution. Positive thinking can sometimes act like a cosmetic, concealing our flaws but not actually removing them. Once the cosmetic has worn off, the flaws will be visible again.
Just as it is critical to remove a rotting organ from the body for its well-being, it is critical to remove the negative feelings that rot our life.
How is that achievable?
There are two stages to dealing with negative anchors:
- Discover your frequent triggers
- Diffuse these mentally before you encounter them again
Discover your frequent triggers:
When you realize your mood has plummeted, think back from the present moment to the last time you felt good. The time difference between your two emotions could be minutes or hours. Try to find the point where the two emotions meet. What thought, person or circumstance shifted your mood? You’ll find the trigger there.
Diffuse these mentally before you encounter them again:
The results will be less powerful when you’re learning online than if you could learn in person with an experienced trainer. However, if you want to try this online, repeating the steps a few times on consecutive days will almost certainly take a lot of the sting out of the trigger.