Understanding: Understand Your Anchors

NLP Snippets: Understand Your Anchors

Most people have heard of Pavlov and his dogs.

Pavlov developed the notion of stimulus response by giving food to his dogs and simultaneously ringing a bell. Repeating this over a period of time meant that the dogs came to associate the sound of the bell with food and would salivate when they heard the bell even if no food was present. Here the stimulus (anchor) is the bell and the response (behaviour) is salivating.

NLP takes advantage of this natural human conditioning to help people access empowering states or to let go of negative states.

The stimulus may come from your external environment, like hearing a familiar song or seeing a red traffic light or can be internal. In either case, it triggers a conscious or unconscious internal response/feeling which may result in a behavioural change.

We all have lots of different anchors. When I was in my late teens, I dated someone that used to wear a particular brand of aftershave, and still 20 years on when I smell it, no matter where I am or what I am doing, I immediately remember the person and that period of my life. This is an example of an external olfactory (smell) anchor that generates an internal response.

Although anchors can be very useful they can also be counterproductive. Most anchors operate outside of your conscious awareness and have an impact on your state and behaviour whether or not you are aware of them. A useful anchor will present a pleasant memory or empower your state of mind, for example, feeling a motivated or confident state can produce incredible results.

Examples of un-resourceful anchors could include the following:-

  • Your boss wants to see you in her office in five minutes.
  • Your partner uses a certain tone of voice or their body language triggers an un-resourceful reaction
  • An introduction to somebody new – their name reminds you of someone you don’t have fond memories of
  • You are at work and the word ‘presentation’ is mentioned – how do you feel?

Anchors can be changed or eliminated by using various NLP techniques. Understanding your anchors can be very powerful but may just be the first step. NLP can then help you to ‘reprogram’ your behaviour and avoid negative anchors and create new positive anchors so you can have more of what you want our of life. If you’d like to know more about NLP Anchors, please let me know in the comments below


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