[ Anchoring yourself to positive emotions and mindset || The keys to effective anchoring || How to condition yourself to feel better more consistently || How and when to use conditioning and anchors || Combining anchoring with meditation and other practices || What if anchoring or conditioning doesn’t work ]
[NOTE: I refer to the skill of anchoring or conditioning a number of times in other articles. Don’t discount it as trivial or just interesting. Master it and it will go a long way toward you mastering your life.]
The ability to choose how you feel is the key to a successful fulfilling life.
Full stop. Your mindset will either help you or hinder you.
And in order to know how you want to feel.., you have to have felt it before. Without past experience of a desired state of mind, you would have no way to contrast it with current experience.
Feeling better is rarely about learning how to feel better. Feeling better is about learning to feel better in a specific context (time/situation/place/group or individual).
The difference between those two sentences is the difference between succeeding in changing or not.
State management and emotional intelligence are rarely if ever about not being able to feel a different way. This is about skill and transferring or remembering a feeling from one area or time of your life to another.
Understand that, and you have the secret to feeling different in any area of life.
Anchoring yourself to positive emotions and mindset
“I’ve had enough of this constant moving.., drop the anchor!”
Anchoring, as known in NLP, is the process of linking one thing with another through repetition or intensity or both. So not the same as a ship anchor but the metaphor works none the less.
Anchoring is more commonly referred to as conditioning.
By conditioning a state of mind or feeling to a specific repeatable trigger.., you can transfer it to another area of your life.
In other words.., here is a way to take that good feeling you have when you eat chocolate and quickly and effectively learn to feel that same way about a salad.
Or what if you developed a practice of relaxing and getting yourself into a brain state conducive to falling asleep.., anchored that state and process.., and then used that at bedtime to help you overcome sleeping issues!
Anchoring is in effect, creating new neural pathways in the brain purposefully.
Selling is anchoring
Advertisers rely on anchoring to create good feelings about their products.
For example.., sex does sell!
How many adverts have you seen with attractive models in them while the product or service being sold is also being shown?
What’s really going on there? What they are doing by showing something we desire to be or be with.., is creating the feeling of desire. Then while we are feeling that, they show us their product or service and the two get linked together by conditioning and association.
So we end up feeling desire for their product or service!
Sneaky huh. But that’s just an obvious one. Some are way more subtle but just as powerful.
Conditioned responses are everywhere
You will have many existing anchors in your life; some positive and some negative. Like hearing a song that reminds you of a past time or seeing police lights flashing behind you in the car and getting that ‘uh oh’ feeling (lol). Or maybe it’s smelling a perfume/cologne that reminds you of a past partner.
Even things like pulling away from a hot stove is an anchored response from a young age where you probably burnt yourself.
Routines that you practice consistently become an anchor for a state of mind. Like that morning walk or deep breath followed by a sigh.
Do you have an evening routine that helps you get to sleep? See the better sleep series of articles for more on that.
How do we use this common occurrence of conditioning to our advantage?
We can use self made anchors to transfer feelings that we already have in one area of our life to another where it would be useful.
So for instance, you can take the confidence you have with riding a bike or playing a game and add it to talking to strangers so you feel confident there to.
You can perhaps begin to imagine how useful that might be.
The keys to effective anchoring
“What if you found the keys to unlock your potential and escape your self imposed prisons”
There are a few things to be aware of to get the most out of anchoring.
Each sense can be used for anchoring
Anchoring can occur in any sense.., sight (visual), sound (auditory), touch/feeling (kinaesthetic), taste (gustatory) and smell (olfactory).
For most processes it is more useful to anchor in ways that are easy to re-use. Re-using an anchor is referred to as firing the anchor. So a touch anchor is usually easiest for that. All senses have their uses though.
You could for example access a feeling of love and desire and attach that feeling to the sight of your partner…! But who would want to do that eh.., lol. It might result in you having a more passionate relationship and that’s just too exciting to think about huh. 🙂
The best anchors are unique
Use something a bit unique or unusual for your anchor so that it’s only used when you want it to be and doesn’t get diluted by unintentional use.
For a touch anchor you could touch two fingers together, or squeeze an earlobe, or squeeze your knee etc.
I like to add in a sound when I first fire off a touch anchor as well just for added punch.
For a sound anchor (and in this instance I’m referring to a sound you make yourself either internally or out loud) you could say to yourself “hell yeah!” or “bring it on baby!”.
Make it something that invokes a good feeling just by saying it and it will help you further than something boring.
Anchor at the peak of the feeling
Create the anchor when the feeling is at or near it’s peak intensity and then release it when the feeling begins to subside. You want to anchor a strong feeling here, not a namby pamby one.
You can always then ramp the feeling back up again and re-anchor again to strengthen it even further. In fact that’s the best way to do it.
And you can re-anchor the same example of a feeling a few times or you can find different examples of the same feeling and anchor them all to the same unique gesture or sound etc.
You can even anchor multiple feelings to one gesture and therefore create a new feeling! I mean literally you can create a new bespoke feeling that is unique to you!
How to condition yourself to feel better more consistently
Decide what feeling you want to remember and anchor for future use.
Now remember a time when you have felt that feeling before, in ANY context or situation.
If you’re having trouble finding one consider this; you cannot know what a feeling is, without having felt that feeling before sometime. For example, you simply would not know what joy is unless you have experienced joy before. So relax and you’ll find one.
Or imagine you are someone else who does feel it all the time and pretend to be them! Seriously; again, pretending something can only come from having had the actual experience of that something.
Recreate the experience in all the senses
I cannot emphasise this enough.., the only way you can imagine how you or ANYONE else would feel in a desired situation, is if you have already felt that way before in your past!
Really imagine you are back at that time and get into the experience fully. See what you saw, hear what you heard, feel what you felt, and even smell and taste (if you can) what you experienced as if it was happening right now.
Spend some time doing this until you really feel at least close to the same feelings in your body as you did then. What were you doing? Who was there? What was said and what sound is around you? Can you feel the environment? Smell anything? How are you behaving?
Really get there!
Amplify the feeling
You may get enough feeling back just doing this but if you want to amplify the feeling even further then do this –
Notice what the sensations of this feeling specifically feel like. Do they feel warm or tingling or moving? How would you describe the feeling to someone who has never felt it before?
How would you describe joy for instance? Is it an all over warm body tingle that seems to start from the centre and radiate outwards and upwards, constantly circulating?
Now experiment with increasing the strength of the feeling by imagining making it warmer, more tingling, moving around your body faster. Whatever is present for you, experiment with increasing it.
In a few situations decreasing it will make it stronger; like with a relaxed feeling decreasing the speed of movement may relax you more.
Imagination applied to internal experience is surprisingly effective at changing the internal experience.., making it follow along.
Amplifying with submodalities
One way of talking of experiences (in reality or in our mind) is by referring to the senses such as visual (sight), auditory (sound) and kinaesthetic (feeling/touch) as modalities of experience. A memory or experience is made up of these modalities that code it in a specific way.
This is done with what are called sub-modalities.
For example, a visual submodality might be brightness, an auditory submodality might be volume, and a kinaesthetic submodality might be temperature.
When remembering a specific state, there will be specific submodalities to that memory. Changing those submodalities can change the experience. It can even change the memory but that is beyond the scope of this article.
An example of this specific coding is comparing a memory from yesterday with a ‘distant’ memory. Note the word ‘distant’ which already gives you a clue as to one of the submodalities. IE: Past memories are often further away in your mind.
For the purpose of amplifying a feeling state to use that state with anchoring there are some that you will find to be drivers (controllers) of the experience.
If just thinking about your memory and reliving it as much as possible mentally isn’t enough for you to get a strong enough feeling of it the try some or all of these:
Make the memory of your ideal state bigger visually in your mind, more colourful and bright, add movement like a movie instead of a still picture.
Make the sounds or voices louder.
Make the feelings warmer or move them around your body.
There are many of these distinctions you could try but these ones are common drivers of experience. Notice what makes the feeling stronger and use that for your anchoring process.
Looping feelings to amplify them
There are other ways to amplify feelings like with your favourite music. Here we are dealing directly with the feeling itself. Movement of sensations in the body is a powerful driver of feelings.
Notice where the feeling moves. Does it start in your stomach and move up to your head? Which way does it move?
Feeling sensations do tend to move within the body or they become habituated and not felt anymore.
So notice for instance if when you feel it moving whether it rotates forward or backward or try it both ways and see which increases the desired feeling.
Try this – notice where the movement starts and where it goes. Now imagine looping it in the same direction back to the beginning like a spinning vortex of energy and start to increase it’s speed. Even if it seems to not loop, make it do so and see what happens.
For example, feel the sensations move from your stomach up your back and over your head and out of your forehead.., before entering back into your stomach from the outside and repeating the loop.
Spin it faster and faster only as much as it makes the feeling stronger!
Set your anchor once you have a strong feeling
Now.., while the feeling is at it’s peak or close to it, apply your chosen anchor and hold it as long as you can while the feeling still is strong. Release it if the feeling drops off and repeat a few times.
So for example if you’ve chosen to squeeze two fingers together as your anchor then do that while the feeling is at it’s peak and stop squeezing when the feeling tapers off.
Once you’ve done this to your satisfaction or at least 3 times.., stop imagining and shake all this off so you feel normal again.
Test the anchor and repeat the above steps if needed
Test the anchor by firing it (for instance squeezing and holding the two fingers together) and notice that you start to get the same feeling coming back again. Let it build, be excited about that you’ve succeeded, and then release the anchor. If you don’t get much of a change, re-read the keys to effective conditioning or anchoring section above and do it again. You WILL get there.
Well done! Now you have an anchor to use.
How and when to use conditioning and anchors
You can create an anchor that you physically use repeatedly in a situation where you need that feeling, like just before business meetings.
Or you can create and use an anchor just once within a process to permanently change a response or habitual mindset in specific situations.
If you want a specific feeling to be present for a situation, I would use the anchoring process mentally as described and then back it up if needed physically each time the situation presents itself until you are sure it has taken hold.
How would you do that?
Using anchoring to change a future response
Let’s use the confidence in meetings idea as an example. Create the confidence anchor and then imagine times in the future when you may be in a meeting and fire the anchor. Do this while imagining the meeting going wonderfully well and you being confident and excited.
The feeling will transfer to the new context just as advertisers get desire to transfer to their product! Do this 3 or more times (the more the better) in different meeting rooms with different people, on different subjects and at different times. Doing multiple times like this helps the new feeling be there automatically without you needing to do it manually. You can of course do both.
And you can re-strengthen an anchor as often as you like or even as I’ve mentioned add other feelings to the same anchor to create new feelings.
Specific versus general changes to future responses
The confidence in meetings example is for a specific limited context. What if you want it to be in more than one area of your life? For example feeling happy (or confident for that matter). Having a positive mindset is more commonly experienced in more than one context. One change leads to another and you will most likely find your new habits of thought and emotion generalising to many area’s. Happiness could be considered part of a useful mindset for example.
If you want to feel happy more often then again do the same thing. First access a time when you felt happy, amplify it and anchor it. Then imagine times in the future while firing and holding the anchor so that the feeling of happiness is added to more situations.
In this case, unlike the meeting example where you want the change to be in context, imagine and feel being happy in different contexts. Choose examples from work, with family and friends, at home alone etc. The more different possibilities you imagine, the more the change will generalise to ALL area’s of your life. Your mind will get the message and fill in the spaces in other contexts.
Combining anchoring with meditation and other practices
Using anchoring to enhance your experience of practices like meditation and hypnosis to name just two is a great way to accelerate your results.
In the case of those two practices.., creating an anchor while you are super relaxed will allow you to get back to being super relaxed again quicker and more reliably. Or you can then transfer that feeling to another context.
Or use anchoring with technology driven practices like audio visual entrainment / brainwave entrainment. Use technology like the roXiva RX1 audio visual brainwave entrainment device/light machine.
With the RX1 you can quickly and easily get into a desired state of mind and body and then create an anchor to re-trigger that state another time. Either when needed in another context, or to amplify your experience with the device next time.
And of course with the RX1, you can go up in awareness as well as down creating for yourself a flow state to use or transfer elsewhere.
What if anchoring or conditioning doesn’t work
Do it again!
Repetition is everything.
Remember that your mindset, habits or feelings you want to change may have been with you for MANY years. Be kind to yourself and realise it may take a few repetitions of a technique or process to really make it stick.
What limitations are there to conditioning like this?
Nada! 🙂 None.
The opportunities for anchoring are endless.
I will cover other idea’s such as sliding anchors and chaining anchors in other articles.
In fact it has been said by some well known therapists and NLP trainers that in effect, ALL change techniques and processes involve anchoring.
Because it’s really just a name for transferring a skill or resource from one area/person/situation to another and that’s basically all that change is.
And you can help others therapeutically with anchoring as well.
Or your pets, haha. Not that they need any encouragement. How often have you seen a dog learn words or the sound of a door that trigger them to get excited. In fact the whole concept of anchoring or conditioning was popularised by Ivan Pavlov (see image above). He trained dogs to salivate at the ring of a bell (actually a tuning fork) by ringing it as he fed them a few times until the two things got linked in the dogs mind. From then on he could just ring the bell and the dogs would drool uncontrollably. I hope he at least then fed them. 🙂
Be well and have fun.