Anchoring Basics: Gain Control Over Your States, Feelings And Emotions

You have most probably heard about anchoring already. If not, don’t worry, I’ll guide you step-by-step from beginning so that at the end of this post you’ll be able to easily anchor states in yourself and play with different intensities of your feelings and emotions.

In it’s most basic form, anchors are conditioned stimuli derived from classical conditioning, which is a form of learning. As we’ll see later, anchors can be a lot more than that, but for now we’ll go with this definition.

What we do in anchoring is connect a certain stimulus (touch, smell, posture, space…) to a specific state, emotion, feeling, physiological reflex (for example, salivation) or memory.

1.) First comes the phase of training

To establish an anchor we have to first train the subject (in this particular case ourselves) to respond to it in a specific way. This is called the “training phase” (in classical conditioning this actually phase 2, but we won’t get into too much detail here) and essentially it goes like this:

Elicit a desired response

Set an anchor at an appropriate time

Test the anchor (by firing it)

If the anchor brings about a desired response, it’s set

If the anchor doesn’t bring about a desired response, repeat steps 1-3 until it does (it can take from 15-20 times, depending on the precision and strength of the elicited state). As we’ll see in the intermediate and advanced lessons, we can establish powerful anchors in a single take, but that’s on a higher level (but not much more complicated than this, however it’s important to go through all the steps in order to really understand how it works).

It sounds very simple and indeed, it really is. It just seems complicated to a beginner, but don’t worry, you’ll get a hang of it soon.

Eliciting A Desired Response

Here we’ll concentrate on how to elicit a state in yourself so that you’ll be able to set useful anchors on yourself before you attempt to do it on other people.

Traditionally in NLP trainings, they teach the “Think of the time when…” technique. Essentially you think of a state you want to be in or a feeling or emotion you want to feel and then you think of a time when you felt this very strongly.

For example, if you want to feel confident, they would say: “Think of a time when you last felt confident” or “Think of a time when you felt very confident”.

Now, this works very well for some people, but I had a bit of a struggle with this one.

But since you’re working on yourself and since you have virtually unlimited time, this can prove to be a good technique to get into a proper state or to feel a certain way.

I prefer to ask myself the question: “What’s it like when I feel confident”. Do experiment with what works for you best.

If you’re a visual type, explore the images that appear in front of you in your mind’s eye. Make the images bigger, brighter, closer, warmer and see if this alters your feelings at all (usually this will very effectively “ramp up” the desired feeling).

Maybe confidence isn’t a good example as I don’t believe there is such a thing as “confidence”. There is a state where you simply do something and a state where you’re not so sure if you dare to do it or you’re worried about the outcome. Generally, the things we do often and we trained for, we do more “confidently” than the things we never trained for.

OK, back to anchoring.

Let’s use another state I like very much: curiosity.

Do you know what makes you really curious? Do you remember when you were really curious about something… So much so that you HAD to know what it’s all about? Maybe when you were a kid and you were exploring the world. Maybe you were reading a great book and you couldn’t wait to find out how it ends.

Now, when you think about that, what’s it like to be really curious? Do you get certain sensations in your body? Do you get certain thoughts? Can you feel an invisible “driving force” that’s making you go forward and discover the secret that’s bothering you and you want to disclose?

Play around with the feeling and feel it, dissect it, imagine it getting stronger and weaker. Be aware of the sensations that follow each step of your exploration.

Now that, you’re ready to elicit the feeling, it’s time to anchor it and to make it available to you literally at the flick of your finger…

Setting An Anchor

When you’re setting an anchor, three things are very important (hint: they usually don’t teach you this part correctly!) Here are the three crucial steps:

2.) Second comes the phase of anchor extinction

Through use, the anchor will slowly lose strength. Although without use it can persist for years, if you use the anchor a lot, it will slowly get extinct.

But, fortunately there’s an easy solution. Before complete anchor extinction, you can reinforce it by repeating the training phase again. This time you’ll notice that the anchor will become strong much faster than the first time.

This way you can maintain the anchors even if you use them a lot. As we’ll see in later posts, certain anchors can last a lot longer than others but for now let’s focus on the basics.

Hope you enjoyed this article. Next time I’ll share some slightly more advanced methods for self-anchoring but first make sure you practice the basics and you get them down before you attempt to go more advanced.

One of the most common mistakes of beginners is that they want to know it all immediately and they invariably suffer from information overload. This only leads to frustration and most of the times to continuous students without any experience because they never get in the real world and try this out. All they do is read about covert hypnosis all day and never actually use it.

So, make sure to learn the basics of self-anchoring before you go on.

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