Anchoring is an NLP term that refers to the process of associating an internal response with an external or internal trigger. For example a picture can become an anchor for a particular feeling.
While anchoring can also be linked with a touch to an experience or a tone of voice to an emotion, anchoring is most effective when an individual chooses the association for themselves.
Anchoring is a means of allowing us to leverage the power of our subconscious mind rather than living our lives from a reactive response to stimuli. It can be one of the most powerful self-empowering tools in your toolbox. Robert Dilts (1999) explains in his article, Anchoring, “that the cue which serves as a psychological “anchor” is not so much a mechanical stimulus which “causes” a response as it is a reference point that helps to stabilize a particular state.” I like to think of anchors as our lighthouse, a beacon that will return our focus and prevent us from being lost at sea.
Our subconscious mind operates on autopilot. It receives experiences and stores them in an attempt to keep us safe. It retrieves them when a similar situation presents itself. Ironically, we seldom live a new experience because as soon as we engage our subconscious mind links what is currently happening and automatically defaults us to a previous experience. Our success and reactions come from associative memories rather than from living in the moment.
Anchoring allows us to leverage the subconscious mind in our favour by associating two experiences. Because our subconscious mind learns through repetition, associations are established in this fashion.
I am a graduate of the Master Key Master Mind Alliance program where anchors were used to focus our attention on our definite major purpose. The simple use of shapes and colours, linked both physically and mentally, to our life’s blueprint subconsciously kept our focus on our goal and intention.
During the Master Key Experience we used the above method to strengthen our learning experience. For example, we associated a colour or a shape with a particular emotion that was attached to our Definite Major Purpose. In this case the anchor became the stimulus associated with our new subconscious learning.
Let me give you an example. One of my core values is to help others. As I designed the life of my choosing it was important to me to include helping others in this blueprint. I chose to attach a green triangle to the words helping others and then I trained myself to see green triangles everywhere. I had green rectangles all around my home, in my car, in my notebook. I looked for green triangles as I was driving and noticed evergreen trees and road signs which were very effective in anchoring the connection. Soon every time I saw a green triangle I would think of helping others, an associative reminder.
I used all of my senses to establish a connection to my green triangles. My new life was important to me and I infused this document with strong emotion with an understanding that emotions were the oil to my mind’s engine. I recited my new blueprint aloud several times a day, while looking at my shapes, knowing that my subconscious mind had no defense against my own voice. And finally I touched these shapes, I moved pictures of them around my house until the anchor was firmly established and it was imprinted deep in my subconscious.
I shared my experience with others who were familiar with NLP and they quickly recognized the anchoring technique.
Goals are reached when you are laser focused on what you want to achieve. The how isn’t important for your subconscious mind will carve out a pathway for your goal to manifest. What is important is that you minimize the distractions around you in order to keep your attention where you want it to stay.
After personally experiencing the power of anchoring I agree with Dilts when he says, “Anchoring can be a very useful tool for helping to establish and reactivate the mental processes associated with creativity, learning, concentration and other important resources.”