Will your anchor hold?

“Will your anchor hold in the storms of life” is the rousing song of the Boys’ Brigade, an organisation with global reach that gives youngsters a disciplined, yet creative, and fitness-conscious start in life. Its motto is ‘Steadfast and Sure’ from the second line of that song and its emblem is an anchor with capital B’s either side.

It occurs to me that ‘will your anchor hold’ is also a phrase that applies equally well to one of the key approaches in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). I won’t go in to an in-depth study of ‘anchoring’ just now, but I thought the following little exercise may be useful whether you are new to NLP or just to serve as a reminder.

Okay, make yourself comfortable and calm your mind and let it be filled with silence. Just let all of your current thoughts drift off; observe them and watch them move on. Relax your body as well as your mind and get comfortable.

Then, imagine a time when everything seemed stacked up against you and just wasn’t going your way. You feel anxious and frustrated and angry. Picture yourself in that scene. Hear the angry words. Tap the back of your right hand to anchor this state (anchor #1).

Okay, break state, turn your thoughts elsewhere, on to anything else or just let your mind go quiet.

Now, imagine a time of great elation: of happiness. Feel your muscles relaxed and hear your uncontrollable giggling. You feel on top of the world; relaxed and full of energy: ready to take on any challenge. Tap the back of your left hand to anchor this state (anchor#2).

The key learning here is that you have anchored an unhelpful state of mind (anchor#1) and a very useful resource (anchor#2).

So next time things are going against you just tap the back of your left hand to fire that useul resource.

It works for me; tapping the back of my left hand makes me smile, relax and be ready face any challenge anew.

You should also be aware that you can set different anchors instead of the tapping examples above; by, for example, clicking you fingers in either hand. Choose whatever works for you.

With practice, I’ve found that even just thinking about anchor#2 helps me to smile and lighten my mood.

Go on, try it: and let me know how you get on.

6 responses to “Will your anchor hold?

  1. Thanks Stephen………You outlined a simple easy way to set an anchor………..Why do we need to set an anchor for the unhelpful state first?…………Why not just set an anchor for the positive elated state?

    • Hi Wayne, thanks for stopping by. Great question. Anchors help to change behaviours, in this case by adding a useful resource. Anchor#1 sets the state you want to change away from but more importantly creates dissociation with anger or anxiety (‘picture yourself’). We looked at a point in time use only. But say there was an anger situation or memory that was affecting you. Firing anchor#1 will take you there and integration with anchor#2 (by ‘firing’ it) will help to change (at least) or take that memory away. That means that you could also use this technique to, say, improve performance rather than change state: by thinking of an activity then setting an anchor (#1) then moving to your top performance (even by inmagination) and anchoring it (#2). Firing each anchor in turn and integrating them will lead to better performance. Hope this helps 🙂 Stephen

  2. Hi Stephen,
    I’ve tried this a couple of times. I think I’ll try this some more. It’s been a FAB weekend. I’ve been really busy with the band. As far as finding times of elation, well There was some of that last night as well as last weekend.

  3. Hi Marty, glad you’re having a fab weekend. Io dn’t think this is a quick fix. It takes some practice to retrain your subconscious, which is essentially what firing off anchor#2 does – elicits a positive response. Please let me know how you do. Take care, Stephen

  4. Interesting post. I will give it a try. I don’t know anything about NLP, but keep hearing of it. Sounds similar to EFT.

    Research confirms your response to Wayne’s question. When you recall a not so pleasant memory and then associate it with a better memory or thought, the two become physically linked in your mind. It is a powerful healing tool for us and for changing ourselves for the better!

    • Hey Debbie. I’ve tried to get into EFT but without much success. I was surprised therefore that this little anchor-tapping exercise works for me. NLP is all about understanding then changing behaviours positively. I find it absolutely fascinating. Take care, Stephen

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