Anchoring is a powerful NLP technique for triggering a certain frame of mind or emotion, such as happiness, certainty, feeling powerful or deep relaxation. It usually involves a touch, gesture or word as an “anchor”, like a tab for a desired emotion, and fire it again later using that same anchor.
How to use anchoring?
Lets do an exercise, I need you to recall a time when you were very ecstatic, such as when you won a lottery, got promoted, got married, had your first child or had some really good news. It can be anything you like, as long as it was definitely a very cheerful moment.
In your mind, imagine telling me the story of what happened leading up to that happy moment you just thought about. Be dramatic, eloquent, and describe how it felt in rich details. Picture that moment in your head in all the colorful expressive details, and recall the feeling associated with that.
I want you to hold your left index and thumb in your right hand, and gently give your fingers two quick squeezes. As you do the second squeeze, make the picture of the happy moment expanding to a much larger canvas maybe as big as the wall in front of you or to your side, bringing it closer to you, and imagine the happy feeling magnify in intensity.
Describe again how you are feeling now. Describe what you were thinking at the time. As you do, squeeze your fingers twice again . On that second squeeze, the happy feeling intensifies twice, again. The clearer you can imagine the feeling, the better this technique will work. Repeat these steps until you have described then doubled the intensity of the feeling ten times in a row.
That’s the first part – establishing the anchor. Later we can recall this anchor by using the exact same double-squeeze to recall a sense of happiness.
What happens when you anchor?
You are cognitively associating the neural signal of “two squeezes on my left fingers” with “happy”. Therefore it bears to reason that the more times you fire the anchor (as above) and the more certainty and precision you have in the feeling, the better this technique will work. We can combine this with plenty of other NLP techniques to make that feeling more accurate and intense, but for now we’ll make do. This is known as conditioning.
Try it now, or before you sleep tonight. Squeeze your fingers twice as you did earlier. It is more difficult to do on yourself, so perhaps try this technique with a willing buddy. As with all NLP techniques, practice is the only way to build expertise!