You may have found this article because you want to learn more about NLP anchoring techniques, or maybe you just want to get in a better mindset.
No matter your intentions, learning more about the NLP anchoring process can help you to control or improve your mood in response to certain things. That said, it’s a complex topic that requires a proper introduction.
Read more to learn about what NLP anchoring is and certain techniques you can use to practice it.
What Is NLP Anchoring?
Before we get into the full definition of NLP anchoring, it may be helpful to note that “NLP” stands for neuro-linguistic programming. NLP anchoring is a process within the world of NLP that uses associative conditioning.
“The process of associating an internal response with some external or internal trigger so that the response may be quickly, and sometimes covertly, reassessed. Anchoring is a process that on the surface is similar to the 'conditioning' technique used by Pavlov to create a link between the hearing of a bell and salivation in dogs. By associating the sound of a bell with the act of giving food to his dogs, Pavlov found he could eventually just ring the bell and the dogs would start salivating, even though no food was given. In the behaviorist's stimulus-response conditioning formula, however, the stimulus is always an environmental cue and the response is always a specific behavioral action. The association is considered reflexive and not a matter of choice.”
That being said, NLP anchoring is something that occurs constantly without our own effort or even awareness. We are always naturally linking external stimuli with experiences from our pasts, creating an association that can become triggered in the future. NLP anchoring techniques can be used to promote associations that are positive, by training our mind to form new responses that can improve our mindset/experience.
NLP anchoring can be practiced through repetition and experience, in order to change our perception of the “anchors” to lead to (or anchor to) certain behaviors.
The Five Keys to NLP Anchoring
If you are interested in practicing NLP anchoring, there are five key elements that are known to be essential in the process.
#1 Intensity of Experience
Anchors are known to work better during the NLP anchoring process when they are associated with intense emotions or states of mind. This can include intense happiness, motivation, or comfort.
#2 Timing of the Anchor
To set an anchor, the best results will come from precise timing. The ideal time to apply the anchor is just before your experience reaches the highest point of intensity.
#3 Uniqueness of Stimulus
To better reinforce the anchor, it will be helpful to work with a unique stimulus for more effective results. Using stimuli that are more common (opening doors, shaking hands, etc.) may not be effective because it can result in random reflexes that will minimize over time.
#4 Replication of Stimulus
To ensure that the anchor is strongly embedded into your neurological process, you should be able to replicate the stimulus precisely each time you practice it– this includes replicating the location, speed, frequency, duration, etc.
#5 Number of Times
This essentially means that practice makes perfect. To strengthen your anchor, you should set it multiple times (this is called “stacking”). The more you repeat the process, it will improve your performance and lead to a more automatic response.
Three NLP Anchoring Techniques to Try
If you are interested in practicing NLP anchoring techniques to promote a better state of mind, there are some helpful techniques you can start with. Before we get into the techniques, we want to note that you shouldn’t overuse NLP anchoring excessively in order to get better results and maintain proper mental/emotional function.
Some stimulus you can use will relate to touch, taste, or smell – however, our smell is strongly associated with memories, which may make it a more effective choice.
#1 The Smell of Success
This technique uses experiences with strong feelings of success and a certain smell to practice the anchoring process. In fact, we learned this technique from Jordan Belfort – who you may know as the Wolf of Wall Street.
Belfort uses a technique similar to Pavlov’s dog experiment, but he uses it to elicit peak emotional states, such as supreme confidence to use in sales situations.
To practice this technique, he uses smell as an anchor. Whenever he closes a deal and feels the rush of success, he pulls out his trusty all-natural nasal inhaler (aka BoomBoom), and takes a big whiff, anchoring in the peak emotional state.
Then, whenever he needs an extra boost of confidence (like we did right before BoomBoom was on Shark Tank) he pulls it out and takes a big whiff, recalling the peak state and instantly flooding his body with confidence.
That being said, you can try this technique by applying it to extreme feelings of success that are more specific to your lifestyle (perhaps school-related, fitness, etc.).
#2 Press of Focus
This is a simple example that you can try to promote focus when needed. The anchor will use the sense of touch, by using a specific finger (for this example, the ring finger) on your left hand to press into the middle of your right palm.
To practice this technique, use the anchor by pressing your hand during states of extreme focus. You may be very focused in a class, or working on a certain project.
Repeat this technique when you have an intense feeling of focus to embed a response/feeling into your system. Once you’ve practiced, you can try to regain focus by applying the anchor technique.
#3 Sleepy Smells
If you have trouble sleeping, you may benefit from this technique. When you feel you are in an extreme state of tiredness, use a specific smell as an anchor (ex. A unique nasal inhaler) to enforce the association.
Do this often and replicate the experience as best as possible, then once you feel like you’ve practiced enough– this smell may help you feel tired when you are having trouble going to sleep.