Remember Pavlov and his salivating dogs?

There are many different tools that come in the NLP toolbox. One of which is an anchor.

Using the different NLP Anchor techniques, they will help you create a positive state of emotion or mindset within yourself. From Neuro-Linguistics for Dummies, “NLP defines an anchor as an external stimulus that triggers a particular internal state or response.”

Think of a NLP Anchor like an anchor from a boat or ship; it provides you stability on the open water by holding you in place.

With an anchor, you are able to utilize all your positive experiences, memories and imagination to create an anchor which will be used to help you deal with challenging times more effectively.

We all create positive AND negative anchors all the time without even knowing it. One of the most powerful anchors that we have  are from smells we encounter.

  • Smell of perfume or cologne can take you back to your first date or remind you of your parents
  • If you drank to much Rumplemintz at one point like me, the smell alone of that liquor takes me back to that time and makes me nauseous

Unwanted anchors can come from sounds we hear:

  • A car backfiring can take a former soldier back to battle with a flashback
  • A certain song you set as a ringtone for one of your exes now gets you angry or depressed every time you hear it

Anchors from visuals can occur without us knowing it:

  • Seeing a police car has great potential to get you nervous – It does for me, especially when it is behind me while driving
  • A picture from your childhood can bring back all sorts or memories and emotions.


First you will need to decide on the anchor that you will use to illicit the state-of-mind that you want. Kinesthetic anchors work best for this, using a hand movement.

  • Squeezing your index and middle fingers 3x with the other hand
  • Pulling your ear lobe
  • Snapping your fingers
  • Squeezing your thumb tip and pinky tip together on the same hand

There are so many different anchors that you can use for this.  Find out one that works for you by thinking of what your hands will be typically doing while you engage in the activity in which you will use it.

The anchor that you choose must have ALL of the following attributes:

  • Distinctive

    • Completely different from your everyday movements.  You do not want it to happen when you do not want to.
  • Unique

    • Make it special to you
  • Intense

    • You set the anchor when you are experiencing the peak of the state in which you wish to anchor.  You can do this in the privacy of your home AND throughout the day when you notice you are in this state.
  • Timely

    • You must catch the best moment in your state to make the association with the state-of-mind and the anchor
  • Reinforced

    • Practice, Practice, Practice.  This is a skill that you must use or lose.

Neuro-Linguistics for Dummies suggests a technique to set the anchor which was made by Ian McDermott and Ian Schircore:

  • Be clear and specific about the positive state that you want to ideally be in
    • Bold, Witty, Energetic, Enthusiastic, Confident, Sociable, Focused, etc.
  • Think back to when you were in this state-of-mind
    • It does not matter what context it is in, as long as you can recall the emotions you want to generate
  • Relive the experience as vividly as you can
    • Engage all 5 senses in this process.  Develop the internal emotions that come with the memory that you want

Once you are at the peak of your emotion, drop the anchor numerous times.  Keep doing this for approximately 10 minutes.  After that time break your state of mind by doing basic math to get your mind on something else.

Once that emotion subsides, drop your anchor to test it – the emotion that is anchored to the movement you chose should come back.  If it did not, no biggie, do it again!

With NLP Anchors, you can choose to:

  • Learn More Effectively
  • Perform at Your Best
  • Be More Relatable to Others

What emotions do you want to create anchors for?

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