Martin Messier

February 10, 2023

What Is NLP Anchoring?

Our NLP term for today is anchoring. I first came across that word in Unlimited Power by Anthony Robbins, the first book that linked me to NLP. But I really got interested in the concept after reading Frogs Into Princes. I first understood anchoring to mean that I could control my state or someone else’s state with one specific trigger. Let’s explore its meaning in a bit more depth.

In NLP, anchoring is both a concept and a skill. John Grinder and Richard Bandler started using the term to avoid referring to stimulus-response, a behaviorist concept that many psychologists of the day frowned upon.

The concept of anchoring

As a concept in NLP, anchoring is the process by which we set up stimulus-response links involuntarily. An anchor is a specific stimulus that brings about a particular response.

For instance, whenever I see my toddler bumbling about, I smile. He serves as the stimulus (walking around) and I respond (smile). My son is a strong anchor for me to smile.

The skill of anchoring

As a skill in NLP, anchoring consists in voluntarily leveraging the unconscious stimulus-response mechanism in each of us. It’s a conditioning tool and mechanism. Whenever you find yourself in an optimal state you wish to return to in the future, choose a unique stimulus (such as grabbing your little finger, or banging your foot twice on the ground) and trigger it repeatedly to really condition it. At a later time, after you’ve changed states, test your anchor and notice how you return to your anchored state.

Likewise, you can apply anchoring to others. Whenever you find someone in a specific state (for instance, laughing out loud), you can anchor it with a specific look or facial expression. Allow them to drift out of that state and then make that facial expression again. Notice what happens.

The phenomenon of anchoring in your life

For sure you’ve experienced the power of anchoring in your life before. Have you ever been working on a project and then, all of a sudden, a song comes on the radio that reminds you of incredibly memories of your teenage or college years? I’m sure you have. In that case, that song is an anchor in your life. Whenever you hear it, you spring back into a specific state.

You’ll hear frequently in NLP that “you cannot not anchor.” That’s how powerful anchoring is in your life. Everything and anything is an anchor.

Right now, reading this article is anchoring your curiosity to learn more about NLP to seeing your computer monitor. Just looking at our computer makes you intensely curious to learn more and master NLP.

See your computer, think about NLP.

See your computer, think about NLP.

Test it. It works.

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