“Anchor” is one of those unnecessary jargon words that has crept in to the world of NLP, where practitioners will laud their knowledge over lesser mortals. Either you know NLP and know what an anchor is, or you are on the outside looking in. Strip away the jargon and get down to the fine points and an Anchor is just another name for a trigger.
Anchors (or triggers) when activated fire off a series of thoughts, feelings and actions which make up our behaviours. These triggers can be anything including a particular tone of voice, a touch on the hand, a smell, a look: anything can be an anchor. When they are set off there is little we can do to stop the inevitable process that follows.
Anchors – A Core NLP concept
Within NLP there are a number of core concepts, much of Neuro-Linguistic Programming is based upon other fields but there are a few things that find their roots within NLP and anchors is one of those core concepts.
One of the fundamental ideas within NLP is the fact that our behaviours are a series of steps that follow a certain pattern and that by changing the pattern we can make changes to our behaviours (in this case behaviours means thoughts, feelings and activities), these patterns or programs all have a start, an initiator, a trigger; the anchor.
How Are They Created
We all have thousands of different anchors that have been created throughout our lives, all of which have been set up without us knowing about them. They can produce feelings of fear and love, anger and relaxation and everything in-between, they can fire off memories and ideas and are an important part of what makes us unique.
Each unique anchor is related to a set of behaviours, there can be many anchors for each behaviour set (pattern) but an anchor can only fire off one pattern.
Anchors are created at periods of intense emotion. During a highly emotional event something happens, someone touches you in a particular way, there is the waft of a unique smell, a tone of voice, a roll of the eyes. At that moment a connection is made between the stimulus and response, a trigger is created but at a very weak level. It requires re-inforcement over time to really become embedded within your personality, a repeat exposure to build up intensity.
If this stimulus/response cycle occurs several times then it becomes a learned response. Sometimes the emotion relating to a situation is so high that the anchor created is in an instant through one time learning.
Using Anchors in NLP
Setting and using anchors in a key NLP skill and many of the NLP change patterns require the use of Anchors or can be enhanced through the use of anchors to increase the resourceful experience of the client. It is important as an NLP practitioner that you become proficient in setting all manner of Anchors.