How to find your 'anchor' moments

We actually use this tool without realising it

By Delna Mistry Anand

Published: Fri 1 Apr 2022, 8:45 PM

Psychologist John Watson famously said, “Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select — doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations and the race of his ancestors.”

Watson is best remembered for his research on ‘human conditioning’. Just like Pavlov’s experiment (where he conditioned a dog to expect food every time they rang a bell), Watson too believed that people can be ‘conditioned’ to feel a certain way internally, when triggered by external stimulus.

While much of his work was controversial, we can actually use this study, and this brings me to my favourite concept in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), called “anchoring”.

We actually use this tool, without realising it. Don’t you feel instantly ‘calm’ when a loved one tenderly puts their hand on your shoulder, or anxious at the sight of a traffic jam? These are a few examples of conditioning, and these signals have become our ‘anchors’. When the external anchor is set off, loving touch, for example, the internal response is triggered — feeling calm.

Simply put, the process of “anchoring” helps us establish a connection between external triggers and internal responses. And if we are applying the concept by default anyway, imagine how impactful and empowering it can be if we follow a deliberate method of anchoring?

We can calm our nerves before an exam, manage our anger, boost creativity or confidence and elicit many such states within ourselves with anchoring.

Steps to anchor yourself:

1) Determine the feeling that you want to work with (Let’s choose ‘confidence’ for now).

2) Recall the moment when you felt extremely confident. The stronger the feeling was during that minute, the better. Now, place yourself back into the memory, feel with full intensity the confidence you experienced back then.

3) Once you feel like your level of confidence is at its maximum intensity, ‘anchor’ it. This means, choose a certain action. Let’s pick ‘tapping the chest’ for now. Choose one specific action that you don’t use commonly and remember it. This is the most important step.

4) Now release your action, and repeat the whole ritual to solidify the anchor.

Congratulations, you have created your ‘anchor’! In the future, when you’re going for a big meeting and want to feel confident, tap your chest. This external action (of tapping) will trigger the internal feeling (of confidence).

The more you use it, the stronger your anchor will become. Give it a go, and let me know via Instagram, if it’s working for you.

Connect with Delna Mistry Anand across social media @DelnaAnand

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