September 2008 - Anchoring Your Way to Success
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What if you had a tool, right at the end of your fingers (literally) that could help boost your confidence any time or any place? What if you could also use this tool to help you lose weight or release stress, pass an exam, or many other goals? What if this tool is free and you carry it with you all the time? Well, the truth is, you can and you already possess this tool.
Here is a true story of just one of my clients who used this tool with great success. When 50 year old Becky came into my office last March, she was very distraught and fearful because for the first time in 30 years she had started back to college and the results of her first few tests were less than stellar and the idea of taking further tests brought up huge anxiety. She wondered if she had what it took to get back on the learning curve. One of her not so eloquent professors told her it was a fact that as we age our capability to learn and our memory recall are on the decline. His negative and irresponsible remark just added to her anxiety. Becky had all of the classic symptoms of test anxiety. She had another test coming up soon and I suggested we try a quick technique called anchoring. I assured Becky that with this simple tool, she could learn to instantly change her anxiety state into a more resourceful state in a matter of seconds.
I taught her the “Alpha Trigger” which is simply squeezing her left thumb, index and middle finger together; and I told her to go back time in her past when he felt calm, collected and confident. She called later to tell me: “It worked! I passed!” Every time she fired off the anchor, she was able to quickly access those positive states. Armed with the right tools, Becky managed to tame her anxiety and pass her tests. Just imagine having access to your most resourceful states - confidence, relaxation, focus, etc. - in a matter of moments. The tools are literally at your fingertips.
What is Anchoring?
Anchoring is the process by which an internal feeling is linked (or anchored) to an external trigger. It is a natural process of association. The most famous example of anchoring is described in the experiments of Ivan Pavlov. Pavlov noticed that every time his dogs encountered food, they would get excited and salivate. As an experiment, he decided to ring a bell every time the dogs were fed. Pretty soon, just hearing the sound of the bell alone stimulated the same salivary response, an artificially induced state of excitement. The bell became an auditory anchor.
Anchors can involve any of the five senses. The following are examples of anchors in everyday life:
- Seeing a traffic light change to green and pressing on the gas pedal (visual)
- Hearing an old love song and immediately feeling nostalgic (auditory)
- Being pat on the back and interpreting it as a sign of praise (kinesthetic)
- Smelling apple pie and instantly being transported to childhood (olfactory)
- Tasting chicken soup and associating the taste with a sense of comfort (gustatory)
Whereas most anchors occur naturally, they can also be set up deliberately. Intentional anchoring is commonly used as a therapeutic tool by hypnotherapists and practitioners of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), a technique for reprogramming the mind to produce desired results. By using an anchor, the practitioner can help move a client very quickly from one state of mind to another, enabling the client to reach desired goals and outcomes.
How Can Anchoring Help You Pass A Test?
Most students experience some level of anxiety while taking exams. While it is perfectly natural to feel a little bit anxious, some students experience test-related anxiety to such a degree that it can seriously impede their performance. In fact, severe test anxiety can be quite debilitating. Physical symptoms associated with this condition include heart palpitations, sweaty palms, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness. Psychological symptoms include difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts that seem impossible to control and complete blank-outs. The key to conquering test anxiety is to become aware of the negative thoughts that may be cluttering up the mind and to replace them with positive, clear directional thinking. That is where anchoring comes in. When correctly installed, a powerful resource anchor provides instant access to the most optimal frame of mind for taking exams.
Where Else is Anchoring Useful?
Think about the last time you were interviewed for a job. Were you as confident as you wanted to be? What about the last time you gave a presentation in front of an audience? Most people can recall at least one or more scenarios in their lives where they wish they had possessed a greater degree of confidence, motivation or focus. Anchors are useful in the professional setting (ex., depositions, court appearances, trials), the social realm (dating, sports, hobbies) and basically anytime you want to feel more resourceful.
Creating an Anchor in 5 Simple Steps
- Identify a desired state of mind (ex., confidence, calmness, focus).
- Recall a specific time in your past when you felt the desired state. If you can recall a few strong experiences, select the most powerful one. Put yourself back into that experience as if it is happening in this moment. Notice what you see, hear what you were hearing, feel what you were feeling in the moment. Try to vividly imagine being there. When you notice the feeling come back, intensify the feeling as much as you can. Try to double the feeling.
- When the feeling is at its strongest, "anchor" it in by making a unique physical gesture, such as a clenching your fist, or using the “Alpha Trigger”, and say a word or phrase to evoke the feeling. Example: squeeze your left fingers together, and softly say to yourself COOL & CALM). Hold the state for a few moments, release the anchor and then break state (change your emotional state by thinking about something completely different).
- Repeat the process about five times in order to build a strong anchor. You can use the same memory each time or a different memory that is equally powerful. Repetition is key!
- Test the anchor by firing it (ex., make the unique gesture, say the word/phrase). Check that you actually experience the desired state. You should feel the anchored state within 5-10 seconds. If the feeling is not satisfactory, choose a different memory that is more powerful.
Optionally I also offer personalized recordings of sessions on CD, using the “Alpha Trigger” and the positive associated memory so my clients can continue to reinforce these new positive feelings by simply listening to their CD.
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