NLP Anchoring_The Basics Part 2

NLP Anchoring – The Basics


By IntellTeacher

Part 2


In Part 1 a hypothetical situation was considered as a way of examining and learning about the NLP Anchor. The Anchor was created by linking a specific olfactory experience with a more generalized state of being. It is important to keep in mind is that although the memory of the desired state experience was highly specific in terms of detail the more generalized “feeling” is what was being utilized in order to create the Anchor.


As previously mentioned, the author contends that NLP is in “doing” rather than a predominantly academic exercise. The article moves forward with the understanding that readers are in fact “doing” NLP as set forth in Part 1 in order to properly follow along and more importantly, develop skill.


The author has encountered many instances of NLP practitioners presenting NLP Anchoring in an instructional setting and that is as far as they go … literally. The technique is taught, perhaps a variety of possible sensory input modalities for creating Anchors are provided by way of example, and that concludes the whole presentation. At a minimum, there two additional considerations which are the subject of this article, namely, setting and testing (verifying, validating) the Anchor.


In context, “setting” an Anchor means to repeatedly activate the Anchor sequence in order to access the desired state and this is not something to be done without structure in the early stages of developing authentic NLP skill. As Dr. Win Wenger of Accelerated Learning and Creative Problem Solving fame is fond of noting “You get more of what you reinforce.” Therefore, in order to facilitate acquiring real skill in creating and using Anchors it is important to frequently experience success in working with same. The author terms this approach “Setting up people for success.”


If you carefully read the paragraph above you will have noticed that I wrote “… repeatedly activate the Anchor sequence …” rather than “… repeatedly activate the Anchor.” Another point of divergence in the instant approach and that typically encountered in NLP is the concept of “gradual shaping” toward a desire goal. Gradual shaping is a step wise process in which a person moves toward a goal in small increments … a series of “min-successes” if you prefer. In the instant case this plays as repeating the Anchor sequence in series of 3s with a new memory being called upon that contains the same or similar feelings being brought into conscious awareness at specific intervals. This is one way of causing the Anchor to generalize with a corresponding level of usefulness to you. The reason for the author emphasizing generalization is yet another point of departure from most NLP learning instruction.


The vast majority of NLP instruction is delivered in a vacuum as the actual learning environment is contextually different from that found in real World. What tends to happen, and the main reason why so many fail to experience success with NLP techniques, is that a disconnect is created. The learning environment and real World do not mesh or do not mesh well enough to facilitate success. Let’s take our present hypothetical meeting as an example. You attend a NLP work shop and learn the Anchoring technique. While in the work shop you experience some measure of success in creating and activating Anchors. You then go back to real World with your new assortment of techniques and despite following a protocol exactly as taught and learned, it fails to deliver the full value you hoped to derive from the technique. What happened? Most NLP adepts will tell you that you simply are not yet skilled enough to “hit the mark” the majority of times and that more practice will increase the incidence of success. Although this is “true” enough, it is also an indirect way to resolve the issue.


For those who have attended a seminar or two the question is asked: How do you generally find the environment? Think about this carefully for a moment. Typically, the environment is low level to non-existent threat based, people are warm and welcoming, and the seminar presenter exerts a great deal of control over the elements of the environment, e.g., lighting, seating configuration, breaks in presentation, pace of material presentation, etc. Juxtapose this with real World and the many disconnects become glaringly obvious. Generalizing the Anchor is a way of bridging from a learning environment to the World at large. By varying the memory being used to summon up the desired state a person avoids the trap of becoming literally anchored to a highly specific context (one memory).


The author suggests taking 3 memories and going through the Anchor sequence 3 times with each memory in succession. The “Rule of 3s” might be a topic for a future article, but for now, simply follow the prescribed routine. After having done the 3 bouts of 3 you are now ready to proceed to the validation – verification part of Anchoring and we will stay with our hypothetical presentation example. For the sake of discussion let us say that the Anchor was created the night before the scheduled presentation and the presentation is to take place at 10:00 a.m. that following morning. On your way to your office you will most likely encounter several people and perhaps exchange the greeting of the day or some other social pleasantries. Before beginning your trip to the office take your satchel out of the baggie and rub one of your fingers against the satchel. You want to get some of the scent on a finger. While speaking with another person, and at random, fire off the Anchor by casually raising the hand with the satchel scent bearing finger and passing your hand under your nose. Think of how a person looks rubbing their chin for a moment as they contemplate … a snap shot of “The Thinker” so to speak. Then, briefly turn inward to focus on the physical sensations you experience. The feelings that you wanted do in fact manifest … do this 2 – 3 times if the situations arise and time permits although once is enough. You have now provided your mind with a form of proof that the Anchor works which will exert a quieting and calming influence on the negative inner-talk we all tend to experience when under stress … and this is really just a form of confidence.


@intellteacher 2009



  1. Noel Lackey said,

    March 2, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    great article butbit confused with the last few sentences, I assume you mean that if I meet someone that I admire and would like to mirror some of their traits then I would carry out the anchoring procedure above, however, if I did not like the person I would not carry out this procedure, is this correct?

  2. intellteacher said,

    March 2, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Hello Noel and I apologize for the confusion. The answer is “No” … there need be nothing about the person per se that you admire and they could be a clerk at the local coffee shop for all that matter. The actual interaction is what is the vehicle; not the person proper. If you restrict yourself to only working with Anchors, in whatever fashion, to those situations where you are interfacing with someone you like then you have created criteria that is effectively self limiting. That would be like only doing business with people wearing cool shoes 🙂

    As stated in the article, I find fault with NLP instruction that lacks the element of intentional generalization. Here is one way I sometimes express the goal of acquiring useful skill in NLP: It is far better to have several tools that a person can use many different ways than to have a tool for every specific situation. Flexibility in application is a major part of the goal. Keep in mind that NLP only lives in real time with all else being perhaps an interesting intellectual exercise but of no real value to the practitioner.

    With the above in mind, “doing” NLP when it’s raining and you are moving quickly to get to your intended destination, when you are standing in the elevator with people you do not know, when you are checking out of the local grocery store … all are fertile ground for helping your skill in NLP grow.

    You might look at it this way, Noel, any one can “Star Down” under completely ideal conditions … personally, that doesn’t really show me much and life seldom, if ever, is experienced in Perfect World fashion. It is the person who is capable of performing at a high level when confronted with adversity that is the “true” champion.

    Does any of this help you obtain a better understanding of the article content? Please post up any follow questions you might have as discussion is in of itself an excellent learning vehicle.

  3. Noel Lackey said,

    March 2, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    Thanks for your reply, can you expand a bit on what I am trying to acheive here? ,I meet with a co-worker and during the interaction I create the anchor, my question is what is this anchor supposed to create for me? and how would I use it in the future? what can I do with this anchor??, hope this is not too vague

    • intellteacher said,

      March 2, 2009 at 4:14 pm

      Hello Noel:

      Noel: “Thanks for your reply, can you expand a bit on what I am trying to acheive here? ,I meet with a co-worker and during the interaction I create the anchor, my question is what is this anchor supposed to create for me? and how would I use it in the future? what can I do with this anchor??, hope this is not too vague.”

      You are working on moving the skill and ability to use Anchors outside of an instructional – learning setting. Specifically, you are going from understanding to doing.

      The exercise based on the hypothetical will generalize the Anchor. This means it will not be restricted or bound by context, e.g., one memory. One of the main problems I find with how many others teach NLP is that nothing in systemic fashion is provided to assist a person from going from a narrow range of potentials to a more open and wide range.

      In the instant case, the Anchor when activated will cause you to experience the feelings associated with the “good” memories you selected. Future use is limited only by circumstances and your intentional activation of the Anchor … use as needed – appropriate. What you can “do” with this Anchor is immediately enter into state that is good for “you” and if the Anchor is properly generalized then the environment, setting, circumstances, etc., you find yourself in when triggering the Anchor become essentially irrelevant. Stuck in traffic and late for work … facing a major presentation that could determine the future of your career … seated next to a perpetual “Chatty Kathy” on a long plane trip … just having a lousy day for whatever reason(s) … generalizing makes Anchoring a tool with wide ranging potential applications.

      Does any of this help and or answer your questions?

  4. Noel Lackey said,

    March 2, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    Yes, thanks for the answer, this is similar to Mindstore, they use the tip of the tongue or two fingers pressed together as a trigger (anchor)

  5. intellteacher said,

    March 2, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    The same sensory inputs you note in Mindstore are contained within, and frequently used in, NLP as well. I used the sense of smell in my example as this sensory input gets very little play in terms of NLP instruction. In mainstream NLP it’s almost always “touch” or “sound” which I find limiting and absent good reason. With NLP, any and all sensory input systems are “fair game” for being routed into an Anchor … from tactile to smell, it all “works” and creating Anchors using multiple sensory input systems is a high end refinement.

    As an interesting side note, on one level Hasta Mudras (hand shapes – configurations) are a form of Anchoring and there is a large, though generally untapped, body of knowledge based on hand shapes found in some Nei Gung branches. I personally practice a Nei Gung system known as “Esoteric Seals” and the NLP Anchor analogs are easily recognized. Certain themes, practices, beliefs, appear to contain a fair number of common elements regardless of culture of origin which I take as a form of validation regarding their use, application, and efficacy.

  6. Noel Lackey said,

    March 2, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    sounds brilliant to me ;)), please hurry with part 3, going to put parts one and two into practise right now

  7. intellteacher said,

    March 2, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    Hello Noel, ah, to read you are going to “do” NLP warms this Old Man’s Heart. I’ll have the next piece up in a day or so. Right now I’m fighting off a deadline for an assignment in my M.A. in Education program.

    “Funny” how synchronicity manifests as the class I’m in now deals with behavioral issues in the classroom. Absolutely perfect setting for Dr. Win Wenger’s “Buzz Group” model as well as several other of his Accelerated Learning Protocols with an NLP piece easily woven into the mix. Anyone who teaches in whatever fashion would be well served purchasing a copy of his “Dynamic Teaching” book. Dr. Wenger not only presents models of practice, he also provides what I recognize as “plug in play” templates. It’s all there and simply requires doing it.

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