The NLP Pattern of the Month:

Exercise: Anchoring a "Resource" State

The following exercise applies the process of anchoring, and the "well-formedness" conditions for establishing and anchor, to the creation of "resource anchor." It is best practiced in a location where you can be focused and undisturbed.

Step 1. Choose a resourceful state you would like to experience more often (e.g., self-confidence). Identify a specific time in which you fully that experienced that state.

Step 2. Relive the experience, associating yourself fully in your own point of view. See through your own eyes, hear through your own ears, and feel the sensations in your body. Take an inventory of the cognitive and behavioral patterns, both obvious and subtle, associated with the resource experience and your internal state:

  1. Listen to any sounds or words associated with the resource experience.
  2. Look through your mind's eye at scenes and details of objects and events which make up that resourceful experience.
  3. Get in touch with the sensations, both emotional and tactile, associated with feeling resourceful. Notice your body posture, breathing, etc.
  4. Recall any smells or tastes related to the resource experience.

When you have finished your inventory, stop thinking of the experience and shake off the state.

Step 3. Select a unique self anchor. Identify some part of your upper body that is easy for you to touch, but which is not usually touched during daily interactions. For example, the palms of your hands, your shoulders, and even your cheeks are often touched by yourself or others in the natural course of daily interaction. Therefore, they do not usually make a unique enough trigger for an effective and lasting anchor. On the other hand, your ear lobe, the knuckle of your ring finger, or the skin in between your forefinger and middle finger can provide areas of unique stimuli that will not be "contaminated" by more random contact.

Step 4. Begin to reaccess the resource experience. As you feel that the state is about to reach its maximum intensity, touch or squeeze the part of your body that you have chosen as your anchor. Adjust the pressure of your touch or tightness of your squeeze to match the degree of intensity of your feeling of the resource state.

After you have done this for a few seconds, stop thinking of the experience and shake off the state.

Step 5. Repeat 'Step 4' several times, each time enhancing your experience of the resource state by amplifying any submodalities (color, movement, brightness, etc.) associated with the state, and including all representational modalities (sight, sound, feeling, movement, smell and taste).

Step 6. Test your anchor by clearing your mind and simply touching or squeezing your self anchor location. The associated experience of your resource state should arise spontaneously without any conscious effort. Continue to repeat steps 4 and 5 until you have easy access to your resource state.

Step 7. Identify some of the situations in which you would like to have more of your state. Imagine being each situation touch your self anchor in order to create and automatic association.

As you do this exercise, pay attention to the cues and distinctions that allow you to access and discriminate between the representational systems you are accessing and the state you are creating.

You may also wish to establish anchors for yourself in this way for other states or experiences such as relaxation, creativity, motivation, etc. In a way, the pattern of this process is that embodied by all biofeedback: A certain state picked and identified. As the individual accesses that state he is given feedback for it by way of a particular stimulus_the tightness of the grip in this case (Ke ); it is done through tones (Ae ), or by intensity or color of light or the position of an arm on a dial (Ve ) in other biofeedback processes. After a while the feedback stimulus and the target state become associated (the stimulus becomes an anchor for the state) so that the mere presentation of the feedback stimulus anchors and contributes to to the development of the target state.

You may want to experiment with internal anchors as well. For instance, if you wish to be able to access a state of relaxation easily you can begin by imaging a color vividly in your mind's eye. Begin to allow your body to relax as much as possible, lowering your breathing and relaxing any tense muscles. As you reach the state you desire, watch the color change to a color that most exemplifies that state for you (from orange to blue for example). You may also wish to allow the color to change configuration (watch it drip down into your stomach as it changes color). Keep practicing until you are able to access the state of relaxation by simply imagining the color. Then, when you notice you are tense or anxious, and you wish to have a choice about the condition, all you need to do is simply close your eyes momentarily, take a deep breath and imagine the color, and it will access the desired state.

Many forms of meditation involve auditory anchors like mantras and chanting to access downtime states or relaxation. The words or sounds are repeated as the individual enters the state. Later, repeating the sounds will readily anchor up the designated state.

Extinguishing an Anchor

A common question that people have is, "How long does an anchor last?" The answer to that question relates to how many of the "well-formedness conditions" for anchoring it meets. An anchor made of an intense response, a unique stimulus, a well-timed association and which has been appropriately contextualized can last a very long time. According to Pavlov, some of the conditioned reflexes of his dogs were only extinguished with the death of the animal.

This holds true with negative anchors (such as phobias) as well as positive anchors, however. Sometimes it is useful to have a way of changing or "extinguishing" an anchor. NLP provides a number of ways to have more choices about automatic anchors.

If you ever want to reprogram or "get rid of" any anchors you have established for yourself, for instance, all you need to do is "collapse" the anchor with some other anchor or experience. For example, you could squeeze your wrist at the same time you fire off some other anchor or when you are experiencing some other state. Remember, though, that when you fire off the anchor you wish to reprogram it will influence your ongoing experience, so that when you are reprogramming yourself be sure to pick anchors, states and/or experiences that are of equal intensity and strength to the one you are changing.

If you wish to strengthen an anchor be sure you pick a stimulus that you can keep fairly autonomous and that won't be accidentally fired off and integrated with others.

The NLP techniques of VK Disassociation, Chaining and Change Personal History provide other ways of "extinguishing" or transforming problematic anchors.

Also see the Article of the Month or the Archives if you are interested in checking out NLP in more depth.

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