Today I want to introduce you to an NLP technique called ANCHORING. NLP is an applied psychology. ‘Neuro’ refers to what is happening in our minds. ‘Linguistic’ refers to language and how we use it. ‘Programming’ tackles the persistent patterns of behavior that we learn and then repeat. Anchoring is a way to change your emotional state in an instant. I am calling it a Toolbox item because it is a skill you can develop and use in many different situations to help you create more smiles in your life.
Anchoring is a stimulus and response technique. You identify the response you chose to achieve and create a stimulus that will trigger the desired response.
Remember Pavlov and his dogs. Pavlov set a stimulus (food) and got a consistent response (salivation). Then he added in a conditioned stimulus (the bell) when he put the food in the dogs mouth. Within no time the dogs learned to salivate (respond) to the bell (conditioned stimulus), even when food was not present.
[Sleep is] the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.
English dramatist (1572 – 1632)
I used this immediately after 911 so I could fall asleep at night. Immediately after 911 most of us (especially in the USA) were shaken. We were flooded by media coverage of surreal events happening in our country and dealing with the reality that terrorist wanted us (innocent people) dead. For many of us sleep and the ability to relax became more difficult than usual. My mind was so occupied with the events I had a difficult time relaxing into a good night of sleep. I started going to sleep at the same time the TV show “Frasier” was on. Every night I set the sleep timer on my tv for 20 minutes and went to bed. After a few nights I fell asleep almost every night within those 20 pre-set minutes.
Why did Frasier put me to sleep within 20 minutes every night?
I set an anchor. “Frasier” is a relatively calm, positive and funny show without much negativity. “Frasier” reminded me of a calmer time in life. Sleep comes more readily in a calm and positive environment and state of mind. With the TV volume just loud enough to hear it without effort I told my subconscious that within 20 minutes I would be peacefully sleeping. Within a few nights, and for years after, I performed this nightly ritual. I no longer fall asleep to “Frasier” every night. I simply go to bed and immediately fall asleep. My daughter and sweetheart joke that I fall asleep within seconds of my head hitting the pillow. They are right 🙂
It amazes me how many people do not sleep well. Without a good night of sleep it is diffcult to function at your best and to create a life of more smiles. If you are one of those who does not sleep well, here are the three steps to set a sleep anchor:
Step 1: Get Clear on the Ideal State for a Good Night of Sleep. Clearly and specifically in your own words describe your perfect emotional and physical state to sleep in. For me peace and calm describe my perfect sleep environment and emotional state. For others security and comfort are of higher stated importance. What is it for you?
Step 2: Recall a Specific Occassion in the Past when You have been in that State. The context can be quite different, you are looking for a comparable experience. For me Frasier reminded me of a safer time in life with my biggest problems were truely miniscule and I had no concept of any 911 possibility. Some recall the relaxed state of a massage and use that as the state to achieve. What experience has brought you to the state you desire?
Step 3: Vividly Relive the Experience. Fully engage in the memory of that state. Recall the sights, the sounds, the smells, the physical feelings, and the internal sensations of the experience.
Step 4: Find the Achor.
- A physical anchor could be a hand movement or a body position. Simply notice what your hands or body are doing now. Are you in a specific sleep position?
- An auditory anchor could be a sound you hear in your relaxed experience. For me “Frasier” was an auditory anchor.
- A visual anchor could be a specific image you see in your mind or actual image that sets that experience for you. Could the image of a hammock between two palm trees rock you into a sleep state?
Step 5: Set the Anchor. Use the anchor consistently so it becomes a practice that renders you the results you seek everytime you use it.
I have used this technique to set a few anchors in my life and you may find you do it unconsciously. I listen to Michael Thomlinson’s music whenever I need to refocus at work, I have done this for years and it works every single time. You may do this with the process of getting ready for a special night out, your bathing and prepping sets the anchor for a great evening with a special someone or fun group of friends. We have done this for ages with children, singing them a lullaby or reading or telling them a night time story before then sleep.
Today’s Simple Smile Igniter is to examine your life for the ANCHORs in your life and use this process to set a sleep anchor if necessary or another anchor that will bring more smiles to your life.