Get yourself in a state!

dreamstime_909858-01.jpgWouldn’t it be great if we could conjure up motivation, enthusiasm or confidence at the drop of a hat?

Thanks to a useful little technique called anchoring, we can collect good past experiences and set them off to invoke a useful state in times of need.




Anchoring is a naturally occurring event in our lives, it happens all the time when a particular cue evokes a particular mood or state. You have already experienced anchoring. Example anchors are songs, smells, places, images etc. They are the things that have us saying, “I always feel happy when I smell hot freshly baked bread,” or “I don’t know why, but when I’m here I feel like I can do anything!”

If you can recall a smell, object, face or place that always brings about a certain feeling, then you’ve experienced an anchor.

Where this understanding becomes useful, is in learning how to collect these feelings and trigger them at will. It works in exactly the same way as the Pavlovian example of having dogs salivate in response to the ringing of a bell.

How to make an anchor
Remember a time when you felt really good; happy, positive and able to do anything. Step into the memory and relive it fully. Remember what you saw, what you heard, how you felt. Gather all the elements until you can fully recall the experience and then, at the moment when it feels strongest, touch the tip of your thumb and index finger together.
You have just “anchored’ that memory to the touch of your finger and thumb meeting. When you touch them together in the same way in the future, those positive feelings will be recalled.

Pile ‘em high
To make the anchor work, it needs to be strong enough to overpower unproductive, or negative feelings. This is easily done by repeating the above steps a few times.

Make like a bee, and get collecting good emotional experiences from the flowers in your past and add them to your anchor point. Be sure to really get into the good memory and recall it as vividly as you can, use all your senses and squeeze your finger and thumb together when you feel it intensely.

Every time you recall a positive and productive state and record it by squeezing your thumb and finger together, you are reinforcing the anchor and making it work better for you.

The next time you feel in need of a mood lift, simply put your thumb and index finger together and fire off the state you created.


Anchoring is often used by Paul McKenna in his TV shows when he wants to help people access a powerful positive emotion that will drive them to achieve what they’re trying to do. In his recent “I Can Make You Thin” series he had a women who hated exercise running up and down a flight of steps like a sprinter simply by asking her repeatedly to call up times when she felt confident, happy, enthusiastic and motivated and touching her lightly on the arm every time she strongly recalled one of those feelings. Having collected the good feelings, he touched her again on the arm to set them all off together.

Desire is the ultimate motivation in getting things done. Anchoring is a great tool for building a feeling of benefit until we cannot resist getting going.

Anchoring is one of many useful techniques developed by the founders of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Richard Bandler and John Grinder. A great introduction to using NLP techniques in your own life is Anthony Robbins’ book Unlimited Power.