Do you ever wonder why your mood can suddenly change when you hear an old favorite song, and then change as quickly as it did when you see a long queue in a bank? This is a process that goes on around and within us all the time, whether we are aware of it or not, called Anchoring.

Anchoring is a common term used in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and it is a tool that is used very successfully to achieve goals in areas such as sports and business and you can even use it to improve your productivity.

This is what happens when your memory recalls or changes it states when it associates with other stimulus (that what it is anchored to), in such a way that the perception of the stimulus (the anchor) leads by reflex to the anchored response occurring. In simpler terms, anchoring is like association for your subconscious mind. When you revisit an old school or a place with powerful memories, this triggers something ¨other stimulus¨ and your perception/feeling upon revisiting the old school will depend on the anchor, if it is positive or negative. Another example is the smell of your mothers cooking, which brings back memories of a happy carefree childhood. This is a positive anchor.

How does this affect you?
Anchors can bring about a negative or positive experience and the good news is that anchors can be formed and reinforced by repeated stimuli. They are even more important when we study phobias, as they can be a very powerful anchor in our lives. So we can use them to discover negative associations as well as creating positive ones.

Negative anchors, for instance, if you are having a disagreement or an intense unpleasant experience with a colleague, from then on for example, whenever you see the person´s face, you immediately feel angry inside. This can lead to harbored negative feelings, breakdown in communication and relationship development, beliefs develop that are not true, etc etc So you can see how your negative anchors not only don´t help you but they hinder your success.

Positive anchors are when you feel pleasure when you think of an activity, for example listening to an old love song or maybe flicking through an old photo album – this could stir pleasant memories and some of the feelings associated with them.

How can you apply this to your life?
Wouldn´t it be great to bring upon a feeling of calmness and surety when needed? You use anchors to produce the state of mind or mood you need for a given situation. You can enter an interview calm and relaxed or you can use it to turn on the enthusiasm you need to do a task, to create motivation when needed to assist you in accomplishing more.

Basically to anchor you need to associate a strong mental or emotional state with an obvious stimulus (touch, word, sight) when a person is most likely to connect the state and the stimulus. It´s highly advisable for repetition of the stimulus as this will re-associate and restore the mental and emotional state.
For example, one might sing the national anthem, create certain feelings in our body, and look at the flag. Over time by just looking at the flag, you can automatically trigger those feelings.

When setting an anchor, it would be best to ensure that it is
Specific – If it is not, the subject will not begin to sensitize to it.
Irregular – Have a break between each repeat, to avoid desensitization.
Anchored to a unique, specific and prompt reaction – otherwise the anchor will fail to elicit and reinforce any one single response due to many different reactions being associated to the trigger.

Looking at the different forms of anchors
There are many different forms we could use from verbal phrases, physical touches or sensations to certain sights and sounds, or even internally, such as words one says to oneself, or memories and emotional states.
Examples could be using different objects, a flower; pendant, etc
Landscapes can be used as anchors for being calm and relaxed.
You can use your internal voice
You can use physical touches like touching yourself on the hand, making a circle with a second finger and the thumb for example.
How you dress can even be your anchor to feeling good.

Now you need to establish an anchor and then activate it
Establishing an anchor means producing the stimuli (the anchor) when the resourceful state is experienced so that the resourceful state is pared to the anchor.
In the example below, we will use touching the knuckle of the left hand when the resourceful state is experienced to pair the two events.

1) First think of a situation where you would like to feel positive and name the feeling that would be most useful, e.g powerful, calm, confident, motivated, etc
2) Think of a specific time in the past when you felt this feeling. Think back to experiences you had.
3) As you feel the feeling, make it stronger, getting stronger and stronger, clench your fist, press your thumb and finger together and touch your knuckle. This is your anchor. Hold it for a couple of seconds and release.
4) Repeat steps 1-3 three to five times. You can revisit the same positive experience or another one with equally strong, positive feelings. Intensify the feelings each time.
5) Break concentration and think about something else for a moment.
6) Now ¨activate your anchor¨ with your fist or by touching your knuckle or wherever else you set the anchor.
g) By triggering the physical anchor, you will automatically experience feelings you have linked to it. How do you feel about the situation now?

If you cannot recall a situation where you had the resource you want to anchor, you can get the resource by imagining yourself in a situation where you had that resource. Anchors can last for years. Many are created naturally, but you can create anchors intentionally to bring positive feelings in whenever you need them.

They are a way of creating a good feeling whenever you need to feel positive or energized. Get creative and improve your time-management skills, become more productive by creating emotions of high energy and focus throughout your day.

Kirstin O´Donovan is a Productivity Coach – free access to
6 Simple Strategies to Triple Your Productivity” ecourse at
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Author's Bio: 

Kirstin O´Donovan is a Productivity Coach, helping individuals who struggle with time-management, organization and procrastination to achieve their goals and gain control over their time. She helps you to alleviate stress, be more productive, empowered and have more time to do what you want.