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What are Anchors & why do we Need Them?

When we talk about anchors, we’re not talking about the sea-fairing kind. Rather, the anchors we’re exploring here are triggers that will help you achieve a positive state.

In my last blog, I talked about states, and how you are always in some form of state; happy, sad, stressed, relaxed, confident or unsure.

I also introduced the idea of being associated or dissociated into a state, with associated being fully emerged and engaged in your current state, and the experience you are having at the present moment, or when remembering a past , or imagining an upcoming one. Dissociated is where you are disengaged, watching yourself experiencing something, which can allow you to block out an uncomfortable experience, or to be able to reflect on something in an objective way.

how do we find ourselves in these states, and how can we muster up a positive state when we need one?

An anchor is any type of stimulus that conjures or changes your state. Anchors are triggered by any of your senses, so can be visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, olfactory, or gustatory.

So, visual, is what we see with our eyes or in our imagination, auditory, what we hear, a conversation we remember, or a conversation we imagine or anticipate; olfactory, what we smell; or gustatory, our sense of taste.

As I explained before, your state is manifested and created by a combination of your sensory experiences. These include your thought process and your physiology (how you feel physically). So, an anchor to a state can come in any of these forms and has the power to change your state instantly.

Anchors can be external. For example, you smell something or hear something that reminds you of something positive, so you’re immediately cheered up. Alternatively, they can be internal, such as, you’re worried about an upcoming discussion that you need to have with someone you know to be tricky, and you have a mental argument with them. This will immediately put you into a stressed and defensive state.

Another person’s behaviour can be a trigger for you too. Is there a habit that someone has that sends you into a bad place as their behaviour reminds you of an unpleasant person or situation? This may lead to a chain of events that creates vicious circles rather that virtuous circles.

Anchors are Triggers that put you into a state

You can be conscious of being anchored into a state, or unconscious of your anchor. It can, therefore, be helpful to become aware of what your anchors into both positive and negative states are.

Examples of anchors include:

  • Music
  • Colours
  • A positive quote said to yourself, read, or said to you by someone you love
  • Smells
  • Remembering when you were at your best
  • Wearing an outfit that makes you feel good
  • Environment – are your house, car and workplace conducive to helping you feel good, focused and proactive, or are they distracting and chaotic?

So, think of what might have anchored you if you suddenly feel your mood drop, or a negative state take over, and be curious about how to change that state to a better one.

Take time to remember some of your most positive states and be curious as to what anchors you into that state and put effort into being able to imagine any of the senses or behaviours that anchor you in that state.

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About Sara Wright

Sara Wright is a confidence coach based in Leicester. She specialises in helping improve people’s mental health self-esteem. She has over 20 years’ experience, as well as a BSc and MSc to back up her practical knowledge. To find out more, check out her website and Facebook page.