In this article, we are going to cover the basics of NLP Anchoring. Perhaps you will get some insight to how to improve or use this in your daily life. By the end you will know the various forms of anchors and how you can set one.


What is NLP Anchoring (or a Anchor in Coaching talk)?

An anchor is a stimulus that creates a response in either you or in another person. It could be as simple as a stop sign or a word.

When an individual is at a peak of an experience, during an intense. emotional state, and if a specific stimulus is applied, a neurological link is established between the emotional state and the stimulus. As Dr Joe Dispenza likes to say, Neurons that fire together, wire together. And with NLP we wire that neural activity to a anchor such as the stop sign or word.

Some anchors span each of our representational systems (or senses) and these are generally more powerful then using just one system. Often I’ll meditate and prior to starting use a little oil or incense to anchor / prepare mentally for the coming meditation.

We develop good and bad anchors automatically throughout our lives. Often people ask me to work with removing anchors even though they have no idea of that language. NLP Coaching or training will help enable you to identify and choose anchors while for most people it’s completely unconscious.

A great anchor is ‘used against us’ when they have comfort breaks in the middle of the film at the cinemas. As soon as you walk into a cinema it’s pretty hard to not notice the smell of popcorn. Even people that don’t normally eat popcorn often find themselves buying it the cinemas.

Greater or more mischievous anchors commonly exists in romantic and family relationships. If you are already in a relationship you may like to talk to a NLP Coach about collapsing anchors that already exist in your relationship.

If you would like to learn more about NLP anchoring, including learning the various anchoring techniques described below, then you can join us at one of our NLP Training Courses or apply for a session with a NLP certified Coach.


Keys to effective anchoring

  • Intensity of experience. Make sure that the intensity of the experience is high.
  • Timing of the anchor.  Apply the anchor when the intensity of the experience is at its highest.
  • Uniqueness of the stimulus.  Use a part of the body that is not normally touched eg Knuckle.
  • Replication of the stimulus.  Reapply the stimulus repeatedly to ensure that the anchor is firmly embedded into the neurology.
  • Number of times. Test the anchor repeatedly to exercise the neural pathway.

You can generate visualauditorykinestheticolfactory, and gustatory anchors.  The least preferred representational system of a person is the one that it is most powerful to use with them as it is the one that you are most sensitive to.


Steps in NLP Anchoring

  1. Recall a past vivid event, experience.
  2. Anchor – provide a specific stimulus.
  3. Change state.
  4. Test (Place the stimulus) – Evolve the state.


Example Exercise: Anchoring the feeling of confidence.

  1. Recall a time when you felt really confident.  When you think of that time do you have a picture?  Get that picture.
  2. When you notice the picture place a finger from one hand on the knuckle of the other hand (remember which knuckle you selected!).  Release the finger after a maximum of 20 seconds or earlier if you get the sense of the picture or feeling leaving you.
  3. Change your state by looking out of the window or smelling the air in the room that you are in.
  4. Replace your finger on the knuckle and notice for that feeling of confidence returning.




NLP Resource Anchor

An anchor for when you want to boost energy, confidence, motivation, or any other powerful state of being. One that you do for yourself. Pray is a great example.


NLP Stacked Anchor

A number of anchors stacked together to increase intensity of the required state. Sometimes I have my clients creating a stacked anchor for excellence. Here we may stack confidence, excitement, fun, humour and compassion on top of each other. Next we an anchor this to a convenient stimulus like rubbing a ring while saying quietly “I can do anything with compassion”.


NLP Chaining Anchors

Sequential process of moving to a significantly different state.

Useful for when a client has a significant difference between their present state and the desired state. Each state builds on the one before until the desired state is reached.


NLP Collapse Anchor

Replacing a negative anchor with a positive one for the same stimulus. 

(Great for nasty relationships and bad habits)


NLP Search Anchor

An anchor used to identify the source of a problem or issue.

(Great for personal development and certain types of meditation)

Ok, now you have a good knowledge base, time for you to create your own Anchor for excellence or perhaps a powerful stacked anchor. Once you have created one, it’s up to you to build it up and make it more powerful and more useful through practice.

If in China or on Wechat: feel free to follow our channel or connect with Adrian Cahill to ask any of your NLP, Coaching or Professional Development questions.


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