NLP anchoring

Does NLP Anchoring work?

NLP Anchoring

I have recently had an exchange of emails about NLP Anchoring.

I’m interested in receiving an NLP anchor, but first need some evidence that others are using one. Can you give me the names of 3 to 6 well known folks who are using an NLP anchor?

I am told I can create a unique touch, e.g. touch my left thumb against the upper most crease of my left index finger and associate that touch to a time when I was very productive, and/or feeling very successful, and/or feeling very confident. That touch is called an "anchor".  I can access that anchor whenever I want to feel those feelings, again. But if it's so successful, who is using it whose name I would recognize?

Does NLP anchoring work?

My reply was:

You are quite right to be skeptical. Your question should be, "If it is so successful, why isn't everyone using it?"
NLP is a collection of techniques and ideas from many other disciplines wrapped up in a load of marketing. In my opinion, the parts of NLP that work are all taken from somewhere else, the parts that are original are interesting, but not particularly useful in therapy.

If all we had to do was to pinch our skin and think of a time we were successful then the whole world would be doing it. Everyone would be blissfully happy all the time. Doctors' offices would be empty. It doesn't happen.

Scientific tests have shown that anchoring does make the person feel better for a short time, but it is a placebo. The feeling wears off in minutes. There are no studies that show that it works except as self delusion. It is promoted heavily to gullible people in order to sell NLP courses and NLP 'treatments'. As far as I know, no one in the world has ever made it work for them on an enduring basis.

What about not calling it an "anchor" to recall and re-live and re-experience a certain state (feeling) but use it as a memory recall button? Take the onus off of re-creating a past state, but simply use it as a memory jogger when those states were experienced? Not unlike looking at an award certificate or a trophy. Simply associate certain memories with a specific stimulus, (a word, sound, image, or in this case a unique touch) ?

What about using the behavior science behind classical conditioning ( (also Pavlovian or respondent conditioning, Pavlovian reinforcement) which is a form of associative learning? Can you create a powerful memory jogging tool?

From me:

I know what you are getting at, but sadly, it doesn't work. Or at least it can not be summoned consciously.

Accessing past states

We can all access past states when exposed to the right stimuli. Everyone remembers being transported back in time when you hear a song you haven't heard for a long time. However these are the result of unconscious associations. These are in fact the basis of most psychological problems.

When you consciously and deliberately recall a state you weaken it. Take your example of looking at a trophy. The first time you look at the trophy you get the memory/feeling/state strong and clear. However, the act of looking at it occurs in a certain environment, and that gets mixed in with the original feelings of the trophy. Sometimes you will be looking at the trophy while you are angry, sometimes when you are feeling bad because your team lost. The down feelings will now be mixed with the original feelings. The more often you look at it, the more diluted it gets. Over time the association fades. It is inevitable.

There is no way round this.

Much of hypnotherapy work is centered on trying to find hidden associations and remove them.  What you are after, it seems to me, would be achieved by altering your unconscious programming, your core beliefs about yourself, your capabilities and world around you. Simple anchoring won't do it.

There is no magic bullet in this business.

David Mason

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