Access and Anchoring to Three States

Access and Anchoring to Three States – An Advanced NLP Exercise

Here is a classic NLP Anchoring process exercise.  Often overlooked and still as powerful as ever! While designed for groups of four, you can certainly do it with two, and even, perhaps, practice with yourself!

Anchoring with NLP has already been introduced as the super glue that sticks experiences together in the previous day’s group exercise on future pacing.

Examples:  sleep postures.  “Our song,” smell reminding of past events.  Anchoring is the same as classical conditioning.  Pavlov, dogs, salivating.

NLP Anchoring Three States Exercise

(Groups of 4, instructions are for Person-A)

Purpose of Exercise:

  • Learning to anchor cleanly.
  • Sensory acuity.

Exercise Directions:

  • Access and anchor 3 different states in Person-B.  Make sure all three are positive states.  For example:
    1. A sensual experience
    2. Sports excellence or achievement
    3. A very nice surpriseTest each one, using separator states.  Person-C calibrates to each state.  (Anchor these states on Person-B’s back so that Person-C cannot see the anchor.Since on the back, each nerve innervates a large area of the upper back, about 4″ in diameter, make the anchors at least 4″ apart.)

      Person-D is a meta person, who notices whether Person-A is getting good accesses, anchoring cleanly, etc.

    4. Fire off one anchor at a time, while Person-C observes Person-B and states whether you are eliciting state #1, #2, or #3.  Continue until Person-C guesses correctly 4 times in a row.

Discussion – Components of Effective NLP Anchoring:

  1. The Intensity of State Accessed – You want resource states, in particular, to be very intense.  Getting the state accessed fully has to do with your congruence, behavioral flexibility, sensory acuity, etc.
  2. Purity of State Accessed – If a remembered state includes unresourceful portions, you may want to have the person make up a state that is only the one they want.  Be careful what you anchor. Just because you asked for a resource is no guarantee that they are experiencing one.  They may be accessing “search,” “decision making,” “doubt,” etc. when you anchor.
  3. Timing of Anchor – The best NLP anchor has a 1-to-1 relationship with when the person experiences the state.  It’s best to anchor just as the person goes into the peak of intensity, rather than at the peak.  (Draw a curve on a board.)  If you anchor late, you’ll anchor a decrease in state (vs. increase).Best:  Vary pressure of your anchor along with inten¬sity of the state accessed.  This is better than just an on-off anchor.  Once you have pressure linked with intensity, then you can increase the state beyond what has been elicited by using more pressure.
  4. The Uniqueness of Anchor – If you use the same anchor for many different states, you will be mixing these states, so it won’t anchor only what you want.  This is important, if you want anchors to last through time, you must pick something other people won’t “undo” in the course of the person’s ongoing experiences.A handshake as an anchor is not unique; nibbling an ear is usually much more unique, and unlikely to accidentally become an anchor for a variety of different states.
  5. Accuracy of Duplication– If you touch in a slightly different spot, or with more or less pressure, you won’t bring back the anchored state as completely.  (Stimulus generalization curves.) Try using chalk dust on your fingers to mark anchoring places on the client’s clothing (as long as the clothing doesn’t shift on the body).

Discussion / FAQ:

QUESTION:  Isn’t this manipulative?

ANSWER:  You can’t not anchor.  You have only the choice of doing it in a way that makes you and those around you happier, or not.

For Example,  Carl Rogers & “Gloria” film.  (described earlier.  See discussion of manipulation “Open Frame” in Day 1.)

Some therapists become anchors for unpleasantness because clients have been taught to talk about their problems (rather than the desired solution) and to connect therapy with pain and things that go wrong.  Some people unwittingly become negative anchors for their friends, because they spend most of their time with their friends while they are accessing unpleasant states.

QUESTION:  Can you do this without touching?

ANSWER: Sunday morning TV preachers do it all the time, particularly with tonal shifts.

Anchoring space – In exercises, people often shift chairs when they switch roles because the role becomes anchored to the chair.

Tonal anchoring – With our very young son:  Do you want to X or Y?  (If we use an interested, excited tone on Y, he usually picks Y.)

QUESTION:  Why can’t you just tell someone to access something?

ANSWER: An anchor is an unambiguous nonverbal instruction to have a specific experience.  Words are also anchors.  Often a touch or gesture is more immediate, and dependable, and can happen outside of consciousness.

QUESTION:  How long does an anchor last?

ANSWER:  Until some other experience changes it.

For Example,  I anchor a powerful positive state on a woman’s arm and during the intervening week, she gets grabbed on the arm and mugged.  If you use an unusual anchor it won’t be as likely to get connected to other different experiences.

Couples have an opportunity to establish anchors with each other that are very unique and will be very durable (whether they’re pleasant or not).

Many of the answers to these questions you will find out as you use these methods with others.  That will have the added advantage of your becoming graceful and skilled at the same time that you gain understanding.

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