NLP Part 1: “Anchoring” Your State of Mind for Success

NLP Part 1: “Anchoring” Your State of Mind for Success

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.  – Thomas Edison

Last week I started my first 2 day (of a 9 day course) in NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming) with Thought Models, a local company specializing in providing clients with the tools to positively change their world and bring about success.

NLP is what is called a “meta discipline;” which is the study of the structure of subjective experience and what can be calculated from those experiences. It is an approach using models of excellence, communication, personal development and some applications found in psychotherapy – but it is NOT therapy. The title refers to a stated connection between the neurological processes (“neuro”), the language we use to navigate our environment (“linguistic”), and the behavioral patterns which sums up the human condition. All of this plays an integral role that we learn through experience (“programming”) and can be organized to achieve specific goals in life. Or more simply put; Thought Models sums up NLP as such;

“Neuro: The Mind-Body: how we function; physiological and mental states and activities.

Linguistic: The language we use to describe, categorize, communicate about and make sense of our world; how we communicate our experience to others.

Programming: The stories we use to interpret experience; repeating sequences of behavior and patterns of thought that help us or hinder us; strategies that get us what we want.”


In NLP a person can learn to develop their skills at communicating more effectively and perhaps even learn a “technique” to broaden their own scope of process and perception within their own model of experience.  In Harry Nichols, most recent blog post about “modeling” he puts it quite simply as; “Modeling is a process used to discover and codify patterns of excellence as demonstrated consistently by top performers in any field.”

I would like to feature an application that has proven to be very effective in my own life and in my motivational seminars and public speaking engagements. It all has to do with setting an intention, building a vision and setting goals. It’s called learning to anchor, or anchoring.

Anchoring are those “triggers” or “buttons” that can decide the fate of our day. Those subconscious thought or emotions; which, can be positive or negative and will untimely determine the level of our success as we move through our day. Anchors can be very powerful and purposeful tools for managing our emotional states. Anchors are stimuli that call forth states of mind – thoughts and emotions. Anchors can be visual, auditory or kinesthetic. We are affected by anchors throughout our lives.


Pavlov’s Dog: The Birth Place of Anchoring

Remember Pavlov’s dog! In the 1950s a Russian scientist, named Ivan Pavlov researched the connection of the use of dogs, stimuli and the ringing of a bell.  Anchoring is reminiscent of Pavlov’s experiments with dogs. Pavlov sounded a bell as the animal was given food. The animals salivated when they saw the food. After some parings of the bell and the food, the bell alone elicited salivation. This stimulus and response, and later on he would call this research “Pattern Matching” or “Stimulus-Response.”  Pattern Matching is a primary brain process, which is used to make sense of the world, a learned response to experience, where we create positive or negative habits, as well as the place where we develop addictions or chronic conditions.


Pattern Matching:

Every time we have a new and significant experience, our subconscious – the brain, does a database search for a similar experience and then stores that new experience in the same category. This is called a neural network, where our brain filters and files away our daily sensory feedback into “implicit memory”. Pattern matching is directly linked to most of the phobias and panic related conditions that are so prevalent in today’s modern world. Take the spider for instance, one “panic mode” I know quite well. My earliest memories of a spider incident was seeing my father jump up on the couch and scream…”spider, damn he’s a biggin.” So naturally, I jump up on the couch at 7 years old and think…. “spider’s bad” and the feeling of “scared or fear” which also thinking back brings up the feeling of laughter and some of my funniest moments on weekends at my dads.


For example the dreaded spider:

  • See a spider = mass freak out
  • Read the word spider = mass freak out (my brain brings up the image)
  • Feeling something on the skin that could be a spider = mass freak out (my brain brings up that physical creepy crawly feeling).  = PHOBIA and PATTERN MATCHING.

Now, without pattern matching, learning would be literally impossible. Therefore, it’s not the pattern matching that is the issue here, it’s the meaning in which we place on that experience that needs to be “re-patterned.”  It may be difficult, but not impossible to “re wire” or “re pattern” some of these networks and depending on the vested connection with the experience, anchoring can help to either reduce the “phobia” if it’s a negative pattern or bring about a positive state by anchoring that experience to a direct result.

How do you Anchor?

First we need to define a “state.” In Tony Robbins Ted Talk, “Why We Do What We Do.” Robbins discusses the “invisible forces” that motivate everyone’s actions and simples says the 2 invisible forces that decide peoples destiny or success:


  1. state – in the moment
  2. state – long term.

Robbins then takes it further to then ask 3 questions once these states are more clear and they are;

  1. What am I going to focus on? (feeling/ past, present, future)
  2. What does it mean? (thought)
  3. What are you going to do? (Action)

If we can tap into the right emotion and state you can change behavior.  We start by giving a “state” a name – thus we give it meaning and we pattern match to a positive anchor.

Identify the emotional state you want to focus on and then write them down. Choose 3 states you know you will use in the very near future, and ensure that these states are clear of any negativity or uncertainty. They must be states that have served you a successful outcome. Choosing to feel powerful and enthusiastic is specific and something you can work towards using the NLP Anchoring technique.


The Steps to Anchoring

Select a desired state i.e. specifically how you want to feel. Recall a particular time in your life when you felt the desired state. Pick a powerful example.

Simple Tips:

  • Only anchor an intense state, one that evokes a strongly felt experience.
  • Pick an experience that is pure and not mixed with other feelings.
  • Use unique anchors so the state is accessed at will.
  • Timing is crucial, fire the anchors before the peak and release before the peak declines.

For example, in the class I chose 3 states that will serve me in starting a new position with Copeman Healthcare and Fit to Train Human Performance Systems and that state is “Focus.” I then chose a state that reflects my new relationship “trust’ a state that is the foundation of all relationships, even the one with our-selves. Then I chose “compassion,” a state to keep me balanced which is the grounding force of many of my decisions and how I visually represent myself to the world. These 3 states will serve me over the next few weeks as I build my practice in a new clinical space.

How to access an anchored state; requires four skills:

  • Access a powerful state
  • Recognize when to set the anchor
  • Anchor the state as specifically as possible
  • Fire the anchor when required

One final thought I would like to leave you with. Working in the health and sciences field, one of the largest obstacles I come up against is the age old “excuse cycle.’ We all make them and we are always establishing “anchors” as to why we cannot achieve something or fit it into our life. It’s the age old conundrum of the modern human condition. Tell me if these sound familiar:

  • I can’t afford it (money)
  • I’m too busy (time)
  • I don’t want to travel that far (time management)
  • I don’t have the experience (experience)
  • I don’t have the right contacts (contacts)
  • I don’t want to wake up early or stay later (time management)
  • It’s just to hard, I don’t have the energy (time)

These are all linguistic anchors we create every day that prevent us from achieving our goals, and they also place blame elsewhere by pointing the finger in another direction…away from where it should be pointed and that is towards the “me,” because quite simply the only thing preventing you from change – is yourself and your actions (or lack of).

Robbins speaks of “resources vs. resourcefulness,” where we continually blame a lack of resources, rather than turning that negative anchor into an opportunity for positive change. I won’t sugar coat this for you – the reason you can’t is because you won’t. Let’s turn that into you CAN and you WILL. Some of my favorite “excuses” or “anchors” that do not serve you in your path to success are:


Resources vs. Resourcefulness:

(I don’t have) Time >>>> (I do have) Creativity >>transition>> (24 hours in a day)

(I don’t have) Money >>> (I do have) Determination >>transition>> (budget 2 less Starbucks a day)

(I don’t have) Contacts >>> (I do have) Perseverance >>transition>> (network. make connections)

(I don’t have) Experience >>> (I do have) Passion >>transition>> (experience is a skill, passion is a trait)


For the next week, I would encourage you to observe yourself and others and start thinking about what anchors you have established in your life that may hold you back. Once you recognize these anchors, you can then start the process of detaching from these anchors and establishing new anchors and patterns to replace them, so that you can harness a state that will serve you better towards your goals.

Over the course of the next few months I will be featuring a review of each of our NLP training workshops. For more information on how to get involved in NLP please click on this link and contact master coach Harry Nichols with Thought Models!





Thought precedes physical form and that “the action of Mind plants that nucleus which, if allowed to grow undisturbed, will eventually attract to itself all the conditions necessary for its manifestation in outward visible form.” ~ Thomas Troward

Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha was the first true guru of modern day positive thinking. Modern day being 483 BCE, yet his teachings on “what you think, you become,” has been passed down for centuries in the teachings of Buddhism, as well as adopted by those who choose to practice another (or sometimes no) religion. This post isn’t about the teachings of Buddha, but it is about the ideology of behind his most quoted phrase and the importance of the “self” in success.

There are 3 kinds of people in this world;

  • those who wait for success to come to them
  • those who take success
  • and those who earn the right to achieve success

This is the conundrum of our overly processed, socioeconomic age.


The quote “All good things come to those who wait,” is usually misinterpreted to mean “do nothing,” and those who wait usually lack the understanding behind what it means to truly succeed. Why? Simply, because they were not part of the process and without being part of that evolution of that success and connection to it there comes a lack of understanding, lack of value and personal responsibility. The word “entitlement” comes to mind. In the 60 Minutes segment titled “Generation Y: Entitlement Generation” we can see the socioeconomic archetype at play; where more and more young adults are coming out of University sheltered an d expectant of high salary and work right away. When in actuality we have a higher percentage of youth unemployment than ever before.

In the 1997 book The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe, the authors outline Generation Y as “Millennial’s” who belong to the Hero category, featuring a deep trust in authority and institutions; being somewhat conventional, but still powerful. Meaning they grew up during an Unraveling cycle with more protections than the previous generation (Gen X) due to a world fraught with chaos and disorder. Yet, with this security there is a lack of understanding that value and position are not just a given.

Nonetheless, no matter what generation or socioeconomic re positioning that takes place, universal abundance and law of attraction will always state “like attracts like,” and those who do nothing or play the waiting game of expectation, will likely achieve just that – more waiting.


Those who take success usually do so at the heart of “ego” and at the plight or fall of another. Instead of seeing the glory in the process; and the understanding that none of us can truly succeed on our own, we must connect with others to succeed – they are blinded by the idea that they are owed success. The ego is the part of the human psyche that controls the “me,me, me” syndrome of the brain. The ego constantly strives to be always right, always superior, never wrong and never inferior. The ego is at the center of our psyche that will always manifest recurring pain (past experiences we have not yet let go of), self doubt & powerlessness and manifest a visceral response of anger, judgement and negativity. The taker has a constant need to pull away from interdependence with (and of) the world to the tune of just one (him or herself) and constantly demands to be satisfied and satiated usually through power, negative thought, judgement, criticism and by dis-empowering others along the way.

In the book the “Power of Now,” Eckhart Tolle says the ego is; “a mental image of who you are, based on our personal and cultural conditioning.” Those who take do not fully understand that your ego, can also be your ally. It can act as a catalyst and a constant reminder for when life presents a radical change in thought and action. When there must be a transformation in human consciousness.



The Law of Attraction can be dated back to the early 1900’s. Napoleon Hill’s greatest quote (in my personal opinion) was fundamental in this area of R&D; “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve. Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”

Those who earn success have a deep driving force because the evolutionary process has been embedded in the very fabric of their soul. They live and breathe the goal and if they bump up against adversity and failure; it is merely a stepping stone to a learned response towards a higher form of greatness. Why? Simply, because they are living their potential, they are free from the over use of the ego. Keeping in mind “ego” and “self-confidence,” are distinctly different. They understand the value of the journey, not just simply the destination and hard work is part of this process. Historically, anything worth achieving in the world has come with hard work, dedication to a goal, connection with others and respecting the responsibility that comes with obtaining that goal. When you earn success, it’s much more meaningful.


The reality is that at some time in our lives, we have dabbled in all 3. Through cognitive development as children and youth we explore the waiter, the taker and the earner; as this is a natural state of learning, processing and evolving. As we age and become more aware of life outside of our 3 block radius and we come to terms with the exchange of work and value (or at least we hope). As adults, we understand that work leads directly to success and that the longevity of this success is in direct proportion to the hard work, dedication and passion put forth, on-going, to maintain the caliber of the result. The BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) is to never lose sight of 3 things along the journey and after success;

1) Practice your personal responsibility – Success is not just earned, the act of achievement is repeated over and over again to maintain balance. To keep you, you must practice greatness.

2) Pass on your knowledge – influence and motivate others to understand the value and the process of achievement. History repeats itself, but we have the power to honor the path of choice.

3) Check your ego at the door – your ego is your internal “emotional intelligence” temperature gauge. It can be your ally but do not let it overpower your judgment, your logical rationale, or your connection to others.


Most of my personal success has come from hard work, dedication and never losing sight of all the opportunities that have been offered to me. We do not get there alone. We may put forth grueling hours in the gym, on the track, in the office, in the school etc ~ but nothing is ever achieved alone because success is an exchange and if you are lucky if you repeat this exchange enough times, it will become habit and that, my friends, leads to integrity in mind, body and soul.

Happy Earning!

Set Yourself Up For Success

Adhering to a regular, consistent yoga practice is difficult at the best of times. It takes dedication and commitment, love, sweat and hard work. It can be almost impossible to find the time to attend yoga class when things get busy. And this time of year is very, very busy.

Today is the last day of August. Although the weather isn’t great, many people have been desperately trying to take advantage of every sunny day before the September crunch starts. Back-to-school preparations are well underway. A general sense of business and fret are circulating with the impending sense of another fall.

What I have found is that my practice hasn’t remained the same as usual. My body wants gentler routines, my mind wants them shorter. Rather than promising myself to “start in September” or “do more next week,” I have promised myself to continue my routine, but in a way that suits my needs right now. I am setting myself up for success.

What does this look like? I am practicing more at home right now. Sometimes my sessions only last 20 min. Sometimes they are quiet and easeful. Sometimes all I have time for is Legs up the Wall and a bit of breathing. That’s OK. The important part is to show up on your mat and make the commitment to spend a little time every day to love and cherish your own self, body and mind.

In this busy week before back-to-school, try not to put off your yoga practice until later. Negotiate though—figure out a way to absorb some practice into the little gaps of time you have. Pick the 5 poses your body absolutely needs and practice them with love and intention. Take a little time for yourself no matter what. Breathe. Smile. Appreciate your little victories.


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