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17 Examples of Classic And Everyday NLP Anchors

by Evelyn on June 5, 2008


(Photo Credit: Judepics on Flickr)

An anchor is formed when an internal response becomes paired with an external or internal experience. It is much akin to how a ship is anchored to the harbour; the anchor is a reference point for a particular experience. It is amazing how we have been using anchors in our everyday lives and not realised this so far.

An understanding is important as we may have unconsciously anchored a negative emotional response to specific experiences. For instance, if you have always had a fear of swimming, it may be linked to an incident of near drowning you had as a child.

Fortunately, we can replace these anchors very easily using NLP (neuro-lingustic programming) techniques, deleting those that are no longer useful and replacing them with more empowering ones. Anchors can be used in NLP to deal with anything from phobias, post traumatic disorders or even to seducing a member of the opposite sex.

The best way to understand anchors is by illustrating them with examples, so that you can easily recognize them.

Art of Seducing A Man or A Woman: Example 1

Let’s pique up your interest with this video, clearly illustrating the use of an anchor for seduction purposes….

Enjoy the video? Isn’t the use of anchors powerful? If you intend to be a Casanova or play the field, you cannot not learn NLP anchors!

Pavlov Conditioning: Example 2

The concept about anchoring is made famous by a person known as Pavlov. Over a period of time, Pavlov rang a bell when he was about to feed the dogs. He subsequently discovered that his dogs salivate every time he rang the bell, even though he had no intention of feeding them. He concluded that an association has been formed by the dogs.

Virtually anything can be used as an anchor. They are naturally occurring and often formed involuntarily. Many of them originate in childhood. What is usually the case is that you have forgotten the original experience but continue to hold emotional responses to the same triggers.

Olfactory Anchors: Example 3

The smell of something can trigger certain memories in you. For instance, you may associate the smell of freshly baked bread with your mother, remembering the many times when you were young and coming home to a kitchen filled with a lovely aroma. Hence, every time you past by a bakery store, you think about your mother.

Visual Anchors: Examples 4, 5 & 6

When you look through an old family photo album, you may stir up some pleasant memories and the feelings associated with them.


Visual anchors are often formed in cases of phobias. The sight of a small spider may make you squemish because your friends had frightened you with insects while you were in school.

Advertising uses a lot of anchors. Marketers try to create an association between the desired product and your wants. Flipping through a magazine spread several times can have you associating nice clothes with certain brands. You can even go to the extent of associating designer red evening gowns with Valentino, say.

Kinesthetic Anchors: Example 7 & 8

Clothes can have the effect of changing your physiology and are in fact, great anchors. You assume different personalities with each different type of clothing. Others also tend to associate you with certain traits judging from your appearance. Just imagine how differently you feel and act, when you don a power suit versus a T-shirt and jeans for a business meeting.

Touching someone on the arm often sets off a feeling of friendship and togetherness. There are exceptions, however.

Auditory Anchors: Examples 9 and 10

A particular voice tone can remind you of a critical parent. You may not like it if your husband or wife now uses the same tone on you. Just the tone itself is enough to send you wild with rage or causes you to shut down (whatever your defense mechanism is). When your auditory anchor is fired off, the intended message by the other party is virtually lost on you. You get so emotionally that you cannot think rationally.

A romantic ballad or any old song for that matter can rekindle certain feelings in you. At the sound of the music, you can recall when you first listen to it, who you were with and how you felt at that time.

A Dead Relationship? Example 11

Does this storyline sound familiar?….A wife works hard to support her young husband for his studies in the University. She takes on a second job to supplement her low earnings from the first. The husband finally makes it and not only that, start a career that made him lots of money. He has an affair with his young and gorgeous secretary and decides that he prefers to divorce his wife, as he “does not love her anymore”!

The wife gets really angry. How dare he??? After all that she has been through! He appears to be getting it all: money, sex and power! She laments about her lost youth, having sacrificed herself for such a heartless man!

Before we jump into apportioning blame, let’s take a look again at the story. It can be possibly explained in terms of NLP anchors.

Every time the husband thinks about his wife, he remembers about his days of struggle. However, every time he thinks about his secretary, he is reminded about his up and coming career. The new woman knows him to be someone successful and panders to his needs; while his wife sees him as having been poor (a memory which he would rather not keep).

“Do you want to know a great way to fall in love? Just associate all your pleasant experiences with someone and disassociate from all the unpleasant ones.”— Co-developer of NLP, Richard Bandler

Reversing Aging: Example 12

Ellen Langer performed a study into anchoring on two groups of 75-80 year old men at Harvard University. She first separated them into two groups and isolated them for 5 days.

One group was engaged in a series of tasks encouraging them to think about the past in general (to write an autobiography, to discuss the past etc). The other group was made to do a series of tasks relating to a specified time in the past – year 1959. They were made to write an autobiography up to 1959, describing that time as “now”, watched 1959 movies, had 1959 music playing on the “radios”, and lived with only 1959 artefacts.

Both groups were evaluated on a number of criteria associated with aging. While the first group stayed constant or actually deteriorated on these criteria, the second group showed fascinating results. They dramatically improved on physical health scores such as joint flexibility, vision, and muscle breadth, as well as IQ tests. They were successfully anchored back to being 50 years old, by the sights and sounds of 1959.

NLP Anchors For Success: Examples 13 to 20

As you can see from examples 1-12, anchors can be positive or negative. Most of these anchors are set unintentionally. With no awareness about them, we also fire off anchors in each other all the time. If you find yourself over-reacting in certain situations, it may be that there is an anchored response behind your emotion.

Knowing about how anchors work can help us create empowering ones. If an anchor was formed in your childhood but that limits your growth in some ways now, then it will be of interest to you to learn how to replace it with a more useful one. Not all anchors are bad. Some do help you to function better. A good anchor is when you remember to press your foot brake every time you see the brake lights of the car in front, light up.

Here are some other examples whereby the use of NLP anchors have proven to be successful and are used by coaches to help their clients everyday:

– Public Speaking
– Weight Loss
– Boosting Self Confidence
– Sitting For An Examination
– Kick Smoking Habit
– Anger Management
– Negotiate a Difficult Deal.

I will be covering how to set anchors intentionally in a future blog post, as it will be too much to cover all the points here. Incidentally, in the next 2 days, I will be flying off to Thailand to be under Ajahn Brahm for a retreat.

Since I’ll be using the time for contemplation, reflection and inner healing, through hours of quiet meditation, I will not be posting any articles during my 1+ week break. Till then, take care!!

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Vered June 5, 2008 at 10:27 am

Your aging example is fascinating. The power of our mind to influence our body – wow. I am going to forward this to Robin of Let’s Live Forever – it totally supports her views.

Hunter Nuttall June 5, 2008 at 12:46 pm

Yes, the aging example is fascinating, and so is the example of the dead relationship. I’m sure most people have no idea that anchors can play such a big part in a breakup. Can’t wait until the next post on setting anchors intentionally. Well, actually I _can_ wait…enjoy your week away, and we’ll be here when you get back.

Shilpan| June 5, 2008 at 1:57 pm

I agree with Vered and Hunter that aging example is truly amazing. Deepak Chopra talks about this in his books at length. Aging is related to how we feel about our body. It’s amazing as to how much our mind influences our life.


Robin June 5, 2008 at 6:18 pm

Hi there Evelyn – I do believe we humans can reverse the aging process if we want to. Someone once coined the term “youthing” for the process – an alternative to aging. Thanks for your article about anchors – your statement “Knowing about how anchors work can help us create empowering ones” is very pertinent, I think.

Cheers – Robin

Evelyn June 5, 2008 at 7:38 pm

@Vered, thanks for forwarding this blog post to Robin. I’ll be checking out her blog.

@Hunter, I never knew how anchors played such an important part in our lives until I came to know of these stories. Thanks for your support!

@Shilpan, I am a fan to Deepak Chopra too :-)

@Robin, I may just start playing music in the 80s and dressing up in ultra short mini skirts once again……..LOL!!

Daniel Richard | WE June 6, 2008 at 3:17 am

Hey Evelyn!

I’m adapting some form of anchoring into my mind illusion tricks that I play with my friends and colleagues recently.

With the detailed layout and explanation to the given terms of anchoring listed here, it helps me understand better on how to use them even more effectively. :)

Here’s two of those that I had used here for tricks: the visual and audio anchors. While there was another one about the aging process to get one of my good pals since secondary school to get in touch with his creative and entrepreneurial past when he was in sec 2.

And they sure work greatly! Thanks for sharing the terms used here. :)

Daniel | WE

Robert@MindPowerMarketing June 6, 2008 at 7:57 am

A great summary of the different types of anchoring and shows you important they are in our lives. Learning to use anchoring can be very powerful in many ways.



Tom Volkar / Delightful Work June 9, 2008 at 3:20 pm

I enjoyed reading the entire article and I look forward to your instruction on how to intentionally set positive anchors. I also loved the aging reference. I’ve decided to assume the persona of an 18 year old by recollecting my youth. Sounds like a fun way to become younger. :)

AJ Kumar | February 2, 2009 at 12:23 am

Great article!! I’m currently writing an article on the anchors Hitler used during his rise to power.

Evelyn February 2, 2009 at 9:42 am

I’m going to be posting more articles on NLP, going by the favorable responses. Thanks to all those who have commented!!

@Kumar, I’d be interested to read your article!!

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