Who is pulling your strings?
Is there a piece of music that, when you hear it, takes you back years to another time and place, one which brings back floods of memories about an event or person that you once knew? Is there a smell that, when you smell it, reminds you of your childhood or some other time in your life?
Whenever I see someone looking at me over the top of their glasses, I am instantly transported, almost as if by some mystical power, back over 35 years to my primary school days and a rather large lady teacher who placed the fear of God into us when she looked across the room over those bi-focal lenses, her eye brows somehow turning into horns as those deep, dark, piercing eyes penetrated deep into our souls. In addition to the nauseating swell in the pit of my stomach, I can recall feeling the intense desire to slip down in my chair and hide under the table, just wishing that the ground could swallow me up and protect me from this witch who’s power over the whole class was dauntingly absolute. Now that’s an anchor!!!
Anchors are basically conditioned responses. They occur when an emotion is associated with something else. In itself this would seem quite a logical and natural process, which of course it is, but anchors, as well as being negative and positive can be debilitating and disempowering. Whilst anchors can also be empowering and may remind us of happy events in our lives, generally speaking these conditions do not generally dis-empower us. As with all NLP processes, what matters is the extent to which anchors are desirable, empowering and supportive of the process of life. Because the process of creating an anchor usually occurs when we are unaware of it, it does not take much imagination to see how the potential for disempowering associations can be unlimited in our every day life.
Anchors are such a powerful force in our lives because, not only do they take place all around us every day, but they are invisible, almost undetectable, silent and, potentially, for the development of a resourceful mental process, quite deadly.
A very dear friend of mine is an actor, and we have discussed many times how one can recreate a variety of emotions through anchors. What is interesting is that a sad story in itself, or a sad memory, doesn’t tend to work in creating tears, for example. What actually creates the tears is usually something unusual or unexpected within the story itself, but not the actual story or outcome. To give you an example, when I was twenty, actually during the night of my twentieth birthday, may father died of lung cancer. He died under somewhat unusual circumstances, which in them could be a separate and equally sad tale. Over the years I have relayed the events of that night to many of my friends and only on a few occasions have I actually cried. I often used to wonder why that was and had assumed that my reaction to telling the story was somehow dependent upon the relationship that I had with the person to whom I was telling it. It was some twenty years later, however, that I discovered that that was not the case, and that there were certain elements of the story that made me cry. Depending upon my state of mind or the reason for telling the story, I would include or exclude those aspects. What were they? Surprisingly enough they were the inclusion of a piece of torn off tissue box card, torn into two with each piece folded in half, a raised fist and muffled groans of frustration. All a very important part of the emotional context of the story, but not necessary in providing a brief summary of the content of the tale.
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