There are people who get goose bumps every time they see their National flag. It’s an odd reaction if you think about it analytically. After all, a flag is just a piece of cloth with a colorful, decorative pattern. There’s nothing inherently magical about it. But of course that interpretation misses the whole point. Yes, it’s just a piece of cloth. But at the same time, it has come to stand for all the virtues and characteristics of our nation. So when a person sees a flag, he also sees a powerful resonant symbol of everything his nation stands for.
A flag, like countless other things in our environment, is an anchor, a sensory stimulus linked to a specific set of states. An anchor can be a word or a phrase or a touch or an object. It can be something we see, hear, feel, taste, or smell. Anchors have great power because they can instantly access powerful states. That’s what happens when you see the flag. You immediately experience the powerful emotions and sensations that represent how you feel about the nation as a whole because these feelings have been linked to or associated with this particular color and design.
Our world is full of anchors, some of them profound, some of them trivial. If any one starts to say to you, Winston tastes good like a … chances are you’ll automatically say cigarette should. If one asks you, How do you spell relief? Most of you will spell it R-O-L-A-I-D-S. You may think all cigarettes taste awful. You probably know that relief is spelled R-E-L-I-E-F. But advertising has been so effective that it’s anchored a response in you even though you don’t believe it. The same sort of response occurs all the time. You can see people and instantly go into state – good or bad – depending on the feelings you have associated with them. You can hear a song and have an instantaneous change of state. All are the results of powerful anchors.
Anchoring is a way to give an experience permanence. We can change our internal representations or our physiology in a moment and create new results, and those changes require conscious thought. However, with anchoring you can create a consistent triggering mechanism that will automatically cause you to create the state you desire in any situation without your having to think about it. When you anchor something effectively enough, it will be there whenever you want it. You’ve learned any number of invaluable lessons and techniques so far in this article. Anchoring is the most effective technique known for constructively channeling our powerful unconscious reactions so they’re always at our disposal. We all try to do the best with what we have. We all try to make the most of the resources at our disposal. Anchoring is a way to ensure that we always have access to our greatest resources. It’s a way to make sure we always have what we need.
We all anchor regularly. In fact, it’s impossible not to. All anchoring is a created associated of thoughts, ideas, feelings, or states with a specific. Do you remember studying about Dr Ivan Pavlov? Pavlov took hungry dogs and put meat where they could smell it and see it but not get to it. This meant became a powerful stimulus to the dogs’ feelings of hunger. Soon they were salivating heavily. Wile they were in this intense state of salivation, Pavlov consistently rang a bell with a specific tone. Pretty soon he no longer needed the meat he could just ring the bell and the dogs would salivate as if the meat itself were in front of them. He had created a neurological link between the sound of the bell ad the state of hunger or salivation. From then on, all he had to do was ring the bell, and the dogs would literally go into a salivation state.
We, too live in a stimulus/response world, where much of human behavior consists of unconscious programmed responses. For example, many people under stress immediately reach for a cigarette, alcohol, or in some cases something to snort. They don’t think about it. They’re just like Pavlov’s dogs. In fact, many of these people would like to change their behavior. They feel their behavior is unconscious and uncomfortable. The key is to become conscious of the process so that of anchors do not support you, you can eliminate them and replace them with new stimulus.