By Monika Nygaard, 
Published in Nanaimo Harbour City Star, March/00

Motivation often happens outside of our awareness at the unconscious level. NLP uses unconscious communication skills to help create and access "anchors", or classical stimulus response conditioning as taught by Pavlov, and utilizes it to help you and others be motivated whenever you want.

Have you ever had a job to do, but just couldnít get motivated?  Or perhaps you were feeling bad and suddenly your spirits lifted and you couldnít figure out why?  It may have been a certain smell, a sound or some music or an expression on someoneís face that reminded you of something pleasant from the past.  In NLP this is called anchoring, or classical stimulus response conditioning as taught by Pavlov. 

Anchors are so pervasive in our lives that we usually arenít even aware of them.  A red light is a visual anchor and people respond to it automatically.  Certain types of music make people feel happy, sad, moody, joyous, reflective or energized.  Photographs or a special expression on a loved oneís face bring feelings up quickly and certain smells bring on certain moods.

Because these states can be so powerful, wouldnít it be useful to turn them off and on at will, to be totally energized and inspired when you need it?  Actors need this right when the curtain goes up, not half way through the scene, athletes need it when the gun goes off, business people need it when they are selling or negotiating, teachers when they face a class and most people in any number of situations. 

So, how can we access these powerful states at will and utilize them when we most need them?  We can look to our personal history which is rich with powerful emotional experiences.  Perhaps we may want to pick a time when we felt energized, positive, resourceful and motivated.  Think of a time like that, even if it was just for a few minutes.  What were you seeing, what sounds are there, how does your body feel, what tastes and/or smells are there, what are you thinking or saying to yourself? 

As youíre in these very positive resourceful feelings, anchor these feelings by perhaps touching your hand or arm or head in an unusual spot (behind the ear, the side of your palm, next to your elbow or anywhere else you donít often touch).   Continue to touch that spot until you reach the peak of the feeling, and then let go.  Repeat this process for any other similar positive experiences in your life. 

Now think of that negative state you were in, that job you didnít want to do, that person you didnít want to see, and as you do so, touch that positive anchor spot and notice what happens.  This is utilizing the unconscious process of linking past positive experiences to the present and can neutralize the negative feelings we didnít want to have.  It is a skill that is very immediately available and can be honed with practice over time.

Some athletes go through rituals they have created before they start to play that energize them.  Others have lucky symbols like mascots, a group symbol, a slogan, or a song that creates a positive state.  Special techniques to clear fear of public speaking and test anxiety are especially useful. 

The universe may hand us a mixed bag of cards, but we can choose how and in what way we play them.  In the words of Aldous Huxley, ďexperience is not what happens to you, it is what you do with what happens to you.Ē  Anchoring is a powerful tool to assist us in making the associations we want to make and being able to get what we want more easily.

Monika Nygaard is a Certified Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Trainer, Time Line Therapy® Master Trainer and Hypnotherapy Trainer. She can be reached at nlp4change@shaw.ca
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