Using Anchors

0.0 Introduction
0.35 The ‘anchoring’ process
1.06 Everyday life examples
2.09 Anchoring as an every day experience – routine
2.45 Using anchoring with progressive desensitisation
3.15 The ‘what if’ game and its effects
5.00 Summary

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Hello, Alan Patching here with another post for Transforming Minds.

In our last couple of posts we’ve looked at phobias in particular as one of the key five anxiety disorders, specific phobias we call them, and we’ve looked at progressive desensitisation in a physical-like sense and also being used as a hypnotherapeutic technique. Now, I did mention in our last post that we’d talk a little bit about using anchoring together with hypnotherapy to help you with the overcoming of phobias. Let’s have a little look at how that works.

Now, anchoring is simply the process of using some trigger from one of your senses and for our example here, because it is very common, we are going to talk about a physical trigger or what we call a kinaesthetic trigger, like squeezing the fist gently or squeezing the fingers together or whatever. So, connecting that in the subconscious brain with a physical response such as relaxation.

Now, it’s nothing fancy – its quite simple. I’ll give you a couple of examples: We had mentioned the stop sign or the stop light; you see it while you are driving, it happens automatically. You don’t say, “Oh, there’s a hexagonal sign that’s red it’s got white around the edge, it’s got the letters S, T, O, P so I need to raise my foot and put it on the brake… You simple keep chatting to whomever you’re with and thinking whatever you’re thinking in the car and you come to a halt.

Think about being in a shopping centre or an airport, where it has a moving walkway or escalator and when we step onto those things we just naturally change our balance and it’s a matter of course. But if you step onto an escalator one day and it’s not moving, or moving walkway that’s not moving, you’ll find yourself tripping and losing your balance. Why? Because your brain automatically adjusted for the balance expecting that the escalator or the walkway was moving and when it’s not, you trip.

So, you’ve had an automatic response to the visual trigger of the escalator, but it was not required in this case, because it wasn’t moving but still, you tripped. So, anchoring is something that you do in everyday life. You get dressed in pretty much the same order everyday. Put the same leg into your undies or your pants or trousers first and it feels weird if you do it all the other way around. Your watch is on the same wrist pretty much every day. We put our jewellery on – and if we are women (or men these days as well) or makeup… whatever … In pretty much the same order every time, it’s just subconscious and routine.

What we want to do it establish another subconscious routine between seeing or experiencing something that used to upset us and having relaxation.

Now, we’ve talked about the progressive desensitisation to reduce the anxiety effect, but what happens if you’re still having some affect, when for example, on the flight?

Well, the concern is of course that the human brain is different from the animal brain, in that a bird just knows how to be a bird and a dog just knows how to be a dog. If a cat gets a fright it jumps up, looks around and goes “Oh, nothing to worry about” and just plops down and goes to sleep again. We don’t. We get our charge and we go, “What if it got worse, what if this did that?” and we play the WHAT IF game and the what if game leads to rumination of all these disastrous possibilities in the future, which raises that somatic feeling – those feelings of anxiety in our body – and then we’ve triggered the cycle again.

So, we need something in addition to our hypnotherapeutic progressive desensitisation that allows us to come back quickly, and that’s where we use the technique called anchoring, which is just taking the principle behind stopping at a stop sign or adjusting our body for when we move onto a walkway and using it when we want to use it.

So, what we do is, during the process of helping people to relax to deal with these phobias, we get them to squeeze their fist gently when they feeling very relaxed. We train them to relax themselves using progressive relaxation or self-hypnosis and at their deepest point of relaxation to form a link between that state of relaxation and a physical trigger such as squeezing the fingers together or gently squeezing a fist. And by building that up and building it up and building it up, a person can quite quickly get to the point where they are feeling a little bit stressed over anything and they can fire that anchor and very quickly calm down and relax again.

Once they are at a good level of proficiency through practice, they can go on their flight with a much-reduced level of anxiety to the phobia of flying which is the example we’ve been using ,but it applies to most phobias. And then when they are there, if there is some sort of reaction, instead of going into the WHAT IF game, they can fire off their anchor and they have a pretty good chance of bringing things into a manageable range of feeling and anxiety.

It’s as simple but, in a sense, as complex as that. So if you need some help with this go see a good hypnotherapist and psychologist or psychotherapist and I’m sure they will be able to help you out with the technique. And the next blog will be about helping you to make a decision about who you should see, and I’ll look forward to seeing you then.

For now, I’m Alan Patching, good bye.

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