'Secret Therapy' & How To Time Your Anchors Exactly…
“Time, in life, is everything.”
Ten seconds too late and you miss the train that would have got you to work on time. Ten seconds too early and you just walked by the person that could have opened up a whole new world of possibility for you.
Timing is crucial in establishing an anchor and yet it is widely misunderstood.
You need competence in many skills to be able to anchor others elegantly. One skill you cannot afford to do poorly is having a good sense of timing.
Good timing is key for many aspects of NLP. Being humorous, knowing when to ask that penetrating question, knowing when to pause (when presenting or in a hypnotic induction) are just a few of them. But most of us have not come from a musical or dance background where your performance lives or dies on your timing.
So how can we get good at this critical skill? Well, first there are a couple of other things you need to know about.
First off - when you’re anchoring you want a FUNCTIONAL anchor - one that works, and can be repeated to produce a specific result. Often this is a state but it does not need to be.
A lot of folks get tied up in questions like, "Should I anchor at the peak?", "Should I anchor on the wave up to the peak"? or "How do I know if I have an anchor?"
But when you realize that anchors are everywhere - that literally you and the people around you are firing anchors off all the time… and WHAT HAPPENS AFTER AN ANCHOR is fired off?
A Story Of 'Secret Therapy'
[Note before you read this story, please note that I do NOT recommend you attempt the following intervention type unless you have a great rapport and the respect of the person whom you are assisting. Also if you have a worldview that says all change must be pleasant, or you take a very serious outlook on the world, do not read this story as it may evoke a negative reaction. This narrative is being used for education purposes only and will help any serious student of NLP better understand the role of timing when it comes to setting an anchor. I hope you enjoy.]
When change occurs and sticks, it happens in the body of the person. It's not just in the mind or some conceptual idea of his relationship etc.
The other night I was out with a good friend John and his new girlfriend. We were about to enjoy some food in a very popular Thai restaurant. As the waitress started walking us to our table, I could smell many rich aromatic flavours of the piping hot food in the air. I'm known for being playful by my friends, and it seems to be Irish nature to take the mickey out of each other. So a plan spawned...
John had had a bad break-up with his ex-girlfriend Liz, which was unfortunate as they both cared a lot for each other. John had been telling me that all the stuff with Liz was all behind him now so I played a trick on him…
As we were mid-way through the process of sitting down together, I said in a serious and urgent-sounding tone:
"John... I think that is Liz sitting over there." I kept my head still, as if being all hush-hush, and motioned my eyes quickly to the left, and gave a little ‘yes’ nod.
In an INSTANT, my good friend John's state changed RADICALLY. His eyes defocused, his facial muscles went flat, the colour drained from his cheeks.
Immediately when I said, "That’s Liz over there," he took a RAPID breath in, and started moving his head in quick darting motions back and forth as he tried to scan with his eyes for her.
Indeed, the EFFECT of this simple anchor was SO POWERFUL on him that it entirely interrupted the sitting process he was in, and he was still standing though the rest of us were now sitting down!
So let's go back over what just happened. There were a lot of things that went on in those 15 seconds of being out at a restaurant.
So as I was saying the first thing to get is TIMING was KEY, as was another component, CONTEXT.
The skills and process of anchoring will blow your mind when you really learn them, and you can actually anchor without any hesitation and with deliberate and conscious intent.
If I had said exactly the same thing to my friend John when he and I was just out chilling in a bar WITHOUT our respective partners present, then the effect would have been significantly less.
The CONTEXT of firing off the anchor was that we were in a highly social situation, where his NEW girlfriend was present (and I knew she was anxious about the ex-girlfriend). If Liz had been present, in such a small place, it would have been difficult to avoid interaction.
The Role Of Timing
Now let's look at my choice of timing.
Timing was KEY for this trigger to go off well, but I didn't have to do any pre-building of the state beforehand to get the response. I didn't say to my friend "Go inside and remember a time you felt really bad when going out with Liz..."
That would have been complete nonsense and, in actuality, would most likely have diffused the sense of shock that firing the anchor (her name in this context) created.
Also, it was very intentional and by design that I WAITED until we were right at the moment when we had started the movement of sitting down before I fired the anchor off. This is similar to doing a handshake interrupt, in that, I SUSPECTED that if he had any serious residual emotion, the suggestion of Liz being right "over there" would overload his conscious processes and thereby interrupt what he was doing.
Remember, up until this point, John had been telling me he was all over Liz, and that "all of that" didn't bother him anymore.
In essence all of these factors, the restaurant, the new girlfriend present, the fact I said it precisely when we were literally in the process of sitting down AND said it in a rushed, urgent tone all had the effect of AMPLIFYING any sense of fear or panic that may have been present.
Before I fired the anchor I didn't know if he was going to react in a shocked or mildly panicked way - I had a guess, tested it, and it worked.
So what happened?
Well, as soon as John had somewhat composed himself he turned to me and said "Where, where is she?" as he continued to hurriedly look around and scan the restaurant.
At that precise moment, I turned and looked at him and... BURST out laughing and said to him, "I'm only messing with you."
Now here comes the critical point – and maybe you’re reading this, thinking, "That's cool!" and laughing, or thinking, "Jeez, that's harsh. How could you?"
You see, right in THAT MOMENT when I laughed and told him, he laughed AND I ANCHORED HIM kinesthetically (slapped my hand on his shoulder and left it there) as HE BEGAN TO RELAX DEEPLY and SIT DOWN.
Again his state changed RADICALLY as he began to RELAX FULLY and THINK ABOUT what just happened. And he said to me "You fecker, you got me good there..." and we continued to laugh together.
I amplified the laughter state and fired off the anchor several more times for him to relax and laugh WHILE I ever so innocently talked about him and Liz and their relationship in a very precise yet normal way... and what it would be like to see her in the future.
This last step was in actuality what the GOAL of my 'trick' was all about. The specific process that occurred in him AFTER I initially shocked him served several purposes:
1. It let John know that I knew he was B.S.ing me about being "over her" which was an important part of the healing process.
2. It demonstrated to him himself that there was a lot more ‘emotionally’ going on in him that he wasn't either aware of or facing up to.
3. And most importantly I had in the space of 90 seconds helped break an intense and bad anchor for him, and re-trained his brain toward a powerful and positive way to respond when he thought about Liz in the future, all without his conscious awareness. I repeated the process several times to hardwire a new response (breathe, relax and feel good).
This is what has become known as doing ‘secret therapy stuff’.
This playing with anchors was a thousand times more effective than just ‘talking about’ how he felt etc.
Realize this: When change occurs and sticks, it happens in the body of the person. It's not just in the mind or some conceptual idea of his relationship etc. In order for it to stick and work the change needs to happen at the neurological, chemical and physical level, which is a fancy way of saying in the body.
Am I a miracle worker? Far from it! I just used the process of anchoring the way the technology is meant to be used - for creating more freedom and opportunity for everyone. Everything I did and more, you could do too, once you know, how.
So to finish, timing is key. But in truth the whole matter of timing ‘at the peak’, ‘on the upward slope’ etc is pretty moot.
The only thing to be really concerned with for now is, do you have a FUNCTIONAL anchor that will do what you need it to?
Sure, it's nice if you do anchor at the peak, but it doesn't matter (in most cases) as long as what you anchor works and gets you the result you want (for example, to reproduce a given state in an individual 30 seconds from now).
Avoid over-complicating the theory - practice noticing when people's states change. Then, when someone is really getting into a given state, for example, laughter, anger, confidence etc, do something unique and consistent. Even if you're not near them, just click your fingers precisely at the moment when you think the state is intense enough to anchor and you will be training your own brain to become more skilled and precise and you’ll be able to anchor far more effectively.
Lastly, if you'd like to learn all the major distinctions on how to anchor like a pro, in 30 days or less, and enjoy a step by step exercises on exactly what to do to build up your ‘anchoring muscle’ then be sure to go here now...
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