1-1 Anchoring: Explaining and Demonstrating Kinesthetic (touch) Anchoring

In this first section of the book we are starting to apply the power of NLP to ourselves. You had the opportunity to explore Anchoring, one of the fundamental NLP Models in the “Circle of Excellence,” technically described as a spatial self-anchor.  Then you got to experience a kinesthetic or touch anchor.

There is a lot more to anchoring, including anchoring in each sensory system. Here is a good brief overview and commentary from our Practitioner Training Manual, part of the NLP Comprehensive “Portable Practitioner” distance learning program. Video examples follow.


Anchoring is deliberately connecting a cue or trigger to a state of mind so that you can recall the state simply and easily later.

The most common use for anchoring is to make a resource state more available in a situation where it would be useful.  In the actual situation, or as the person represents the situation, you “fire the anchor,” re-creating the cue, and integrating the desired state of mind into the context.  Anchoring is also used in many NLP techniques to stabilize and recall states so that they are immediately accessible to be utilized or changed.

Anchoring is a natural phenomenon;  it happens accidentally all the time, for example when the smell of a perfume reminds you of someone you knew a long time ago. NLP simply uses anchoring intentionally to make a positive difference in someone’s experience.

Components of Effective Anchoring:
•    Purity of state accessed.
•    Intensity of state accessed.
•    Timing of anchor.
•    Uniqueness of anchor
•    Accuracy of duplication.

Anchoring depends on being able to evoke (inspire, elicit) states of mind in ourselves and others.  The more flexible we are, the more likely we are to move people emotionally and influence their state of mind to create comfort, curiosity, generosity, enthusiasm, humor and so on. Eliciting states is an art form. The following methods are often effective in state elicitation:

•    Pace and lead – establish rapport and go to the state yourself.
•    Access behaviorally – Do something!  Sing a song, jump up and down, give them a hug, remove small articles of clothing…
•    Tell a story
•    Ask them to recall a time when…
•    Request it directly – “Aren’t you curious about…”

And here are some video excerpts from the same program with Senior Trainer Tom Best  introducing the Anchoring Model, and demonstrating it:

Introduction to Anchoring

Demonstration of Kinesthetic (touch) Anchoring

Review of Anchoring Demonstration


Now you could strengthen the anchor you created in the chapter one, or think of another emotional state you would like to have more available, and practice creating an anchor for that as well. In any case, remember the overall purpose: enjoy!

Comments (17)

Hey Tom,
Yesterday I tried setting up an anchor to get into a state of achievement, motivation and self confidence. It was working yesterday. Today I tried testing than anchor, out of nowhere. I didn’t get the sensation that I had yesterday. Why is it so? How can I make my anchor more powerful?

Hi Ayush,
Since I don’t know what kind of anchor you were using, the simplest answer is rehearsal: just practice it before you need it. If you were doing a visual kinesthetic anchor such as a circle of excellence then it was probably a contextual limitation, meaning you need to set up your circle of excellence in the context in which you wish to use it.
If you created the anchor for a specific context then it may well be that out of that context it isn’t really “set”. If it was a kinesthetic touch anchor then I would suggest trying a sliding anchor. A sliding anchor is one in which as you touch to set the anchor you increase its intensity by for instance sliding your fingers up your arm, increasing the effect of the anchor. You can, of course, do this several times to further increase the state intensity. Does that make sense?

Is there a way that a positive anchor can be applied to offset severe anxiety or panic attacks?

Yes, creating anchors to specific resource states. For instance, using Circle of Excellence Process to anchor states of relaxation and confidence and openness. I’d suggest accessing multiple powerful examples of experiences when you were relaxed, confident, and a little curious perhaps. Stack those examples in your “circle” and rehearse accessing the stacked state several times. Then test it by recalling a time when you were mildly anxious and stepping into your circle (triggering the anchor). Rehearse doing that successfully, and when it reliably transforms that memory of anxiety, rehearse with stronger examples.
Then you can generalize it, and even transfer the anchor to a touch anchor if you wish.
You’ll find examples and explanation in the book.

I am in the process of studying NLP and I am having a blast. I’m on my third read of the book in about a month. This website is an incredible addition to the book and I will be sure to study it as well.

I hope to start a practitioner training in March.

Thank you very much.


This is fantastic Tom!

I did a Masters Degree in Psychology and wish I had learnt these

Could this be applied to addiction?

I smile cigarettes and would love to apply the approach
somehow to that unwanted habit.



Yes, several NLP techniques have been used with success to assist in stopping smoking such as the visual swish.
See the example at https://nlpessentialguide.com/home/2-7/#axzz5keAbRC22

Thank you, the videos are great. I’m a Client Centred Hypnotherapist and in the process of reading your book….brilliant

Hi Tom,

Could please explain how to get rid of unwanted (negative ) anchors ?

Thank you,

Hi Yan,

The best way is to find and anchor a stronger resource experience, for instance a time when you were happier, or more curious, or more confident, or peaceful. One that isn’t a direct opposite so much as more resourceful and different in context from the negative experience.
Once you’ve anchored it and used a separator state (my favorite is seeing my phone number backwards to myself) then trigger the positive anchor and when you feel it well engaged, trigger the negative one. That will tend to “collapse” the anchors and neutralize the negative one while the positive resource will remain.

It’s key, of course, to choose and effectively anchor a positive experience or resource that is markedly stronger than the negative one.

Let me know how this works for you.
Tom Dotz

If the anchor is not placed right how do you remove it or re-anchor on the upswing like where you demonstrated?
Can the person touch their own shoulder to bring back the memory? I have heard of using a finger anchor…

Easiest is to think of a more intense/compelling experience and re-anchor it.
Yes, you can self-anchor, as it’s called.
Shoulder or finger or anywhere else, this kind of anchoting is called a “kinesthetic anchor.”

Many thanks, will get practicing and read on

Hello sir,

I’m 21 and ever since I started reading this book I feel knowledgeable and confident and smart. Therefore I use this feeling as an anchor. To be more precise I use the reading of the anchors chapter as my “anchor”. What better than an anchor on an anchor explaining an anchor, right?

During my read through this chapter on anchors I had a thought. Let us assume an hypothetical situation or an experiment, where I use anchor for something bad. Let’s say every time I talk down to my younger brother or make someone feel bad, not that I do or would, I tap them on their shoulder. After a couple of times could this become an anchor for them of bad feeling? Is it possible everytime someone taps them on ther shoulder it brings them back to this feeling?

Now to my second question.when I use that anchor how would the thought of me using the experiment affect me? What kind of affect will it have on my current thoughts?

Thanks for this amazing book. This book is a gift that I can truly open again and again. Looking forward to your answers.

Thanks again

Hi Shreyas,
Yes, this would establish an anchor, which could extend or generalize to being tapped on the shoulder by anyone.
Because you are in the “loop” of that anchor, it would also be highly likely that just your presence would become an anchor for “bad feeling.” That could have quite an impact on your relationship, couldn’t it?
As to your second question, the kinds of affects it could have on you are far too variable to predict. You are actually the one in the best position to answer that question.
If I may suggest, conduct the same experiment with eliciting and anchoring positive feelings. Consider how that is likely to affect
your thinking, and so on. What you can learn is just as extensive, and it’s a much better context, especially regarding unintended consequences.

Hello, I am really enjoying the content of your book and think this will make a big difference to me, but I have a question in relation to anchoring. Once you have tried and tested anchoring and use it in situations where you are not feeling so good and are looking to anchor for a confidence or a positive feeling boost, is there a danger that because you are triggering the anchor at times when you are being tested that instead of feeling more positive you begin to anchor the stacked negative feelings from the situations you are in? Hope I explained this ok. Many thanks

Hi Alex,

Good question, it comes up frequently. Three things you can do to feel assured. First, practice disassociating from the experience before firing your positive state anchor. You can read about how to do that on pages 59 – 60. Then practice with a remembered experience from the past, using your anchor. That will give you a good sense of how to use it in present day life. Last, you can also “stack” more positive states on your existing anchor to build it up. Practicing the “Circle of Excellence” is another good way to rehearse this.

Thanks for asking, and I’m glad you’re enjoying the book!

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