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 (28)

I’ve tried the standard collapse anchor without success.
I was wondering if there is an NLP technique, where one fires of opposite anchors (one negative, one positive) alternately? First one, then the other, back to one, then the other. I wonder if that would be a way similar to EFT to collapse an anchor.

One of the most significant skills in anchoring is for a person creating an anchor for themselves c is to be able to readily associate deeply ,
and have a knowledge of when the emotion reaches its peak / anchor here / and then almost abruptly discontinue the anchoring process as the peak dissipate rapidly
and that dissipation is not required !!
not everyone associates easily according to their history etc
Therefore states of dissociation and association vary somewhat in each individual . so when eliciting the desired state it must be created with the ability to truly associate into the emotion or sense required it would be interesting if a person does not create an anchor well , then use their dominant modality instead or even a dominant sub modality
or on the other hand their lead system would be interesting to install. or even install a useful and rich trigger / stimulus that has a rich emotion attached .
This would require truly exploring before installing and maybe practicing
but ultimately the kinaesthetic system is the most usual
the joy of being skillful in NLP ia also the joy of being creative

Amazing concept. Amazing questions in the comments. Amazing feedback.

Some might say I’m bipolar because of the sharply contrasting emotional states I seem bounce between. The problem with medications is they reduce the extremes of all the emotional states. I happen to really enjoy my focus, productivity, and creativity in my “reality bending joyful state.” My favorite achievements, interactions and ideas happen there. The problem is my “reality bending depression state.” Where basic functionality is an uphill battle. Recently I’ve been combating my swing by consciously checking what state I’m in and purposely tuning into the joyful state. I found that frequently purposely choosing my state prevents me from unknownly having switches states and realizing I’ve been depressed for weeks.

NOW YOU’RE TELLING ME I CAN PRACTICE A KINESTHETIC ANCHOR TO REFOCUS AND ENHANCE MY DESIRED STATE OF MIND??? I’m dancer. This concept is so practical and intuitive from my life experiences that I immediately jumped into my “reality bending joyful state.” I can’t even begin to quantify the positive impact this will have on me, my family and everyone I interact with directly or indirectly in the future. I think I even know what triggers I created and consistently practiced that nudges me into the depression state. GAME CHANGER. Thank you so much for developing and communicating this revolutionary concept so that it’s public, digestible, and actionable. Can’t wait to explore the rest of this site 🙂

Speaking of GAME CHANGER. I found this concept while researching the life changing process crossdresser/transgender/non-binary individuals must go through to navigate there identities. It’s such an intensive process people never casually change their gender identity from curiosity alone. One of the most crucial changes necessary for believing your new identity is your voice. Unobviously, training or operating on your vocal chords is not enough. When speech pathologists integrated kinesthetic anchors the game was changed. Voice conversion scaled internationally and the lives of the community was instantly made easier. Interesting to see the unexpected impact of this simple yet practical technique.

Looking forward to reading the book.

Hi Tom,
I have flirted with hypnosis, self help and NLP on and off over the past 10 years or so after becoming obsessed with mental magic in the style of British performer Derren Brown. After realising that these techniques hold more than “a few tricks” I’ve become more interested in psychology as whole, studying Jordan Peterson, Carl Jung, Friedrich Neitzche(?) Milton Erickson and of course Richard Bandler without ever being able to make any effective changes. I have high functioning autism and struggle with a lot of the “ kinaesthetic” style anchoring and many of the techniques. I understand how and why they work but I’m struggling to apply them to myself. Is there any additional reading you could suggest that may help to figure out how to readily acccess emotional states.
Knowledge the way but not being able to navigate the path is frustrating but I’d like to work through it as I feel it could help in all aspects of my life.
Sorry for the essay
Any advice would be greatly received


Hi Mick,
The last few weeks have been filled with the launch of our new online course. Getting to your question, in terms of reading aimed at uncovering emotions books by Leslie Cameron Bandler come to mind “Emotional Hostage” is one. She’s one of the original NLP team and was instrumental in creating many of the early patterns and the first NLP Practitioner training.
However I also suggest you consider working with a skilled practitioner, and I can highly recommend Connirae Andreas, conniraea@gmail.com and Sahna Carmona sahna@sahna.net. They both work via phone, and if they are not a fit, may know of someone specializing in your area of concern.
Best regards,
Tom Dotz

I really struggle with feeling things, having emotions about things in the past. This makes anchoring very difficult. It’s not like I don’t have any good memories but when I recall them I don’t feel anything, no warm and fuzzies or happiness or anything. Is there a technique or a practice that can help me with this?

Hi Scott,
There isn’t any one process intended specifically for this. The closest thing is more of a practice. And you can use anchoring to assist with this. Simply think of a feeling that you’re aware of having had or one that you have right now. A pleasant one of course and one that’s fairly light, not incredibly powerful just identifiable.
For me that would be perhaps contentment, the key is to choose a pleasant feeling that you can readily identify. Imagine that feeling and set a kinesthetic anchor perhaps on your touch on your arm. Holding that anchor let it remind you of a previous time when you had the same feeling, and continue letting it remind you of experiences of that feeling.
What we’re going for here is just to start building multiple identified experiences of a feeling. So when you have done a half dozen or so, release the anchor, do a “separator state” like reciting your phone number backward, pick a different pleasant feeling, and repeat the process.
Another way is to use a sliding anchor to increase or enhance the experience of a feeling. A sliding anchor is a kinesthetic anchor that increases the amplitude of the anchored state as the touch is moved. Specifically a touch on the arm is moved up the arm as the intensity of the feeling is increased.
You can practice either of these in any spare moments you have almost anywhere. Over time you’ll find this increases your awareness of your feelings.
So play around with these and let me know how it goes, ok?

Hey Scott,

I don’t have any professional training supporting what I’m about to share but I have been navigating my mind for most of my life. I also don’t naturally feel the emotional states when accessing a memory. I never thought it was weird until I realized people often access memories to relive those emotions and share stories to share the emotions of their experiences not just the facts. That being said, I have a method that words for me to gain access to that memories emotion. Conceptually, emotions, memories, etc… interpret-able brain functions are all kinda connected like a network. There are plenty of paths to get to the same place. Figure out what emotions you expected feel with the memories. Search the internet for images, books, or videos expressing those emotions. Try your best to mirror that emotion accurately. Then think about the memory while in that mirrored emotional state.

Example: Motivated in college. Have memories of being motivated. Yet, I can’t feel that overwhelming flow of motivation from revisiting that memory. I can’t even remember what that feeling felt like. Luckily, anime and cartoons have plenty of examples with unreasonably exaggerated emotions. Have you seen One Piece? Highly recommended. This kid is a pirate who can’t swim, doesn’t know how to sail, and can’t cook. “All he wants” is to become King of the Pirates. Facts, logic, and even death can’t reduce his motivation. Plenty of high quality fight scenes where he challenges some of the strongest characters in the universe, fails and nearly dies, tries new strategies and technically dies, relies on luck of the universe to heal him, then confidently continues the fight. Technically… he probably has some mental issues in order to maintain this level of determination. Anyway, I passionately rehearsed his disillusionaly confident words, emotions, and facial expressions to the best of my ability. Then, while in the artificial yet very real emotional state of unstoppable motivation is present, I think about the college memories when I was motivated and boom. The spark hit the kindle and we have fire. Probably should add a trigger while I’m here lol

Hopefully this comment gets accepted. Hopefully it helps.

Hi Scott
what is not always emphasized in Anchoring is the ability to associate or dissociate at will.
Many humans have this and therefore anchoring , collapsing anchors etc are simple .
But for those who find associating due to some history might have difficulty . also those who have pre selected ( Unconsciously) their prime association or dissasoctitve states in certain situations
for example associating into the discomforts or fear etc and dissociating into the pleasure states.
tis then will impede satisfactory pleasure anchors so the requires developing options for before trying to anchor ‘ pleasure states i learned NLP with John Grinder in1980 in the first classes in Canada in Montreal and I have either been teaching guiding , creating and continuing to learn ever since. i is a rich set of skills to have to be used with discretion and honour.

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?

Oh, yeah! This perfectly makes sense.
I tried using a kinesthetic anchor, pressing the second knuckle of the middle finger of my left hand by the thumb, to access the confident and achievement states. I think, I should rehearse it more to get better results, or try using a sliding anchor, as you said.

However, do kinesthetic anchors need a context to access the state you connect to them?

Hi Ayush,
Kinesthetic anchors are not context specific, necessarily. My suggestion was that for some outcomes a specific context may be more effective.

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!

Leave a comment