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Anchors Away: A Key To Ending Conflict & Triggering Peak Performance

Mastering the skill of anchoring and change virtually any area of your life.

Remember your first love? The phone ringing was enough to send chills down your spine. A positive anchor so strong that your beloved could display a dozen bad habits and you wouldn’t even bat an eye.

Why do some relationships that start out so good turn south and never come up to see the bright sky again? Why do our kids roll their eyes and do just the opposite of what we ask when we’re only trying to protect them?

Twenty-seven years ago my husband and I purchased a small business. Those initial years were stressful. It was common for us to work into the night with an infant in tow. Sleepless nights, endless missteps, and a learning curve the size of a mountain, the pressure began to take its toll on our relationship.

As new parents and business owners, we felt the tension. When I was home and heard the garage opening, I’d feel the hairs rise on the back of my neck like a dog who spots an unwelcome visitor. Shields of armor zipped over every inch of my body like Robert Downey, Jr. in the movie, Ironman. Rather than a warm embrace, I gave my husband a stiff arm. But why?  It took many rough months to figure this out.

I had created an anchor and reinforced it so much that it was imbedded deep and wouldn’t budge. My ship was stuck. The ebbs and flows of the sea could not lead me to calmer waters.

According to strategic interventionist, Tony Robbins,

“Whenever you’re in an intense emotional state, anything that constantly happens around you while you’re in the peak of that state gets associated to it.”

Think about a song that immediately takes you back to a memorable time in your past. You’ve linked the song to that memory and to your state of mind at that time. This is called anchoring.

Take conscious control of your anchors and improve your life and relationships. I did and it made all the difference.

Here’s how.

Put yourself into a peak emotional state.

Anchors are established at times of excitement, anguish, passion, or anger. The key is to anchor, or link, a behavior you want with a positive emotional state.

I have songs on my iPod that put me in a peak emotional state when I go out for a run. I anchor the song to the run which helps me look forward to the workout.

Within the first years of building our business, I was in a state of high anxiety and uncertainty every moment  at work. I subconsciously linked my husband’s presence to that emotional state.

Swap anchors.

In order to rid yourself of a negative anchor you need to swap it with a positive one.

Once I realized that my irritable behavior with my husband was linked to my frustrations with our business and had nothing to do with him personally, I was able to swap my negative anchor for a positive one. We created this Friday night ritual that was a blast. We went to our favorite restaurant, ate our favorite appetizer, had our favorite drink and talking about business was off limits.

After repeating this ritual several weeks, the anchor triggered when I heard the garage open was back to my best friend arriving home rather than my struggling business not wanting to leave me alone after hours.

Use anchors to trigger results you want.

Create unique rituals or gestures when in a desired peak state.

For example, if you score a goal in a game or give a great presentation at work, anchor that state immediately with a phrase you say to yourself such as “Nailed it!” or hit your fist in your hand. It doesn’t matter what it is, only that it’s unique and you do it when in the peak state of emotion.

Next time you want to snap into that state, say that same phrase or perform that gesture. Professional athletes create masterful anchors to achieve peak states all the time.

Anchors in life, as with ships, only hold if they are dug in.

Repeat and reinforce anchors to make them effective.

If you and your spouse are having difficulties, replacing negative anchors with positive ones is part of the answer. However, one date night is not going to miraculously cure your relationship.

Anchors are controlled over time through consistent, conscious linking of a positive emotional state with an action.

If the mere presence of someone puts you on edge, you’ve created a negative anchor. Until you change that unconscious auto-response, your relationship doesn’t stand a chance.

Children with negative attitudes toward their parents are grounded in negative anchors. The very sight of a parent incites anger. To change this, parents can manipulate that anchor by engaging in activities that excite their child that have no resemblance to the typical interaction.

Initially, you are just disrupting the pre-existing pattern. If you are consistent and repetitive, you can effectively replace the negative anchors with positive ones.

Be prepared to take a hard look at yourself. Jealousy, resentment, and low feelings of self worth can turn anchors into reflections you’d rather not see. If you’re always screaming at your kids, to transform their anchor, you’re forced to address your own.

Your health, relationships, and habits are impacted by these triggered responses you have connected over time in peak emotional states.

Know you’re at the helm in calm or stormy seas with the power to change course at any time.

"If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment." Marcus Aurelius


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  1. Mark L. Willens #

    Excellent insights “anchored” by your honesty in their telling.

    October 22, 2012

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