photo by Kevin Lawver
One of the most powerful tools I have added to my skill set from my hypnosis and NLP training is the understanding of anchors. In an over-simplified sense an anchor is really nothing more than the fact that one thing reminds you of something else, very similar to Pavlov’s classical conditioning.
For example, the smell of just-baked bread can remind you of your grandmother’s kitchen. Freshly cut grass might remind you of the playground when you were a child. Some anchors are stronger than others and they are not always positive. A sharp thumping sound could remind you of an auto accident you were in years ago, making you feel very tense right now.
The most common way anchoring is used in change work is to create one around something that is experienced throughout the day that will now remind us of something positive. For example, in a hypnosis session the suggestion would be set up that every time you see the color red you will think, “I am now a nonsmoker and will be a nonsmoker for the rest of my life.”
We can also use anchors another way: i.e. using ones that already exist to find our way to the roots of our issues and beliefs.
We are constantly creating powerful anchors with the music we listen to. This is particularly true with pop music. Most music is associated with a certain time because we hear it over and over while it’s popular.
Depending on your age when you first heard The New Kids on The Block, The Bee Gees, The Doors, or The Beatles, you are immediately transported to a very specific time and place when you hear them again. (It’s very possible that it just happened even as you read this list.)
These anchors are most powerful between the ages of 11-18, partly because these years are obviously very formative, and also just because of the sheer amount of music most of us listen to when we’re younger.
Developmentally we are moving from dependence to independence during those years, and starting to create our identities as individuals. In the socially dangerous waters of middle and high schools it’s very easy to have intense experiences that will create roots for many of the issues and beliefs we hold today.
Music that we are paying attention to, memorizing the words and melodies of, is playing almost constantly in the background at the same time that we are navigating through the often difficult and confusing experiences of becoming an adult. All of these emotions, thoughts, and beliefs get firmly anchored to these songs. Now we can use these anchors to our advantage.
Because we need to ‘tune’ into an issue first in order to most effectively tap on it, this imbedded music is a perfect and ready-made path straight into the heart of the matter.
Recently some issues have surfaced in my own life. As I tuned in to my feelings I asked this question: “What do these emotions remind me of?” The answer was very clear: being fifteen years old. So I turned to the music I heard the most back then.
I created a playlist, loaded it onto my mp3 player and listened to it while taking my evening walk. My mind was flooded with memories; many of them good, others not so pleasurable.
I tapped while walking, but I didn’t dwell long on any one issue or thought; I just let them come and go with the music. By the time I got home I was much more at peace about what was going in my life right now.
I encourage to you to play with this idea. Find some meaningful music from your past or even your here-and-now. Listen to it and tap away.