Anchoring is based on the principle that simple kinesthetic, visual, or auditory cues can be associated with more complex phenomena in a person's reality. An anchor works kind of like a push button that can activate a certain area.

People already use their own anchoring systems. For example, if a person has a complexity of stuff in her mind that adds up to the idea that "life is hard", she will talk about it with a certain tonality, she will put her body in a certain posture and so forth. This acts as re-enforcement that continuously pushes the right buttons. If she were talking in a different tonality or using a different posture, it would be much harder to get into the mode of "life being hard".

Anchors work both for the individual and when others do it. If I talk to the person above in the exact way she herself does, and I use similar words, and I use a similar body posture, that would tend to automatically activate her "life is hard" feeling, without any conscious thought being necessary on her part.

Anchors are very specific. It is not just that a generally "sad" voice will have the same effect. In terms of auditory distinctions it might be a very exact tonality, tempo, pitch, exact use of words. Kinesthetically it might be a certain precise touch, a certain position of one's limbs. Visually it might be the sight of a certain gesture, a lifted eyebrow, a smile, or anything else one might see. Seeing a specific old photograph might instantly bring back a whole package of memories and feelings and reactions. Also, smells are powerful anchors in that they tend to bypass the filtering of the mind.

As a process facilitator you need to know about anchoring, because you can't avoid setting up or activating anchors with your clients. You should at least avoid activating negative anchors at the wrong time, but you can also learn to use anchoring more deliberately as another powerful tool of the trade.

To use anchoring you need to be very aware of what the client is doing, and you need to be very aware of what you are doing, and you must have flexibility enough to change your behavior in ways that will work as anchors.

The polarity integration technique is a perfect place to use anchoring skills. We are working with two distinctly different parts of the person. Until we reach the end of the process it is vital to keep those two distinctly separate from each other. You are continuously switching back and forth between the two, and if you mix them up too much, it will be a mess.

Each side of the polarity will appear distinctly different. If you just observe the client carefully, you will notice that she uses a different tone of voice for each, and she adjusts her body position and facial expression when talking about each one. She will certainly use a different set of words when focusing on each one.

Pick up as much as you can from the client's own anchoring scheme. Most important is the use of language. Like, one side might be talking about things one MUST do, about how HARD everything is, about DUTY and NECESSITY. The other side might talk about what one WANTS to do, what is FUN, how FREE one would like to be, and so forth. That makes it very important that you talk to the first side in terms of rigid necessities, and to the second side in terms of fun possibilities. That is the way you get in rapport with each side, as well as the way you mark them out. The free side will not be cooperative if you tell it what it MUST do.

You can also with advantage make your own arbitrary marking system. You establish certain identifiers that differentiate what is what. I would usually assign each polarity its own side, i.e. left or right. I might ask the client to tell me which sides feel best for her, or I might just arbitrarily choose. Then, when I talk to one side, I turn my head slightly in that direction and I move my hands over there also. That sets up an anchoring system that makes it more clear what side we are talking with.

Nothing stops you from using your own arbitrary gestures as anchoring. That works fine if you keep track of what you do. You simply do the gesture when the phenomenon you want to anchor is present. Then later on you can bring it back, at least partially, by repeating the gesture in the same way.

Anchoring is going to work best if the client doesn't consciously have attention on it. Subtle movements that in themselves are nothing out of the ordinary will work best. It is not a conscious tool, it is a tool for being in rapport with the sub-conscious parts of a person.

The advantage of anchors is also that you can activate several at the same time. In polarity integration that is what you would want to do as you are getting towards the end. As the integration has started to take place you can help it along by starting to mix up the anchors. You mix up the language use gradually. You present the thought pattern of one polarity to the other polarity, using its own language. You start making sentences using expressions from both polarities at the same time. "It is your DUTY to have FUN, I am sure you see the NECESSITY for being FREE."

That is totally mysterious for the client consciously, but it works wonderfully. If done too soon, it just won't make sense. But if done when integration is already happening, it has a deep and powerful effect.

Likewise, in polarity integration, we can use the visual and kinesthetic positions of hands to help. You can stretch out your hands, palms up, and ask the client to do the same. Then you ask her to visualize each part in a different hand. That sets up the hands as anchors. As soon as she is sure she has done that, you ask her to put her hands together. And at the same time, you put your hands together and fold them. That merges the two anchors and will promote the merging of the parts really effectively. Particularly if you do it at the same time as you shift your language from marking out the parts sharply to suddenly merging the language anchors. Since all of this works mostly subconsciously, it becomes kind of a mystical experience for the client. She will just feel oddly different suddenly, without having a good explanation for it.

Anchoring is part of a bigger subject of the power of symbols. One simple picture might trigger all kinds of feelings and implications, simply based on what associations have previously been made. If you associate an experience with a simple trigger you can bring back the experience later by activating the trigger.

As with all of our tools, of course, these principles are intended to help people, to increase power of choice, to respect the integrity of the individual.


- Observe another person talking. Notice how she marks out certain states with her tonality or gestures.
- Reproduce another person's anchors yourself. Test if they bring back the state for the person when you do them.
- Get another person to remember a resourceful situation from the past. When she really experiences the state, introduce an arbitrary anchor. Afterwards, test if it works to bring back the state.

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