Anchoring is one of the most popular techniques in NLP. Most people think that in order to change a habit or some kind of unwanted behaviour, it takes a long time. Not so. NLP Anchoring provides the opportunity for instant change, enabling people to iron out inconvenient behaviours and problems in their lives.

Working mainly with “States” of mind, Anchoring in NLP consists of a variety of processes. Chaining Anchors, Collapsing Anchors, Stacking Anchors being some of the most popular standalone anchoring processes.

Additionally the expert NLP Practitioner will also use Anchoring in a coaching environment to assist the client in associating positive feelings with future challenges and “collapsing” negative feelings about past events.

If you are interested in learning NLP, then you can start learning today and become an NLP Master Practitioner and NLP Master Coach with our online NLP Training Courses.

Here are some examples of how to use Chaining Anchors and Collapse Anchors within an NLP environment to get great results and change:

Once getting into rapport with the client by matching and mirroring, I explained that we were going to do a process called Collapse Anchors in a way to replace her negative state with a more positive state.  The client had become very irritable lately and it had been affecting her relationship with family members, so she was eager to eliminate her agitation quite promptly. The positive state she desired was to feel more relaxed, and the negative was obviously agitated which needed to be collapsed.  I asked her to think of a time when she has become agitated at home recently,

“Can you remember a time when you were really agitated”. I lead her right into that state, remember what it felt like and sounded like. I then had to break that state before proceeding.  I then asked the client to think of a time when she was completely relaxed,”can you remember a time when you felt completely relaxed”, “what did that feel like”, “what do you remember about it “etc.

Again I had to break the state.  I then felt it appropriate to proceed with anchoring the positive state and brought the client back into the state of complete relaxation we previously discussed, whilst touching her knuckle in order to anchor the positive state. I then had to break state before proceeding.

I continued to anchor the negative state which was previously elicited on another knuckle. I had to break state again, then test to make sure the positive and negative states were anchored. In order to integrate the anchors, I put both fingers on the anchors and fired them at the same time. Once the integration became apparent to me, by observing sensory acuity, I released my finger off the negative anchor, held my finger on the positive anchor for a further 5 seconds and then released it. It was important for me to test the effectiveness of the collapsing anchors, and I asked the client what would if feel like to be agitated now and she admitted that she could no longer bring that feeling to the fore.  I also future paced and questioned the client that should a similar situation arise in the future, what might happen or how might she feel, to which the client replied that felt she could remain calm and relaxed without getting annoyed and agitated at her family.  Therefore, this technique was a success for this client.


I got into rapport with the client. I explained that we were going to try a collapse anchor and explained what that meant. I then explained that I would need to touch the person and obtained her agreement. The positive state was one of total motivation, during which the person was up very early and doing jobs in the garden on a cool sunny morning, enjoying the surroundings. The negative state was expecting too much from people, and getting stressed and irritated if they did not meet expectations.

I asked her to get into the positive state first and made sure that I mirrored the state myself. I asked her to float down into her body, see what she saw, hear what she heard and feel what she felt. When she became fully associated and had practised it several times, I touched the knuckle of her little finger. I then asked her to break from the state and talk about. She told me that it was a very pleasant feeling. I then asked her to get into the negative state and become fully associated in it with the same intensity. I then touched the knuckle of her index finger. We broke the state and I asked which was the stronger. She replied that the positive state was stronger.

I fired both states at the same time by touching the two knuckles at once. I released the negative anchor by removing my hand from the negative anchor but left it for five seconds on the positive anchor. I then asked her about her feelings about the old state. She told me that when the two states were integrated the old state had become somewhat diluted and the feeling of irritation decreased. She felt that in the future she would be able to use this tactic to decrease stress. I tried the technique again with a different person. Her positive state was excitement at passing an exam and her negative state was frustration at clutter in her home. I repeated the steps as above and she told me she felt motivated to move the clutter, in fact she could envisage seeing the clutter physically being lifted away and described a feeling similar to her positive state. She felt that in future she would be able to ensure that her house was free of clutter and fully motivated to remove it, as she would be in association with the elevated mood and feelings of success.


My client and I discussed the technique. I explained him that I would touch him during our exercise. We then discussed the states he wanted to work with. The state we were collapsing was fear of public speaking, and the anchoring state was confidence. We used his knees for anchoring of both states. We anchored several positive states of very specific situations where he felt confident on his right knee, and one negative specific state, when he felt fear before a presentation. The test showed that the positive anchor was stronger, when I touched his knees one after another. I then fired both states at the same time (touching both knees), and watched Colin’s face that looked quite confused. Then released the negative anchor, kept the positive for another 5 seconds, then released. I had to repeat it a few times, until the negative anchor wouldn’t ‘fire’ for him any longer. We then future paced his current state and when he thought about the presentation that had created that fear in him again, he couldn’t feel it, instead he felt quite confident.


Chaining Anchors – In this example I practiced chaining anchors with my cousin, who has has been having a very difficult time with her daughter. Firstly I explained what the process involved and if she was okay with that happening,which she was.We are luckily always usually in rapport, so that wasn’t a problem in this instance.I then asked which specific part of the problem she would like to work on.It was her ANGER which was her strongest emotion and biggest problem .We then discussed her desired state ,which she chose as LOVE. I worked out how we were going to get from one to the other.

After closing her eyes,I asked her to tell me about the anger and describe what she feeling and seeing etc,whilst I held her forefinger. I made sure she was associated and she relived certain particularly painful scenarios which had happened.I suggested that we anchor HURT there too, as it seemed the anger was very much stemming from this. As I felt her feelings were peaking we moved on to her next finger, I then released the forefinger.I suggested she could try and put herself into her daughters shoes and see things from her perspective, this naturally led to a feeling of understanding,seeing that her daughters behaviour was stemming from her own personal pain ,which is being caused by other circumstances out of either of their control.

We talked about times SHE had behaved in certain ways which had caused hurt to others, so she could see that she had behaved in similar, if not quite as extreme ways when she was young and knew no other way to cope. This anchor was UNDERSTANDING . It nicely led to the next one which was COMPASSION, she could now see past her own hurt and anger and feel for the daughter who although behaving very badly at the moment ,she loves very much ,which of course was the final finger and desired outcome. I anchored her feelings of love, which obviously had never disappeared but which were being overrided by intense anger and hurt. I held that anchor for some time, until I felt kinesthetically it was right to let go. I asked how she felt about her anger now ,which she said had diminished dramatically after just doing the process once, she really felt compassion, understanding and love.

I think her state changed so quickly because a mothers love is quite indestructible, she really just needed to have the clouds of hurt and anger removed with some logic and positivity,which is so hard to have in the middle of a very stressful situation. I felt it wasn’t appropriate to repeat the process as her feelings had changed so drastically. However, she did say she now felt a deep sadness, so we did the technique again with the sadness as the initial anchor and the desired state as trust-trust that everything would work out eventually and her daughter would return to the person she had been. I explained that by putting love into the situation with her new sense of understanding and compassion, it was putting the best energy possible into the problem, which would give it the best chance to resolve as quickly as possible. Her reaction of anger had just been fuelling the situation. We future paced both the original anchors,anger to love and then the sadness to trust ones. Asking how she now felt she would cope when similar things occur, she said she felt much more confident that she would be able to handle things much more positively now, coming from her new place of compassion, understanding and  love . The same with trusting. Although she felt she would still feel sad, she now knew that she had her anchor of trust and it made her feel she would be much more able to cope and change her state when those feelings occurred. I finally suggested she had a visual reminder, that would ,when she went into either of the negative states/original anchors, remind her of her desired states. We discussed different ideas and she decided on a piece of jewellery,which she has dedicated to remind her of her anchors when she slips into a negative state.

First of all. I prepped the person over the weekend with what we were going to do, so that they had time to think about the states that they wanted to achieve.  I am glad I did this as it helped to do the exercises with them being prepared before I arrived.  It was a truly fascinating evening, and has taken several weeks for me to get here as I wanted to understand how this works in detail by studying many you tube videos on the subject.  I knew that anchoring was a powerful technique, and so I needed a lot of study time in order to understand it as much as I could before I practiced on someone.  Watching various people on YouTube performing them has helped me to get this to sink in, and glad that I took my time before submitting this self reflection as opposed to rushing it.


The problem that we solved with Collapse Anchors technique was:

“Every time I feel invisible, I react by feeling sorry for myself, and I wish I didn’t.”

We spoke about this for a short time to understand in what context she meant.  By invisible she means things like when at work, when she feels that people are talking over her rather than listening to her.  Another example given was when driving and someone cuts her up or overtakes as if she isn’t there, giving a negative feeling about herself and wish she didn’t feel that way.

We spent a long time on anchoring some positive states here.   We started off by discussing which hand she preferred I used, and which knuckle would represent the positive state and negative states.  I felt it was important that she chose rather than I chose for her.  She was in a giggly and happy mood so used that to our advantage.

As the word giggle came up a few times, we started off with that word, and I was definitely giggling at the same time, this was a great experience to share.  We had a story of a cheese and pickle sandwich, along with her dad mentioning the word door, I can’t explain why it was funny, it just was due to the rapport we have and the stories she had.  The stories made us both giggle and I anchored these states on a knuckle for a good 15 seconds, it may have been a little longer, possibly 20 seconds as the intensity of her giggling lasted quite a long time, and I am even smiling as I type this up.

Next we moved on to anchoring laughter as she couldn’t think of another giggling story, but found some great laugh out loud stories, I think there were three of those that we ended up anchoring.

Next, we moved onto confidence, and we discussed when she felt confident.  She spoke of presenting in her class when she was a child, I waited until she drifted off in her own world as she told the story and a smile appeared I anchored that in, it was fascinating to see her picture that in her mind. We also anchored in a meeting with her regional manager, when she felt confident in talking to him about a subject she knew well, and again it was nice to see her light up when the confidence was there.

After that we chose energetic.  She felt energized first thing in the morning thinking about the exciting future ahead of her, and energized after making the first drink in the morning.

For the last positive state, we anchored in exciting, and for this she chose about something that happened that day of telling her manager about the exciting plans she has of working for herself teaching and practicing EFT and Mindfulness.

Now we moved on the negative state to collapse.  This was the feeling of being ignored at work, with inner talk of why am I here and other negative self-talk during those situations.

I then collapsed the anchor and this was truly fascinating, it seemed to take longer than I expected or thought it would take, but she was experiencing several states as the transition took effect and I think it surprised/confused her about what was going on and at the same time I was kind of mesmerized as I watched it take effect.  If I was honest I think I surprised myself about the reaction as it sank in that this is really working.

Future pacing, we discussed how would it feel tomorrow when you are trying to make a point, but think about no one listening to you, and talking over you.

She said I feel quite calm about that actually. Then the magic happened, she smiled to herself.

Then we did some Chaining anchors exercises:

I loved this exercise and I loved how it went.  We discussed several scenarios, and as she said she doesn’t want to feel guilty about certain things, and wants to forgive self about doing so triggered something within me.  I found this a powerful statement, and at first wondered if it would work and whether we could design a chain that would work with that statement.  What I did here was to write guilty on the left of the whiteboard, and forgive self on the right to see how it looked written down.  Once written down I knew we could do something with this as it made more sense as I worked out how to proceed, and knew that this was something that would definitely benefit her.

So with guilty on the left, and forgive self on the right, we then discussed a moving away/toward state.  As we talked, she definitely wanted leave some past events behind and be able to move on so these were powerful emotions within her.  I asked how do you feel about the guilt, and she said it is frustrating when I feel that way.  Frustration to me meant it was a stage after guilt, as this was how she felt afterwards,  and so seemed perfect to choose that as the moving away/toward state.

The third state we spent some time on as we couldn’t figure out how to move on from there until she said I wish I could just forgive myself.  I said is that what you desire, does desire move you closer to forgiveness?  She said yes, definitely, and so desire was the word we chose as moving towards, it fitted just perfectly for this exercise.

So them we had our four states.

Guilty – Frustration – Desire – Forgive self.

Next took a lot of time, we probably spent a good half an hour anchoring these states one by one.  We had at least two scenarios when she felt guilty, so used those to anchor in and this time we used her other hand so not to interfere with the collapsing exercise.

Frustration we had a couple of stories including the feeling of not being heard.

When I moved on to desire, she had a few examples and related this to seeing others as happy.  We spent some time using probably five examples of her desires which involved seeing others happy, others smiling and others laughing, and when anchoring these in I could tell she was getting some enjoyment out of that feeling.

Last, we moved on to forgive self, and this is where it got interesting for me.  We struggled at first because she could not think of any times when she forgave herself which at first was a challenge, so I decided to allow her to think of what it would be like if you did forgive yourself.  Not an ideal state I thought as not natural, but this really helped.  It was interesting that she wanted the state of forgiveness of self, yet could not think of a single time when this happened to her.

The first time she did this, there was a little reaction which I tried to anchor in, but wasn’t convinced so we did it again.  This time as I spoke to her, she closed her eyes as I said feel what it would be like to truly forgive yourself, and there was little sigh and a smile and a little drifting off.  We then broke state as I could see she was trying to access that feeling but not quite there still, I think she was figuring out for herself what forgive self really means to her.  I then said now you are experiencing what it is like for you to forgive yourself, lets do it again.  This time as I spoke to her, getting her to feel the feeling of forgiveness, I said to her feel what is like for XXXX (saying her name) to forgive herself, now is the time for XXXX to truly feel that now is the time for forgiveness, this is your time, and she was truly at peace and happy and anchored that in.

Next, I chained the anchors and this was so exciting to see her reactions as they were chained with different facial expressions.  I took my time gauging when to chain each of them and seeing how she reacts as the exercise continues.

Afterwards, we discussed bringing up the feeling of guilt, and she couldn’t bring up that emotion like she could earlier.  I asked how she feels about the story she told me of her friend, and her guilt within that situation and she replied that she said she felt relief as she had done nothing wrong, nothing to feel guilty over anyway.

I loved this evening, I learnt so much and hopefully I have helped someone with feelings that are unhelpful to them with alternative positive feelings.  We also discussed maybe repeating the exact same exercises sometime to ensure the states are truly anchored.


Fear of earwigs? Collapse that anchor

I did this exercise with my wife.  Since she was little she has had a fear of earwigs as the first house she remembers was frequently invaded by them.

I asked her if she would like to have a less negative reaction towards them and she did.

I explained the anchoring process.  She was a little sceptical but agreed to try it.

We started by identifying 4 positive states (Energetic, Calm, Laughing to the point of tears, Loved)

I completed the anchoring on the small knuckle of her left hand.  It was difficult to identify the peak of the states other than from smiles.  My timing was mostly guesswork so this is something I would need to practice more.

Once we had done that we anchored the feeling of revulsion (her words) that she had about earwigs.  I then collapsed the anchor.  We then repeated the process.

Her feedback was that she thought she felt better about earwigs now.  I future paced and she seemed less disgusted at the prospect of one.  This could be that the anchoring had some effect or it could have been down to the calmness of the process.  I didn’t go out and bring one in to test further but went on to do an NLP swish pattern exercise with her to finally remove the internal pictures that she associated with the earwigs. This worked perfectly!


Chaining anchors for motivation

My daughter recently returned from 6 months volunteering in South Africa.  She had gained a little weight whilst out there (a combination of less exercise options and the stodgy diet provided for volunteers).  She wants to get back to a fit state and lose a few pounds.  She is feeling a bit lethargic and demotivated so we were moving from lethargy to motivation.

The states we moved between were Lethargy, Optimism, Energy and Motivation.

We started with her current state.  The lethargy has her feeling that she can’t do it and it’s hard to get started.  To move her off this I got her to recall a state where she was completely optimistic (and confident) about something.  I then got her to recall a state when she felt completely energised and had a real zest for life, feeling unstoppable.  We then recalled a state of high motivation.  I then chained the anchors and did this 3 times.

This seemed to go ok and we both enjoyed the exercise.  In some ways the second last state of feeling energised appeared more powerful than the motivation state that we finished on.  Either way she felt more positive about getting back into a fitness regime.