Most girls know that when they have their best undies on, they feel more confident! Us ladies will often choose certain items of clothes to wear when we know we are facing a situation that may lead to anxiety.
Many parents will know that absolute fear of their child losing that one toy that they need to get to sleep – the one they always go to when then need to feel safe and secure.
For others, it may be a ‘lucky’ coin, a certain set of earrings, their favourite suit…
I have a pair of boots that my husband calls my scary boots – but when I have these on, I genuinely feel that I can take on the world. The downside is, I can’t wear them all the time (and in some situations they really aren’t appropriate !!)
So how does this work? How can I take on the world if I don’t have my boots on?? What do you do if your lucky coin disappears?
The answer goes back to something called anchoring – it’s a very basic technique of creating a physical trigger for emotions. And it’s something that is very easy to do.
How to create an anchor
Step 1: Choose a place on your body for the anchor. Good places are the flap of skin between your forefinger and thumb, or an ear lobe. It needs to be easily accessible and something you can access in public!
Step 2: Whilst thinking of something that is really positive, gently squeeze your selected place. It is important to really get into the thought and feel the feeling of happiness/gratitude/love etc
Step 3: Let go of the anchor and count to 10.
Step 4: Repeat step 2 with ideally, a different thought/memory. Select memories of something wonderful (wedding day/birth of child/graduating etc) or something you imagine such as sitting on a paradise like beach, driving your most heart desired car, meeting George Clooney etc. It is all about getting into the feelings that thought/memory creates and focusing on them whilst you continue to gently squeeze your anchor point.
Step 5: Repeat the whole process 10 times, each time gently squeezing the same spot.
Step 6: Test the strength of your anchor. By gently squeezing that spot, you should start to feel the positive feelings you have ‘anchored’ there. If not, repeat steps 2& 3 a few more times and then test again.
It is called associative conditioning. The mind starts to associate the pressure on your anchor spot with the positive feelings so that when you ‘trigger’ that spot, it associates that trigger with the feeling and gives you that feeling.
You may relate to your mouth watering when you smell freshly baked bread, or your ‘skin crawling’ at the idea of nails being drawn down a blackboard. These are all associative conditions that have linked a stimulus to a response – even if there is no bread to eat or a blackboard present – the thought alone is the trigger.
And this is the power of the mind that you can now actively use to trigger a positive feeling.
The best approach is to actively use it prior to a situation that would normally leave you feeling anxious. For example, before making a phone call you are dreading, or before doing a presentation you are nervous of. Spending a few moments and using your anchor to trigger the positive emotions will put different chemicals into your blood stream which actively reduce the feeling of anxiety.
Who is up for giving it a go?
PS: And for anyone with children....
When you see your child really excited, or happy, or proud, use this real state of emotion to create an anchor for them. Depending on the age of your child, you may do it for them and can perhaps say you are putting their happy feeling into their hand/ear so that you can easily remember how happy you are right now.
For older kids, get them to do it themselves.
Every time you notice them in that really buoyant state, repeat the anchoring process
The wonderful thing is for children, the anchors are set up much more easily so that you can then use it proactively when they need that boost too.
Caroline Cavanagh is an anxiety specialist and hypnotherapist in Salisbury, Wiltshire. Please get in touch if you would like to know more about her work.