Can’t Live With Em, Can’t Kill Em: Behavioral Anchoring

Relationships breakdowns are a very expensive process. Not just in the dividing of assets, but also emotionally, physically and mentally.

Anything you can do to turn disaster into a huge success in this department is significantly cheaper in the long run than starting again with the same issues to be repeated in the next relationship. Remember, where ever you go there you are.Changing the scenery will not change who you are and the patterns and beliefs you carry.

As you change on the inside, you will have the ability to get significantly more from the relationships you desire. This is an interesting topic if you have been following the previous articles in which we looked at values and strategies. So what is this post really about?

Behavioural anchoring

I must admit, I love the subject of behavioural anchoring. It is one of those things that is so simple and yet so powerful. However, in general it goes completely unnoticed and unused even though it is the foundation of everything a human does.

Within a relationship, behavioral anchoring can be the make or break element. You may know it by its formal name of a conditioned behavioural response. You know, the famous ring the bell and then feed the dog experiment. This is why I say it is so simple. It takes only a second to install a pattern that can operate for the rest of a person’s life. Equally, it can be used to remove a previously installed conditioned response or anchor in seconds. The rules are simple as well.

This, of course, is all part of the practitioner certification in NLP. All that really has to be present is an emotion plus a unique piece of external stimulus. Oops, sounding complex there all of a sudden.

Imagine you see someone having an intensely happy experience. This is the emotional bit, you go up to them and smile, plus tip your head to the side, this is the unique external stimulus. What happens is the smile, plus head tilt, becomes linked to the person’s emotional state. Simply put, every time you replicate the smile and tilt of your head, the person will remember either consciously, or unconsciously, the feelings of the intensely happy past experience. The great news is you are then able to turn this feeling on for another person.

Now for the not so great news. If you did this by accident that is completed. That would be okay too. It is when you are in the presence of a person in a far less enjoyable state and you apply your unique stimulus, like having your face in theirs. That means every time they see your face, they are consciously or unconsciously reminded of the less than the empowering state. The unique stimulus could just be the sound of your voice. Do you remember the voice of your mother when she was not happy with you? Did she have a unique way of calling your name that meant “I’m in trouble now”.

You might like to also think of this process as a little like a bank account. Everything a person does is either making deposits into the account or withdrawals out of it. Which means today the person is happy and you are in front of them, deposit. Yesterday, they were upset, withdrawal. It is true you can become overdrawn, but it will get to a point where you will be declared bankrupt. The person is looking at the other going “but I was only 5 minutes late, that is no reason to leave the relationship”. It appears that it was a small issue that caused the collapse. It was never one small event, but the series of small events and anchors that produce the inevitable collapse.

I was watching a documentary on a related subject many years ago. Two people hooked up to all sorts of measuring equipment – heart rate and blood pressure monitors, galvanic skin response and the rest. This couple had a history of arguing, definitely on the verge of separation. As they sat in their chairs looking at each other they started to discuss the issues that so annoyed each other. In no time at all, they are yelling at each other and completely out of control. Heart rates racing, blood pressure climbing. Heart rates so high you would think they were in an aerobics class or being chased by a tiger.

As I watch closely, it was easy to notice that as one person looked sad, this look alone triggered anger in the other. The anger, on the other hand, seemed to trigger the look of sadness. Unfortunately for these two, it was like an emotional table tennis match of triggers and emotions. A sad facial expression triggered anger emotion in the other. Anger look triggers sadness. Back and forth, never-ending.. The truly sad thing is they are unaware of the unconscious triggering. They are just like the dog and the bell, they don’t know why they are doing it, it is just happening. This process is making huge withdrawals from the relationship bank account.

Now, you could go out and set up a whole series of positive anchors and fire them. Or you could do something really radical – be observant. Being observant is a challenge, I know, but it is the most rewarding thing you will ever experience. What does your partner like doing, and do it? This may mean stepping out of your comfort zone a little, but well worth it. Spending time on things that are within your partner’s top values will guarantee happy states to anchor upon.

To the NLP practitioners reading this it would be a great idea to utilise the collapsing anchor process you have learnt. It is a sure and easy way to make a few deposits and prevent a negative cycle from getting out of control.

As strange as this may seem, relationships are never with another person. They are only with you. As you change your attitude and points of focus, so to will your quality of relationships change. Being nicer to yourself. Being observant to things that really matter to you. It is these things that lead to true relationship happiness.

People on the outside of you are there for only one reason, that is to be a mirror to look into. The nicer, more respectful you are to them it requires that you be more respect full to yourself.

As you pay attention to another’s values you will discover yours. As you become aware of another unique way of doing things, or strategies, you will appreciate your own. As you become aware of the anchors you set for others, in turn, you will be aware of your own and be able to stop the instantaneous emotional reaction if you choose to.

The simple message is love and respect one another. By doing so, we come to love and accept ourselves.

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