If you are close to my age (I was born 12 days after the 60s started) you may remember a bit by the Three Stooges called Niagara Falls. Every time Moe hears the word Niagara Falls, he goes into a rant about his girl running off on him and beats up on Curly.
This is a humorous example of a trigger – something that happens that makes us feel an emotion or exhibit a behavior. There are positive triggers and negative triggers depending on how they make us feel.
An example of a positive trigger for me would be the smell of a gardenia. When I smell a gardenia I think of pleasant memories from childhood: playing in the sprinkler on a hot summer day in our back ward where gardenias bloomed.
A negative trigger would be when you look in your rear view mirror and see a police car with flashing lights. Makes me feel yucky thinking about it.
Unfortunately, many of us have negative triggers that are much more frequent than seeing a police car in your rear view mirror. Common examples are a supervisor or boss, a fellow employee, a phone call or even a discussion about a particular subject with a particular person. This is an example of conditioned response; something happens, and before we know it we are angry or irritated, sad or blue, uncomfortable or anxious.
I’d like to share a very simple technique that I use with just about every client to help them deal with those common everyday negative triggers. I call this technique anchoring, or using an anchor.
Thinking about the common usage of the word anchor, think of a ship in a harbor. If a big storm or hurricane came along, you would want to have your ship’s anchor dropped to prevent you from being blown out to sea, capsized, or smashed on the rocks. In the same way, a positive anchor keeps you calm and in control when the storms of life come along as they inevitably do. A positive anchor is simply a positive trigger. I’m going to show you how to create a physical anchor.
Here’s what you do:
- Sit or lie down in a comfortable position, take a few deep breaths, and allow yourself to get centered and grounded. Take your shoes off and loosen and tight clothing. Do this at a time when you are NOT being negatively triggered, but are feeling neutral, or relaxed and calm.
- Taking just a minute or two, focus on your body with the aim of releasing tension and stress in your body. Begin by taking a few deep breaths. Focus on your feet first, and notice any sensations or feelings that are pleasant in your feet. You might feel tingling, warmth, coolness, whatever. Just make sure it’s a comfortable or at least neutral sensation.
- Tell yourself, either in your mind or out loud “This tingly feeling/sensation (or whatever feeling you feel) is relaxing me more and more with every breath I take. I feel this relaxation moving into my heels and my ankles.” Continue to focus on each body part, relaxing the body part by part. This can be done in one to three minutes, or if you are a person who is wound pretty tight, it might take five minutes.
- After relaxing your body, imagine, pretend, visualize or remember a place that you have been to, seen photos of, or perhaps can just create in your mind, that is the most relaxing place you can think of to be. Common examples are the beach, the mountains, a lake, a garden or even your backyard or some place in your house. The idea is to see if you can bring up the same feelings of calm, relaxation, peace, serenity, comfort etc. that you would feel if you were really there. Try to imagine what you would see, hear, smell, taste if you were in that place. Imagine laying down, sitting or standing. (note: some people aren’t great at visualizing. Instead, try to get a sense of, feeling of, or memory of what it would be like to be at this peaceful place. Try to get in touch as much as possible with the positive feelings, that’s what is important.
- Now do something physical. I teach my clients to rub their thumb against the first two fingers of their dominant hand (or use both hands.) Some people just touch them together. This is discreet and can be done, for example, in front of a person that is negatively triggering you.
- While doing the physical anchor, take three deep breaths. On the exhalation of each breath, say a word or mantra or affirmation that will support you in feeling how you want to feel. For example, you might say to yourself “I am calm” or “Relax” or “Peace.” Whatever works for you, keep it short and simple.
- For about 30 seconds or so, just imagine you’re in your peaceful place, while rubbing your fingers together to anchor the positive feelings into your body.
To summarize, First get yourself comfortable, centered and grounded, breathing deeply, and relaxing the body, then imagine a “special place”, using all the senses to get connected to being there, especially positive feelings, then do something physical with the body to anchor the feelings into your body while breathing deeply with a positive affirmation on the exhale. The whole thing should not take more than 5 minutes, ten at the max.
The next time you feel yourself being triggered by a certain negative situation or person, rub the fingers together, take three deep breaths and say out loud or in your mind your phrase. You will feel different immediately. This works for most people, but not all.
I usually do this type on anchoring while my client is in hypnosis so it that it takes effect right away. I would do it three times in a week just to make sure. The key is to feel the positive emotions while doing the physical anchor anchor with the breathing and affirmations.
Questions? Email me or use the comment section below.
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Your companion on the path to transformation,
Ted A. MorenoCertified Hypnotherapist Success Performance Coach