Anchoring is an NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) term used to describe the mind’s tendency to associate two unrelated events or experiences, especially when a strong emotion is present.
For example, if your mother fed you chicken soup when you were ill as a child, you will always associate chicken soup to being loved and cared for.
On the down side, if you once contracted food poisoning from eating tainted pickles, just the smell of pickles will be enough to bring on a feeling of nausea many years after the event.
How does anchoring work in relationships?
If you come home from work elated by a promotion and see your lover’s face, you will link that feeling of elation to the sight of his or her face. By the same token, if you hate your job and constantly talk about those feelings over dinner with your spouse, you’ll unconsciously begin to associate the bad feelings with him or her.
In that case, you must make a conscious effort to share more good times with them so you will more readily associate positive feelings to the sight of their face.
Sharing good times creates positive anchors or associations. It helps you to weather the less positive times that every couple experiences at some stage in their relationship.
Breaking up is often the result of linking too many negative anchors to the sight of your partner’s face, with no knowledge of how to counteract them by deliberately creating positive ones.
Here’s a common example. A young doctor whose wife works to help him through medical school may decide to divorce her after he graduates. This is because he associates the sight of her face to the hard times they experienced during those years. Of course this is all unconscious… all he knows is that he feels bad whenever he looks at her. He mistakenly takes this as a sign that the relationship isn’t working.
Now that you know how anchoring works, use it intentionally to improve your relationship.
1. Plan positive events together and make sure you don’t let any negativity intrude on the event. Save arguments or disagreements for a later time.
2. During the height of an intensely positive moment you are sharing,
(a) touch your loved one lightly on the knee or arm,
(b) squeeze the person’s hand, or
(c) put your arms around him or her.
The next time you repeat the same gesture with this person in some other context, it will reawaken some of those original emotions in them.
In a similar way, if you touch someone in a specific way when they are feeling sad, for example, you squeeze their shoulder or put an arm around them at a funeral, touching them later in the same way will reawaken those feelings of sadness. So be careful about what sorts of emotions you are associating to your touch, words or face.
How does this apply to gifts?
A gift is by it’s nature an anchor. Every time the recipient looks at the gift, they will remember the occasion when they received it, especially if they experienced strong emotions at the time.
So you can help guarantee that your gift will be a strong ongoing anchor if you make sure that you create a truly memorable experience… such as an extremely romantic evening – when you present the gift.
A woman will always remember following a trail of rose petals in her lover’s apartment to find the necklace he purchased for her birthday.
A man will always remember being presented with his own personal star by a lover dressed only in a star-patterned bra and g-string.
It’s also important to consider the opposite effect. Never give a gift by way of apology. You don’t want to create negative anchors by giving gifts after an argument.
If you give your wife a diamond ring to apologize for the fact that she caught you cheating with your secretary, the ring will always remind her of your infidelity.
If you give your husband a new watch to apologize for crashing his BMW, he’ll remember your transgression every time he checks the time.
Even if those memories don’t make it to conscious awareness, they’re lurking just under the surface. It makes better sense to allow them to fade away, instead of attaching them to physical objects like gifts.
Keep things simple. A genuine apology is all that’s required after an argument. Save gifts for positive occasions.
© Marguerite Bonneville.
Marguerite Bonneville is a Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) whose passion is publishing information online. She is a contributing writer at http://www.romantic-gift-ideas-online.com, a resource site dedicated to helping visitors find the perfect romantic gift.