This week’s Pegasus NLP Newsletter is about negative anchors and how, unless dealt with, they can result in our feeling as if our moods just happen to us – as if we’re on autopilot.

In NLP workshops we examine how negative anchors work e.g. you’re going through your day, feeling fine, and then something happens which for you is a negative anchor and that’s it – instant mood change! So you feel bad for a while and then get yourself back on track.

However the most serious aspect of having lots of unconscious negative anchors is their impact, over time, on our self-esteem. We know we ‘shouldn’t’ respond to these triggers. We know we ‘should’ be more positive. So we read lots of positive thinking books which make it all sound so easy. And we make endless ‘new starts’ where we’re going to be positive, going to be more in charge of our moods, going to not let things get to us and so on.

But the negative anchors still get to us.Our negative moods continue to happen automatically.

Why? Because traditional ‘positive thinking’ methods simply don’t work with these hot buttons. Negative anchors are pretty well immune to intellectual approaches. It’s as if they bypass the intellect and head straight for the emotions.

But not knowing this can result in our thinking we’re to blame – when it’s really just a matter of not using the right approach…

4 thoughts on “Being on (negative) autopilot!”

  1. I believe that the process of negative and positive anchors develop from repetative thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that we reherse so often that the entire process of anchor activation (through stimulus) and our reaction to the expression of anchors, can seem automatic.

    It seems to me that beliefs work very much or identical to this process and may indeed describe the same process. Let’s look at an example…

    I believe (or anchor the thought, feeling, and behaviour) that I can drive my car safely and legally. I believe this (a further anchor of thought, feeling and behaviour) based on evaluation of the environmental feedback including my kineastetic sensations, a driving history without a ticket or accident, and the (non-complete) observations of passengers whilst I drive.

    This anchor or belief is an on-going process. The more I rehearse the thoughts, feelings and behaviour of driving “safely and legally” the more often I will behave and feel emotionally consistent with the anchor.

    The triggers that I respond to in context to this anchor have remained similar day-to-day. But what happens to the anchor when I have not paid attention to my forward speed and in flash I receive a summons to appear in court or admit my “guilt” and pay the fine, and receive 3 (or more) penalty points? That’s another belief process triggered by the process of what and how I’ve rehersed the response to this scenario.

    When you are driving your car do you feel relaxed or tense? Is the tense feeling because you are engaged in the process of anticipating fear of being flashed or pulled over by the police or are you relaxed because you are engaged in the process of thoughts, feelings, and behaviour that enable you to feel that way?

    I believe that “positive thinking” is as effective as a chocolate fireguard. It appears to be effective but distorts and melts away at the smallest of temperature increases. What works the best (for me) and appears to work for those I’ve worked with, is when our individual thinking, feeling, and behaviour processes are working together.

    It seems to me that we can create any kind of anchor we want provided we understand that to create an anchor we must first move beyond simply “thinking” about feeling positive (for example) and begin to coordinate our thinking, feeling, and behaving processes. This takes practice.

    Think back to when you first got into a car when you were learning to drive. For some people there were moments of uncertainty: “Is it manoeuvre, mirror, indicate or something else?” And then there was the clutch, shifter, and accelleration or stopping.

    In the beginning some may have felt they were not very practiced and the anchor rehersed up to this point may have been negative. Yet, within a very short time, we began to FEEL our confidence improve because we began to anchor positively with our thoughts, feelings, and behaviour…they were working in sync and we passed our test and off we went.

    Learning how to engage our thinking, feeling, and behaving simultaneously is one approach.

    (29 December 2013: The link-back to Mike’s site is no longer working

  2. When something is bothering me I say out loud three times ‘forget it, it’s not important’. It’s might take a couple of hours or sometimes just minutes but the worry always fades to nothing. Why does this happen? Because our brain (sub-conscious) works on instructions and most of the time we feed it rubbish. What you say to yourself is vitally important if you want to change. For instance if you say something like ‘How could I be so stupid’ your brain will comply and make you more so.

  3. And, if you like, you can also comment on my decision to replace ‘Driving your own bus’ with ‘Being more in charge of you’ as a title for this series J)

    why not a combination of the two like a slogan or mission statement ‘Being more in charge of you – Driving your own bus’.

    works for me as trigger if i allow others to alter my mood i jump straight in with my triggger…someone else is driving my bus – WHY…trigger… thats better back on the right route.

    Negative thoughts – these can be quite demoralising but when I know I’am having one/them i simply recognise that I am which normally dispells the 0-5 strength ones. For the slightly stronger 5-10 negative thoughts I use an analogy… a negative thought only has one reply which for me is not really thinking (i.e now there is a thought) because i cannot reason with this equals that. A positive thought however envokes in me many possabilities some scary but good others great, instantly i am thinking and feeling differently, more empowering beliefs…then onto something new.

  4. Chris, your asked: “When something is bothering me I say out loud three times ‘forget it, it’s not important’. It’s might take a couple of hours or sometimes just minutes but the worry always fades to nothing. Why does this happen?”

    Probably because you’ve spent time developing this skill. So it works for you – though mightn’t for someone just beginning to use it.

    When we say to ourselves ‘Don’t be so stupid’ we are using what, in the NLP Milton Model, is called a negative command. It’s the ‘don’t think of orange’ phenomenon – our automatic response to this command is to first think of orange and then try to get rid of that image – but while doing the latter the image is being processed by all of our neurology.

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