How to deal with Negative Anchors

What to do about your negative hot buttons

It happens to everyone.

One minute you’re in a great mood, thinking clearly, looking on the bright side of life. Then something happens and your mood changes and you feel down or irritable.

This occurs because of what NLP calls Negative Anchors. Here is Pegasus NLP we also call them ‘hot buttons’ because it’s as if somebody presses our ‘negative mood’ button and our mood changes instantly! And this can even happen if you are a keen user of NLP, like it did for me the other day.

Rising tension at the supermarket

I was in one of my favourite people-watching places – a supermarket queue.  Shopping finished, I’d scanned the checkouts queues and selected one with just one customer. She had just finished packing her goods and was chatting with the cashier as she was getting her purse. I was looking around watching people in the other queues.

Then I noticed that things had slowed down at my checkout.

The woman and the cashier were still talking and she was entering in numbers into the bank card reader with her face just inches from the reader screen.  Something was going on and by this stage one of the supervisors had joined in.

“No,” said the cashier “your card’s been blocked”.  (Here in the UK if you enter the incorrect PIN number three times the card is blocked – you have to go to a card dispenser or bank to unblock it).

“It’s okay,” said the customer, “I have another card”.

Again there was some discussion among the three of them and, face almost touching the card reader, she entered the numbers.

“No,” said the cashier “that number wasn’t recognised”.

(Now I noticed I was getting impatient and thinking “Oh, for goodness sake, why don’t you give in and use glasses – you obviously can’t see the card reader screen!”)

On her third and final go with that card she got it right and the transaction was accepted!  (“Well, thank heavens for that”, I thought to myself, “I can now pay for my shopping scanned and get out of here – I’ve got things to do!”.)

I wasn’t actually irritable, yet, but was definitely moving in that direction.

The pink fluffy glove

Meanwhile the different bank cards were being put back in the purse, the bags and the gloves were gathered and the woman headed off.

And as I was about to pack my carrier bag I noticed the pink fluffy glove.  “I think she’s forgotten her glove” I said to the cashier.  (I’m quick at summing up situations like this - probably the result of all those years of NLP.)

The cashier shouted after her – but wasn’t heard.

So I grabbed the pink fluffy glove and ran after her.  Fortunately she was still in the store - she had paused to reorganise her purse and her handbag and her shopping bags.  And then I noticed the pink fluffy bootees.  And the pink woolly scarf.

She was about 5 foot high, somewhere in her 50s or 60’s, and looking quite stressed.  She looked up at me with big sad eyes, recognised me, and said “I’m so sorry for holding you up...

Any traces of irritability had faded by now. “You forgot your glove,” I said handing it to her.

Oh, thank you so much – I’m not having a very good day, am I!?”  I said “You’re doing fine – that sort of thing happens to us all at times”.

We smiled and I rushed back to the checkout.

She'd got confused and left her glasses at home, you know” said the cashier “and had got herself into a bit of a state because she couldn’t see to enter the pin code.”

Time for Reg to feel even worse about his impatience.

But surely NLP should make you immune to these things? Well, that’s not quite how it works – NLP doesn’t take away our ability to feel “negative” emotions.

Nor do NLPers go about in a bubble of positivity and happiness all day long.

Okay, some do and for a while. Often because they’ve attended certain types of high-energy be-the-best-you-can-be NLP workshops.

For weeks or months afterwards they go around with a beaming smile, admonishing others for not being ‘positive’ and trying to convert everyone to their born-again version of NLP.

Fortunately for them this phase usually passes before all of their friends have begin avoiding them – or they head off for another happy-clappy-workshop.

Real-world NLP

In the real world NLP works great.

Using it doesn’t make us immune to emotional ups and downs but it gives us the tools to ensure that

We don’t feel bad as often

We don’t feel as bad should a hot button get activated

We don’t remain in the negative mood for long

We learn from setbacks – making them less likely to occur again.

Real-world NLP courses, such as our own 4-day NLP Core Skills provide tools to regain our equilibrium quickly, learn from the experience – and move on.

In my case the fluffy pink gloves and boots and especially, those big sad eyes did it for me. This occurred a few weeks ago and even now I find my “impatience hot button’ doesn’t work quite so well anymore.

So, go easy on yourself, even if you're an NLP-er

And, next time you experience a sudden and unwelcome mood change remind yourself

  1. It wasn’t me – it was just an old trigger”
  2. Right, let’s figure out how that happened...”
  3. Okay, it’s time to zap that Negative Anchor!”

(1) “It wasn’t me – it was just an old trigger”

Accept that having a Hot Button ‘pressed’ isn’t a sin nor is it a personal weakness.

Accept that it was an automatic reaction rather than a deliberate choice. A Negative Anchor is simply learned mind-body programme that you picked up somewhere along the way.

And now that you’ve identified this vulnerability you’re going to make it less easily activated in future.

(2) “Right, let’s figure out how that happened...”

Next you need to figure out what exactly triggered the mood change.

So you think back through the time before the mood change to discover what you reacted to. Was it something NLP and Negative Anchors or 'Hot Buttons'g you saw. Something somebody said – or their tonality – or their ‘look’?

Your target is this trigger – because that was the signal to your neurology and chemistry to change your mood.

(3) “Okay, it’s time to zap that Negative Anchor!”

Encountering this trigger caused your mood to change. You now have to do something about how the trigger affects you – otherwise you’ll always be a victim to it.

The good news is that simply identifying the trigger for a Negative Anchor, then continuing to notice how it affects you each time, can be quite effective in reducing its impact. This is partly because it no longer is operating below the surface and partly because you now have a rationale for your sudden mood changes.

And, if you want to really zap that Negative Anchor use the NLP Swish technique to use visualisation to reduce its power.

More about negative anchors or hot buttons:

The Swish Technique is one of the best way of defusing a negative anchor

How negative anchors operate in families and close relationships

Why 'positive thinking' doesn't work with negative anchors

NLP and anchors in the supermarket...

An NLP technique for regaining your sense of perspective

Negative anchors - they are not our fault

Other articles related to NLP Anchors

Negative anchors and self esteem

Poor weather can be a negative anchor for some people

Anchoring and brands - how marketing uses anchors

Insomnia: the part anchoring plays in staying awake instead of being asleep



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