Back in the late 1700’s the Scottish novelist-to-be, Walter Scott, was a student at Edinburgh High School. And he was always runner-up to the more articulate and quick-witted boy who invariably came top of the class.
One day, as his rival was speaking in class, Scott noticed that he always fiddled with a particular button on his waistcoat – and recognised the button had emotional significance for his rival.
So, Scott secretly took a scissors and snipped off the button.
The next time the boy stood up to answer a question he began feeling for the button – his anchor.
Failing to find his confidence anchor he stuttered and fell silent.
Scott seized his opportunity, correctly answered the question and henceforth maintained his position as head of the class.
Anchors – before they were called ‘anchors’
For the past 50 years these ‘things which change our feelings’ have been known in NLP as Anchors. They are similar to Stimulus Response patterns or Pavlovian Responses – or even Having your Buttons Pressed!
We consider anchors to be positive when they evoke pleasant or useful feelings whereas negative anchors have the opposite effect and they can be particularly powerful in inter-personal relationships.
Incidentally, Walter Scott who was later to become Sir Walter Scott, later said he felt sorry for the boy – but doesn’t seem to have done anything about this…