Anchoring

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You’ve had a horrible, horrible shift. The resus went wrong, you couldn’t intubate, the ortho reg was a schmuck. You were glad to finish your shift. You head for the carpark and you can’t wait to get home…

You get to your car and you’ve got a flat. You fu%7*g piece of s!$t. You get everything out of the boot and start to change it……..and of course, it starts to rain.

You finally get home and throw your keys on the table, they hit the glass vase and it breaks. You yell some profanity and your partner runs out to make sure you’re OK. “Who puts a bloody vase there anyway?!”

Imagine if you have a horrible day on a few days. You associate it with work and start to get angry every time you think about going back. Ever had that happen? But you also get angry, every time you get home. You just want some quiet time! You’ve created a negative anchor.

Anchoring is a linking of a feeling with an action or an event, such that the feeling is reproduced very time you are exposed to that ‘situation’. It can affect what you do and how you behave. Aim to create positive anchors.

Let’s revisit the above scenario again and now imagine coming home tired and angry every day and the first thing you see is the face of the one you love. Angry… see them, angry… see them, angry… see them. Soon, every time you see them you get angry. This is the ultimate negative anchor.

Anchors can be positive or negative. Creating strong positive anchors will improve your life.

Now some of you may have doubts. I can tell you that the evidence for visualisation and anchoring is compelling and that these techniques have been used by elite athletes to skyrocket performance.

Have you ever watched a tennis match and wondered why the momentum changes? One player is dominating, getting those freakish, on the line balls, having a forehand that can’t be beaten, running down every ball and scoring some amazing passing shots?

……Then something happens…… and very soon, those shots don’t work any more. The skill and talent is still the same…but something’s changed.

The psychology has changed the physiology.

…. You keep watching and for some strange reason, the tide turns again. Why? What’s changed?

Anchors make or break our performance, in our everyday work, in our learning, in the way we feel towards those most important people in our lives.

What is an anchor and how do we anchor?

I think of an anchor as being a way to reproduce a ‘state’, to get into the ‘zone’. Think of it as getting into a peak mental and physical state. We reproduce an anchor by linking some motion with an emotion.

Have you ever seen a top athlete when they score a win? They celebrate! Their celebration isn’t just a display of joy. It’s actually quite purposeful.

The Lleyton Hewitt “Common!”, followed by the obligatory chest thump, or the Serena Williams punch with a “Yes”, are all ways that athletes anchor.

An anchor is created by linking physiology to psychology, in such a way and so often, that the state can be reproduced by simply reproducing the anchor.

If every time, that Hewitt scores a winning point and is in a state of peak performance and positivity, he yells ‘Common” and does a chest pump, soon, he can reproduce that peak state, by saying the same phrase and performing that same physical motion.

You see that in his tennis matches. He may be down and then starts to reproduce his anchors and the momentum of the game shifts.

You can create your own anchors. When you’re in a peak state- remember a positive state (as anchors can be negative), make some movement and silently utter a phrase. You will be surprised at how quickly, you can get yourself in the ‘zone’,  by reproducing those at other time you wish. The key is to be at a peak star when you introduce the link.

Go ahead, what have you got to lose?

Posted in ,

Dr Peter Kas

Emergency Physician, Educator. Key Interests: Resuscitation, Airway, Emergency Cardiology, Clinical Examination. Creator resus.com.au.

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