One thing you’ve probably noticed when you stammer is the fear associated with doing so. For example, this fear could be linked to saying certain words, or it could be connected with speaking to particular people. Another way of looking at this is through the connection between a stimulus and a response. Let’s say for example you find it difficult to speak to people in authority. When you find yourself in a scenario where you are required to speak to your superiors, you get fearful because you believe you will stammer. In this case, speaking to your bosses is the stimulus. The response, which happens within you, is the generation of fear.
In the field of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), there is a concept known as an anchor. An anchor is another way of describing the link between a stimulus and a response. As a person who stammers you might have created multiple unhelpful anchors. Not only may you have create anchors associated with actual speaking situations you’re about to go into (e.g. creating a response of feeling inadequate when talking to an unfamiliar person), you may have created anchors associated with actual memories of stammering. An example of this could be remembering a time (having a thought) about when you were speaking with a stranger and feeling inadequate in your body as a response to this thought.
However, not all anchors need to set off negative emotions in you. Interestingly, you can engineer anchors within you to set off helpful responses such as self- confidence and high self-esteem; emotions that can actually help you to overcome the fear of stammering. The following technique includes 4 steps you can use to create an anchor, which can help you approach a speaking situation where you normally get fearful, with confidence instead. The example used to illustrate the technique involves creating an anchor to help you pick up the phone and make a call, which is a common fearful situation for people who stammer. However, you can use the technique to help you deal with any situation where you’re fearful you will stammer (e.g. introducing yourself to a new person).
Creating an NLP Anchor to Help Overcome the Fear of Stammering
1. Experience the state you want
Remember a time when you were confident (or whatever state you want to create). Perhaps you gave a presentation to your entire team at work really confidently and you just knew you did really well. As you do, just allow yourself to see and feel exactly what you did at that time. Also hear the sounds you did that time. Keep doing this really vividly until you find yourself back in the same state you were when you gave the presentation.
If you can’t remember a time, just imagine what it would be like if you were confident!
When you feel you are experiencing this state as strongly as you can, try to increase it a little more. Get the state as clean and pure as possible and avoid other thoughts associated with other emotions. You want to get this confidence as strong as possible!
2. Set the anchor
When your confidence is at its peak, you now set the external stimulus (or anchor). Timing is very important so do this when you know your confidence is at its highest. The anchor can be a touch on your body in a discreet place, such as a pressing the top of your left shoulder with your first two fingers on your right hand. Or it could be pressing your thumb and index finger on your right hand together firmly.
Give yourself some time to create the anchor properly. For instance if your anchor is touching your thumb and index finger together on a particular hand, then do this for around 10-15 seconds.
You can even use a voice to support your touch anchor. It could be a word you say out loud such as “confidence”. You can also say it to yourself if you want it available more discreetly.
3. Test the anchor
Next come back to the real world for a moment, to the here and now! It’s time to see if this has worked! Go ahead and fire off your anchor by touching the exact location with the same amount of pressure. For instance if the anchor you set was pressing your right thumb and index finger firmly, then do this and allow yourself to access your juicy state of confidence.
4. Use it for making a phone call (or whatever it is you want to do)
Now it’s time to use this new powerful resource in the real world before you make a phone call. You know the person you want to speak with. You have his/her number. Go ahead and use your anchor. Allow the confident state to permeate throughout your whole mind-body and pick that phone up!
Similarly, if you hear the phone ring, and you want to pick it up, before you answer, use your anchor and then answer the phone
So there you have it. I’ve provided an outline of how you can use anchoring as a tool to create a new empowering state that will help you in overcoming the fear of talking on the phone, and approach doing so with confidence.
Bodenhamer, B.G. and Hall, L.M., 1999. The User’s Manual For The Brain Volume 1. Carmarthen, Wales: Crown House Publishing.
If you’re looking for an NLP practitioner to assist you in overcoming the fear of stammering, you might want to take at the NLP coaching I offer to people who stammer (PWS).
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