I am Pavlov’s Dog!

Many adults have experienced insomnia or sleeplessness at some point.  It’s estimated that 30%-50% of the general population are affected by insomnia.

The record for the longest period without sleep is 18 days, 21 hours, 40 minutes in a rocking chair marathon according to Australia’s National Sleep Project.

Did you know that anything less than 5 minutes to fall asleep at night means you’re sleep deprived?  The ideal is 10 – 15 minutes, so you’re tired enough and yet not exhausted.

It’s also been estimated that a new addition to the family typically results in 400-750 hours lost sleep for parents in the first 365 days.  And one of the best predictors of insomnia in later life is the development of bad habits after sleep disturbance by young children.

Sleeping one extra hour a night can lower your heart attack risk by 33%.

Skimping on sleep raises risk for everything from high blood pressure to heart failure, stroke, diabetes, fatal heart disease, and even obesity.  And stress significantly increases your risk of sleepless nights.

Like so many people I’ve had my share of sleepless nights.  My mind raced, refusing to slow down after a stressful day.  My thoughts just kept looping, over and over, through my brain.  And then there were those nights where I would just stare at the ceiling for hours on end for no apparent reason.

Now I have two little blue buddies that knock me out whenever and wherever I want.  Just as Pavlov’s dogs were conditioned, or in NLP we call it anchored, to believe a bell ringing meant they were about to be fed.  So I am anchored to the fact that popping in my little blue friends means it’s time to sleep.

So how do I do it?  Its simple.  My little blue buddies are ear plugs.

So what actually is anchoring?  It’s a process of stimulus-response.  Once an anchor is set up then you can apply the exact same stimulus and you’ll get the same response.  Time after time after time. So put in my ear plugs and my body recognizes that as the stimulus to sleep.  And out I go.

Anchoring allows you to gain access to past states and links those past states to the present.  That could be a link to a deeply relaxed state for sleep.  It might be a confident state for presenting.  Or it could even be a motivated state to get you through that next workout.

The first person to notice anchoring was a medical doctor named Twitmeyer.  [Yep, that really was his name – luckily his name didn’t reflect his intellect!]  Around 1902, he realized that when he hit a patient at a certain point on their knee with that little hammer their leg would jerk.  Now one day he waved that hammer at a person’s knee and he saw their knee jerk even though he hadn’t actually hit it.  Hmmm…..sounds like an anchor to me.

The notion of anchoring was picked up by a young Russian researcher named Ivan Pavlov and in 1904 he presented a paper to the Russian Medical Society called “Stimulus-Response”.  Pavlov had been doing work with dogs.  He’d ring a bell and show a dog a steak.  And he’d do this time after time.  And eventually he noticed that when he rang the bell the dogs would salivate assuming they were going to be fed, without the steak even being there. So he’d set up the bell as an anchor for the dogs.

Now let’s be clear, I’m not calling you a dog (unless you so desire), but people are subject to anchoring.  Just think of your alarm clock when it rang this morning – you’re anchored to react in a certain way to that sound.  Or think about your reaction when your phone rings – don’t you find that sometimes you’re reaching for your phone before you even realize?  Oh and what about your reaction when an email drops in your box from that person you love, or perhaps not, so much…

The interesting thing is that you can use anchoring to your own advantage.  So have you started to think about how you can use anchoring for yourself to be more in charge of your own state at any time you wish?

It’s just a 4 step process to set an anchor:

  1. Wait until you’re in a vivid experience of the state you want to anchor or recall one you remember well.  Make sure it’s a really intense experience – the more intense the stronger the anchor.
  2. Decide on your stimulus to apply when that experience is at its peak.  For a relaxed state for sleep perhaps you might pinch your left ear lobe with your left index finger and thumb.  Make it something you can reproduce exactly.  Make it something unique that won’t get fired accidentally.  Now apply your stimulus at the most intense point of the experience.
  3. OK so think of something else – is that popcorn I can smell?
  4. Finally test your anchor – fire it by applying your stimulus.  And you in that state where you started.

Now I’ve been using ear plugs for years.  So I’ve popped them in my ears a huge number of times when I’m in that relaxed state for sleep.  Each time you apply that stimulus in the desired vivid state then the stronger your anchor will get and the better the results.  My anchor is now so powerful I can get to sleep anywhere.  Even on a plane hammering down the runway for take off!

How else could anchors help you?  Perhaps you have a meeting with your boss and he was less than happy with you yesterday about progress on a current project.  Wouldn’t a resource anchor be great so as you walk in to that meeting you can fire it off and have all those resources of motivation, focus, alertness, enthusiasm at your disposal?  Just repeat the process above remembering a vivid time you experienced each of those states.  Use a single stimulus, like pinching together your right thumb and index finger, to anchor them all in the same spot one after another.  Now you can fire that powerful resource anchor whenever you need.

Or maybe you’re a nervous presenter.  In addition to all the other great NLP interventions you can use and all the tricks we’ve been through before, you can also set up a really powerful resource anchor, full of states such as totally confident, really energetic, totally capable, totally powerful, etc, that you can fire off as you get up to speak. Would that be of great value?

What sort of anchor could help you most in achieving your dreams?


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© Jacqui Gatehouse and GATEHOUSE THIRTEEN, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jacqui Gatehouse and GATEHOUSE THIRTEEN with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


One response to “I am Pavlov’s Dog!

  1. Pingback: #12 The Meaning of Communication is the Response You Get! | GATEHOUSE THIRTEEN

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