I’d like to tell you about a technique I use when I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed, which I call ‘anchoring’.

Just to clarify, I’m not talking about the cognitive bias  theory here. When I say anchoring, what I mean is the practice of drawing on a memory of a strong positive emotion to displace feelings of sadness, anxiety or hurt. (Yes Harry Potter fans, I know this sounds like I’m ripping off J.K. Rowling’s Patronus).

I discovered this technique by accident. I was sitting in an aeroplane on the way to a group holiday with my friends and I remember being overcome with a feeling of being fully alive and filled with happiness and joy.  Because I had struggled for many years with depression, this was a significant moment for me. I focused my mind on the high I was experiencing, while pinching my leg.

Now, if I need to, I can sometimes trigger that emotional state by applying pressure to my leg or recalling that memory. I sometimes use my anchor when I find myself ruminating or experiencing anxiety. It doesn’t always come through as strongly, and it can’t always completely overcome the unpleasant emotions I’m experiencing, but knowing that I have that resource of natural joy somewhere within me is immensely comforting. It is empowering to have a pool of strength to draw from when I need it.

Next time you experience a powerful positive emotion I’d encourage you to build your own anchor. Just focus your mind and allow the feeling to fill you up. It helps me to connect the emotion with a physical sensation. The beauty of this is you can have as many anchors as you like.


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