This question comes in from the lovely and funny p4pretention.  You can find her over at Barely Digested.

What the deuce is anchoring?*   I see it written on the WW walls and I keep reading in my books that I will learn about this in the meetings – lies! I have learned no such thing.   And, more importantly, what do you do to anchor?*

*These questions have been brought to you by harassment. Harassment: making people do things they otherwise would likely have not since 2008.

Here’s the Wikipedia definition:  When the term anchoring refers to neuro-linguistic programming, it describes a trigger (whether internal or external) that reflexively alters a person’s state of mind.

It annoys me that Weight Watchers has chosen to use this term because if you were to keep reading up on it, anchoring is actually quite a negative thing.  Doing it can completely eclipse any other stimulus there may be when making a decision.  A person who is using an ‘anchor’ tends to rely exclusively on that regardless of outcome.

It’s kind of difficult to explain what the people at WW actually mean so I will give you a couple of examples.  I have a gold bracelet that I had not been able to wear since I was in my mid-teens, due to being overweight.  A couple of months ago I pulled it out, tried it on and sang praises when it fit.  Now I refuse to take it off and it serves as an ‘anchor’.  It reminds me, when I need it to, that I have come quite a long way already, that I will succeed and that even something you don’t think is possible can become reality if you’re willing to put in the effort.  It’s almost like a reminder about what I’m doing.  Also, it’s pretty. 

I also have a little voodoo doll (don’t freak out, let me explain) that is sewn into my running jacket.  It’s a little charm that came with a saying about focus and performance.  When I’m finding exercise too difficult or too much work I can feel it there on the inside of my jacket and I remember the little phrase it came with and the person who gave it to me and I try harder or keep going.

That’s really all that they mean by anchoring.  It’s having something that reminds you of your goals and keeps you going in the right direction if you’re floundering a bit.  It’s an anchor when your world is spinning a little.

I think they would be more successful at teaching this concept if they changed it to something that sounded a little less harsh.  I think that the term talisman is actually a little more accurate of the concept.  The definition of talisman is:  An object consecrated with energy in order for it to serve a specific purpose or intent. The object helps to bring positive changes to the person it belongs to or to their environment.  You don’t have to believe in magic or ‘energies’ or voodoo dolls (I don’t either).  The object has whatever energy or power that you give it.  Like a good luck charm that is actually completely useless save for the fact that the person in possession of it believes that it is lucky.

What do you use that helps you to keep your focus?



  1. Bev said,

    January 12, 2008 at 11:08 am

    I have a rock that was given to me 15+ years ago by my very dear friend’s husband. (He has since passed away.) The rock is nothing special but it’s what he said to me when he found it and passed it to me ‘You can do anything you want to do and be anybody you want to be’. That rock kept me focussed while I was pursuing a career and doing post-secondary courses. The rock ‘meaning’ has evolved as I have. Now it is mostly a reminder of that friendship, who I was then, who I have become and where I want to go in the future. It sits on my desk and when I see it, I see the ocean, the people and the time when it was given to me.

  2. Marueze said,

    January 12, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    Lady Shanny I just love your explanation and also the introduction of Talisman.

    I’m surprised that p4pretention lecturer hasn’t touched on the tool of anchoring. At my meeting we get at least 2 anchors a month…I thought that the meetings were scripted, which I know they are but I guess each lecturer gets to use their own creativity?? Actually today we heard a little story about geese and their flying patterns and how as a group they help each other and as an anchor we got a feather from a boa to remind us of the geese. I have gotten rubber bands, baloons, pennies with bravos, tiny little towel clippings, stickers, popcycle sticks, toothpicks, all kinds of stuff & we do postcard mailings, too. Do other groups do this also?

    As far as my anchors I do enjoy the term talisman & they do help me to focus. I have different ones and favor different ones also. I have a pressed penny from Disney’s Boardwalk Resort which reminds me of a vacation that I went on where – I walked and walked and walked and got my exercise points in so I could enjoy delicious meals guilt free. I have a few special items of clothing that fit me better when I’m thinner. I have a tiny Brookstone flashlight which reminds me that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. I have several pieces of jewelry such as you do that fit me only when I’m at a certain point.

    I firmly believe in anchoring.

  3. Comrade GoGo said,

    January 13, 2008 at 11:11 am

    I like the term “touchstone” in this context. Although its originally meaning had to do with a stone used to test the genuineness of gold or silver, and it’s current meaning has to do with someone or something that is quintessential, something that brings you back to what is important, in a more literal context it could be thought of as a stone or some other object that you carry on your person that you can touch whenever you need a reminder of what you’re trying to focus on.

  4. p4p said,

    January 14, 2008 at 11:29 am

    Firstly, thank you Shanny for responding to my coerced query. I now know for sure that I am anchorless.

    Maru: We also had the geese chat last week – but I found the analogy route to be a very obscure way of discussing “anchors,” a term I didn’t really understand to begin with (note: I had a useless leader for the first few weeks). I haven’t received things (aside from stickers which I view as more of positive reinforcement than anchors) at my meetings to “anchor” me. I definitely like/more readily understand the term “touchstone” better than “anchor” (“talisman” makes me think of video games more than anything…) and will now keep my eyes open for things to help anchor me.

  5. January 15, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    […] have been learning about anchoring through the Internets this week, and maybe finding an anchor, talisman or touchstone will help me […]

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