Are You Anchored in Your Grief?

I was watching a lady talking about the loss of her husband, and you could probably imagine that she was devastated. The accident had occurred 4 years earlier and it is said, that you never get over something like that, or do you?

There is no right or wrong as to how long to grieve and the biggest influence on whether you continue to suffer in grief is your own choice or belief. If you believe that you shouldn download (2)‘t get over it, that you should suffer – then you will, that becomes your reality. If you believe that you can let go of the grief and focus on what you do have in your life right now, then you can overcome the pain much quicker.

It concerned me that this lady’s pain and grief was still so evident, four years later, and it struck me that she was ‘anchored’ into her pain. Have you ever smelt something (like Apple Pie) and it’s brought you back to a place and time? Do you find yourself always responding to a sound, like a raised voice, in a reactive manner? Perhaps a certain touch even brings back certain memories. These are all examples of anchoring – an automatic response to a trigger. The trigger could be through any of the senses.

This lady spoke to many people on the subject, to remind people of the likelihood that this too could happen to them. However, it’s likely the many times she spoke on it, she was always brought back right into the memory of the loss.

You see, you can talk about an event and keep it at arm’s length (or further) or you can jump right in and imagine being right there as you relate the story. Which do you think is healthier when you are talking about a traumatic experience?

Most people are familiar with the work of Ivan Pavlov, who caused dogs to salivate on ringing of a bell or tuning fork. This was trained into the dogs by first associating food with the ringing sound. Subsequently, the dogs would just hear the sound and have the same response had they seen or smelt food. You may know people that have the desire for chocolate as soon as they feel a certain way (eg rejected). This is a ‘Pavlov” response.

So a big problem when someone suffers a loss is that everyone wants to hug them or give them a pat on the back or the arm. This is all done with loving intention. The problem is when the person is starting to heal and focus forward, that whenever they receive the associated trigger (hug, pat or touch) they are brought right back into their pain. This can make it really hard to move on. These people are anchored into their pain.

They might even become aware of this and start hating to be touched or hugged, without even understanding why. A person who is alwdownload (3)ays talking to an audience about their loss may learn to hate the applause as that too may be anchored to their pain.

What to do? It’s a tough one, but it means not excessively touching a person when they are especially sad. In the beginning, I think the hugs are fine because we all need that consolation in difficult times. After that initial phase, you will see your loved ones be in moments of strength and coping – that is a great time to give them a hug. If you are going to anchor in an emotion, anchor in the positive ones – strength, appreciation and even joy remembering the special times.

Anchoring is used by NLP practitioners to help master one’s emotional state. By anchoring in positive emotions such as confidence, love, joy, strength or calm one can access these emotions on queue with a trigger such as touching one’s earlobe or clenching one’s fist.

If you think you are anchored into your grief, or another negative state, than you will want to create a new empowering state to replace that. You may need to work with someone to do this, if you don’t know how to do it yourself.

This is not just about grief. Be aware of ‘anchoring in’ depression, resentment and anger in other people. It’s not always easy and you may come across as ‘cold’ at times, but know that what is hard is allowing a person to continue to go on suffering needlessly.

Annette Lynch (formerly Huygens-Tholen) is a Success coach, NLP Practitioner, Author and Speaker/Educator helping individuals to change their lives through strengthening Personal Leadership. Achieving a dream to be an Olympian in 2000, Annette then learnt to overcome her greatest challenge – life after sport. By studying and applying the mindset skills and attitudes of sport into the game of life, Annette has transformed not only her life, but thousands of others in UK, USA, Aus and NZ through coaching and training.
Her book, “Success beyond Sport” teaches the 8 Winning Points for leading oneself to success – emotionally and financially. For more information on Annette and how to create success in your life visit

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