Developing anchor thoughts

An introduction to anchor thoughts – by Jane G.

Developing anchor thoughts in assured meaning

Anchoring is a cognitive bias that describes the common human tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered (the “anchor thoughts“) when making decisions. The anchor thoughts effect is a cognitive bias that influences you to rely too heavily on the first piece of information you receive. And it’s not just a factor between the generations. For example, if you’re “in therapy,” finding it incredibly helpful in alleviating your anxiety and enhancing your self-confidence, you may still decide to keep your therapy a secret from your parents. Why? Because they are anchored in the belief that only “crazy” people seek therapy. And who wants to be thought of as “crazy?”

“I began taking steps to build on each anchor thought every single day, while staying flexible and trusting the process. I slowly got rid of unhelpful thoughts that didn’t help maintain and develop my anchor thoughts. Within just a few weeks, change occurred across each area” -Jane G.

Benefit from working your anchor thoughts

Using anchor thoughts in a constructive manner is an exceptionally useful aspect of self improvement and recovery from depression, as well as other dual diagnosis conditions. Anchor thoughts are a way of clarifying the assured meaning of primary values for your life. It is a way of strengthening them by taking consistent, manageable steps to focus on the life you want and minimize the impact of external factors. “I began to list the things I wanted in life. I removed all extraneous or superficial goals from this list, and decided to stick with the core values that I considered to be essential. I realized that many “goals” were distracting (obsessive thoughts) me from obtaining the things I really wanted out of life. So things like, “Run a 5K in under 27 minutes” did not make the cut. Depression recovery was the rock that held everything together on its foundation. It gave me assured meaning that without it I was nowhere. I didn’t need more on my “to-do” list. I needed transformation. I needed new anchor thoughts. I found that there were four primary focus areas that I wanted to improve. These are the non-negotiable’s in my life, the things that keep me grounded and fulfilled. I call them “anchor thoughts” because anchors provide stability and security, even in rough seas. These anchors are your temple in your recovery. They are what you fall back on in hard times, as opposed to the booze, drugs or obsessive thinking. Once I identified what my anchors were, I began to build on them and fortify them by listing all activities or experiences that might constitute each one.

For example, my four anchors were:

  • A harmonious, peaceful home
  • Writing progress
  • Financial freedom sans stress
  • Holistic wellness in recovery

So if I wanted holistic wellness, I knew I had to eat well, lay of the bad stuff. If I wanted a peaceful home I would need to actually learn how to be peaceful. I learned to do instead of just think! I learned if I wanted financial freedom, I had to avoid stress and being overwhelmed, because when that happened I would fall apart, along with my other 3 anchors entirely.I started to put two and two together. Something I never did that lead me to becoming a depressive, that did nothing but use, and stay the same.

Then I brainstormed all possible ways to take action toward fortifying each anchor, even those that did not seem feasible. For financial freedom I listed everything from “get a new job” or “get a second job” to “cut coupons” and “save gas.” I had to eliminate excuses and stay flexible. I had to examine and define my values and refine my anchor thoughts. I had to trust the process and follow the recovery plan. I had to RIGHT NOW focus and apply suggested actions from my counsellors. I had to develop my anchor thoughts with someone. This is the project that started it all.Take a look and see how this, and the power of new anchor thoughts, could benefit you, and help you to grow, heal and enrich your life the Pathways way.

Where do we go from here?

We start each day dealing with the pain and difficulty of change, setting aside negative and obsessive thinking and developing our honest anchor thoughts. To develop them further we can actually assume the feelings of the wish fulfilled. This is called emotional anchoring.  From here we will develop assured meaning that will guide us like a light towards the question we answered at the beginning. When we are assured of something we trust it, like it is pure fact. We believe it like it is pure fact. Deep down in our cores, if we know something is true then it becomes our reality. Practicing changing your anchor thoughts, even through affirmations and visualization at first, is a great way to start bringing about massive change in your life. It is something we do at Pathways in our wellness programme.


As a final tip on anchor thoughts. Change usually happens in stages. Changing our thoughts is no exception to this stage approach.

  • precontemplation – no intention of changing behaviour.
  • contemplation – aware a problem exists, no commitment to action.
  • Preparation – intent on taking action.
  • action – active modification of behaviour.
  • maintenance – sustained change. New behaviour replaces old.
  • termination – in a relapse cycle.

For more information on anchor thoughts contact us +0824424779

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