Anchoring Techniques

Circle of Excellence for Powerful States

One of the major presuppositions of NLP is that we have all the resources we need. The circle of excellence technique is a way of gathering powerful internal states in our unconscious and making them available when we need them. John Grinder and Judith de Lozier original pattern was for collapsing unresourceful states.

This technique is a variation used to improve our “performance” whether in sports or personal relationships. Excellence doesn’t necessarily mean some powerful pumped up state of enthusiasm. It can be one of solid, centered stability for instance.

The circle of excellence is a powerful type of NLP Anchoring we can do for ourselves. It is a way to gain control over our emotional states. Our states of course influence our behavior and therefore the results we get in life. We cannot create wonderful results with wimpy or negative states.

You can do this process with four resourceful states of your choosing or with a single state repeated.


  • How well you can act “as if” and elicit the state.
  • How much you can intensify the resource.


  1. Decide on a resource state. Choose a resourceful state you want to experience more often.
  2. Imagine a circle on the floor in front of you, big enough to step into. If you like, you can even mark it out in some way.

  1. Take a moment to relax, clear your mind and breathe deeply.
  2. Elicit a strong resource state of your choosing and intensify it. Stand, breathe as if you had that state intensely – feel the sensations.
  3. Project those intense feelings into the circle in front of you.

  1. What color, texture, qualities and size symbolize this state? What sounds and feelings come from the circle. Maybe there are tastes and smells.
  2. Step into the circle when the feelings are at their peak. Intensify them even more. Feel that powerful emotion surrounding you and flowing through your body. Breathe in the feeling. Enjoy it fully and completely.

  1. Anchor with some natural gesture that seems related to the state – a word or phrase, a facial expression, some aspect of physiology.
  2. Before the intensity fades, step back out and shake out the feelings (return to a neutral state)

  1. Repeat the steps with an additional resource state (or the same state). The circle becomes more and more powerfully resourceful.
  2. How does having this resource affect all aspects of your life (or a particular context)? Notice how different your perspective is, how the feeling changes the way you go about things.

Using it for unresourceful states

The resourceful state you choose must be powerful enough to collapse the unresourceful state. Usually “strong” states such as excitement, enthusiasm, confidence work better for this than the more calm ones.

  • Begin with an unresourceful state in a particular context.
  • You need to work out what triggers that state. For instance, every time Karen looked at the want ads she felt miserable. In this case, the trigger was the jobs page. Triggers can be something you see, hear, touch, smell or taste.
  • Determining what triggers a state is a skill in itself sometimes. We can be unaware of what is triggering negative states, only noticing we are irritated for instance much later, and have to track back.
  • Anxiety is sometimes a state that seems to come from nowhere. There is however always a trigger or cue even though it is out of awareness.
  • At the peak of the state while in the circle, recall the trigger for the unresourceful state or have some symbol for it.

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