Glued to Your Mobile Phone? There May Be More Going On than You Realise

Most of us can’t do without a mobile phone. They have become an integral part of modern life. A phone call these days is just a very small part of their use for many people, who now hold multiple conversations through text as well as reading and sending emails, updating twitter or Facebook, and if you’re a real fanatical, like me, writing blogs and articles.

What is your relationship with your phone? Do you love it? Is it your best friend? Or do you find it a nuisance, or even possibly dread the sound of it ringing or the ping of a text coming in?

It’s not just a casual question. The fact is that the mobile phone is a hugely influential psychological weapon.

One of the key tools in the NLP bag of tricks is the ’anchor’. Just to recap for those not particularly familiar with the concept, an anchor is an event or experience that has become associated with a particular mental state to the extent that when that event occurs, the state is automatically recreated. To put it another way, it’s a stimulus that creates a response.

The classic example is the Pavlov’s dog experiment. An animal trainer gives his dog a tasty treat, and at the same time he rings a bell. After a few repeats of the process, the ringing of the bell alone causes the dog to salivate as if it had been offered the treat.

These anchors can be created deliberately by a therapist when a client is in a positive state and then used by the client to trigger that same state within him/her.

There are negative anchors too - the most dramatic being a phobic response such as a fear of spiders - where a bad experience such as a bite becomes associated with the sight of the spider and from then on the near sight of any spider, or even a picture of one can fill a person with terror.

Okay – back to our mobile phone.

The best anchors use multiple sensory inputs – sound, vision and feeling to trigger the response. When you receive a text on your phone, it vibrates, it flashes and it rings a familiar tone - the perfect anchor. If you regularly receive texts from your loved one, or if you have a great social life and really enjoy hearing from your friends then that anchor is a positive, feel-good one that increases your motivation, sets your endorphins flowing and gives you a real buzz. The down side of this is that it could become an obsession or an addiction.

Conversely, if that ringtone, vibration or visual signal is regularly warning you that you are late for your next job, or it’s a debt collector demanding money, the overall anchor will be negative. You may grow to hate your phone and dread it’s ringing.

You may be really happy with either of these situations. But if you’re not, there are lots of things you can do to change.  You could switch off the alerts that you don’t want disturbing your day and instead give yourself set times when you deal with communications as a block.  You could set up individual tones for different contacts if your phone allows this (most do). You could arrange your life differently so that it isn’t necessary for people to contact you this way. You could even ditch the phone altogether.

You could also harness the power of a positive text message and use the anchor when you want to get into a good state for an interview or a difficult meeting.

The main thing is to ask yourself if your mobile phone is controlling you. If you’re not sure of whether it’s already taking over your life or not, pay attention to your responses over the next few days. When the phone rings or a text comes through, before reading it, do you feel an emotion inside you? Does your pulse go a little faster? Do you feel excited or apprehensive?

Do you find yourself holding on to your phone as you go about your life, or constantly checking it for missed messages?  These are all signs that the phone is disrupting your enjoyment of life. Make sure you’re in control.


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