In my real life, one of my greatest joys is helping people find their own path and their own strengths. It’s one reason I usually come away from counseling a breastfeeding mother, doing a talk at a prenatal class, or leading the meeting at Weight Watchers with added energy. I love helping people help themselves. I’ve decided to share some things with you here. Why should my online life not include this, too?  I’ll toss aside my fears that you won’t approve and go ahead.

One of the things I teach people at Weight Watchers is the tool called Anchoring. It’s the sort of skill that travels into all areas of your life, a powerful ally.

When you’re struggling with something, you first need to decide what quality, what virtue, what strength you need. You need to name it. Persistence. Tact. Determination. Make sure you state it in the positive.

Now, cast about in your memory for a time when you displayed that quality. That time you negotiated with your boss for a raise, or kept running even though you were tired, or had such confidence in yourself that you shone. Relive that memory. Make it as real as you can – sights, smells, textures, sounds.

Now, anchor that bright memory to something or a word. A word that makes you remember and relive that feeling. An object that is often close at hand when you are going about life. Do this several times – thinking of the memory, then attaching it to the object. When you need that strength, just touch your object or call up the word. You’ll find this anchor is actually more like a spring – an up-welling of confidence in your ability to deal with everything before you. You’ve been strong before. Or patient. Or energetic. You can do it again now.

. . .
Guinn's Pass
Guinn’s Pass
. . .

One of my anchors is attached to my wedding band and relates to the memory captured in these two photos.

We went backpacking in the Rockies for our honeymoon. It was our first time backpacking and we weren’t sure how far would be a reasonable amount to hike each day. We ended up a little more tired than we had planned at times. Once, hiking up Guinn’s Pass, I very nearly reached my limits. Not in an off-hand way, the way we toss that phrase around in our glib society. I was at an end. My legs were trashed. The pack was so heavy. The air was so thin. It all added up to a level of fatigue that was hard to overcome. In that top photo, you can see what we could see – we were hugged tight by the mountain, sheltered from the wind while the sun poured down on us, surrounded by grey scree. It was hot and there was nothing to see. There was no horizon to inspire, no little delights at my feet to distract.

It was just me and my footsteps. Left. Right. It was just me and my determination to not complain. Deep breaths. It was just me and an increasing tunnel vision. Don’t let Rainer’s feet out of sight.


Oh, then.

A grey world exploding into colour. A silent world filled with symphony. Rain on a parched tongue.

The top of the pass. The horizon exploded and drifted far, impossibly far, into the distance. Peak after peak after peak, implying that the world never ended. Blue sky that thrilled. Wind howled past, chilling us instantly to the bone. We dropped our packs unceremoniously to the ground, fumbled for layers. Then we sat upon the ground, side by side, arms around each other and backs resting on the packs. It felt as though the moment froze and expanded all at once. We were there. We were together. We were with the world.

You can see that in the bottom photo, a little bit. In my mind the photo is full colour, saturated, and the chill winds still wipe me clear of every grumbling drop of sweat.

I have used my anchor to remind me that I have been tough. That I have persevered. And that the dullness of struggle can burst into the sweetest moments to savour.


8 thoughts on “Anchoring

  1. mamaspider says:

    thank you for this post. gave me chills, and you don’t know how much this speaks to me right now. thanks for a new tool for the path of mothering/life on earth challenges. I love your blog.

  2. Christie says:

    approve?! Thank-you so much. I’ve done this a bit in the past (I quit smoking once….I can lose some weight), but I like giving it a name and adding the quality name. It makes it seem far more sturdy.

  3. shannon says:

    The funny thing is I have been doing this lately without knowing “it” had a name. I recently got internet and am finally not alone in the world of children and homeschooling and have radically changed how I want to proceed. I have done this with the help of all of the inspirational mothering blogs I have been reading, such as yours, which I love by the way, and I have given myself a word which is “joy.” Somewhere along my motherhood road, I forgot to remember about the joy of my family and children. I have rediscovered “joy” and am eternally grateful. Remembering one simple word has quite honestly changed my life. Now I know the name for it—anchoring. Thank you once again for an inspirational post!

  4. Just Peaches says:

    Thank you for sharing Sarah. I’ve been looking for my own anchors to weather an approaching storm. Rough seas make for good sailors right?

  5. Shannon B says:

    It’s your Patronus.

    My homeopath gave me this tool a few years ago, as a weapon against one particularly persistent Dementor that was sucking my life-force like crazy. It’s such an effective technique.

  6. Sarah says:

    I, for one, love it when you share like this. One of my favorite posts from you was your ‘before and after’ post that was a little bit about weight, but seemed to be more about lifestyle.

    I’m going to try this technique on, as Shannon B put so well, a very persistent Dementor in my life.

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