An anchor is a heavy object to hold a vessel in its place or it’s someone that delivers you the news on television. It can also be a helpful mental practice that can keep you afloat during challenging times. Anchoring to a moment in time when my inner strength shined is a skill that has pulled me up, instead of down, during past difficult times. But, until recently, it was a tool I had forgotten that I could use to support resiliency.
An Anchor through the Storm
The other day I felt so heavy. Everything felt too much. Pandemic, systematic racism, femicide, human trafficking, kidnapping, brutality, sabotage — every day the state of our world just got scarier and heavier. And even my own home life was hard with learning to be a mother of three, a new baby, no sleep, preparing for a very unsettling school year. I headed out the door for a once routine trip to the grocery store that now was so unfamiliar, I felt like even my keys were too heavy to hold.
In the car I took a moment to inventory my key chains. Did I really need all these things attached to my car and house keys? And in that moment I found an anchor. I was transported to my past as I held the Floral Park Automotive Repair key chain in my hand.
In my mind, there I sat on the floor of the auto repair shop. We had just survived Hurricane Sandy with little damage except for a leaky ceiling, down trees and the loss of power. I was new to Long Island, NY and was still job searching, but I had picked up a few freelance editing jobs. A deadline was approaching and my laptop battery was dead.
The power outages were very random in our area as well as the repairs. My partner, and now husband, and I walked a few blocks and noticed businesses with power. We hopped into the first that was open, Floral Park Tire & Service, and asked if we could plug in to recharge. The owner and employees were more than gracious. They showed us the outlets we could use and said we could stay as long as we needed to. So, there I sat on a concrete floor editing and submitting my work.
That was just the beginning of our relationship with the men that ran that auto repair shop. When my 1995 car needed serviced and tested for NY license and tags, there was no question where I would take it. Through years of car repairs the owner of the shop and his brother became like family. We celebrated each other’s milestones together. I’ll never forget the generous gifts at our door not long after our first child was born.
Found My Anchor
I quickly came to the conclusion that I would not be removing this key chain from my key ring. Within seconds I had been anchored to the feelings of strength, perseverance, ethics, service and community. I was reminded of the storms I have weathered because of my own resilience and the support of good people.
Hurricane Sandy was traumatic. There are still people trying to rebuild after its devastation even almost a decade later. But in that moment on the floor of an auto shop, I was forever anchored to the power I have within myself and the virtue of others that cannot be destroyed.
What is an Anchor?
Like grounding, anchoring uses your five senses. But instead of connecting you to the present moment, it helps you connect to the past. A past feeling that you want to bring back into the present moment. An anchor, then, is a physical object that reminds you of your inner strength. By triggering sights, sounds, feel, tastes and smells of a past memory, it can shift how you feel. It can also be something that reminds you of a future goal that you want to achieve. An anchor can incite that feeling of motivated commitment.
How to Find Your Anchor?
At times the object that connects you to how you want to feel finds you, like my key chain. This simply requires you being open to being still and reflecting on your feelings. I could have rushed out the door that day and ignored how I felt. But look at the beautiful outcome from taking a small moment to dig deeper. To recognize how I was feeling and what I possibly could do about it was anchoring within itself.
However, to be intentional about creating your anchor, you need to first take time to reflect on how you want to feel. Name those feelings. And then you can find an object that helps you to feel that way. I’ve actually created many small anchors over time, strategically placed within my everyday path.
The pearl in my coin purse reminds me that from something that once was an irritant, a beautiful gift is made with time and protection. It anchors me to a time when I received it and felt at the top of my game in NYC. I have a bag of pennies in my diaper bag to remind me that one small change can add up to something bigger. They link me to the feeling of progress rather than perfection. I have a crystal at my desk given to me during a Women’s Circle. It takes me back to that moment of feeling bravely vulnerable and supported by sisterhood.
How to Use Your Anchor
Once you have found your object that anchors you to a feeling, it’s time to put it to work. Now whenever I hop in the car and I start to feel overwhelmed, panicked, anxious, I take a moment to hold my key chain as an anchor. It reminds me how I felt in NY after Hurricane Sandy – safe, cared for, resilient, dependable, respected, courageous, strong, loved. Your object will become a stronger trigger for the feelings you want to feel the more you use it. The more you associate those feelings to your anchor, the stronger your anchor will be at connecting you to them.
These days it often feels like we are all out at sea, nothing anchoring us. Floating without land in sight we might even feel like we are drowning with nothing to hold on to. Yet we all have inner strength to keep swimming, this instinctual survival granted at birth. It’s never lost, but it can get buried. My wish is that we all take a moment to reconnect with it as often as possible. To bring inner strength back to the surface of who we are as humans. Beautifully strong, powerfully vulnerable. The possibilities are endless of what we can do together. Anchors aweigh!