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You seldom get into a bonding pattern except when a primary self thinks it “is” you. A self in this position has a powerful sense of knowing that what it sees as true and real must be true and cannot be questioned.

If  your primary self and the other person’s primary self are both identifying with the “me” in each of us it is very hard to get a even a clue that we are in the pattern let alone see it clearly.

Example: Positive bonding pattern

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When you can stay in awareness long enough to see the primary self driving the pattern (and separate from it) then you can get yourself out of the pattern.


But there is another way to become aware (at least temporarily) that you are in a bonding pattern. Your body sensations and feelings can tell you as long as:


 You know how to read the signals.

You have enough adult awareness on board to tune in to your body signals


But there lies the problem. The deeper you are stuck in a bonding pattern the harder it is to notice it.


For a start learn to notice the pattern afterwards. For example you might notice (afterwards) that your anxiety level jumps ten points each time you get into a negative pattern with your partner. Or you might have felt a sudden knot in your stomach or pain in your forehead.

These signals are like the red warning light on an instrument panel. They don’t come on until after the pattern is happening, so it is too late to stop it by then, but they can be a warning that things are overheating.

Once you learn to tune in to the warnings from your body you can do something practical to stop the overheating. You can stop whatever your primary self is doing or saying to keep the pattern going from your side.

This may mean physically removing yourself from the situation (as long as you do it quietly and with as little intensity as possible). It’s better if you can remain present and acknowledge the pattern verbally (again doing this quietly and with the least intensity possible). It is better to say, “I am in a bonding pattern.” and leave it at that since remaining silent means the pattern cannot continue. If you try to analyse the pattern at that point you will probably get back into it again or start a new one involving the two logical mind selves.

Later on it does help to write down your own observations about the pattern you were in, since this makes it easier to recognise it as a bonding pattern. The diagram helps.


Understanding the Pattern diagram




It is so very difficult even for experienced  facilitators to ‘see’ a pattern while they are in it because there is little visual evidence that would help identification. Often if anything is visible it is seen through the eyes of the primary self.  

To help here, most voice dialogue facilitators use a diagram to illustrate the pattern in a more visual form. The more I understand bonding patterns the more I find it helps to draw them in this way. And the more patterns I draw, the more I come to understand the patterns.

The parts of the diagram:


1. There are two horizontal energy flows one for you, one for the other person. Each flow is identified by a horizontal endless loop reminding us that while we are in a pattern we will be moving endlessly back and forth between our less vulnerable and our more vulnerable selves.

2. There are two vertical loops one for each person. Each flow is identified by a vertical dotted loop reminding us that as we move back and forth horizontally our energy shift will hook the other person back and forth into their opposite energy. Our less vulnerable side interact with the other person’s more vulnerable selves and vice versa.

This means that  there are four separate ‘corners’ for each bonding pattern for example:

What I see the other person doing


A. What I see or I hear the other person’s one above self/selves doing, that I don’t like* and which make the other person seem (to me) more like a father/mother/parent.

.... and the other side of my horizontal loop.


B. What I see or I hear the other person’s one below self/selves doing, that I don’t like* and which make the other person seem (to me) more like a son/daughter/child.

* for a positive bonding pattern change this to “that I do like”


What I do

C. What I do when my own one below self  reacts to the other person that makes me feel more like a (son/daughter/child).


.... and the other side of my vertical loop


D. What I do when my own powerful self reacts to the other person that makes me feel more like a (father/mother/parent).


One warning however, before starting. It took me a long time to realise that although both people’s names appear in the same diagram, you can only include one person’s view of each pattern in each diagram. Even looking at and the way that person imagines how the other person sees the same pattern needs to be illustrated in a separate diagram. Trying to fit two people’s perception into one diagram adds to the confusion already present.

It often helps however to draw the first diagram of the pattern as I see it and a second one below of the way I think the other person might see the same pattern.


1. Vulnerability behind the pattern

Your own vulnerability is the reason the selves set up your side of the pattern in the first place. The diagram helps show you however that the other person’s counter reaction can often end up making you more vulnerable.


2. The horizontal endless loop

There is one endless loop for each person in each pattern. These remind us that as the pattern moves from one stage to the next that person’s primary selves will loop in and out of the alternate more powerful impersonal one above position and the less powerful more personal one below position.


3. Vertical dotted loop

This helps us to stay aware that of the way each side of the bonding pattern is constantly setting up an energetic counter reaction in the other person.


4. Body sensations and feelings (red warning lights)

These are the warning signals that are easiest to tune in to. Until we are aware we are in some sort of  pattern we stay stuck in it. Body sensations are usually the only way we can become aware.


x. My disowned selves

These get in on the act because whatever we disown we are both repelled by attracted to. Since the attraction/repulsion loop lies close to the heart of  most bonding patterns thee is usually a connection.


Other points

Bonding patterns involve much more ‘doing’ energy rather than thinking and certainly not ‘being’ energy

While learning to understand bonding patterns



Case study

Joe is a rescuer who gets into positive bonding patterns all too easily when he starts a relationship with a new  girl friend who appears to be in need of his help.  Things go really well for a start but somewhere down the track .........

Go to  Rescuer knight in shining armour and bird with broken wing.



More About Bonding Patterns


While you are in one you can’t see it


One of the hardest to understand and difficult aspects of inner self work are what Hal and Sidra Stone describe as ‘bonding patterns’.

Part of this difficulty is that every bonding pattern involves one of your strongest primary selves interacting in a powerful way with someone else’s primary self to the exclusion of most other selves and adult awareness.