Latest news - it is
2009 and the notes on this website go back to around 1994. They are still valid but we now
have a much more up to date website devoted just to Relationships and
relationship issues. There you will find all these pages (updated) plus many more
new articles, new worksheets and more explanations and new pages are being added
Can I suggest that
you go to
http://www.healing-relationships.growingaware.com to see our latest
Understanding and Charting Bonding
and using this to help stop them (see
NOTE: I am still only just coming to a better understanding of these patterns (in 'em
and couldn't see 'em) but these notes are helping me to gain a clearer picture so I
thought I would share them with you....John)
SUMMARY FROM FRONT PAGE - THE STORY SO FAR ......
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 each bonding pattern involves one of your strongest primary selves interacting in a
powerful way with someone elses primary self to the exclusion of most other selves
and adult awareness. 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.
NOW READ ON.......
This is better explained graphically
This is getting a bit complicated for words alone so most voice dialogue facilitators use
a diagram to illustrate the pattern in a more visual form. The diagram below is one that
Hal and Sidra Stone have used for years and it does help people see what is going on and
separate from it.The more I understand bonding patterns the more I find it helps to
picture them in this way. And the more patterns I draw, the more I come to understand the
patterns. First to help you recognise the patterns look at the energies the selves
get into and that make up the pattern. How you can use the diagram later on to help
get out of a bonding pattern is explained below.
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 an endless horizontal loop reminding us that
while we are in a bonding pattern we will be moving back and forth between our less
vulnerable and our more vulnerable selves. The pattern just alternates from one side
to the other and back again as each persons primary selves loop in and out of
the alternate more powerful impersonal one above position and the less powerful more
personal one below position.
Person A's endless loop from vulnerable child to invulnerable
parent and back again
Person B's endless loop from vulnerable child to invulnerable
parent and back again
FOLLOWING THE LOOPS
As you try to understand a pattern, remember that
you can only see it from your own point of view. This however has to include your estimate
of what the other person might be thinking and feeling since that is what your
selves are reacting to anyway. That point usually turns out to be the best place to
start because understanding bonding patterns is easier if you can step outside your own
loop and look as well at what might be going on in the other person that causes
them to feel as vulnerable as you do. The bottom line here is that bonding patterns are
based on inaccurate and untrue beliefs and forecasts we each make about the other person
and the situation. The aim of the chart is to identify whatever is untrue and incorrect so
you can stop repeating the pattern.
Trying to discover what was
factual or true about what was going on in a particular pattern is not worth the
effort. The selves responsible for doing bonding patterns are notoriously inaccurate at
remembering facts. The one fact that would help and that is always true (but one that the
selves won't tell you about) is that both people were feeling very vulnerable at the
time. This is why charting or drawing the energy pattern helps. it identifies that
one point of truth and tells you about your own underlying vulnerability around the
other person. They can tell you later on about what is really happening on their
side in terms of vulnerability, rather than what their selves tell them is going on.
Let's look at Jack and Jill's bonding pattern.
1. JILL'S REMARK - start of the pattern
Example: It starts when Jill
arrives home after a tiring day and makes a comment as she comes through the door.
"This house is a mess!"
To Jack, this makes Jill seem more like a father/mother/parent.
2. JACK'S REACTION
Example: Jack tells himself "If the house is a mess its my
He reacts by feeling more like a guilty son/child.
3. JACK'S COUNTER REACTION
Jack reacts to block Jill's powerful
one above self/selves and reduce his feelings of vulnerability. To do this he
calls on one of his even more powerful selves to help protect his vulnerable
child by directing strong blame, anger or criticism back towards
Example: "I've just spent all day fixing your car and that's the
thanks I get from you!". Attacking Jill like this makes him feel more like a
strong parent again.
4. JILL'S COUNTER REACTION
Jill reacts to Jack's more
powerful one above parent self/selves. Jill's inner critic beats her up
and tells her how ungrateful she was when Jack had been working all day on her car,
putting her into the guilty child position:.
Example: Jill bursts into tears "Oh Jack that was so selfish of me. I am a
rotten person. What can I do to make it up to you?"
At this point the stage is set for the next round. Jill cannot stay for
too long in vulnerable child. Her parent selves comes out and prepare to attack Jack
5. JILL'S SELVES ATTACK JACK AGAIN .... START
OF ROUND TWO
Jill's warrior selves tell her she must fight Jack's bullying control (this
helps to stop her feeling guilty).
Example: "Every time I try to talk to you, about a problem you make it
seem like it's my fault. I hate you!"
This makes her seem to Jack at first more like a powerful parent and he reacts to her "I
hate you" by feeling like an unloved child.
Looking at it graphically, here is Jack's view of the pattern. Jill, by
the way, may see parts of the picture very differently.
Jill's horizontal loop
1."This house is
a mess!" Jill seems like a one above mother/parent
4. "That was so
selfish of me. I am a rotten person. What can I do to make it up to you?"
Jill feels like a guilty powerless daughter/child
2. "If the house
is a mess its my fault."Jack feels like a guilty son/child
3. "I've just
spent all day fixing your car and that's the thanks I get from you!" Jack feels
like a strong parent again.
Bonding pattern -
Jill's horizontal loop
5. "Every time I
try to talk to you, about a problem you make it seem like it's my fault. I hate
you!" Jill is back in one above parent again
feels like a guilty son/child again
8. .... Jack
2. Notice as well the two vertical loops (dotted lines) reminding
us that each time Jack and Jill move back and forth on their horizontal loop (from
vulnerable child to invulnerable parent and back again) each opposite energy shifts is
likely to hook the other person back and forth into their opposite
This is why once we get locked into a double loop (the actual bonding) it is so hard to
get out of it.Our less vulnerable sides interact with the other persons more
vulnerable selves and vice versa.
Let's say that the left hand
vertical loop represents the pattern where person A is
in their parent energy and person B is in child energy. The right hand loop then
represents the opposite state where person B has moved or flipped into their parent energy
which flips person A into their child energy. Identifying this helps us to stay
aware of the way each side of the bonding pattern is constantly setting up an
energetic counter reaction in the other person.This is why there are four separate
corners for each bonding pattern:|
JACK'S VERTICAL LOOP
A. When Jack is in one below child energy Jill will get hooked into parent energy -
B. When Jack's one above parent energy Jill will get hooked into child energy
JILL'S VERTICAL LOOP
C. When Jill is in one below child energy Jack will get hooked into parent energy
D. When Jill is in one above parent energy Jack will get hooked into child energy
Trying to fit two peoples perception into one diagram adds to the confusion
caused by the complex and constantly changing nature of the pattern.
It took me a long time and much confusion before I realised that although both
peoples names appear in the same diagram, you can only get one person's view of a
pattern into a single two dimensional diagram with four corners (see below) You can't even
put your own idea of how the other person MIGHT see things in the same pattern into the
same diagram without getting thoroughly confused. So it's better to use two or four
separate charts, one diagram of YOUR loop pattern as you see it (below) and
another of your ideas of what the other person's loop pattern
might look like as you think they might see it, using a slightly different different
chart (shown further down this page). If the other person wants to chart the same pattern
they then need another two separate diagrams of their own.
Here is the top half of the actual chart I get clients to fill out:
* for a positive bonding pattern change this to "that I
Person A's charts one pattern (above) as they see it and a second chart (below) for how
A thinks B might be seeing the same pattern. The other person B in
turn can draw another two charts for themselves. Comparing all four these afterwards (as
long as everyone is in the adult state at the time) is often very enlightening and helps
the underlying vulnerability behind the pattern
Identifying your own underlying vulnerability reminds us that this is the
reason the selves set up your side of the pattern in the first place. If the other person
can identify and name the cause behind their reaction and counter reaction as well, it
becomes much clearere how all this keeps fuelling the bonding. For counsellors,
identifying underlying vulnerability helps clients (once they can see and understand the
pattern) discover ways to stop them continuing. See Getting
out of Bonding Patterns also Bonding
Patterns - case studies)
Positive Bonding patterns
The roles are reversed in a positive bonding pattern. Jack's Rescuer Father might fix
Jill's car which sets up a positive pattern with Jill's Appreciative pleaser daughter. "Oh
Jack you are so wonderful spending the whole day working on my car! I love you so
much." Jill may then loop into Nurturing Mother and spend the evening
cooking Jack a special meal, tidying the house and washing Jack's clothes while Jack
relaxes into Protected Son and watches TV. One problem with positive bonding is that there
are usually hidden conditional expectations of getting something back in return. When
these are not met the pattern can go negative very quickly. See also the ' The rescuer and
the bird with the broken wing' case study.
The other big problem is that sex between a couple in long term positive bonding is often
unsatisfying if neither person in the bed is in an adult state. If one or both
partners are incest survivors the overtones can be so toxic that often the 'relationship'
where a positively bonded couple who say "We never fight." may be the same one
where they also never have sex. (A bit of playful positive bonding in bed is OK on
occasions, just don't let it become too regular. Sex is meant to be grown-up's work. don't
leave it to the selves.)
Positive Bonding pattern - Jack's horizontal loop
caretaking father self: "I took the day off work and
fixed your car for you."
4. Jack - (a
little later) switching to nurtured appreciative son: That
was delicious. My mother never cooked anything special like that for me."
2. Jill's appreciative daughter:
"Oh Jack you are so wonderful spending the whole day working
on my car! I love you so much."
switching to nurturing mother: "Jack, you relax and
I'll make something special for you dinner."
Bonding pattern - Jill's horizontal loop
OTHER FACTORS IN BONDING PATTERNS
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 there
is usually a connection.
Body sensations and feelings (red warning lights
But there is another way to become aware (at least temporarily) that you are in a pattern.
Your body sensations and feelings tell you and for a start it is much easier to tune into
them. These are the warning signals that are easiest to tune in to. 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 feel a sudden knot in your stomach or
pain in your forehead. These signals are like the red warning light on an instrument
panel. They dont come on until after the pattern is happening, so by then, it is too
late to prevent it, but they are a warning that things are overheating. Until we are aware
we are in some sort of pattern we stay stuck in it. Body sensations are usually the FIRST
WARNING and so can help us become aware faster.
Silent bonding patterns
Two people can also do a silent non-verbal bonding pattern based on
body language alone. You can get even stuck in negative bonding patterns with
mechanical and electronic objects, particularly those that put verbal 'parent' messages on
your screen like "Bad command or file name". You can also get into negative or
positive patterns with pets and relatives in other parts of the world. Ignoring someone
who wants your attention can set up a pattern as well.
Getting out of a Bonding pattern after it has started
Once you learn to tune in to the warnings from your body you can do something to stop the
overheating early in the life of the pattern. That is you can halt whatever your
primary self is doing or saying to keep the fight going. What can you do? See Getting out of Bonding Patterns
(see also Bonding Patterns - case studies.
Bonding patterns involve much more doing energy rather than thinking and
certainly not being energy. Becoming aware and working from the aware
ego/adult keeps you out of the bonding.
It is humanly impossible to 'solve' or 'resolve'
any one individual bonding pattern so spending time on this is futile. Analysing details
from one pattern is a waste of time. What does help is to notice the ways in which every
pattern the same person does is the same, the details change but the
underlying vulnerability is what stays the same, for both players.
Do it yourself
You don't need a trained therapist or counsellor to chart your own patterns following
the examples above. If charting doesn't help fix things it may be time to get professional
GROWING AWARENESS trainers,
counsellors, facilitators and experts on bonding patterns include:
Chermside Aspley Bald Hills 3261 3882 John Nutting (BA
Bardon Counselling Centre Anthony Nutting (Psychologist) 3368 1300
Capalaba - Bayside: 3823 1766 Rick Reeves (BA Sociol.
Nutting 1996- - 2004 and ©
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