1. The one same thing triggers every bonding pattern. This  is the presence of some aspect of our vulnerability that  we and our inner selves are keeping hidden (either from the other person, or from ourselves or both of us.) This truth applies to all bonding patterns, negative or positive, large or small.
So to stop a bonding pattern we need to have a way of seeing, or becoming fully aware of that bit of our hidden vulnerability, first to ourselves and then (if it's safe and appropriate) sharing it with to the other person. (Hey guess what? IT WORKS!). 

Warning: Sharing or revealing our hidden vulnerability to someone else must begin with our becoming aware of it ourselves. This can only succeed if the awareness/revealing is done through the aware ego or by one of our inner parents. If one of our ordinary selves, especially a younger self tries to do the job it will fail  because one of the main roles of every inner self is to keep our vulnerability hidden.

When a self supposedly tries to "reveal hidden vulnerability" to the other person in the bonding pattern, what  it will really do is set off another bonding pattern. The self will focus on its fear, suffering, shame or pain rather than on the real underlying vulnerability and inevitably will transmit some sort of unspoken message to the other person that will sound or feel like "and YOU are the cause of it". Example: If Jill has underlying pain about being lonely and she can reveal this to Jack, through her aware ego (when she is triggered by Jack getting home two hours after he promised) there will be little or no bonding pattern.
But if Jill's victim child self complains about "how worried you made me ....."   this will start a negative bonding. Or if Jill's controlling mother self gets angry with Jack because "you are late again ...."  in both these latter cases, the outcome will be a bonding pattern. (Because both her selves were working hard to hide her real underlying vulnerability . Jack's will then have to do the same for him).

2. Once it is triggered, every bonding pattern is fuelled or driven by our strongest primary selves. Whether it's a parent or a child primary self, it tends to grab hold of a powerful spotlight which it shines with great intensity focussing on the other person in the pattern as Jill did above. This helps to hide the focuser's  vulnerability by spotlighting the other person's. OUCH!  
Well of course that just means the other person has to bring out a primary self with a bigger harder spotlight. (so both people get blinded to the real issues in themselves and in their partner)
Jack's response to Jill's victim child might be "What do you think I am? A helpless kid?" (Judgemental father self)  In response to Jill's controlling mother "If that's how you feel I'll just go out again until you settle down" (Rebel son self).
That's all it takes for another of Jill's primary selves to get out a bigger spotlight to focus on Jack's hidden vulnerability and the pattern (maybe that should read "battle") escalates.

Storm Warning: If you are in a bonding pattern and your psychological knower selves try to "help" the other person by assisting them to see THEIR hidden vulnerability (while keeping yours hidden) watch out. This usually triggers a mega  negative bonding pattern of nuclear proportions.

So again, the only way out of this is for one or better still, both people to bring their  aware egos and  inner parents onto the stage to say to all the selves, "O.K.kids. Stop this fighting." Only our aware ego is strong enough to safely reveal our underlying hidden vulnerability to another person, especially if we have just been experiencing what seemed like a spotlight  attack from that person. Thank goodness the aware ego is so capable of handling  the job. This, by the way, seems to work far better for me and many of my clients when there is a well developed inner mother and father present as well. (more about that later).

3. The level of energy or intensity you are feeling while in a bonding pattern is a direct measure of how strong YOUR hidden vulnerability is at that time. The less intensity you are feeling, the more you are being protected by your own inner parents and aware ego system, so the less your own vulnerability. The higher your intensity the greater your own underlying (hidden) vulnerability. That's a clear pointer to where you need to do the work on yourself if you want things to get better and have fewer bonding patterns.

4. One other gem (a quote from Paul Gale-Baker).... after a bad bonding pattern, when you feel you must discuss some aspect of it with your partner and you feel like saying "You said... or "You did ..... try instead saying "The bonding pattern said/did ....."  It takes a lot of the steam out of the statement while still allowing the two of you to communicate about what happened. Of course it's far better not to say anything about a pattern once it's over, since eighty percent of the time any discussion will trigger another round.


If bonding patterns (which destroy intimacy and friendship) are:
Triggered by hidden vulnerability and fuelled by each person's primary selves then ....is it probable that ....

Friendship and Intimacy might similarly be:
Triggered when two people reveal or share their hidden vulnerability with each other and then fuelled or driven by the two aware egos.

What do you think?

Understanding Bonding Patterns - While you are in one you can’t see it....
One of the more complex aspects of inner self work are what Hal and Sidra Stone
describe as ‘bonding patterns’. In ordinary terms the negative version is what you and I would call 'a bad fight'. The opposite (positive bonding) is a couple  who may go for years and never have a fight even when they need to, to clear the air. Understanding what causes these patterns and what keeps them going helps you get out of them faster. Click here

Bonding Patterns  - Case Studies - Not all bonding patterns are negative and not all are over in a few hours. Positive bonding patterns can continue for months or years. What is significant in the patterns in these case studies, is the presence of two powerful selves each playing positive roles. In both partners, however, the selves playing these roles keep their real motives (protecting the person they belong to) hidden behind a mask that suggests the opposite is the case. Click here

Drawing a bonding pattern diagram. Most voice dialogue facilitators use a diagram to illustrate bonding patterns in a visual form, usually the same 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.   How you can use these diagrams to help get out of a bonding pattern is explained on this page. Click here

Getting out of Bonding Patterns
In the entire history of civilisation (over the past 80,000 odd years) no two human beings have ever been able to resolve a negative pattern or talk themselves into a 'soft landing' by continuing the exchange. Like two people struggling in quicksand, the longer they struggle trying to solve the pattern from the inside, the deeper they sink and the more painful the ending. Rather than lessening the vulnerability, the closing stages of a single pattern are characterised by the strongest of all the selves on one side winning the day, leaving the other person feeling devastated because they have no self to match it. It is a far better option to get out of a particular pattern as soon as you can. Click here

Underlying Vulnerability - Vulnerability is the basic issue out of which adapted behaviour (the selves) and bonding patterns grow. It is therefore at the heart of the way our inner selves think, act and what they tell us about what they imagine is happening in the world around us. A sense of vulnerability is a natural part of the daily experience for all living creatures, animals, birds, plants, insects, bacteria, and humans.   Whenever your vulnerable feelings involve deep emotional pain, you can be sure that one of your inner child parts is being reminded of the fear, pain, guilt, shame, loneliness, terror, devastation or despair they felt as a child, hence the term underlying vulnerability. Recognising our underlying vulnerability and talking about it helps us to connect with some of our deepest feelings and, in addition our even deeper fear of having to feel like that again.  Click here

The knower selves are a group of inner selves - are responsible for setting up major conflict (and the most awful bonding patterns)  in relationships. There are many different knower selves, judge knowers, medical knowers, and new age knowers. Typically knowers have a strong one above or parent energy, an overdeveloped certainty, that feels like, ‘I know I am right, and I need you to accept I am right without questioning me.’ They often push unasked for advice on to others while rejecting good advice offered in return and talk  with a sense of authority, that can sound something like ‘I know more than you,I can can see more clearly than you, so naturally I have the right to tell you what is right and what isn’t. (But you don't have the right to tell me.) For more information click on The 'knower selves

Most selves normally prefer to work alone as specialists, but sometimes one self seems to act as a 'front' for another stronger self  standing behind it.  I have been doing some re-thinking about the "knower" self.
One thing that strikes me as possible (and I don't claim to know for sure) is that many different selves may act as 'fronts' for the  more energised "knower or alternatively the polar opposite "not knower"selves.
No matter what self it is, if it's projecting strong knower or not knower energy, that could be what causes the clashes (negative bonding patterns) in relationships.
I don't know ......  what do you think? See the foot of my updated article on the knower for an explanation.

I thought this was a perfect description of that bother-some self the "knower" (although originally it was a written in the 1800's about a European composer, obviously a bit of a "knower")

"He has immense knowledge about everything but he lacks in-experience.

God's letter to all ....(posted 29 December 2000)
You may have already seen different forms of  "God's Letter to All" on the net. I found this version particularly appealing, even if it is a little irreverent in places. The points it makes are however worth considering as the parts of our World continue to fight to the death about whether one kind of spirituality is really better (or washes whiter than the other brands.)  Click here to read it.
(I liked it so much I have included it in "Growing Awareness" Does anyone know where it originated?)
While in the mood for something a bit different you might also like to read 
You may have already seen different forms of  "God's Letter to All" on the net. I found this version particularly appealing, even if it is a little irreverent in places. The points it makes are however worth considering as the parts of our World continue to fight to the death about whether one kind of spirituality is really better (or washes whiter than the other brands.)  Click here to read it.

While in the mood for something a bit different you might also like to read  In Praise of the Inner Goddess

"Rules for the School of Life" light-hearted, but Oh! so true. (posted 28 February 2001 click here

The three stages of Awareness - with illustrations - A one page summary

Normal multiple personality states and Dissociative Identity Disorder - (posted 14 February 2001)
There is a very significant difference between having many different inner selves or personality states within us (which can be normal and healthy or can cause some problems) and DID or Dissociative Identity Disorder (which used to be known as "Multiple Personality".)
I am afraid media presenters often fail to appreciate this when talking about personality issues. In fact they even tend to confuse DID or Dissociative Identity Disorder  with Schizophrenia which is another even more different disorder and one which is usually NOT characterised by splitting of personalities but rather sudden mood swings and other quite different processes.  Let's try to clear this up. 
Voice dialogue as we know it, is definitely NOT a suitable treatment and should be avoided with anyone who you even suspect of having DID.   Click here for notes that I hope can help explain this.

Feedback - please e-mail  me John Bligh Nutting -   at   bligh4@growingaware.com