Healing a  Relationship

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How to Get Out of a Bonding pattern after it has started

           and how to stay out of them permanently     

Body sensations and feelings (red warning lights)

Your body sensations and feelings can help warn you that you are in a bonding pattern.   These signals are like the red warning light on an instrument panel. They don’t 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.

However, 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. How can you do this

Getting out of Bonding Patterns

It's worth reminding yourself at this point that 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. This requires some level of awareness.

1. Body sensations are usually the first warning and so can help you become aware of being in a pattern. Learn to recognise your particular red warning light. For example you might notice 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. When you feel this, remind yourself that there is no point in continuing IN the pattern since there is absolutely no chance of it ending successfully while you are in it. Concentrate on getting out.

2. You can physically remove yourself from the situation (as long as you do this quietly and with as little intensity as possible). One person can’t keep a pattern going by themselves. You may find it easier to become more aware if your partner is not in the same room.

3. It’s better if you can remain present and acknowledge the pattern verbally (again doing this quietly and with the least intensity possible) but this takes more awareness and more practice. If you can’t do this for a start it helps, as you leave, to assure the other person that you are only going temporarily and intend to return as soon as the pattern energy in you has subsided.

4. If you are able to stay, you might say to yourself (or out loud) "I am in a bonding pattern." and leave it at that. Being aware and not talking about it   stops the pattern. But 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.

5. You can talk openly about your own underlying vulnerability, "I am feeling afraid and sad" because you are then describing what your selves are doing during your half of the pattern. You will only be able to acknowledge this when your have an inner parent or aware ego strong enough to do this. It is however the best of all the ways to stop bonding patterns. Even better is to then acknowledge that the other person will be feeling vulnerable too since this will help them to pull out of the pattern as well. For a further explanation see Underlying vulnerability

6. Afterwards chart the pattern as a diagram to help you see what was going on. The more you can see what was happening and the more aware you are of the vulnerability behind it, the less chance of of it happening again.

7. If the problem persists see a relationship councillor. If you haven't been able to stop the pattern yourselves by this time, you can at least become aware that there is little chance of succeeding without outside help. Not being able to stop the patterns may be a sign of enmeshment.

Long term negative bonding - enmeshment

Couples who spend years together lurching from one negative bonding pattern to the next, become so enmeshed that they no longer know how to escape and become trapped in the on-going cycle. There is a more subtle side to enmeshment and that is when there is a hidden payoff for each partner which keeps them coming back for more. For some being in a long term negative bond is still better than being alone or abandoned. For others the joy of beating the partner down seems to help relieve their own pain coming from their childhood abuse.

There is no doubt that some selves tell us we are less vulnerable each time we make someone else more vulnerable. Someone with selves like this may find it much harder to see the damaging nature of the bonding pattern they are stuck in until it is too late. Enmeshment is like being caught in an emotional net from which there seems to be no escape. Understanding negative bonding plus awareness of the inner selves as protectors of the inner child and the underlying vulnerability  are the starting points for ending enmeshment. This may require the help of a trained couples counsellor.