Freedom from Self-Sabotage © Martyn Carruthers

Identify and Change Deep Limiting Beliefs

Part 1: Many Beliefs are actually BONDS

Part 2. Bonds & Identity LossPart 3. Resolving Emotional Bonds

As I developed our systemic psychology, I explored many models of emotions, beliefs and relationships. The bondwork models that I now use (1999) are so effective that it is strange for me to remember when I did not even suspect them.

Our Bondwork includes dissolving limiting
beliefs, obsessions, compulsions and identity issues
that bond us to people, ideas or things. Our bonds
can support us or prevent us getting what we want.

By beliefs I refer to feelings of conviction; and by bonds I refer to feelings of connection. While beliefs are usually more conscious, and bonds less conscious, both beliefs and bonds motivate us to behave in repetitive ways. The more intense the bonds, the more we invest into our bonded relationships.

Emotional bonds are partial identifications, where some parts of us identify with other people, leading to contextual emotions (as opposed to existential emotions).

Strangely, resolving bonds, bonded beliefs and identifications is largely missing in psychological and therapeutic education, although ignoring them seems to support short-term therapeutic effectiveness and multiple relapses.

Examples of harmful bonds include repetitive thoughts such as, “I’m not good enough!” or “I am bad” or “I cannot be happy“, by which people attempt to explain unpleasant feelings. Although the verbal components of a bond can be challenged, logic and counter-examples are unlikely to change underlying emotions.

Three breakthroughs in my understanding were that 1) beliefs often represent bonds, 2) bonded beliefs are often taboo (we may not know or even suspect our hidden beliefs, and 3) bonded beliefs often supply a sense of identity.

My study of beliefs included the work of Phineas Quimby, a 19th century mental healer who was credited with healing thousands of people by changing their beliefs.
Quimby wrote that education and religion were the primary sources of destructive beliefs that manifest as disease symptoms. I would add, in the first place, parents.

Bonds may be supportive or destructive. Supportive bonds include:

  1. Feeling connected to and at home in your body
  2. Feeling connected to mentors whom you respect
  3. Feeling connected to a meaningful life vision or purpose
  4. Feeling connected to a person whom you wish to emulate

Although psychoanalytic theories refer to fixations of sexual energy, I find that most fixations result from relationship disappointments, in which limiting beliefs allowed a sense of connection with difficult people – e.g. parents, teachers, priests or authorities. The consequences of unpleasant bonds can last for decades and include:

  1. Voice-like thoughts
  2. Horrifying images and dreams
  3. Guilt: depression and self-sabotage
  4. Depression: life does not make sense
  5. Diseases centered in the bond locations
  6. Feeling stuck to people you want to leave
  7. Strong emotions which do not make sense
  8. Compulsions, obsessions, fixations and fetishes

Another root of my bond work is in the pre-contact huna healing used by native Hawaiians. Ele’ele eke (black bags) refer to emotions, beliefs and images held in the body which can be healed by ho’omoe (dreaming together) and other ancient methods.

Most emotional bonds are created during shared emotional experiences and include family and cultural traditions. Stronger bonds include codependence and the strongest may be identification with a person, organization or nationality.

Bonds, and their consequences, that connect people
into families and lineages may be called family traditions.

Many bonded beliefs begin with I am … (e.g. “I am a psychologist”), as bonds can be substitutes for identity – a form of identity loss. (E.g. many people identify with the diagnostic opinions given by medical doctors. In a hospital, instead of a human being, you may become “the gall-bladder in room 13“).

For 20 years, my colleagues and I have helped people explore and change bonds, some of which we call taboo. Taboo implies that people may not allow themselves to consider, let alone challenge, their underlying beliefs and identifications. (E.g. “I am too stupid to survive alone” might support attachments to difficult or abusive people).

Is cancer random? Some cancers (e.g. lung and skin) are risk related, and some seem to develop in those body locations where we feel bonded to certain people.

Our bondwork can change obsessions
and compulsions into ordinary temptations.

Some bonds arise from marketing suggestions, commonly used to influence people to feel connected to commercial products, political rhetoric or religious dogma.

Do you want to explore the roots of emotions, behaviors and beliefs,
and change unwanted self-sabotage, obsessions or compulsions?

Many Beliefs support Bonds

What do you HAVE to believe to remain in your job? What MUST you believe to stay in your marriage? What SHOULD you believe to be your parent’s child? What are you REQUIRED to believe to participate in a religion? And if those or similar bonds limit your happiness or depress your sense of life, can you change them?

Many unpleasant relationship bonds are consequences of neglect, abandonment or abuse, e.g. parental alienation (a parent alienates the other parent in the mind of their child) or of covert emotional incest (when an adult family member relates to a child as a substitute for a partner).

I often hear people say things like, “I want to be healthy, but not if I must change my beliefs about … xxx“, where xxx is a political slogan, New Age ideal or religious dogma. Bonded beliefs may feel more important than health, some feel more important than happiness and some may seem more important than life.

Some organizations strive to install obsessive bonds and compliance in their members. Consider political parties, religious cults, military organizations and multi-level marketing companies. People with obsessive or compulsive bonds are more easily manipulated.

If you were abused, if you abused someone or if you suffered therapist damage, your bonds to those people will impact your other relationships. When your abusive bonds are triggered, you may suffer the consequences of abuse again and again!

The Name is BOND

Relational bonds encourage you to cling to beliefs, obsessions and compulsions. Why did you buy your current car … or mobile phone? Professional marketing programs are designed by experts to install obsessions and compliance in people like YOU.


Bonded people show limiting beliefs, obsessions, compulsions and
psychosomatic symptoms
? Such people live in a state of trance.

Part 2. Beliefs & Identity Loss . Part 3. Resolve Emotional Bonds

Do you want to change obsessions, compulsions or relationship habits?