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Human Consciousness and Decision-Making 2
Keynote Speech to University Forum on Human Consciousness - 2

© Martyn Carruthers 1997 ... Online Counseling

We offer coaching, counseling and therapy on exploring human consciousness,
resolving family chaos and building healthy relationships.

This is part 2 of a keynote speech that begins here

Soulwork Systemic Coaching

The clarification and reconciliation inherent in each phase of our systemic coaching, seemed to help people solve many physical and mental symptoms - as if the symptoms of a disease represent old decisions that can be re-decided! The following steps can be adapted to many specific symptoms. However, for these steps to be useful, a person must want to fulfill their relationship responsibilities.

The remission of physical or mental symptoms seems to be a lesser benefit to a person than their finding and making decisions based on a deep sense of life, or "integrity" or "Soul". (Many clients have told us that a disease or problem was worth having to experience Soul.)

Most people consciously know their short-term goals, their present relationships, their symptoms and many past events. Most people are unconscious or unaware of existential conflict, identifications, limiting identity beliefs, relationship bonds and early childhood trauma. However, all these contribute to a sense of normality which people seem to use as a standard when making decisions. The following helps a person redefine normal, in alignment with their values, which seems to be a natural human way to fulfill life. Here are ways that we can, if we choose, accelerate fulfillment!

Phase 1 - Motivation (Suffer all you want!)

Lack of motivation is an obstacle to making complex decisions. For most people this is "suffering" - living the consequences of poor quality decisions until a congruent decision is made to take responsibility for life! Suffering seems to be a normal human way to motivate oneself.

Few people say "I'm living a great life, my family get along fine and we're all healthy - please help me!". In many societies, suffering is a normal way to build self-respect and earn the attention of other people. Suffering is often perceived as "sacred". Many people have told me that their suffering makes them better people. I ask "How much suffering is enough? How will you know when to stop?"

What is suffering? It seems to be an existential dilemma, often associated with hopelessness or helplessness, associated with one's sense of life. The work of Clare Graves provided useful insights into this. Graves discovered that people's values evolve predictably.

As our sense of life seems to be based on "What is important?", Graves work allows a rapid assessment of a person's values, and indicates the actions needed to evolve to the next level! Here are Graves' "Levels", in their evolutionary sequence, as I understand and interpret them today:

  1. My survival today is more important than anything
  2. Assisting the survival of our tribe (or family) is more important than anything
  3. My personal power (or immediate gratification) is more important than anything
  4. Our establishment (e.g.: religion, government) is more important than anything
  5. My personal success is more important than anything
  6. Participating in our community is more important than anything
  7. Creating viable systems is more important than anything
  8. Saving our planet (or humanity) is more important than anything

We developed Graves’ concepts to encompass how people express Soul, but that's another story. Let's get back to suffering! Pain happens - suffering is optional! Suffering is a choice. If you haven’t suffered enough, you can choose to suffer some more, but what is the point of your suffering, if you can't enjoy fulfilling your life?

Phase 2 – Integration (Path of Gifts)

Internal conflict and incongruence are obstacles to making complex decisions. After finding motivation, this phase is recognizing and accepting parts of us. Parts express themselves by incongruence - (E.g., a person becoming asymmetrical while saying "Yes". Courteously accepting and acknowledging incongruence builds (and deserves) a strong sense of trust. Parts can be elicited, accepted, acknowledged and integrated until the person experiences self as Soul.

Many soul paths (E.g.: desires, history, emotions, symptoms, values and ego) can help a person find their basic identity, or integrity, or Soul. Experiencing these paths provides flexibility at each step. I enjoy the paradox that each path is often considered by many people to be a block to fulfillment.

For example, a common obstacle is when a person desires two things simultaneously, which appear to be mutually exclusive. (E.g.: "I want love and freedom; but if I have love I cannot be free, and if I am free I cannot have love".) This type of conflict cannot be resolved at the level on which it is manifest (typically as emotional beliefs).

However, many conflicts can be resolved by recourse to Soul experience, which by its nature includes having both possibilities simultaneously. Each conflict becomes a stepping stone to Soul. Each accepted part seems to have a gift for the person, usually abilities that were forgotten or abandoned in the past. (E.g.: A client may say: "Now I remember my playfulness - this is the part of me that knows how to play!"). Nothing need be lost forever.


Identification prevents the experience of self as Soul. I know four (so far) Identifications, each with a set of symptoms that allow diagnosis. It seems that about 10% of North American and European people (based on work with clients and workshop participants) live an identified life. Resolving "identification" can manage symptoms and simultaneously help a person to find "Soul" experience.

  • Dead Person Identification - I am not-me, I am sad in all contexts of my life
  • Victim Identification - I am not-me, I am angry in all contexts of my life
  • Hero Identification - I am not-me, I am fearful in all contexts of my life
  • Dependent Identification - I am not-me, I feel all feelings of my dependent

In old Hawaii, if a person died and was not acknowledged by the family, the dead person's spirit was thought to be sad, and stay with the family, usually within a child (dead person identification). Freud also described identification with a dead person. A German psychotherapist - Bert Hellinger - described identification with victims; and Annegret Hallanzy developed a disidentification format.

During identification, it is as-if the person's true or basic identity, was lost or hidden, and another identity could be expressed. Our disidentification finds the person's true or basic identity.

Soul (I never met a soul I didn't love)

At the end of this Path of Gifts is a transcendent experience that we call Soul. Soul is not a resource, (for example a feeling of motivation), nor a part or partial personality. Many people have described Soul experience in terms of integrity and connection - a relationship quality in which all possibilities are available as ways to express one's deepest creative integrity. Such a representation can be a lasting internal guide, to evaluate circumstances and help make appropriate decisions.

Many people had spontaneously referred to this experience as Soul, which was at first a tribulation for me. I talked to some religious experts about what Soul might be, and received enough conflicting information to drive me back to physics. However, I wish to honor the wonderful Souls I have met, and the word Soul seemed to fit well. On finding Soul, most people say that Soul was always available, but it was deeply and DELIBERATELY hidden as a way of coping with family and life stress.

I often ask people in Soul experience whether this experience existed before the person – most people answer “Yes - of course”. I have asked many times if this connectedness will continue after the death of the person’s body – most people say “Yes, absolutely”.

Integration is complete when a person can choose "Soul" as a basis for evaluating life - creating possibilities, making decisions, for evaluating relationships, for changing beliefs, for resolving past trauma and for choosing role models.

Finding "Soul" is usually an ecstatic experience. A person's physiology becomes erect and balanced, with a peaceful high energy. It is something like meeting a mentor who supports you unconditionally and without criticism. Conversations with Souls are enlightening. I have never met a Soul I didn't love.

Fulfilling Relationships

Having found this basic relationship with self, a person usually wants to share self within fulfilling relationships - Soul to Soul. Past and present relationships can be reviewed as to how they could have been different, if the person had always had conscious access to Soul.

Phase 3 - Evaluating Relationships

Relationship bonds may be obstacles to complex decisions. Relationships are opportunities to fulfill our lives. We can use relationships to enhance our contact with our selves, while valuing and supporting each other. In a fulfilling partnership, one plus one can be much greater than two! During Soul to Soul communication, a casual, everyday interaction can become a spiritual event!

During relationships, we can lose contact with who we are, and search for substitutes. We may search for something or someone through which we may feel complete. Often, people experience this loss of identity as a "hole" that must be filled.

We may desire someone's assets ("I want what you can give me"), we may express someone else's emotions ("I feel your emotions instead of my own"), we may act dependently (" I want you to fulfill some aspect of me"). We may emotionally bond ("I connect to you in a way that changes my sense of self") and we may share limiting beliefs ("To be with you I must believe that I am ...").

Relationship bonds can be resolved, particularly for important relationships such as with parents, partners and children. Such bonds are intertwined. If, when evaluating relationships, you can access Soul, you can consult an always-loving, always-responsible, high-integrity mentor, to help answer the question "How can I fulfill my life during this relationship with this person?" Part of the answer may be in "What can we learn together from our Soul-to-Soul relationship?" Such answers are often profound.

Here I write primarily about partnerships. The same principles apply to other relationships, such as family, teams and parenthood. I will describe some ways that humans bond in partnership. The first two are ways that we can further our fulfillment during our partnership. Bonds are ways to lose identity.

Shared Values (We value each other)

If what is important to me is important to you (e.g.: similar views on life's purpose, working together, raising children), then we may have a basis for a healthy relationship, free of unhealthy bonds. If our relationship is important enough, I will make whatever is important to you important to me! (E.g.: "Spending time with your parents is not important to me - but I will make it important to me").

Sometimes, a single shared value can create powerful emotional bonds, but may not include other important values. (E.g.: "Sexuality is important to both of us – but that’s all we share"). It is often enlightening for people in relationships to discover which values they share!

Shared Desires (We support each other)

Given a relationship based on shared values, sharing desires allows us to support each other’s evolution. Instead of mind reading (E.g.: "If he really loved me he would know what I want") or fear (E.g.: "If I ask for what I want she might say "No!"). Although it may be easier to let the other person guess what you want, or easier to avoid conflict, saying what you want can provide a basis for mutual evolution. It may be enlightening for people in a relationship to discover what each other wants!

Asset Bonds (I want what you have)

A desire to control a person's assets may represent a loss of identity, replacing the fulfillment of developing some skill. Access to an asset may be more important than creating a "shared values" relationship with a person. For example, someone's wealth, knowledge, athletic prowess, musical ability or perceived power may be more important than their personality. Sometimes, mere "desire for association" with a person's assets is enough to create this type of bond!

If someone has something you want, but you do not want to create it for yourself, you may feign affection (E.g.: "If I pretend to like you a lot, perhaps you will give me..."). Such assets may be abstract (E.g.: power or status) or specific (E.g.: money or a skill). Also, you may use your assets, or symbols of assets, as offers of this type of bonding. (E.g.: "Look what I have! If you pretend to like me, I may give you some"). Dissolving Asset Bonds allows you to make clear decisions about contracts. (E.g.: "What can I offer you in trade for your desirable asset?")

Identity Bonds (I feel FOR you)

Sometimes you may feel emotions FOR other people. This represents a loss of identity, replacing the need to find and express your own emotions. For example you might feel sadness FOR someone who has died (E.g.: dead friend, aborted pregnancies), or fear FOR someone who does not express it (E.g.: someone who acts fearlessly), or anger FOR someone who is unable to fulfill their role (E.g.: a victim). In some cases identification may result (see Identifications) in which a person, usually as a child, expresses the identity of another person, and cannot express his or her "own identity". With most identity bonds, however, there is only the tendency to express emotions FOR someone else in a single context. Dissolving identity bonds helps you to decide how to express your emotions appropriately.>

If you realize that a person is feeling and expressing your unexpressed emotions for you, it may be important to express your own emotions. (E.g., if you are acting like a victim in some context, you may realize that someone else is expressing your repressed anger.) Victims cannot express anger - so by expressing your own anger you will cease to be a victim! Expressing your anger, no matter how appropriately, will probably change your relationships in this context very quickly!

Dependency Bonds (I am part of you)

A dependency bond represents a loss of identity, replacing the need to fulfill an important aspect of life with the desire that another person fulfils it. It is often an unconscious way to recreate a childhood relationship, but in its essence is an attempt to allow someone else to provide the missing sense of identity. (E.g.: "Without you, I lose my self-esteem") Dependencies may be manipulative - (E.g.: Unless you do this for me I will ...).

Sometimes the other person is also dependent - (E.g.: "If you pretend that I am a good person, I will pretend that you are a good person") creating a strong co-dependency. Dissolving dependencies allows you to make important existential decisions that you may have neglected.

Aka Bonds (You are part of me)

Another Hawaiian concept, an aka bond represents an emotional connection to another person, and a potential loss of identity, by replacing your desire to be self-sufficient. Aka translates from Hawaiian as smoky, sticky, braided and stretchy, which may be how Hawaiian healers perceived these connections. An "aka bond" is an emotional connection to another person. (E.g., "I have not seen so-and-so for years but I feel like we are still connected"). Such bonds are usually represented as feelings, but can be readily visualized. Some aka bonds unpleasantly affect your sense of self. They may encourage demands (E.g.: "Because I feel connected to you, I want you to..."). Dissolving or replacing aka bonds allows you to decide what specific behaviors you want to develop for yourself.

Identity Bonds (To be with you, I cannot be me)

Another Hawaiian concept, ele'ele'eke, seems to represent a loss of identity by identifying with a  limiting identity-belief that pervades consciousness. (E.g.: "I am bad", "I am wicked"). Contrary evidence is rejected, and even endless encouragement does not seem to reduce their effect. Such beliefs seem to have been created as a way of bonding to important people. (E.g.: "I see you as bad, so I will be bad too, and our mutual badness can bond us together"). My Hawaiian teachers described "dark energies trapped in the body". Replacing them frees people of much negative self-perception (and often of self-hatred) and encourages people to love themselves.

Phase 3 is complete when you have identified and resolved significant relationship bonds, including those with people who have died. You can now decide whether to re-create and enjoy relationships, and whether to enjoy a lasting freedom from old influences. You can choose to apply these methods to better enjoy future relationships. Having accepted full responsibility for evaluating relationships, you can decide to create relationships that support mutual evolution.

(An important Hawaiian healing ritual is ho'oponopono - my translation: "making life right through sacred responsibility").

Phase 4 - Resolving Past Trauma

Trauma or stress may provide emotional obstacles to making complex decisions. These past events may be unconscious - that is, you may have no conscious memory of them. These events are elicited by encouraging you (whilst experiencing Soul) to define a specific goal, or series of goals, that represent your highest values. (E.g.: "Achieving what goal would convince you that you are fulfilling your life?"). Typically, if you consider concrete actions towards such an important goal, you get strong emotions, which may overwhelm you and prevent your achieving the important goal. As relationship bonds were resolved in Phase 3, these emotions likely originate from unresolved past trauma.

Each unresolved trauma seems to have the emotional components of anger, and/or fear and/or sadness. At this stage, a person's anger arises from events in which the person's values were violated. Typically, a person is afraid of the consequences of expressing their anger, and is sad about the consequences of not expressing their anger. Identifying and resolving the specific traumatic events requires that a person find and re-decide the meaning of the event and decide how to express emotions in a way that supports their achieving their self-selected important goal, with mentorship.

Phase 4 integrated the philosophy of Annegret Hallanzy with my research with people who spontaneously healed themselves. (Annegret and I evaluated many therapies to determine whether we could use them at identity level, that is, how we could better support people's decisions to fulfill their lives!)

(1998) After you have accepted your unpleasant emotions, you can state your life goals resourcefully. The final phase is to evaluate your past and present mentors, or role models, from integrity or Soul. You can choose which role models to release, and which to keep, and choose new inspirational role models for the various steps which lead to your life goals.

(2000) I added systemic diagnosis to accelerate subsequent changework; it helps us understand the relationship structure and consequences of negative emotions, guilt and entanglements. Relationship diagnosis and resolving guilt provide a wider basis for our systemic coaching.

(2004) Some people CANNOT choose mentors! Some people have been so damaged by previous mentors (e.g. parents, teachers, therapists, etc) that they will not allow themselves to be mentored again. We resolve mentor damage as part of our work.

Life Makes Sense!

On completion, you can make sense of your life! You can make decisions true to your integrity. You understand why you lived life your way. You have integrated your fragmented personality, and you can make congruent decisions. You have re-evaluated important relationships from the perspective of fulfillment, and you can decide which relationships to nurture, and which relationships to change. You have replaced or resolved unwanted or inappropriate relationship bonds, and you can make decisions independent of those bonds. You have reconciled the effect of significant traumatic events, and you can decide how to express emotions appropriately. You can choose role models that empower the future.

There is Life to be lived. There are important decisions to make and important problems to solve. Striving to achieve these goals will INCREASE the number of relationship challenges and decisions that you make. Living with integrity is not easier! Living with integrity is fulfilling.

You can ignore your past - or to learn from it. You can ignore the future - or plan it.
You can ignore people - entangle with people - or create fulfilling relationships.

Do you want relationship counseling or systemic psychotherapy?
We can train you to resolve a wide range of relationship challenges.

Part 1 of this Speech

Online Coaching, Counseling & Soulwork Therapy

Our training includes Couple Coaching, Family Coaching and Team Coaching. We found that individual coaching for achieving individual goals may not make sense unless it includes the relationship systems in which a person lives and works.

I thought you were just another therapist - but you were not just. Not even. Not only.

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright © Martyn Carruthers, 1997-2018
All rights reserved

If you like our work, please link to us. If you know someone who might benefit,
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For online help, email us at:

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Have You Suffered Enough?

 Where are you now? Understand your emotions, fixations and enmeshments
What do you hope for? Know your goals and stop sabotaging yourself
Do you feel resourceful? Learn to develop your inner resources
Do emotions block you? Relationship problems and mentor damage
Do your beliefs limit you? Change limiting beliefs and end dependence
Do you feel connected? Resolve identity issues to recover lost resources
Is your partner happy? Build healthy partnership (or separate peacefully)
Are your children healthy? Happy parents better manage family problems
Do you want team success? Team leaders and their teams develop together
Do you have complex goals? Specialty coaching, counseling & therapy

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright © Martyn Carruthers 1996-2018  All rights reserved. Soulwork Systemic Coaching was primarily developed by Martyn Carruthers to help people solve emotional problems and relationship conflicts to achieve their goals. These concepts and strategies are for general knowledge only. Consult a physician about medical conditions and before changing medical treatment. Don't steal intellectual property ... get permission to post, publish or teach Martyn's work - email