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Beliefs that Heal - Beliefs that Kill
Change Limiting Beliefs Martyn Carruthers 1995

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Contact us to manage negative emotions, self-sabotage and change limiting beliefs

Thoughtforms & Relationship Bonds

This is based on my article, Thoughtforms, which was published by NLP World in March 1995. Here I summarized some the subjective experience of limiting identity beliefs and its applications in relationship coaching.

Relationship bonds refer to a subjective experience of connection between people, with the sense that people can lose both freedom and identity in relationships. A Thoughtform refers to a kinesthetic image schema representing a relationship bond to a significant person as a limiting "identity" belief.

Relationship Bonds & Self Sabotage

History of Thoughtforms

People once believed that mental and physical diseases were caused by unseen malign influences. Our ancestors blamed nature spirits, demons, esoteric elements and many other entities. Moreover, they created elaborate systems to explain, defend against and control these malignant forces, and to protect people from their influence.

Although these ideas nearly became extinct during the industrial revolution, they re-emerged within many modern movements. Many esoteric, New Age and religious philosophies refer to malevolent dark entities and shapes that may cause mental, physical and relationship problems.

Phineas Quimby, an American healer of the last century, was credited with healing thousands of people. Quimby wrote that physical disease was a result of mistaken beliefs, and that mistaken beliefs were represented in a person's mind as horrific images. He described ways to change these "mistaken beliefs" - but his fame as a faith healer ensured that his words were not heeded by professionals.

Quimby's work was distorted as a basis for both Christian Science (founded by Mary Eddy - a student of Quimby) and the New Thought Movement (founded by Julian Dresser - Quimby's friend and editor), from which the popular Positive Thinking movement emerged.) Read, if you are interested and tenacious, "The Quimby Manuscripts". See Quimby - Model of a Healer

Eliciting Thoughtforms

As a person's self-image changes with context, we map self-image onto the context of a desired goal. We coach people to access "future" meta-positions that represent an experience of integration. From these future meta-positions, we ask people to describe their current reality. These descriptions may include formidable representations, such as black demons, gray animals and implements of bondage.

Some images are connected to unwanted behaviors, or the lack of certain abilities. Typical unpleasant images include "a gray snake that makes me ..." or "a black chain around my legs that stops me ..."

These shapes seem to be associated with locations of physical disease - a person might report seeing a dark whirlpool or a black creature connected to a diseased body part. Such experiences can be readily utilized to create effective coaching strategies. Our coach training describes these models and applications.

Creation of Thoughtforms

Thoughtforms appear to be emotional bonds between people - holding people together - even people who might otherwise avoid each other. People often comment about "dark chains" or "black ropes" connecting themselves to other people.

We repeatedly find that Thoughtforms are normally associated with beliefs that were accepted by the person at a time when a person was resourceless and an important person communicated (verbally or non-verbally) a limiting belief ABOUT the client.

A simple example might follow a child breaks something important. An angry parent might shout, "You are so STUPID, just like your <other parent>!" to the child. A resourceless child may accept this idea as a belief - and as a way of bonding to the parent. Thereafter, the child may interpret feedback to support a belief that he or she is stupid. (See Parental Alienation)

We often find bonds installed by health professionals. If an aboriginal shaman "casts a spell" at a tribe member, there are many descriptions of the victim becoming ill in the prescribed time. When a health professional "casts a diagnosis" at a client, there may be a similar effect. (See Mentor Damage)

Many of our clients are therapists, and we have found that they can accept Thoughtforms from clients. For example, a therapist may feel resourceless as a client blames the therapist for poor performance. Some clients have effective hypnosis skills and install limiting beliefs in resourceless therapists.

Extent of Thoughtforms

Thoughtforms may be visual, auditory and/or kinesthetic and can operate at many levels. I use Gregory Bateson's concept of logical types to evaluate the impact of a Thoughtform on a person's life. It is usually enlightening for a person to discover what actions, beliefs, values, identity and visions were accepted from or connected to other people.

It seems that Thoughtforms are often associated with physical symptoms. When helping people who use psychosomatic signals, a priority is often to change the need for them. I assume that dark areas represent parts of the body over which the unconscious mind has limited control, and that this is detrimental to health. I assume that a complete and bright self-image is a prerequisite for long-term good health.

Installing Thoughtforms

Books about manipulation often include directions for covertly installing beliefs in other people, without their request nor permission. Many hypnotists boast of such skills. This was once called black magic.

Mystical cures (exorcism etc) often create dependence on a shaman, magician or priest! Nothing is learned by a person on how they gained their beliefs and obsessions, and little is done to prevent recurrence. This may generate repeat business, as people often blame themselves for their predictable relapses and problems!

I teach what I called Bondwork to people who can demonstrate excellence at systemic diagnosis and goal definition. I have trained many therapists and psychologists, who report that they can achieve effective long-term change in a fraction of their previous time, AND that they have more energy at the end of a working day. See Bonds

Ecology is the Study of Congruence

The key to effective changework are congruent goals. Without a congruent goal, changework will likely have short term or unpleasant effect. When clients learn about their acceptance of another person's influence, they can choose to prevent recurrence and focus on their goals, choosing exactly what resources, goals and visions they want.

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Appendix I

I was fortunate enough to study with several native Hawaiian elders and healers, mostly on Hawaii's Big Island. This excerpt summarizes how some native Hawaiian healers perceived and resolved what I have since called relationship bonds.

Excerpt from: The Kahuna Religion of Hawaii by Kahuna Daddy Bray

61. Using makaikei (psychic sight), a kahuna analyses thoughtforms created by distorted emotions and thoughts of chronic mental poisoning. Thoughtforms may appear as separate beings, but are more similar to forms that appear in dreams. When habitual, they act as vampires drawing off life force of a person. They have no reality in themselves.

62. The method of dispelling harmful thoughtforms is much like the techniques of analyzing positive and negative emotions. A kahuna leads a person to self-awareness by discovering the roots of thoughtforms, how they function, and why they are clung to. Then a person can decide to let go of a thoughtform and choose another attitude of mind and emotion, hence a new way of action. The method for doing this is gained only through experience, since each person is different.

63. Sometimes thoughtforms are projected upon a person by another. The relationship with a person is the same. A thoughtform must be exposed as an unreal appearance. If a thoughtform was accepted unconsciously, then a kahuna must find the weakness in the person that corresponds to the thoughtform. If a thoughtform was accepted consciously, for example, in connection with the expectations of parents or partner, then a kahuna must discover why a person does not want to live his own life but conform to the demands of someone else.

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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