Humans are social creatures defined by their ability to connect with each other. The ability to bond and forge long-term healthy relationships is fundamental to our overall well-being. Attachment is key our chances of thriving as infants and children. In developmental psychology the concept of attachment styles explains why some people are capable of healthy bonds with others while some are not. For those with impaired attachment styles, adulthood can be a lonely experience, for as much as they want to be close to people it seems impossible. Dr. Margaret Paul, author of Inner Bonding, believes that impaired attachment does not have to be a life sentence. Through self-training tools such as the Inner Bonding Process (IB) and SelfQuest, someone can re-learn how to develop a satisfying connection with oneself and establish healthy bonds with friends and family. Dr. Paul was in private practice from 1974 to 1986. Since 1986 onwards she has been a public speaker, trainer, and facilitator of the Inner Bonding Process. She is a mother of three children and a grandmother. In the following Q&A, Dr. Paul explained how Inner Bonding works.
1. What are the fundamentals of Inner Bonding?
Inner Bonding a 6-step spiritually based therapeutic modality that heals shame, and the resulting self-abandonment, that is often the root cause of anxiety, stress, depression, low self-esteem, addictions, and relationship problems. Inner Bonding creates profound connections with Self, Spirit, and others that heals emptiness and aloneness, and unleashing creativity, imagination, passion and purpose, love and joy!
The 6 Steps of Inner Bonding:
Practicing the Six Steps of Inner Bonding leads you along the spiritual path of healing the shame and self-abandonment of the ego/wounded self, and creates a profound connection with your personal source of spiritual guidance.
The energy that was drained by disconnection and fear now returns to you, allowing you to live life more fully, experience a fulfilling relationship with yourself and others, and learn to manage the challenges of life in a healthy and sustainable manner.
A brief overview of the Six Steps:
Step 1: Willingness to Feel Pain and Take Responsibility for Your Feelings
In Step 1, you move into the present moment and focus within, tuning into your feelings and emotions. You make the choice to be mindful of all your feelings, including your painful feelings, rather than protect against them with substance and process addictions. You make a conscious decision that you WANT to take responsibility for your feelings, which means that you want responsibility for learning how you are causing your own anxiety, depression, anger, guilt and shame with your own thoughts and actions, and that you want responsibility for learning how to nurture the painful feelings of life – the loneliness, heartbreak and grief that are so challenging.
This begins the process of opening you up to receive the positive energy that enlivens and sustains you.
Step 2: Move into the Intent to Learn
In Step 2, you focus in your heart and invite the compassionate presence of your higher self into your heart.
Now you’re ready to focus on “intent” – your deepest desire, your primary motivation. There are only two possible intents you can have in any given moment:
The intent to protect yourself from pain
The intent to learn about loving yourself
When you are in the intent to learn you are a loving Adult. When you are in the intent to protect and avoid, you are operating from your shame-based ego wounded self. This commitment to your intention to learn fully opens you up and allows you to connect with your feelings and your higher self.
Step 3: Dialogue with Your Wounded self and Core Self
With kindness, gentleness and compassion toward yourself, you discover the thoughts/false beliefs from your wounded self that may be causing your shame, fear and pain, and you learn how to release anger and pain in appropriate ways. You uncover false beliefs that were created in the past and have led to the self-abandonment that is causing your current pain and shame. You explore what may be happening with a person or event that is causing the core painful feelings of loneliness, heartache, heartbreak, helplessness, or grief. You explore your core Self – your essence, your inner child, which is your feeling self – and discover what brings you joy. Only when the unconscious false beliefs that have limited you for so long are understood and identified, can they be replaced by new and healthier truths that will nurture and heal you.
In Step 3, you ask yourself questions, such as, “What am I trying to control?” “What am I avoiding feeling with my protective, controlling behavior?”
Step 4: Dialogue with Your Higher Guidance
In Step 4, you ask your spiritual guidance (whatever that is for you): “What is the truth about the thoughts/false beliefs I may have uncovered in Step 3?” And, “What is the loving behavior toward my Inner Child in this situation? What is in my highest good? What is kind to myself?” You open and allow the answers to come through you in words, pictures or feelings. The answers may not come immediately, but if you have a sincere desire to learn, they will come. By staying open to learning, you experience that you are never alone. This is where fears fall away and you begin to receive all the love and wisdom you need to take loving action for yourself and with others.
Step 5: Take Loving Action
Step 5 is about telling yourself the truth and taking the loving action based on the information that came through from your guidance in Step 4.You have opened to your pain, moved into learning, started a dialogue with your wounded self and core self, and tapped into your spiritual guidance. In step 5 you take the ‘loving action’ that, over time, heals the shame, anxiety and depression that have been the result of your self-abandonment.
Step 6: Evaluate Your Action
Once you take the loving action, you check in to see if your pain, anger and shame are getting healed. If not, you go back through the steps until you discover the truth and actions that bring you peace, joy, and a deep sense of intrinsic worth.
Turning this daily practice into a way of life is what will protect you from going back into the behaviors and patterns from the past. Much like attending to – say – a child’s feelings, you learn to keep a loving relationship with yourself throughout your life, no matter the challenges that come at you. This loving relationship with yourself and your guidance fills you and empowers you to handle life’s challenges with strength and equanimity.
2. How does the SelfQuest software program work to help a person put the Inner Bonding process into action?
SelfQuest is a technologically advanced, easy-to-use computer program that teaches the Inner Bonding process through an in-depth experience. See http://selfquest.com/selfquest-testimonials/ for testimonials that give you a sense of the SelfQuest experience.
The program starts with a Foundation, which takes people through their history and their belief systems. Then it takes participants through the Inner Bonding process on two tracts – one related to an inner problem and the other related to a relationship problem. There are visualizations to help participants understand the process. Then the participants can go into further depth in various areas, such as relationships, parenting, addictions, spiritual issues and dreamwork. SelfQuest also teached EFT (the Emotional Freedom Technique) to help people with overwhelming feelings.
The program can be used over and over, each time a person feels anything other than peace inside. Participants have said that it’s like having me in their living room whenever they want.
3. How long does it take for people to master the IB process on their own?
Like anything worth doing, it takes practice, but it’s not exactly something one ‘masters.” The question is like asking, “How long does it take to master being a parent?” Inner Bonding is in-depth inner parenting, and we keep learning more the more we do it. Inner Bonding is a process that you learn to bring into your daily life, and the more you practice, the better you get at it. However, people start to feel better right away.
Many people learn it easily on their own, but when there has been abuse or trauma in their background, they likely need facilitation.
4. What are the features and benefits of the IB site?
We have a public site and a member site. The public site offers:
- A free 7-Day eCourse
- Over 1000 free articles on relationships, personal growth, spiritual growth, parenting and addictions.
- Free Help – see http://www.innerbonding.com/show-page/160/free-help.html.
- Free webinars
- Free Assessment – see http://www.innerbonding.com/biz_quiz/index.php?id=1
The member site, IBVillage, is a compassionate community that offers much support:
- Over 1000 member-only articles and the ability to respond
- Ask questions and receive answers the same day, and the ability for others to respond to the question and the answer
- Hosted chats almost daily
- “My Inner Bonding Process” – Inner Bonding in visualization
- Member-only videos on the Inner Bonding process
- Erika’s Everything Blog
- 6 or 8 free sessions with an Inner Bonding Facilitator in Training – depending on your level of membership
- Free Webinar recording
- Free monthly podcast – Dr. Margaret Paul answers members questions in-depth – for the highest level of membership
We offer four levels of membership:
Bronze – $9.95/month
This is a read-only membership. You can read all member articles, Erika’s Everything Blog, Comfort and Expression, forums, and all answers and posts to Advice questions. You also have access to all Member’s Only videos and to “My Inner Bonding Process,” which takes you through the Inner Bonding process. In addition, all Webinar recordings are free. You cannot post or ask questions, but you can read all posts.
Silver – $19.95/month
This is a community interaction membership. This includes all the benefits of Bronze plus: You can post on Comfort, Expression, Forums, Erika’s Blog, and Member Articles, as well as submit your own articles. You can join the hosted chats and use the chat rooms at any time.
Gold – $29.95/month
This is a community interaction & professional help membership. This includes everything in Bronze and silver plus: You can ask questions in Advice and receive in-depth professional advice, generally the same day. And, you are eligible for 6 FREE sessions with an Inner Bonding Facilitator in Training.
Platinum – $49.95/month
This is the ultimate membership…you receive all the benefits of the other levels plus: Free monthly “Ask Dr. Margaret Podcast” – a $39.95 value; 8 FREE sessions with an Inner Bonding Facilitator in Training; 1 FREE 45 minute phone session with Dr. Margaret after 1 year of membership – worth $200; Store discounts – books, CDs, DVDs – 20% off.
5. How did you and your co-creator of the IB program develop the method?
I had been practicing traditional psychotherapy for 17 years and I was not happy with the results. I was praying for a self-healing process that people could use moment-to-moment, rather than having to run to a therapist whenever they were upset. Dr. Erika Chopich and I met in 1984 through a mutual friend. We each had half the Inner Bonding process, so of course we had to meet. The process has been growing and evolving ever since, through the guidance of Spirit.
6. Why is IB effective even with people who had not found relief in traditional therapies?
Before Inner Bonding, I personally had had years of every form of traditional therapy available. Not one therapist taught me how to take personal responsibility for my feelings, nor helped me to see that my self-abandonment was at the root of my pain. I never learned in any of the therapies how to manage the very painful feelings of life. Inner Bonding provides people a self-healing roadmap that never fails to bring relief when practiced. It works because it not only addresses the root cause of most pain, but also shows you how manage and learn from your pain, rather than to continue to avoid it with various addictions.
In addition, it teaches you how to connect with your personal source of spiritual guidance. There can be no true healing without this connection, and most therapies do not include a spiritual connection.
Inner Bonding teaches self-compassion, which is essential for managing painful feelings. Without self-compassion, we are needy for others to give us what we are not giving to ourselves.
7. What does IB address when it comes to people with deep seated fears of intimacy and engulfment who want to overcome these fears?
The fear of intimacy comes from not having developed a loving adult self who has learned how to not take rejection personally and to set boundaries against engulfment – against losing yourself. Without a loving adult self in charge, we operate from a young and programmed wounded self who fears the loss of others and loss of self. The fear of intimacy heals when people practice Inner Bonding, which is what develops the spiritually-connected loving adult self.
When you don’t know how to love and value yourself and give yourself the approval you need, you are needy of others’ love and approval. This neediness can lead to giving yourself up to avoid disapproval and rejection. Neediness is healed through the practice of Inner Bonding.
9. Describe how IB tackles self sabotage?
Inner Bonding heals the underlying shame that often leads to self-sabotaging behaviors. Inner Bonding teaches you how to love yourself rather than to continue to abandon yourself. It is self-abandonment that perpetuates the shame that leads to self-sabotaging behavior.
We all have an ego wounded self who is deeply programmed to try to be safe from feeling pain, rather than to be loving to oneself. All the ways the wounded self has learned to try to be safe often create the very pain it is trying to avoid – such as addiction to anger, blame, caretaking, resistance, food, alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex and so on. These addictive behaviors are generally self-sabotaging. Inner Bonding teaches you how to love and value yourself and take loving action in your own behalf, rather than continue to self-sabotage through self-abandonment.
10. Can IB be combined with other trauma therapies, like EMDR? And if someone works with an Inner Bonding facilitator, what can they expect from private sessions?
Inner Bonding works extremely with other trauma therapies, such as EMDR, EFT and Somatic Experiencing, as well as with all forms of body therapies which help you become aware of your feelings.
Inner Bonding facilitators give you the support you need to create your spiritual connection, your loving Adult self, and to go deeper into your childhood programming and trauma. Facilitators help you unearth and heal unconscious false beliefs that are limiting you and causing you pain. Facilitators help couples to see their system that may be causing conflict or distance, and they help each person learn to take responsibility for their own end of the system. As each person learns to take responsibility for their own feelings and actions, their relationship heals.
While Inner Bonding is a self-healing process, most of us do not heal alone. Many people need support to heal. They can receive this support through membership in IBVillage and through Inner Bonding facilitation. SelfQuest also provides a powerful level of support.
To read more articles by Dr. Paul on Huffington Post, click here. Dr. Paul also offers a Relationship Toolkit and Weight Loss DVD series for those who want to experience one of her workshops at home.