Spiritual Bypassing and Inner Bonding

Spiritual Bypassing and Inner Bonding

Spiritual Bypassing is a term coined by John
Welwood, which defines his experiences he had in meditation communities where practitioners
used meditation to skip the work of resolving emotional wounds, and unfinished childhood
development. To nip this in the bud, I chose a modality
to review that has helped me in the past, and still helps to this day. Inner Bonding is a process by Dr. Margaret
Paul, which is a modality of healing that creates a solid foundation for spiritual practices. Before we see the impermanence of the self,
we first need to get to know the self. In this installment of Psych Reviews, I’ll
leave you in good hands with Margaret who recommends 5 steps on how to create this foundation
to support your spiritual practice. In “Healing Your Aloneness” Margaret gets
us to look deeper at the world we live in. She says “our culture is rampant with people
who are addicted to something. Alcohol, drugs, food, cigarettes, work, TV,
money, power, relationships, religion, approval, caretaking, sex, affection, romance – all
ways to get filled up from outside of ourselves – that’s what addiction and co-dependence
is all about, trying to fill oneself up from the outside.” The above list is not exhaustive. We can also read a lot, or meditate a lot,
and it is still chasing for something external. To create some discussion on this, I would
like to take this time to ask you viewers to put in the comments section below the answer
to this question. Have any meditation practices increased or
decreased your connection with the self? This is an important question because this
disconnection is all pervasive in our culture, and we are all in the same boat, whether we
meditate or not, whether we are spiritual or not, whether we have high status or not,
or whether we think we are smart or not. The cultural messages are the same, “just
this next thing, situation, opportunity, will do the trick. It will make you happy forever.” In actual experience, we will always want
more. This can include meditation that treats healthy
desires the same as unhealthy ones. Or endless expensive meditation retreats where
the disconnection continues. What needs to be clear is that, internal sources
of motivation are more lasting than external sources as you’ll see below. Dialoguing with yourself, validating yourself,
and acting on your own behalf generates positive chemicals without the need of others to dialogue
with you, validate you, and act on your own behalf. For example, that long meditation retreat
might not help a meditator’s disconnection, just how like that bigger house may not help
a social climber’s disconnection. We will only find emptiness in the end because
we get used to everything, and develop a tolerance every time. You can even do a great loving-kindness meditation
practice for yourself, but because you’re so disconnected from your needs, it doesn’t
work. You still hate yourself. A loving-kindness meditation can be helpful,
but it is at the level of a self-affirmation. If you also act on your healthy long-term
needs, your self-esteem chemicals will start flowing, and you’ll feel just as good as a
meditation, and maybe even better. Certainly if you want to investigate your
consciousness with meditation, a healthy self will make it easier, not harder. Though this is tough nut to crack. To Margaret it’s not just a bunch of “losers”
who are co-dependent. A lot of people regardless of status, can
be chained to one or more of the above addictions, and flaunt how superior to others they are,
which is also another addiction. An addiction to approval, and also an advertising
addiction to the onlookers, who are looking at the person needing approval with envy. For many people, their consumption and boasting
about it to others is the only thing left of the pleasure once it disappears. They know their feelings of pleasure disappear
into emptiness, but they ignore those feelings and look for substitutes, like social comparison
to keep the happy chemicals going. This kind of disconnection creates conflict
when we require exploitation of others in our relationships, to feed our identity when
the social comparisons aren’t favourable. This looking outward faces away from where
we need to look. By creating wholeness and connection within
it is easier to share that wholeness and connect with others because we don’t run out of those
happy chemicals so easily. Yet it’s almost impossible to be nice to others
when we feel empty. For Margaret, her method of Inner Bonding
starts with intention. We need the Inner Adult to develop an intention
to learn from the Inner Child to replace the intention to protect. The protection here she talks about is not
basic protection of your life and property, but over protection, that prevents us from
getting our needs met. Her methods remind me of Sigmund Freud to
a certain extent, but she prefers to keep the concept simple, so that it’s easier to
use. For example, she defines the Inner Child as
your modes of “being, feeling, and experiencing.” The Inner Adult as your modes of “doing, thinking,
and acting.” How we can get cut off is the intention to
protect becomes so repressive, that it doesn’t even have a dialogue with the Inner Child. The Child is always talking to us with authentic
feelings in the moment, which requires us to move into a learning intention, if you
want to make that connection. The feelings are teaching us about ourselves
all the time. They can be drowned out by all the addictions
listed above or discounted by the adult. Here Margaret reminds us that this present
moment, with your feelings, there is a choice. The choice to learn from those feelings. This is the junction where the adult can listen
and find realistic ways to respond to those feelings. Every time those feelings are ignored, and
something external is used to numb the pain of the Child, the sense of wholeness disappears,
until you start listening again. When you get sensitive enough to feel the
modes of connection and disconnection, it can feel almost like flipping a switch. The Inner Child contains our memories and
responds to the Adult as feeling loved or unloved. The Child is unloved when it is being criticized,
neglected, shamed, abandoned, rejected, and indulged. Margaret says, “the Inner Child learns to
fear being rejected, abandoned, and controlled. First by external caretakers, and then by
the Inner Adult, and eventually projects these fears onto others, generally believing that
others are rejecting, abandoning, or attempting to control him or her”, whether this is happening
or not. The pain of rejection to the Child is so unbearable
that it gets compounded by the helplessness of children when they have no Inner Adult
to protect it from exploitation from others. “The abandoned Inner Child is constantly afraid
of being wrong because it believes that being wrong is what leads to rejection, therefore
it strives to find the right way to be in the world. It becomes addicted to shoulds, and rules,
as a way to control rejection. It develops a need to be perfect in a belief
that it is possible to be perfect. Perfectionism and the fear of being wrong
are the symptoms of internal disconnection between the adult and the child.” So when we do not learn to give ourselves
approval, then we have no choice but to look for it from others. This can open the Inner Child to abuse from
others when all the power is given to others to provide the approval. This can be in toxic family relationships,
and also in the workplace. The abandonment is then complete inside and
out. The fear of being engulfed in relationships
keeps the Inner Child isolated and contact from others can lead to defensive and overprotective
comment them and the Inner Adult. The loved child feels safe and is open to
letting the Adult know what we authentically feel, and what we authentically want. If we cannot feel what is true, then we cannot
access the wisdom of the Inner Child. When the Adult is working well with the Child,
the Adult provides the skill and mastery, and the Child provides the sensitivity and
intuition of experience. The loving adult parents the Child by learning
what brings the Child joy, and acts to bring it out. The Adult is balanced and not permissive or
authoritarian in its actions. The Adult can question the Child’s desires,
and it doesn’t have to enable the Child, just like people can enable addictions in others. The Adult can use truth to teach the Child. Margaret says, “the Adult expresses through
action, the needs and feelings of both the Child and the Adult.” On the other hand, “experiencing feelings
without the action of the Adult leaves us stuck, and likewise, action without feeling
behind it, is an empty experience.” This is how our authenticity can disappear. For example, Margaret says, “if you feel warmth
towards someone, but do not express it with some form of action, people never get a true
experience of you. However, if you act affectionate without a
feeling of love, then the act is empty, and may even be manipulative.” Naturally others can also be inauthentic to
you, and may even use shame and flattery to control your Inner Adult and Child. When the co-dependent takes a low self-esteem
identity, from being shamed, or abandoned, then it can increase the low self-esteem with
all kinds of addictions, which add to the shame. The cycle can then lead to mental illnesses
like depression. Margaret also describes the opposite situation. She says that, “treating our Inner Child lovingly,
creates the inner connection that fills the emptiness from within, rather than needing
to fill it externally with addictions. The more we learn to treat our Inner Adult
lovingly, the more solid and full the internal connection becomes, leading to peace, joy,
power, and wholeness, erasing the need to give ourselves up to be loved by others.” Your perceptions change, and how you look
at those addictions after you are bonded from within, is that the addictions tend to lose
their luster. The self-abandonment, ceases, and so does
the slavery. When people are disconnected from the loved
child, by the behaviour of the unloving adult, both parts project onto others, and mistreat
their unloved parts of themselves. This leads to conflict with disconnected others,
as each person cannot access authenticity and share it with others. They can only share resistance, mistrust,
hypervigilance, and pre-emptive strikes. The way out is for the Adult to listen and
intuit the feelings and needs of the Child, and then the Adult has to make good decisions
to satisfy those needs. When the Inner Child feels loved, the brain
creates an internal source of loving neurochemicals that makes you feel more satisfied and content,
and more often. Your perception of external rewards changes,
so that those external rewards look as empty as they are. The problem with external rewards is that
they die out quickly, so like in an addiction, you constantly need replenishment to prevent
emptiness. Self-intimacy translates into relationships
when how we show up often attracts people who are similar. Margaret says that, “most of us enter our
relationships with low self-esteem, hoping our partner will make us feel whole and good
about ourselves. This is one of the major difficulties in relationships. Expecting our partner to be responsible for
our good feelings. But it is only when we are already in love
with ourselves, through loving connection with our Inner Child, that we can truly love
another, by wanting to know that person, and by supporting his or her growth and happiness. When we do not love ourselves, we are threatened
by the other’s growth, so instead of supporting them, we attempt to diminish and control them. When we do not know and love ourselves, we
fear rejection, abandonment, and domination, engulfment by our partner, and find many ways
to protect ourselves from our fears. A withdrawn or resistant person may touch
off our fears of abandonment, so we protect ourselves by becoming controlling. A demanding or controlling person may activate
our fear of being engulfed, so we protect ourselves by becoming withdrawn or resistant. We cannot give love when we are protecting
ourselves from these fears. Until we know that we are lovable, we will
be dependent on others to make use feel good about ourselves, and will continue to fear
being abandoned or engulfed.” For couples struggling and who want to go
to therapy, Margaret has a warning about co-dependent therapists. “If the couple tries to get help through therapy
there is a good possibility that the therapist is an unrecovering co-dependent, and therefore
not helpful. A co-dependent therapist, who is not in recovery,
cannot help others face their co-dependence. We cannot see in others what we have not dealt
with in ourselves. Co-dependent therapists may even do more harm
than good, since they may actually foster co-dependence in their clients.” Again Margaret hits on what we avoid doing
for ourselves, which makes us avoid doing it for others. She says, “the first prerequisite of intimacy
is to be intimate with oneself. As long as we are looking outside ourselves
for intimacy, we will never have it and we will never be able to give it. In order to be intimate with another person,
we have to know who we are, what we feel, what we think, and what our values are, what
is important to us, and what we want. If we do not know these things about ourselves,
we can never share them with another person.” Another way of looking at this is that if
we don’t know our true preferences, and it’s the same with our partner, it means we are
locked away from our inner children and therefore cannot please each other. Which is what relationships are about, pleasing
each other. We may end up enabling each other’s addictions
instead. For Margaret, these inner bonds that eventually
connect with others, who are also inner bonded, is “the most wonderful feeling we can ever
experience.” So now that we know what Inner Bonding is,
how do we get more of that? Here are five steps that Margaret lays out
in her book, “Inner Bonding”, to show us how to reconnect with that inner intimacy. As we go about our day our habits of repressing
the Inner Child can make us unconscious of the existence of an Inner Child at all. Those with rigid personality disorders may
never be able to complete step one, which is to analyze their feelings. In those cases, therapy is necessary. Margaret says, “we cannot explore our feelings
until we know we are feeling. Many of us have learned to numb our feelings
with our substance and process addictions. Until we become willing to pay attention to
and feel the feelings of our Inner Child, we cannot begin to learn about them. Feeling your feelings, means focusing inward
into your body, paying attention to your gut, your neck, your shoulders, your legs, wherever
you hold your tension, anxiety, fear, sadness, grief, disappointment. It means not doing the things you normally
do, to not feel your pain. Not taking that drink. Not eating that candy bar. Not turning on the TV. Not working those extra hours. Not yelling at your mate or your kids.” For Margaret, Step two is switching from the
intent to protect, and move into the intent to learn. For her, we have to believe that feelings
have a good reason for being there. To do this, we also have to be willing to
feel emotional pain. For most people who didn’t get the “good enough
parenting”, we have lots of prior judgment for listening to those feelings, and also
our own self-judgment to contend with. Margaret says, “we cannot truly embrace the
intent to learn as our primary intent until we are no longer controlled by the fear the
other’s judgment or self-judgment. Until then, protecting against being seen
as wrong, and against experiencing the deep pain of shame, will be more important to us
than learning. Most of us suffered pain, from being sexually
abused, physically abused, or emotionally abused, by being ignored, neglected, ridiculed,
put down, yelled at, or called names. We were alone, trapped with our pain and shame. We were too little to leave, to call a friend
for help, or to find ourselves a therapist. For an unfortunate number of us, childhood
was hell, and to survive we had to find ways to protect ourselves. As long as we choose to protect against pain,
the work we must do to avoid that pain controls our lives. In order to open to learning, an individual
must decide that he or she is willing to feel and learn from the pain. Opening to learning from pain is an essential
aspect in healing. Once a person opens to learning, he or she
can learn to pay attention to the emotional discomfort and pain of the Inner Child. The facilities understanding that there are
good reasons for the discomfort and pain. Exploring and challenging the false beliefs
that are causing the present unhappiness, discovering what brings joy, and acting to
bring it about. As the Inner Adult learns to handle the pain
of the Inner Child, the door to memory opens, and we can finally remember, grieve, and heal
the experiences that created our core false beliefs about ourselves.” Now that the loving adult is responding to
the Child’s feelings, there’s an opening for connection. You can ask the child direct questions. Through the use of Automatic Writing, Margaret
shows how the connection with the Inner Child can grow deeper. With practice the diary can be filled up with
what has been repressed for so long. Margaret instructs us to “ask a question directly
to your Inner Child, saying the words out loud, or writing them down using your non-dominate
hand when answering as the child. Then gently move from thinking to feeling. Pay attention to the feelings in your body,
and allow yourself to react as if you are the small child. Let the answers to your questions float upward
into your consciousness. You can also use a doll or stuffed animal
or a picture of yourself as a child to help the dialogue process.” How the adult can facilitate the dialogue
is as follows: The adult can ask simply, “what are you feeling?” Then you can go into the body and find out,
and explain the emotions from the vantage point of the child. The adult can then validate the emotion without
the threat of rejection, which is the most important thing. The adult can respond by asking what the child
wants done differently. At this point, all the false beliefs that
suffocated the Inner Child are revealed, and can be explored by yourself or with a therapist. It is important that the Adult thanks the
Child for the depth of inner wisdom, and most important, the Adult must find a real way
to act on those requests so that the Inner Child doesn’t feel abandoned again. What Inner Bonding practitioners experience
at the beginning of the process is a very resentful child that can spew expletives and
communicate a lack of trust of the adult. The adult cannot use their old belief systems
and defenses against the Inner Child, otherwise it is just more of the same repression as
before. When the child feels loved, the connection
is warm and the trust is stronger. The feeling of being a victim disappears with
each act of the adult to support the child. To Margaret, the Higher Power we are talk
to is not the Inner Child or the Inner Adult, but the bond between the two. As long as the conversation between both continues,
the access to our higher power is open. She says, “the focus needs to be on what is
loving to ourselves, to our own Inner Child, first and foremost. If we focus on what we thinking to others,
we may end up caretaking instead of loving, and our Child will get cast aside. Once you’ve dialogued with your Inner Child,
and your higher power, and decided what the loving behaviour would be in a given situation,
your Adult must make it happen. Just as you would take action to relieve the
pain of your actual Child, you as the Adult need to be the one to take action to relieve
the pain of your Inner Child. Then as explained earlier, when your adult
does what is needed, to meet the Inner Child’s needs, in ways that have long range positive
consequences, your Child feels loved and cared for, and your Adult has a sense of inner strength. Whether we want to blame our parents for our
parenting, in the end, we are still the only ones who can change our inner state this way.” Margaret says, “one of the sad but true things
about life is that, if we didn’t get what we wanted and need from our parents, it is
too late as adults to get it from outside of ourselves. As adults, we can get all the love in the
world from outside of ourselves, and all it does is make us feel good for the moment,
as does any addiction. As long as we continue to treat ourselves
in unloving ways, we will continue to feel unworthy or unlovable, no matter how much
outside love we get. We have to give ourselves the love first,
before any outside love can even come in any permanent way. Outside love cannot come into a closed heart,
and unless we are open to learning and loving within, our heart is closed and others love
is a temporary drug.” When our heart is open, then the Inner Child
can feel much more freedom. Margaret says, “one theme that runs throughout…is
Freedom – Freedom from fear, freedom from internal struggles, from inner resistance,
from the need for emotional protection, from your own or another’s attempts at control,
freedom to feel and the freedom to value that feeling.”


  1. How can I diagnose if my wife is bypassing? She is absolutely addicted to all of this spiritual stuff and has now left me with our 5 year old child and taken with spiritual guru? What can I do?

  2. Whoa I was just looking up information about John welwood regarding spiritual bypassing and I stumbled onto this! 7 year Journey the last two have been very successful. I'm in two recovery fellowship have been sober for 7 years. I was trying to find a way to stop looking for the Holy Grail and I found this. I'm not sure what to say mostly thank you I will have to delve into this further.

  3. So I gave this further review and it is right up my alley. I had been struggling for years with my emotional sobriety not physical sobriety.I had kept resorting to various forms books doctors authors and still trying the same addictive ways. Prior to finding this video I decided this week 2 stop trying to find the Holy Grail and just use what I have. As I was looking up spiritual bypassing which I had been doing anyways I find this and it now seems so simplistic. I find this to be the icing on the cake. I already had Margaret Paul's book healing my aloneness it just took me these last two years to really let things sink in. When you remove all addictive behaviors that is when The Healing Begins. That's what happened to me + Im much more receptive now. I find this to be one of the best videos and wondered how you got on this path?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *