A fixed idea indicates an area where the person isn't looking. Therefore all kinds of stuff can gather up and be held in place by a fixed idea. Freeing up that idea can free up great amounts of other stuff.
The fixed idea isn't solid. It is simply an idea or a statement. But on behalf of it much stuff might be kept in place. The person isn't seeing things the way they are, and therefore things aren't getting resolved in the area. The fixed idea pretends that randomity doesn't exist and that everything is always a certain way. Therefore the unrecognized randomity is accumulating.
We can suspect that there is a fixed idea around if the person can not think in a certain area. There is a certain fixedness about it that probably doesn't make sense to anybody but the person with the fixed idea.
A fixed idea doesn't give itself up voluntarily. It is rigged to escape discovery and to deny its own existence. You need to corner the person and have her state the exact idea before she is likely to recognize that she is using it.
If you suspect a fixed idea in a certain area, you would engage the client in a dialogue about it, questioning her on the logic of what is going on. A fixed idea is a frozen piece of logic. If we keep pushing her for the logical reasons in the area she will eventually have to give the basic piece of logic, which is the fixed idea we are after. And when she gives it, she will usually become conscious of it and realize that it isn't logic after all. A fixed idea is inherently a piece of illogic being used as a basis for logic.
The most effective way of pinpointing a fixed idea is by asking repeated "Why" questions. The client will have quite logically sounding answers at first, but if you ask for the reasons for those and so forth, and you keep doing so, you are likely to get straight to the key piece of illogic.
C: "I am not going to get married again"
F: "Why not?"
C: "Because there is too much trouble with men"
F: "Why is that?"
C: "They always bug you"
C: "Because.. MEN ARE ANIMALS!" (laugh)
A correct fixed idea will almost always make the person brighten up or laugh. They feel very good about it, and when they become conscious of what they just said they think it is very amusing. They might still not give it up, but at least they are now conscious of it.
Here are some sample fixed ideas: "I know better", "I need to be taken care of", "They are all idiots", "I have a bad knee", "Nobody knows", "Somebody else will take care of it".
Fixed ideas might surface when you are generally dialoguing about a subject. You might not specifically be looking for fixed ideas, but one comes up. If it does, take care of it right there.
More likely, you get close to a fixed idea and things start getting kind of fixed. The person can't think with the subject, or she says really illogical things, or she is very assertive about it, without appearing to really deal with it.
Ask for the principles she is operating by:
"What principles are you operating by here?"
"What rules do you follow?"
"What do you know about ___?"
And then dig into whatever she says that sounds the slightest bit fixed. Find out what principles are behind those principles and so forth:
"What is behind that?"
"How do you know that?"
"Why is that?"
We are not really looking for logical reasons and explanations. We are trying to push the person into bringing forward a really illogical reason. To do that, we have to kind of trick her or bring her out on thin ice. She shouldn't have time to build up sensible explanations. She should rather blurt out something. So, ask your questions really quickly. A rapid succession of questions and answers is likely to do the job.
You are cornering the person. You won't be interested in any other issues that come up. We are steering straight for the fixed idea that is behind the trouble in the area.
When uncovering a fixed idea you are challenging the person to some extent. But mind you, you must still maintain rapport. You are not trying to prove her wrong in any way. You are playing a game. She tries to provide logical reasons and you try to catch her in using a fundamental illogic. Not just any faulty thinking, but a specific fixed idea that is fundamental to her way of thinking and operating in life.