The beliefs we hold form the lens through which we view and interpret the world around us and all our experiences. They help us make sense of situations and inform our decisions and actions. This happens both consciously and subconsciously. Some of our beliefs support us in becoming the person we want to be and living life in a way that aligns with our values and goals. Others can make this difficult by causing unwanted behaviors, thoughts and other symptoms, taking us away from what we want and who we want to be.
To help us understand how beliefs impact our lives and how we can release unsupportive beliefs, I’m pleased to introduce you to Life Coach and Root Cause Therapy Practitioner, Kathryn Askew.
Prior to meeting Kathryn, I didn’t know much about Root Cause Therapy, but Kathryn generously took me through a session so I could get an understanding of the process and benefits. I wanted to share Kathryn’s work with you because different therapies appeal to and work for different people and I know this will be so powerful for some of you. Enjoy our conversation!
Note: if you prefer, you can watch the replay of this conversation in my free Facebook Group.
Kathryn, can you explain how our beliefs influence our lives?
95% of the things that we do, our day-to-day behaviors and our emotions come from our subconscious. Only 5% is our conscious mind saying, yes, I’m going to do this.
I like to use the example of dieting. 5% of you says “I’m going to lose the weight this time. I’m really going to do it.” Then 95% of you, that subconscious part of you that’s trying to keep you safe says, “Actually, no, I’m all good.” Let’s imagine that when you were young and slim, you received some unwanted attention and consequently you developed the belief that a few more pounds keep you safe. This isn’t necessarily a conscious thought, but anything in the subconscious is super powerful. If this is your belief you will subconsciously choose actions that make sure you keep those few extra pounds.
How do you figure out which beliefs are unsupportive in Root Cause Therapy?
We figure this out with a sway test. It works similarly to a pendulum with the energy and gravity of the earth. I ask my client to face Magnetic North, and I read a list of about 25 of the most common limiting beliefs, plus any custom beliefs that I think may be relevant to the client. My clients just relax and repeat each statement after me, which will cause their bodies to either sway backward or forward. I can identify which beliefs are unsupportive from this movement.
When some clients do this for the first time, they are blown away because they are skeptical and don’t understand how it works. Some people say it feels like they’re on a string and being pulled backward and forwards. Sometimes it’s very noticeable and other times it’s the tiniest of movements and I might even have to check with the person about what they felt.
How does the root cause therapy help us release the unsupportive belief we’ve identified?
The unsupportive beliefs come from trapped emotions related to previous events. We might look back as adults and identify something that happened when we were three, and know now that it was something really, really tiny. But if it had a huge emotional impact on you as a three-year-old, and you never resolved the emotion that came from it, it remains trapped.
For example, let’s say when you were three years old you went to grab a cookie and your mum scolded you and said “No, you can’t have that”. If you look back now, you might think that was nothing. But, if at the time you really experienced this as unfair, you may have developed the belief that you can’t have anything you want.
When I work with clients, we identify the emotions that are present in a particular event. Then we turn up the emotions to a higher level and let them dissipate. When they are gone and you’re feeling okay again, we take the learning. For example, we look for the things you notice about the event now, without emotions clouding things.
All this happens while you are fully conscious and part of the conversation. You are just allowing yourself to pay attention to whatever drops into your head, even if it feels stupid. Whatever drops in is dropping in for a reason. It’s also important to be conscious so you can identify the learnings.
Does that mean that after you’ve identified the unsupportive belief, turned it up and let it dissipate, the belief is no longer an issue?
When you work with me we go through the sway test each week. We always recheck. Most of the time, the belief will have disappeared when we do the next sway test. If it’s something deeper or more significant it can take more than one session.
There is a layering effect also. You might get rid of layer A, but there are layers B and C underneath with similar beliefs. You can’t work on them until you’ve done layer A because they aren’t exposed until then. Most people certainly start to notice a difference within the week after the first session. Sometimes it’s only when you ask them questions the next week that they realise that the particular emotion or belief hadn’t come up in the same way anymore. They can also feel so much lighter.
Do you find that people often will use Root Cause Therapy in conjunction with seeing a psychologist or counsellor?
The majority of the people that I’ve worked with have had some kind of counselling previously but they’re still feeling like there are things that need addressing. Some people are just interested to know what Root Cause Therapy is.
It’s almost like we have a tape running on a loop in the background of our minds and after a while, you don’t even notice it. So some people come to me knowing there is something going on but not really knowing what. Others come to me with specific, bigger traumas. And some come to me because they have noticed tendencies and behaviours they can’t seem to stop that are affecting their lives.
Root Cause Therapy can tackle the less serious or impactful beliefs or events in your life as well as those related to bigger traumas.
What are some of the more common beliefs that you end up working on with mothers?
One of the big ones is I am not good enough. It’s a really common one. Mums often feel like they’re trying to live up to this perfect mum standard and so it’s a big one.
I am not worthy of love is a belief that just underpins so, so much. Often by clearing something like that, you can then clear two or three other beliefs as well.
I fear failure comes up when mothers feel like they are failing as a mum, or failing to juggle things the way they want to juggle them.
What are some of the common misconceptions that people have about Root Cause Therapy from your experience?
One of the biggest ones is that you will be put under or lose control. This is not the case. You’re fully conscious the whole time.
The other big thing is that we like to think we’re rational, logical beings who are in control and figuring it all out. But there’s so much happening that is automated and programmed just because of our lives that we’re not really aware of. Everyone has subconscious beliefs that are running the show. You may not be able to identify them, but they’re there and by addressing those things, it can help you just move forward in your life.
The iceberg analogy sums it up so well. Like with an iceberg, you only see the tip above the surface of the water. That is our conscious mind. Then you go under the surface to your subconscious mind, which is where everything that you have experienced, all the good and the bad, is stored as memories, beliefs, and emotions. What’s below the surface is impacting that tiny little bit above the surface even though it’s not visible and we don’t know it’s there on a conscious level.
Does anyone ever have trouble accessing their subconscious mind during Root Cause Therapy?
It’s harder for some people than for others. People who are very much in their heads can find it difficult to relax enough to allow what drops in to drop in. I have a client at the moment who needs a bit more conscious work first. I’m also walking her through some meditation-type exercises to help her get to the point where she can drop into it more easily.
Yes, you’re going to have distracting thoughts and you can notice them and let them go before bringing yourself back to the process. It’s about allowing them to surface and then float off again as if they were in a bubble floating by. If you’re already good at this sort of thing, you’ll find it easier to drop into your subconscious, but if not, we can work towards that. Everyone’s different and that is ok.
Our subconscious mind wants to protect us. Sometimes what you find is, especially if it’s something quite big, the subconscious mind might initially not want to go there. That’s why I always try to work up to the more impactful beliefs, because by then not only will. the client have a rapport with me and hopefully feel safe, but they’ll also be more used to the technique itself.
What do you wish everybody knew about Root Cause Therapy?
I wish everyone knew how impactful it is. It’s an alternative therapy that a lot of people haven’t heard of before. Some people think it’s all woo-woo. But it’s not all smoke and mirrors and it’s nothing scary. It’s really impactful and I feel it can help so many people.
I was skeptical myself at first. I had to have sessions done on me as part of my training and in the very first session I wondered if I was making it all up because I didn’t want the other trainee I was working with to feel bad if it wasn’t working (I have people-pleasing tendencies).
The second session was different. I lost my dad to cancer when I was four and I have always believed that all my abandonment issues came from losing my dad at that age. I was absolutely, 100% convinced. We were working on the belief I fear abandonment and the other trainee asked, so how old were you when you first felt this way? My conscious mind automatically started to say four. I answered “Four” and then immediately said, “No, three”. The number three just dropped in for some reason.
Then we went back to this event, which I actually had no conscious memory of. It was when my dad was really, really ill, in the year before he passed away. My mom had me and my brother who was about 18 months old, so she had a lot going on. I was being taken to some playgroup or kindy and I didn’t want to be there. I felt like I was being pushed out and being abandoned. When I related an entire event that I had no conscious memory of it made me think “Okay, this works because I didn’t just make that up”.
The very first event is what we’re trying to go back to – the root cause event. There will be other events further along your timeline related to the belief and as we work back from that root cause event to now on your timeline, we release the emotions on all the connected events by starting with the root cause.
About Kathryn Askew
Kathryn Askew is a Life Coach and Root Cause Therapy Practitioner who works with women who have experienced trauma and are ready to start their healing journey. She works on “big T” and “little t” traumas by healing the unprocessed emotions that are still currently causing unwanted thoughts, behaviours and symptoms in daily life. Kathryn is also a mother of 3 boys.