Ask 5 whys

By Casey Cheah, 13 August 2019

Ask 5 whys

Have you ever been super busy, overwhelmed or stressed? And maybe had a little teeny thought in the back of your mind that you reeeally need some rest but there’s just not enough time to stop? Shortly after, you start coughing and sniffing, but you push through because you don’t have time to get sick. But your body finally crashes and you end up in bed for a week. It’s time to ask the 5 whys.

What is the problem?

We think the problem lies with all the things we have to get done. Our work, kids, our fitness, parents, partner, and friends that need us. The list goes on. We end up blaming everyone and everything else, rather than looking into what the real underlying root cause is.

Ask 5 whys

The presenting problem is never the actual problem. In other words, what feels like the problem is really just the tip of the iceberg. We really need to dig much deeper to uncover what is really going on that is creating the situation we are in. In the scenario above, perhaps the problem is not with trying to juggle all the different activities, but rather understanding the need to do so much? Whenever a client presents me with a problem, I like to ask 5 whys.

Client: I’m juggling so much and I never have enough time. Then I end up sick and in bed. When I’m sick, I can’t get anything done. It’s so frustrating!

Me: Why are you juggling so many things?

Client: It’s my responsibility to pick up the kids from school, make them dinner, and look after my husband. I’m also working part time and helping a friend through her divorce. The list is never-ending.

Me: I see. And why is it your responsibility to do all these things?

Client: If I don’t pick up my kids and look after my husband and my friend, who will? I want them to be able to rely on me.

Me: And why do you need them to rely on you?

Client: If they can’t rely on me, I would be a terrible mother, wife and friend to the people who need me.

Me: And why would that make you a terrible mother, wife and friend?

Client: Because I would feel awful if I couldn’t help them.

Me: And why would you feel so awful if you couldn’t help them?

Client: I would just feel so…guilty!

5 whys to get to the root problem

In this scenario, the client realises her need to do so many things stems from a sense of guilt. She might be a terrible mother, wife and friend if she didn’t help her beloved friends and family. Guilt is an emotion that stems from fear (as does anger, frustration, resentment and other ‘negative’ emotions). However we all have two underlying fears that go beyond these emotions: not being good enough, and not being loved. If we had kept going, we would potentially have landed on the fear of not being a good enough mother, wife and friend.

Ah, I see

Once this client realised the problem stemmed from a state of fear, she could turn the situation around in her mind. Rather than  needing to help everyone out of guilt, she realised she could help them out of love. In addition, she was able to see that sometimes the most loving action is to tell her partner how she felt and ask for help. She was able to talk to her friend about seeing a counselor to help her through her divorce. And most importantly, she was able to give herself some much needed time to rest and take care of herself.

Getting to the heart of the matter

When we step back and go through the layers of the presenting problem, often we can start to see where the problem originated from and address the root cause. It can help to ask the 5 whys, and see if you can uncover the underlying thought or belief behind the issue itself.

If you would like to know more about uncovering the root cause of the problem, book in for a Reiki healing session here.

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