Rob Williams and the art of nurturing positive, life-transforming beliefs.
Jurriaan Kamp | September/October 2012 Issue
Ever since he saw Disney’s animated classic Fantasia as a young boy, Rob Williams has dreamed of being a magician. Now, a half-century later, he might just have become one. Williams doesn’t use magic to clean the kitchen, like Mickey Mouse does in Fantasia. He cleans something far more important: the subconscious, which drives most of our behavior and experience.
There is no shortage of personal growth gurus today. Yet many of the techniques they proffer fail when conscious commitments fail to overwrite self-limiting subconscious beliefs. Changing the subconscious is precisely the focus of Williams’ PSYCH-K method, which he developed almost 25 years ago. PSYCH-K offers a simple, direct process to overcome self-sabotage.
Rob Williams didn’t set out to become a psychotherapist. After studying philosophy in college, he took a job in the backpacking industry, inspired by a powerful experience in nature he had as a teenager. He later moved on to executive positions in the energy management and telecommunications industries, until one day he realized that his work was not fulfilling. So he got a master’s degree in counseling and began a career as a therapist.
He quickly discovered that the worlds of business and counseling were far apart. In business, he had always learned “to get results, no matter what”; in therapy, he discovered that it was all about the process. “The process is the end itself,” he says. “You just need therapy.”
That dichotomy felt unsatisfying, so Williams took courses—in neurolinguistic programming, hypnosis, touch for health, educational kinesiology and reiki—in search of more effective treatments to help clients make positive changes in their lives. “I was also frustrated by the limitations of the old counseling formula of ‘insight + willpower = change,’” Williams says. “Many of my clients, up to their eyeballs in insights about how and why they had become the way they were, were still not experiencing the satisfying lives they sought.”
Then one very frustrating December day brought Williams the answer. He had spent the day putting together a mailing to promote his counseling services and encountered all the maddeningly familiar printer and photocopier challenges. When he finally gave up, he fled to his garden and sat on a half-frozen lawn chair. Still fuming, he said out loud, “Okay God, if you don’t want me to do what I’m doing, what do you want me to do?”
Not considering himself susceptible to spiritual experiences, Williams didn’t expect an answer. But to his astonishment, he recalls, “Within minutes the details of a pattern for changing subconscious beliefs showed up in my head, like on a teleprompter.” He ran to his computer and typed what he had seen, most of which was new to him. That was the beginning of PSYCH-K.
We meet in a San Francisco hotel that looks out over the bay. In the distance is Alcatraz, once the site of a notorious prison. Today, the spooky empty buildings are a popular tourist destination. Staring in the direction of Alcatraz, Williams says: “Many people are prisoners of their own beliefs. PSYCH-K is all about breaking out of these prisons.” He is an articulate and rapid-fire speaker, still more the can-do executive than the counselor comfortable with long pauses. But there is also a warmth and passion in his eyes and voice.
After almost 25 years, Williams is proud to have trained about 40 PSYCH-K facilitators around the world. There is no aggressive PSYCH-K marketing machine, no desperate attempts to get publicity. The therapy and training are available for those who find them and are ready for them. Authenticity and sincerity are hallmarks of Williams’ approach.
PSYCH-K works with sets of paired statements, such as “The universe is a friendly place” and “The universe is an unfriendly place” or “I love myself” and “I hate myself.” Research has shown that the subconscious directs the body’s motor functions and controls muscle movements, so PSYCH-K uses the musculature to communicate with the subconscious. It’s the same idea as behind lie detectors, which measure skin conductivity. When someone is lying, they become tense, which raises their blood pressure, then makes them sweat, and thus increases skin conductivity. Measuring differences in muscle tension can lead to similar results, such as whether someone really agrees with self-reverential statements like “I respect myself” or “I do my best, and my best is good enough.”
The goal: to discover which self-limiting beliefs about themselves individuals might subconsciously hold. “You can repeat affirmations until you are blue in the face,” Williams says. “It seldom makes any difference. Most of the time it’s not about positive thinking. It’s not about, ‘Oh, cancel. I don’t want that thought.’ You already had the thought. So until you change the basic software of the subconscious, your hard drive, your life won’t change.”
The problem is that our subconscious ‘records’ experiences from our earliest moments onwards. “We are brought into this world into various cultures that have a whole bunch of mindsets already in place for us,” Williams explains. “We start internalizing those even before we are out of the womb. Your parents start to treat you in a way that fits the society’s norms and their own beliefs. By the time you’re 12 years old, generally speaking, you are quite asleep at the wheel of your own life because you are ‘inculturated’ by whatever your culture and your parents say is true and right. That’s not all bad. But you want to change the beliefs that are not serving you, that are limiting you in some way.”
When muscle tension reveals a disagreement between your conscious desires and your subconscious beliefs, the process of reprogramming can begin. For this, it is critical to “speak the language of the subconscious,” Williams says. The subconscious mind thinks literally, he argues, so the simple thought, “I want to be happy” is too vague. You have to specify the details of your goal, and you have to do so in sensory-based language. What will you see in your life when you have accomplished your goal? What will you hear other people saying about you? How will you feel when you have succeeded, and where in your body will you feel that?
PSYCH-K also uses what Williams calls “belief points” on the body. These acupuncture points from Chinese medicine relate to specific organs associated with certain emotions: the heart for love, the lungs for self-esteem. Addressing these points helps release the physical blockages associated with self-limiting beliefs. Still, there is something magical about the experience, Williams says: “Magic is possible in the world, but you don’t do it until you are wise enough to use it properly.”
Williams first tested his new approach on himself and a few close friends. “I felt physical changes in my body,” he recalls. “I was astounded, because I’m not that sensitive. I don’t feel things in my body, but I did then.” He vividly remembers his first major case with a client, a woman addicted to smoking and drinking who came to him from a rehab center. She also had Crohn’s disease. After about 45 minutes into her first PSYCH-K session, on a massage table in Williams’ office, she said: “I don’t know what, but something just happened.”
“I said, ‘That’s great, I don’t know either,’” Williams recalls. “A few months later, I heard from the woman that the doctors who had diagnosed her Crohn’s disease couldn’t find it anymore. New tests and X-rays didn’t show anything. The doctors said that they must have misdiagnosed because Crohn’s is an ‘incurable’ disease. This was my first mayor indicator that I was onto something.”
Williams explains how he believes the healing works: “All these supposedly ‘incurable’ diseases aren’t so incurable after all. That ‘incurable’ really means incurable from the outside. If you want to interrupt a physical process called disease, you need to leverage belief systems that will activate biological responses that will trigger a self-healing response. PSYCH-K does not heal anything. It is a catalyst for the body to heal itself. The mind is the doctor. The pharmacy is in your head. With the right instruction by the mind, our bodies produce all kinds of things that are similar to the drugs that are made by the pharmaceutical industry.”
“It is very simple: If you have a disease, and all of a sudden you have an altered subconscious belief that your body is in perfect health, a dynamic tension arises. That tension has to be resolved in favor of the consciousness because that comes from a higher energy dimension. And consciousness will use all the magnificent resources of the mind-body system to make that new reality come true.”
In about 80 percent of cases, the changes are long lasting, according to Williams. He compares the process with a word-processing program on your computer: “You change a document and you press the save command. That’s the version that remains. You don’t open the document the next day to find that is has changed to an earlier version. It’s the same thing with PSYCH-K. There is literally an edit and a save command in the process. You can take that same thing that you have done and overanalyzed for years and you write some new ‘software’, and then that becomes what you boot up with in the morning.”
Where PSYCH-K fails is mostly in terms of what Williams calls “secondary gains.” “Somebody may say: ‘I want to get well and get back to work,’” he says. “And then, when they do, they find that they are missing something. They were getting attention, for instance, when they were sick. A disability was also an ability for them to get something else. In such cases, people may fall back to old behavior.”
Listening to Williams I realize that while we are listening to dysfunctional political debates in most Western capitals and read about the damage done by big business to society, we are also on a high-speed track toward a healthier and wiser world. Just think about it: If more people embrace opportunities for personal transformation offered by programs like PSYCH-K, more people will become happier and more aligned with their own life’s mission. Many of us are changing and, because of that, the societies around us are bound to change, too.
Williams also focuses on the business community. “Most of the business people making decisions that are trashing the planet don’t want to do that,” he says. “They just do not know any other way. In order for them to get out of these destructive patterns, they have to be able to change their subconscious beliefs.” He pauses, then adds, “In today’s society, money management is the most important skill. That’s wrong. Mind management is the most critical skill. If you manage your mind, you will always be in a good state.”
“There are big books that describe the different psychological disorders. I think there is really only one disorder: I call it ‘the illusion of separation’. If you believe you are separate from the source of all that is and separate from each other, you will have all kinds of problems in your life. The illusion of separation gives us the idea that we can harm somebody else and not harm ourselves at the same time. You can’t bomb another country if you realize that these kids are our kids. You cannot make a decision in New York City or São Paulo to destroy a rainforest if you know that forest is part of the eco-system that your life depends on.”
Ultimately Williams sees PSYCH-K as an instrument for spiritual growth: “I think we all have one purpose and that’s to manifest our full divinity while we are incarnated in physical bodies.” At the same time, he observes that few people pursue this highest of goals: “I think the biggest misuse of PSYCH-K is that people settle for too little. All they want is money or health or the right partner, all those things that people think they want. But if they get them, they find they are hopelessly inadequate to get what they really need. These things don’t produce the stuff that really counts—love, joy, purpose, satisfaction and peace. In fact, they are often distractions to that.”
“Someone may say, ‘I want $10 million.’ But if you delve deeper you will eventually come down to an emotion, an intangible. That person wants to be happy. People think they need tangibles to get to the intangibles. They think they know what they want; seldom do they know what they need.” Laughter and music rise from the street beneath the window of the hotel. San Francisco is enjoying summer. My thoughts go back to the wizard in Fantasia as Williams concludes: “Deciding what’s worth wanting is a lot harder then getting what you want. I can teach you how to get what you want.”
For our upcoming course with Rob Williams, click here.