Has your stomach ever done belly-flops before you speak in front of a group? Had a headache when you felt really worried or anxious about something? Felt tightness in your chest when you were irritated by another person’s behavior?
These are some of the ways in which our bodies speak to us. Anxiety, fear, anger and other negative emotions are expressed by the body as physical pain and symptoms.
Emotional pain and physical pain are like two peas in a pod. Where one is present, so is the other. Sometimes the emotions are in reaction to the pain, as when we feel anxious about how the pain may limit our life, fearful that it will get worse, or even angry that we have pain at all. And sometimes emotions or emotional events are directly linked to the onset of pain.
Recent scientific research is showing us how emotional experiences, and the stress that they create in our bodies, can contribute to physical pain. The brain can send signals to the body that produce pain, and the brain can take pain away.
When emotions are released from the body using methods that interrupt these brain signals, the associated physical pain or symptom can be released as well. The path back to pain-free living can often be found by releasing and resolving distressful emotions.
Julia, a professional woman in her 40s, had seen me numerous times over several years for EFT sessions, and also uses EFT tapping by herself for emotional relief and healing.
Julia returned to see me because she was feeling anxious about returning to work after many months off on medical leave.
She also told me that she’d been having a lot of back pain lately, and that she couldn’t figure out why, as she had not injured herself. The pain had started about the same time she started to get anxious.
I asked her why she was feeling anxious about returning to work. She said that she was:
- worried and afraid that her medical condition would return because she returned to work
- worried and afraid that she would be increasing her hours too quickly
- afraid that her boss would be disappointed if she couldn’t keep up to the agreed-upon schedule
- afraid that she’d feel like a failure if she couldn’t keep up to the work schedule
So, we used EFT tapping to begin to release all these fears.
After several rounds of tapping, these fears had released a little, but not significantly. This was surprising, because Julia usually gets immediate and quick emotional releases with EFT.
When an emotion is not releasing quickly with EFT, typically there’s something else underneath that emotion that’s preventing it from being fully released.
We explored what might be slowing down the release of Julia’s worry and fear, and uncovered a belief: “I need to worry.” But even after reducing the strength of this belief to a very low level with tapping, the fear and worry persisted.
At the end of the session, I told Julia we could continue this work at her next session. And I also gave her directions for continuing to tap on her own to release the remaining belief that “I need to worry” and the remaining specific fears and worries she had about returning to work, and to notice if anything else arose while she was tapping.
Julia’s Discovery: the Feeling under the Feeling
A few days later, Julia spent 45 minutes tapping for her “return to work” fears. While tapping, she felt a lot of sadness – not about returning to work, but about what she’d be losing by returning to work.
She was grieving the loss of her mornings, which had been a poignant time that she had spent nurturing herself as she healed and recovered. These feelings of grief and sadness were causing her to resist returning to work, and were underlying the fear of returning to work. The grief was preventing her fears from being released.
Although Julia had experienced many months of her recovery as what she called “a horrendous struggle,” the last four months had been a time of “restoration, healing, rebuilding, and gathering strength again.”
Julia said: “I remember the moment of pure joy and gratitude on one of those mornings as I felt peace, calm, healing and contentment. I committed to spend each morning like that. Each morning was a time of calm, gratitude, meditation, and prayer. I felt over the course of those four months how much I was growing emotionally and spiritually.”
Releasing Grief Released the Fear
So, just like we would do in a session together, Julia allowed herself to feel her grief fully, then released her feelings of grief and loss using EFT tapping.
After releasing the grief, she was no longer fearful about returning to work, and she spontaneously began thinking about all the positive things that would come from being at work again. She also realized that she could continue to create personal space each day, even though they would no longer be in the morning.
Julia’s newfound positive outlook is a classic “cognitive shift” that happens automatically and effortlessly after emotions have been released with EFT.
Bonus: No More Back Pain!
The moment that Julia finished tapping to release her grief, her back pain was completely gone. It had vanished, instantaneously.
Then Julia remembered that pain had flared up in the same spot in her back several years ago when she was going through a life transition. Both then and recently, the pain and back spasms forced her body to lean forward a bit. She mused that perhaps it was a message to lean forward into life. (Our bodies often send us such metaphorical messages!)
It's been two months since Julia released her grief. She's returned to work and her back has remained pain-free.
Win-Win: Releasing Emotional Pain Releases Physical Pain
When clients come to me with pain or symptoms, I intentionally help them find and release the underlying emotions or emotional events that are causing or contributing to the pain so the pain can be alleviated or eliminated by applying EFT.
In Julia’s case, the release of back pain was a natural by-product of the emotional release of her grief and sadness.
When you release emotions with EFT tapping:
- sometimes you uncover underlying emotions that, when released, also release the original emotion.
- physical pain and symptoms that were caused by the emotional state are also released.
I welcome comments! Please write your comments below.
And, if you're inspired by this story, wanting release from emotional or physical pain, and curious about what changes are possible for you, I invite you to explore the possibility of working together. Simply fill out the form at the bottom of the Work With Me - Personal Sessions page, and I'll contact you to set up a time for a phone conversation.