Sunday, August 29, 2010

Feeling Stabbed in the Back

Archive Category: Latest | Pain | Physical Issues | August 29, 2010 | Betty Moore-Hafter | 6 Comments

by Betty Moore-Hafter
Burlington, Vermont, USA

I recently had the unexpected and unpleasant experience of being betrayed by someone I thought was a friend. This was not a close friend but someone with whom I was on friendly terms, and with whom I thought there was mutual respect. Sometimes people are just not who you think they are.

I think anyone would feel upset by this and experience some hurt and anger. EFT has helped a lot as I’ve been working through my feelings. A few days ago, I began to have a sharp pain under my right shoulder blade. This is a vulnerable area where I had pulled a muscle exercising some weeks back, but this was a new and much sharper pain. Of course, I immediately thought, “my body is expressing this feeling of being stabbed in the back!” So I did lots of tapping around that idea. But to my surprise, there was no movement in the pain. No results. Zero change. It was at an 8 and stayed stubbornly at an 8. It was the kind of pain that only showed up when I made certain movements or took a deep breath. A half hour of tapping and the stabbing pain had not changed at all.

That night, it was hard to sleep because any wrong position brought up the sharp stabbing pain, and it was so severe that it would jolt me awake. The next day brought no change despite more tapping. It really did feel like a knife in the back, over and over. Whenever I made a wrong move, I would wince with pain. It was only during journaling on the third day that I realized maybe something else was involved as well.

Sometimes It’s Not What You Think

As I journaled, I was trying to trace exactly when the pain had started. It occurred to me that I had not felt it until after a walk in the woods on the day that it started. I’m keeping a friend’s dog for a few weeks and so we walk a lot in the nearby woods. This is a very sweet dog but he can be a little threatened by other dogs, so when we come across others walking their dogs, I simply ask them to keep their dog at a distance. (I’m quite close to my friend’s dog, so I will call him “my dog” in the rest of this article.)

That day in the woods, we had encountered a woman with two huge dogs, and she had them off-leash. I immediately leashed my dog and held him close and asked her politely to please keep her dogs at a distance. She refused and said nastily, “if you don’t get upset, there won’t be a problem.” By this time, her two huge dogs were all over my smaller dog, sniffing and nosing, and my dog was growling threateningly. I finally just pulled on the leash and started running away with my dog, narrowly avoiding a dogfight as they all broke into barking and snapping. I was angry and told the woman, “You asked for that!” She had the nerve to shoot back, “You should keep your dog under control!” Yet she had never leashed her own dogs or made the least effort to control them, despite my respectful request for that.

I remembered that I was seething with anger as we ran in the other direction, and that my back had been wrenched a bit as I tried to maneuver my dog out of there fast. It wasn’t long after that encounter that the stabbing pain had begun.

Just thinking about the incident made me feel really angry, so I decided to take a walk (in some different woods!) so I could “tap and rant.”

Tapping and Ranting

I’ve found this to be a great way to get anger out of my system. As I was walking and continuously tapping, I let that woman have it verbally:

How self-centered! How entitled!

I can’t believe some people!

Who does she think she is that she lets her dogs run roughshod over everyone else?

What a nasty person!

(and many words and expressions not suitable for printing!)

The great thing about tapping and ranting is that you can do this while walking outside and thus have the privacy to express whatever you need to and it does no harm. It doesn’t have to be noisy. I was almost whispering some of the words and, oh, did they feel good to say! Personally, I find that it helps to give my anger full expression in a way that hurts no one, with continuous tapping to release it fully from my system.

When I felt done, I moved my body in the way that had been bringing on the stabbing pain — and the pain was so much lighter! I took the first really deep breath in days. Only a small discomfort! Thank goodness. Finally, the sharp pain in my back had softened and was down to a 3 or so. Success! (Since that day it has continued to improve and is only a slight discomfort now.)


I found it fascinating that my body could not seem to release the pain until I tapped for the specific incident that was locked up there. And yet my emotions about that were, I believe, very related to the bigger issue I was dealing with. These are pointers I gleaned from this experience:

Trace puzzling physical effects to exactly when they began.

In this case, being very literally specific was what made the difference. Even though the dog incident was much less important to me than the betrayal I was dealing with, the emotions around it had really gotten stuck and were causing me physical distress.

Be aware of synchronicity.

The Jungian concept of “synchronicity” is that of meaningful coincidences. The woman with the dogs “betrayed” my expectation that neighbors would be courteous and helpful. The “how could she do that to me?” feeling was just the way I was feeling about the other person. Somehow, that small incident seemed to mirror the larger one.

Realize that an on-going stress can make you physically vulnerable.

Without the stress I was already feeling, the incident with the dogs would have been upsetting but probably without such a strong physical impact. I was already feeling “stabbed in the back” — how easy it was for my body to lock up around my anger and outrage at that moment.

By the way, healing the emotions for the dog incident seemed to go a long way towards releasing my anger about the other situation as well. It is almost as if the seemingly unrelated incident allowed me to bring these emotions into sharp focus so that the tapping could clear them. I love the way healing sometimes comes to us in mysterious and unexpected ways.

Betty Moore-Hafter offers EFT sessions by phone and by skype, as well as in person at her Burlington, Vermont office. She can be reached at


Nathan EFT

Posted August 30, 2010 @ 2:07 am |

Loved the article! I find it amazing how I now look for the emotional root to every physical issue that presents itself, instead of treating just the externals. Our bodies really do trap all of the toxic emotions that we suppress in one way or another.

I might add one thing, I have started to look for a similar feeling from childhood, up to age 6, to see if there is anything that the current event is mirroring…I hate to miss an opportunity to heal a childhood trauma or limiting belief. Thanks again Betty for the great article, be well!

Ruthi Backenroth

Posted August 30, 2010 @ 8:15 am |

I wonder if you are, on some level, concerned about the trauma to your friend’s dog. Maybe tapping on that would release some more of the discomfort.
Thanks for the great story and wonderful insights.


Ange Finn

Posted August 30, 2010 @ 8:25 am |

Betty, what a wonderful example of how we often transfer our “zzzt!” from the deeper, more difficult, more painful problem to something that is simpler, but stands in for the issue.

It seems to me that the dogs in the wood incident was much clearer and simpler–the woman in question was obviously “wrong” and you were obviously “right”. Your anger felt justified and pure.

In the other, more complex problem of the friend’s betrayal, there are probably many more conflicting feelings and factors. Much easier for us to let ourselves fixate on the simple, clear-cut issue. And, as you point out, the stresses and angers compound.

You’ve presented the insight and the lessons so well, and illustrated how the one incident stood in for the other problem and allowed you to make progress on it. Thank you for sharing this.

Jane Besmehn

Posted August 30, 2010 @ 9:21 am |

Betty, what a great article and lesson! I agree with Ange where she says there was an obvious right and wrong… and I hope you also really felt the validation of your feelings because it was indeed very rude and a potentially dangerous situation to your dog and to your self.

Your article came to my email after I had just been journaling about how I have layers of issues dealing with resistance, procrastination, work and other good stuff. It was very supportive to read your article, very validating. Thank you.


Posted August 30, 2010 @ 10:04 am |

What a thoughtful and well expressed article. I enjoyed the perspective of the commenters too. My knowledge of EFT keeps expanding thanks to your generosity and others like you.


Posted September 5, 2010 @ 12:49 pm |

Very well written and thought-provoking article. Thanks,

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