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Pain Management

The colour of pain

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated. Please use my newest advancement, Optimal EFT. It is more efficient, more powerful and clearly explained in my free e-book, The Unseen Therapist™.  Best wishes, Gary

Hi Everyone,

UK EFT Master Paul Lynch takes you through his practical and useful technique for identifying the possible emotional causes of physical aches and pains.

Hugs, Gary

By Paul Lynch, EFT Master

Before I explain the Colour of Pain, maybe I should tell you a little about how I came to EFT and where I am with it now.

Nearly eight years ago, when I was first introduced to Emotional Freedom Techniques, I was painfully shy. I had a fear of public speaking and was a smoker. EFT has helped me with both of these – and much more.

My wife Val and I have been practising EFT since 1999, but we are both still amazed at how effective it can be - we feel very privileged at times to witness the difference it can make to our clients’ lives. One of the great joys of practising EFT is the look of confused relief on a client’s face when they suddenly find themselves free of familiar painful emotions that may have plagued them for many years.

Big Boys Don't Cry

Ten years ago I was an emotional control freak. Like many men brought up with the parental mantra ‘big boys don’t cry’ I learned very early on to keep a stiff upper lip at all costs. However well-intentioned we are as parents, we don’t always know the impact our words can have.

In my case, it was that crying was weak; not what real men do. As I grew up I became less and less ‘emotional’. If I felt upset I would automatically swallow the emotion back down until the intense feelings went away….or so I thought. Eventually, I lost touch with my own feelings, as well as those of others.

Generally speaking, people that aren’t in touch with their emotions have difficulties connecting with others because they will have little or no empathy or rapport with them. This certainly happened to me.

Emotional Hamster

By the time I met my wife Val in 1985, I was stuck in a cycle of irritability, anger, fear, denial and guilt. I would dump my pent-up emotions on her, feel bad, then make up and we’d be off on another round. I was an emotional hamster on a wheel going nowhere and I wanted to be better than that.

Luckily, I believe that life presents us with chances to change and mine came one Sunday afternoon, while watching a William Hurt film called The Doctor. The story revolves around a doctor who treats his patients abysmally, with total disregard to their vulnerable state.

As the story moves on, the doctor develops cancer and very quickly realises what it’s like to be on the receiving end of an uncaring medical profession. While undergoing treatment, he befriends a lady who is dying of a brain tumour. He tells her that he is unable to connect with his wife and keeps her at a distance. Before the lady dies, she writes him a letter describing him as a scarecrow that wants birds to like him, but can’t help frightening them away.

This struck a chord with me. Up came the familiar lump in my throat, but instead of swallowing it down, this time I wanted to let the emotion out. Remember, this was before EFT.

I left the room not telling Val where I was going, went into the bathroom and locked the door behind me. Then, just in case a fly or something was to see me cry, I hid behind a towel and sobbed.

That was an epiphany in terms of my emotional and physical health. Gradually, I felt more at ease with myself. Before, I’d been consciously controlling everything – even laughter. I was very careful not to make a fool of myself or attract attention.

Another thing that I noticed was that my physical complaints; a constant companion for many years, simply weren’t there any more.

The Real Deal

One of the most important lessons you can learn in life is that emotions come as a package deal. You can’t just pick and choose which emotions you want to experience, ignoring anger, sadness and fear in favour of positive feelings like joy, love and happiness.

In my new found emotional life I grew more self-aware and sensitive to the feelings of those close to me. I also wanted to share with others. Before, I’d talk to people, but at a superficial level. Now I found I wanted to get to know people, and found I was able to be myself with them. When you open up and share your emotions with others, they often respond in kind by being open with you. Acknowledging your own feelings enables you to make real connections with people.

No Boundaries

The thing I really love about EFT is that there are no limits to where it can take you, both personally and as a therapist.

As EFT therapists, we have the unprecedented luxury of knowing that if we ask the right questions about why we have a problem, more often than not, we find the answer. Then, when we have the answer - the emotional cause of the problem - the treatment is always the same, we begin healing it with EFT. 

With this in mind, I realised the importance of asking the right questions; closed questions. Questions where there is nowhere else to go except the cause of the current difficulty.

This led me to experiment with questioning techniques that would take us to the causes of presenting problems. At times it was tricky getting the client’s conscious mind out of the way, so that we could get the answers we needed to sort it out. As any good gardener knows, if you don’t get the roots of a weed out, it will be back before you know it. So the first step is to get right to the root of a problem and, in this case, tap it away.

Where Does it Hurt?

Back in 2000, like many EFT practitioners I was getting great results with physical conditions. Most of the clients I saw during that time suffered from phobias and panic attacks. However, when taking a case history, I also made a point of asking new clients if they had any physical aches and pains.

My reasons were threefold. Firstly, while introducing them to the EFT process I could work with them to reduce or neutralize the pain. Secondly, the ensuing relief brought on by these initial successes relaxed the client and increased rapport. Thirdly, and perhaps the main reason, is that the emotional issues the client was there to address were often less intensely felt once the physical pain was released.

People often said to me “I was dreading that coming up, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be”.

Straight to the Core

In a few cases, when I used the classic method of grading and describing pain specifically, then tapping, clients reported that their aches and pains returned after the initial relief

I knew - or at least suspected - that in most cases there was an emotional cause, but I needed a method of getting directly to the emotional core issue. I needed to get back to the very moment when the ‘pain’ was first made manifest. No red herrings – I wanted to get straight to the conception of a disorder.

We teach our students that if you ask the right questions you get the answers you need to heal an issue. To use a metaphor, a question can be the precise incision of a surgeon’s scalpel. Ironically though, as many energy therapists believe, if you resolve the emotional reasons for physical issues you may also remove the need for a surgeon’s knife.

Aha !

Following the ‘teach a man to fish’ principle, it is important that clients get their own “Aha” moments, because when you know that you have caused or created something - and why - you can then decide on something more appropriate for now. 

When you realise what you have been up to, maybe an unconscious decision made in the heat of an emotionally charged incident, it can be a very empowering experience. A client of mine once said “I decided that the only way to stop myself from being hurt is to keep people at a distance”.

When you really get it, and you understand why you did it, and how inappropriate it is for whom you now choose to be, it won’t come back.

The concept that emotional issues are often the real reason for physical pain is sometimes hard to get across. So saying to someone, “Could there be any emotional reasons for this pain?” could be met with astonishment at the very thought.

It’s important to maintain rapport, so I needed to set up an appropriate information gathering exercise that would bypass the limits of the conscious mind. Then I fell back on an old NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) exercise to gauge the submodalities of physical aches and pains. I added an additional  question at the end with a surprise element to it, so that the answer I got was an unconscious response. To make sure this unconscious answer wasn’t dismissed as too surreal, I asked for the answer that first came to mind.  

Then, one day whilst working with a lady called Margaret who was suffering from hip pain, I asked her to close her eyes and move her awareness down to the area where it was most painful. I asked her to guess what colour the pain would be if it had one. Margaret replied that it was dark green. Then I asked if it was bigger or smaller than her hand. It was smaller. Further questions quickly revealed that it was solid and moving around.

Then I asked the surprise question - if it had a feeling or an emotion what would it be?Margaret said it felt like anger. I asked what she thought the anger might be about and she said her parents never gave her a chance to prove herself. Instead, they diverted all their attention to her older brother.

Margaret had said earlier that she felt stuck in a job that was unfulfilling, but was afraid to move forward for fear of failing. The anger was a definite ten plus, but it quickly reduced and turned to sadness. Margaret then remembered that her parents had given financial support to her brother which brought yet more anger, which we then tapped away.

Eventually, all the emotions were released - including her fear of failing in a new career. I then checked on the colour of her hip pain, which was now clear, as was the pain.

Try it for yourself

Some people find it hard to accept that physical pain could be caused by a negative emotion. This exercise helps people get to the root of their problem by neatly sidestepping conscious belief filtering.

To help a client get their conscious mind out of the way, ask the following questions. Make a note of their answers so you can refer back to them later. Then, if you need to, tap any remaining emotions away. Lower your voice and speak calmly and slowly.  

Ask your client to close their eyes and move their awareness to the area where they feel physical discomfort. Then ask: 

1. ‘If it (the painful area) had a colour what would it be’?

2. ‘Is it bigger or smaller than your hand’?

3. ‘Is it moving or still’?

4. ‘Is it solid or transparent’?

5. ‘If it had a feeling or emotion… what would it be’?... Just guess….the first thing that comes to mind’

Now try using the new '1-2-3 of EFT'

Every tapping round must include the following:

One: An emotion e.g. anger, sadness fear

Two: A specific reason for the emotion e.g. "He let me down"

Three: The emotional score from one to ten

Now write these three down so that you can re-check them after the round of tapping.

Watch Out for Changes

In some cases, clients don’t notice the change in emotional aspects, and using this 1-2-3 of EFT prevents aspects from switching without the client knowing. This allows us to check - before each tapping round - if the emotion, and the specific reason for it, is the same. The emotion may still be sadness for example, but the reason for it may be different. It may be sadness because of a similar incident from earlier in their life. 

After all the emotions have been released, ask your client to close their eyes again and move awareness back to the painful area. Then repeat questions 1 to 5. Often, you may find that the colour changes from dark to light, moves when before it was stuck, and so on.

More often than not your client will say that the pain is less intense or has gone altogether. Sometimes the pain can move to other areas of the body and then it is necessary to ‘chase the pain’ by going through the procedure again.

Deflating Decisions

Once all the emotions are gone, check for any decisions that may have been made because of a negative experience. Someone that has been jilted may decide in the heat of the moment that it hurts too much to fall in love and resolve that they will never trust or fall in love again.

A thought or decision like that can persist and conflict with their desired outcome. If this looks like the case, ask your client to tap for this decision and then ask if they would like to make a new appropriate decision. Then you can ask how the new decision will affect their future life.

Of course, with physical pain you may need to be persistent and give your client homework with the instruction to tap several times a day and as required.

Changing the Colour of Pain

At the first EFT masterclass (held in London in October 2007) I was invited to talk about the Colour of Pain technique. While people were booking in, I took the opportunity to look for volunteers with any physical aches and pains.

The first lady, I’ll call her Michelle, had hip and lower back pain. I asked her how long she had been in pain? She replied ‘about five months’. I then asked her to close her eyes and to move her awareness down to where the current pain was. When she nodded I asked her to guess if the pain had a colour, what would it be? She said it was red. I asked if it was bigger or smaller than her hand - she said it felt bigger. It felt like it was moving a little and felt solid. I then asked if it had a feeling or an emotion, what would it be? She replied that it was apprehension. I asked what it could be apprehension about and she thought it might be because she was due to make a parachute jump for charity in a few weeks’ time.

She looked surprised that her pain could have anything to do with this. I asked her when she thought about the parachute jump, what exactly was she thinking about? At this point she started to get upset, so I started tapping on her.

Isolated and Anxious

Several rounds of EFT later there was still no change, so I asked if the feeling felt reminiscent of an earlier time. She said that when she was three years old she developed pneumonia. Because of this she was sent to hospital and was placed in an isolation ward away from her family, where her anxiety led to her wetting the bed. Instead of showing any kindness or sympathy, the nurse told her off as she plucked her roughly out of her bed and put her into a bath of cold water.

Reliving this incident, Michelle looked shocked and upset, but we were able to release the emotion very quickly.  I then asked her to imagine jumping out of the plane again. This time she said that she felt OK about the parachute jump.

Just to make sure, I asked her to imagine, in vivid detail, the lead up to making the jump, the moment she would jump out of the plane and the descent. By this time she was smiling and even had a look of peace about her. When she opened her eyes she said her only concern now was about wetting herself when she jumped out of the plane.

Making the Connection

Michele’s calmness as she said this surprised me. I thought it was the likely connection between the two incidents, which is why the emotion about her jumping out of the plane didn’t release at the first attempt. We had to resolve the hospital memory before we could collapse her fear of the parachute jump. After one round of tapping on her concern about wetting herself as she jumped out of the plane, the emotion released completely. I joked with her that people have probably done a lot worse, which lightened the mood.

Once Michelle felt relaxed about the prospect of her parachute jump, I asked her to close her eyes again and move her awareness back to her hip area. I asked her to report on the colour of her pain now. She said that it had changed from red, to clear…. and the pain had now gone.

I later wondered about the cause and purpose of her hip pain and what it all meant. I remembered her saying that the pain had been getting steadily worse after deciding to do the jump weeks before. With a few weeks to go before the event, the pain could have gotten a lot worse. It would have provided her with the perfect excuse not to jump had we not resolved her fear….the cause of her pain.

I received an email from her recently, it reads:

Hi Paul,

An update - following our session at the EFT Masterclass. During this session you tapped away my fear of doing my forthcoming skydive jump,  which I was holding in my very painful hip. Since then I have had no problems at all with either my hip or any anxiety about doing the jump. The jump, which was for the Breakthrough Breast Cancer charity, was on Saturday 18th November. I have attached a photo of me free falling from 13000 feet up over the Oxfordshire countryside.... it was absolutely amazing!  I loved it. Thanks so much for helping me with this. I could do it again tomorrow - no problem!

paul image

Creator … and Healer

I am under no illusions. The colour of pain is just an elicitation technique that enables us to clear the pathway to understanding the cause of an illness. What still surprises me is that the colour perceptions change from dark to light. I often wonder what we are tuning into. If the mind is the creator of disease, then it must also be the healer. Maybe we are opening an intuitive part of ourselves that holds answers to the questions we don’t dare ask….sometimes, until it is too late.

Today we live in a society that seems to treat the human organism in much the same way as a mechanic treats a car. Over the centuries we have handed over the responsibility for our wellbeing to physicians. But are we expecting too much of them?

As human beings we are constantly evolving. Sometimes, being fallible, intuition and feelings give way to thoughts and desires. But instead of being honest with ourselves and admitting this, we power on down the wrong path. Every locked door has a key that fits though, and EFT provides us with a chance of getting to that key if we are brave enough to take it. 

Sometimes, the toughest thing to do is look at ourselves with new eyes and admit to what we’ve been trying to ignore in the hope that it will go away. People will do anything but look at the true causes of their difficulty. One lady said to us a while back “I’ve decided to cancel my appointment. My doctor’s advised me to try a new course of anti-depressants. He said it’s going to take a long time to get over this”.

Look Lighter, Feel Lighter

We often joke with our trainee EFT therapists that we should be called ‘The Last Resort’ rather than ‘The Heart Centre’. Because one of the bravest things we can do is trace our footsteps back to the cause our problems. Just being able to say to yourself:  “I’ve got a problem” is liberating in itself.

One of the great delights of being an EFT therapist is the look on the face of someone that has just released anger from a childhood memory. They look lighter, they feel lighter. That change is reflected in their body too. Because they feel better about themselves, their family and friends will benefit too. Like ripples in a pond, the healing reaches those around us. 

Science is catching up with what we already know in our hearts. That emotional disharmony can lead to physical disorders. One day I’m sure we will live in a society that is geared more towards prevention than cure. 

Paul Lynch, EFT Master


Explore our newest advancement, Optimal EFT™, by reading my free e-book, The Unseen Therapist™. More efficient. More powerful.