Jody had started having heart palpitations that frightened her so much, she was about to go to a doctor for a heart checkup and medication. Her husband and teenage children were also worried about her. I happened to be visiting a neighbour when Jody arrived in tears after a scene with her husband, a familiar event where, she said, he had sounded angry and this had made her cry. He had never struck her, but whenever she heard an angry tone in his voice she felt fearful. She had often attempted to talk about this situation with him, and had asked him to moderate his behaviour, but he refused to agree that he was angry, and said it was her problem. Her neighbour suggested that Jody have a tapping session about her palpitations and her distress, as I was there. (I am an Emotional Freedom Techniques coach and trainer of this remarkable acupressure self-help technique.) Jody thought the idea was strange, but felt desperate enough to try it. The problem seemed to be her reactions to her husband’s angry words. For years she had cringed at the tone of his voice when he felt irritated about anything, even if it had nothing to do with her – and even if he said he was not angry, just enthusiastic.

Palpitations brought big fears

Although they loved each other dearly, lately she was so disturbed about the palpitations that she’d been wondering if she could even go on in the marriage. While she recognized that the heart palpitations cause was connected with her reaction to her husband’s voice tone, she could do nothing about it. The possibility of having to leave her home and family for the sake of her health was adding greatly to her present stress. I asked Jody, ‘When you hear this tone in his voice that to you means he’s angry, what happens in your body, apart from the new palpitations?’ She said that her stomach churned, her throat got tight, and her whole body caved in. I asked, ‘Who or what do those sensations remind you of?’ The recall was easy. Her father came to mind. I asked if she could remember the worst time of hearing or seeing her father angry. She remembered being a small girl crouched trembling in her bedroom, listening while next door her father angry berated her elder sister. His rage seemed to go on and on, and so did the little’s girl’s terror. As she remembered, her terror now reached 10/10. We tapped about her self talk at the time: – What if he hurts her? – What if he hurts me? – He’s like a monster – We’re both in danger – He’s out of control – There’s nobody here to help – What can I do? – What if he kills her? – What if kills me?

‘This feels different’

But as we continued to tap, the intensity of her terror and her body sensations fell steadily, until she was smiling. ‘This feels different,’ she said. When her stress was down to 4/10, we tapped on forgiving her father, who was normally a reasonable man: Even though I don’t understand why he was so angry, he must have had his reasons, and I don’t agree but I choose to forgive him, for my sake. Jody was smiling as she left. A few months later I heard that the heart palpitations caused by this memory had never returned after that session. She said happily to me on the phone, ‘Now when my husband gets that tone in his voice, I let it just flow past me. Sometimes I’ve even laughed. It’s amazing.’

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