Feelings have a rhythm of their own – they arrive, they linger, they pass. Often it is better to face those feelings head-on and allow them to follow their natural cycle than to avoid them. You can see this in the poem A Poison Tree by William Blake, which starts with the words, “I was angry with my friend:  I told my wrath, my wrath did end.  I was angry with my foe:  I told it not, my wrath did grow.”  That’s how feelings work: We need to get negative feelings out so they don’t poison us from the inside.

Modern culture offers too many distractions, alternatives, and pacifiers to numb or suppress our feelings, especially negative or difficult ones. But if f we suppress uncomfortable feelings, they can come back more forcefully down the road, with potentially worse consequences. Experiencing your emotions in a safe way can help you heal emotionally.

Here are some ways to process feelings: Talk to a friend, family member, or caregiver.  Write about or draw pictures of your feelings. Take a walk or get some form of exercise, dance, or movement. Try a change of scenery. We hope you will also consider trying our free game, Shadow’s Edge, which is designed to help people express, process and move through the feelings that go with chronic illness or disability.

Our feelings evolved over millions of years as a way to help us survive. When we acknowledge and experience them, we take a step along the path of healing.

Sheri Sobrato
Sheri is a 30-year brain cancer survivor and founder of the nonprofit Digging Deep.