Our feelings evolved over millions of years as a way to help us survive.  It is important to acknowledge and feel our emotions because holding them in is not natural or healthy for our bodies.

Modern culture offers too many distractions, alternatives, and pacifiers which numb or suppress our feelings, especially negative or difficult ones.  Many people are taught not to express themselves, and especially not to cry.  Not only is it okay to cry or be angry or be sad, but repressing emotions has actually been proven to lower our immune systems, which can be harmful to our health.

Feelings have a rhythm of their own – they arrive, they linger, they pass.  It is best to let them move through us at their own pace.  Hence the expression: “This too, shall pass.”  Often it is better to face those feelings head-on and allow them to follow their natural cycle than to avoid them.  If 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.  When we validate our feelings and express them fully, we can also return to the present, instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.

There’s a famous beginning to the William Blake poem A Poison Tree that conveys the importance of communicating your feelings.  “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.”  We need to get those feelings out so they don’t poison us from the inside.

There are lots of ways to process feelings in appropriate ways.  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.  Journaling is also a great way to help you face your feelings and process them.  That’s where Digging Deep can help.

Sheri Brisson
Sheri Sobrato Brisson is a brain tumor survivor who discovered the importance of self-reflection during her recovery. From her personal illness experience and a dozen years supporting families and children with serious illness, her life’s philanthropic mission is to empower families and children facing serious illness. She has started and facilitated support groups for children with illness and their families for over twenty years with organizations such as the American Cancer Society, National Brain Tumor Foundation, Ronald McDonald House, and Packard Children’s Hospital. She has served as Board Member for many children’s health nonprofit organizations including American Cancer Society San Jose, UCSF/Mt. Zion Auxiliary, Creighton Health Institute, and Okizu Foundation. Brisson received her master’s degree in counseling from Santa Clara University and her undergraduate degree in human biology from Stanford University.

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