I’ve been writing in my blog about the six “treatments” that Kelly Ann Turner mentions in her thesis on unexpected remission from cancer. It’s interesting that two of them have to do with feelings. In the workshop Healing Journeys sponsored in March with Julie Interrante, she talked a lot about feelings, and we did some profound exercises around our feelings. Here are some of my notes from that workshop:

My feelings are my life force. It’s how I experience spirit moving through me. I can only heal when I let myself feel. When I repress my feelings, there is no movement. When I allow myself to feel, transformation is possible. Feelings are not meant to be fixed, but to be experienced.< This all makes sense to me theoretically, but it's so hard for me to practice, especially when the feeling is anger. I’m so uncomfortable with anger that I often don’t even let myself know that I’m feeling it. That’s repression, and it means it won’t move, and when that happens, it can run my life.

I’ve been practicing expressing anger when I’m aware of it, and have been surprised that it really has changed. Last week when I journaled about feeling angry at a friend, I got in touch with the underlying feelings of the deep love I felt for the person I was angry at, and my fear of losing her. When I could express all of that, I felt tender and warm and loving. What a transformation.

It’s scary to go beneath the anger and feel the vulnerable feelings that are usually there. And my experience is that it’s worth it. Expressing those vulnerable feelings with someone I love brings us closer together and I’d rather have that connection than to stay on my position and be right.

For most of my life, feelings haven’t been encouraged or valued. When I studied Non-Violent Communication, developed by Marshall Rosenberg, I discovered that I had a very limited vocabulary for feelings. It helps me to get in touch with my feelings when I have a list of words to choose from. Here is a list on the NVC website that you can use when you are trying to identify or express feelings.

As I am dealing with another cancer recurrence, one of the strategies I am using is to value and address my feelings more. It’s not because I think that will get rid of the cancer, but because my feelings are how spirit moves through me. It’s what makes me feel alive. Feelings are what make me excited to get up in the morning. I want to stimulate them, feel them, express them, and transform through them. It’s about quality of life, and that’s what feels most important right now.

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In the Spirit of Healing,

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Jan Adrian, MSW
Founder and Executive Director