2 Reasons I LOVE Inside Out (and you should too)
I had the pleasure of having some of my favorite littles come visit me this summer. You can imagine my excitement when I realized their visit coincided with the release of Pixar’s newest movie, Inside Out. (You know you're a therapist if ... you get excited about a movie about FEELINGS!)
Inside Out follows the story of Riley, a preteen girl whose world is rocked when her parents announce they are moving across the country. Riley’s emotions in Headquarters - Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust - work to guide her through this life changing event. In the process, they teach us about the inner workings of our minds and emotional development.
After the movie I asked the kids who their favorite character was. I expected them to say Joy. Joy is Super Cute. Spunky. Fun. Joy is what people generally say they want.
"I want to be happy. I DESERVE happiness..."
Instead, I got individual answers. Answers that reflected who the kids are and the way they struggle. The kids liked the characters that resonated with them. Who they felt CONNECTED to.
This is the first reason I LOVED Inside Out.
Inside Out Helps Kids Validate, Normalize, Identify.
C liked Fear. C was a joy-filled easy spirit this summer as she got lots of time with Momma. But in the last year C has struggled terribly with anxiety. C connected with Fear.
I mean come on y'all. Fear is designed to look like we feel on the inside when we’re freakin’ out!
Eyes bulging. Thoughts coming fast and furious. Knees knocking. Body quivering. Heart racing.
C liked Fear because she thought, “He’s like me!”
Fear is our body's alert system. It's designed to keep us safe but sometimes fear alerts us to dangers that aren’t really dangers. Our smoke detector becomes too sensitive, so to speak. With anxiety, the alert system short circuits and becomes hypersensitive. C knows what this feels like.
Inside Out did 2 things for C.
It validated and normalized her experience.
“I’m not the only one who feels this way. I’m not alone.”
It assisted with emotional identification. It put her feelings and emotional experience to words. It gave her a language to dialogue about her experience.
“Oh, that's called fear. That's what my body feels like. It's called fear.”
T liked Sadness. T is a full force, super charged little boy. T is on the go, giggly and joyful...until he hits the wall...and falls apart. Usually this is because he is over tired or hungry. When this happens the world seems like it's ending for T. T said he liked Sadness because he liked the way she looked at the ground and slumped her shoulders forward.
Um, I’ve got news for T. T looks like Sadness when he falls apart. He looks at the ground and his shoulders slump forward. And his words reflect how terribly awful things are at that moment.
I wish I could share a snapshot of T with you when his world is ending. But, just imagine ...
Again, Inside Out offered an opportunity for T to connect with himself and with his own experience, giving him words to do so.
Validate. Normalize. Identify.
Inside Out did something else I LOVE.
Inside Out Illustrates the Value of Sadness.
Inside Out reminded us of the value of Sadness. As a culture we do not value or honor Sadness. We do whatever we can to get rid of it. TO BE HAPPY. We make decisions based on what will make us happy, often at great expense to ourselves, our relationships, and others. We saw this in the movie as Joy jumped through hoops to keep Riley from feeling Sadness.
But, Sadness is necessary and carries tremendous gifts!
You see, the gift of Sadness is healing. In Inside Out Riley found healing, comfort, and belonging when Sadness was appreciated and invited to work alongside Joy. Welcoming Sadness brought growth, acceptance, and connection.
Amazingly, every kid I've talked to who has seen the movie perfectly articulates this take away.
Sadness is not bad. When Sadness and Joy worked together Riley got better. You have to have both Joy and Sadness.
How are you validating and normaling your emotional experience today?
How are you modeling and encouraging this for the children in your life?
Do you open yourself up to experience the gift of healing as you value your own feelings of Sadness?