Inside Out

This week we took Emily and Julianna to see the new Pixar movie Inside Out (trailer here).  It’s a movie that goes into the head of an 11 year old girl during a time of turmoil in her life.  She and her family have just moved to a new city, and she is struggling to find her place in this new life.

InsideOut2Although this movie is an animated film, it explores deep concepts.  It shows the wrestling match between all the feelings that exist inside every human during times of loss and challenge.

The five feelings voiced in this story are anger, fear, disgust, sadness, and joy.  They were shown as manning the switchboard of Riley’s mind, each taking a turn at control. As each feeling was shown, I couldn’t help but think which of the feelings in my life, and in the lives of my children, are most often voiced, and which are shoved aside, and not allowed expression.

Inside OutI’m one of those Pollyanna people who is most comfortable with Joy, often to the exclusion of all other feelings.  Joy is my comfy place.  And yet there are other feelings down deep, of course, feelings less comfortable, less socially acceptable.  Feelings that I don’t even want to admit.

But as much as I could identify with this movie because of my own internal life, it hit me even more deeply on behalf of my adopted children, some of whom have experienced great loss in life. I’ve struggled so much to help some of them break free of anger and sadness, and find their way to joy.

Before me on the screen was a vivid and compelling description of the way loss can make anger and fear and sadness take over a person’s soul, causing all joy to flee, at least for awhile. At the peak of her struggle to settle into her new life, Riley became almost a different person.   It was only after she found a way to voice all her feelings that she was able to come to a more balanced place, to embrace her new life, to appreciate the richness that even the hard feelings add, and to find joy again.

It was such a great reminder to me that we as parents need to show our children the way to that more balanced place, where they can safely express all the feelings, not just the pretty, socially acceptable ones.  In being open to all their feelings, we can love them more fully, more truly, and support the kind of balanced emotional health and well being that many people struggle all their lives to find.

Though the concepts were deep in this movie, they resonated with my 10 and 13 year old daughters, and we had some good discussion on our way home from the movies.  Have you seen this movie yet?  I’d be interested to hear what you think of it.

Other thoughts about this movie:

The Roots of Real Joy

The Inside Out of Grief



  1. I took the girls last night and LOVED it. So much good stuff, especially for where Beza is right now. I anticipate some really good discussions. I may even drag my boys 🙂

  2. Linda Sue says:

    My husband and I saw this movie last week – we are both in our late 60’s so definitely not kids but WOW we loved this movie. Good pace, fun to see how necessary each part of who we are is to the functioning of the whole person. Self sacrifice (the childhood imaginary friend was superb!)
    This is a must on our dvds to buy as soon as they are out!

  3. I loved it but felt it was really powerful on an adult level – it made me cry! I vividly recall one of my kid’s invisible friends. My boys enjoyed it…and my teen daughter wants to see it !! It reminded me of Up where the message really resonates at a different level for parents. Highly recommend!

  4. I loved it when she came home and told her parents that she knew they wanted her to be happy and okay but she just wasn’t. There is so much pressure on girls, especially, to only show their pleasant emotions, so I loved taking my girls to a movie that made a point of saying their sadness and anger was just as valid!

  5. I can’t wait to take my 8 1/2 year old daughter to see this. She struggles to bring up painful things, and they often come out “sideways” as anger or anxiety. I’m hoping it will help her with her emotional vocabulary, and with expressing things as she feels them.

  6. Kimberlie says:

    I took my four adopted children and the movie really prompted some good discussions. I think one emotion our kids experience, that is really destructive to their emotional health, is shame. I read one blog that suggested Disgust would be more aptly named Shame but I disagree. As it was portrayed, Disgust is not Shame. The movie also helped with an issue we were having with a classmate. She had been “mean” to my two kids and they were saying they didn’t like her because they felt bullied. We all knew this little girl’s mother was battling breast cancer last year, and I was able to say to them, that sometimes “sad” looks “mad” and we tied it into some of the scenes in the movies.

    I also really appreciated the movie showing that parents also have all these emotions swirling around in our brains.