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.
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.
I’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: