By July 23, 2015Uncategorized

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If you’re a parent, own a TV or even just leave your house on a semi regular basis, the chances that you have heard of Pixar’s latest movieInside Outare pretty strong. Families are rushing to the theaters to see the movie, and with good reason. It is outstanding! For those who don’t have young children, the attraction to see the movie may initially appear to be less appealing. Don’t be fooled by the bright promotional signs and cutesy characters. This movie has valuable lessons for all ages. As someone who doesn’t really like clutter and the accumulation of “stuff” – even I am counting the days until this movie comes out on DVD and can be purchased.

But enough of my rambling about why it’s good….let me shed some light on some of my take aways from the movie and how you can applyInside Out toyour life roles.

The main character in the movie is 11 -year-old Riley who, along with the 5 emotions of Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger & Fear, works to navigate her life journey. Together with her emotions she and Inside Out teach some critical life lessons.

1 –We needallemotions to be healthy.

The 5 emotions of Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger are laid out beautifully in the movie. They work together. They fight with one another to be in charge and control Riley’s responses. They create memories and life responses to Riley’s world. But in reality, none of them can work totally independent of one another. In fact, working together is actually healthier than choosing just one emotion while ignoring the others. Expecting yourself to always be happy is not realistic or healthy. Having a balance of emotions (also know as emodiversity) in which all emotions, positive and negative, are experienced is healthier than suppressing some of the more difficult emotions.

When one limits their ability to feel emotions, we actually limit our ability to full understand and perceive the world around us. There are times that fear combined with excitement helps us to stay safe (i.e. the excitement of riding a motorcycle but the fear highlights awareness of safety needs.) Times that sadness combined with joy allows us to feel deeper (i.e. joy of a child entering school but sadness for the reality they are growing so quickly.) Anger and sadness can combine as a parent’s anger level spikes but their heart break in sadness as their child shares they’ve been bullied at school.) The sadness for an ended unhealthy marriage but joy for a new beginning yet fear of what that means. We are full of emotions and must embrace them all – even the hard ones. Emotions are not silos and trying to live as such is not realistic or healthy.

We, as adults, need to feel all emotions to have a healthy grasp on life. And in turn, we need to allow our children to feel their emotions as well. Expecting ourselves, a partner, co-work, or child to “snap out of it” or “just be happy” isn’t respectful of the emotions and doesn’t allow one the opportunity to learn how each of the emotions feels and impacts the way in which we interact with the world. There are times that all emotions are good to have. Allowing ourselves and others to have these emotions allows us to work through them too. Being sad isn’t a bad thing. Being angry is sometimes completely justified and necessary. Being disgusted is OK. Joy is a great thing but can’t exist 24/7. None of these emotions should exist in a vacuum, none should be suppressed but none get to rule the show either. When we try to limit the expression of emotions or force them into a box (i.e. how Joy tried to keep Sadness inside a circle during the movie), it isn’t allowing one to truly feel and can often create emotional baggage that finds its way into other areas of life it wouldn’t have had it been felt and dealt with earlier. Balance is the name of the game and learning how to truly feel everything, even when painful, is a critical life lesson that adults can model for generations behind them.

2-Others have the same emotions we do. Consider their little voices too.

How easy is it to get stuck in the reality of OUR emotions and forget others have them too? We walk into work angry after a long and traffic filled commute only to explode at the intern and forget that our co-worker may be deep in the ruts of sadness or on a joyful high. Our emotions never have the right to negatively impact someone else. We can share in the fear, sadness, anger, disgust or joy. But we do not have the right to alter their emotion with our own.

While we are ideally balancing our emotions to experience all life offers, others are doing the same. Those in your world are balancing their own emotions and may be going through more than we know. As the saying goes “Be kind, for everyone is fighting a battle you don’t know about”. It’s easy to be consumed by our own rough day at the office, financial stress, disagreement with a spouse or frustrating meeting but that doesn’t mean our battles are more important than those around us. We all have battles – big or small- that deserve respect and the opportunity to be fully experienced.

Considering the little voices in someone else’s head before you blurt out your own helps to make communication smoother, kinder and healthier. Seeking to understand first sheds a light on situations we may not otherwise see without that step back. i.e. is my child scared to death of the new swim instructor and that’s why they’re having a fit at swim lessons? Maybe I should see their fear instead of reacting with my own anger first. Was my teen dumped by a girlfriend/boyfriend and doesn’t know how to share that sadness so instead is lashing out at everything around them? Am I unhappy with my own career and and therefore quick to judge my spouse’s wonderful work stories? Am I so disgusted with my own life choices I’m unable to find the joy in my life? Seek to understand others- but yourself as well. We don’t have a crystal ball into other’s lives/minds but we do have the ability to step back, breathe and consider what else is leading up to that situation.

3-Core memories are pretty darn critical! And personality islands need to be nurtured.

Riley had core memories that in turn create her personality islands. Her core memory of falling in love with hockey early on created that personality island (aka trait). Her strong family relationships created a family island. Her funny personality created a wacky island. Friendship island was born from childhood relationships. Together they made up Riley.

We all have core memories that help to create our personality. Those personality islands/traits are areas of importance to us and deserve to be nurtured. The person who has a family island thrives when they are able to spend quality time with family. The person with a friend island feels lost when they’ve been away from friends for too long. The creative island person struggles when “trapped” in a black and white world without the opportunity to express themselves creatively. When we ignore the islands or don’t allow ourselves or others to enjoy their islands- life isn’t full. We get off balance. Something is missing. The islands make you whole and to ignore one piece is asking for something to go wrong. Likewise, when something shakes those core islands (i.e. new school, family struggles, being cut from the dream sports team, etc.) everything else is shaken too. Nurture your islands. Tend to the gardens. Allow others to invest in the creation and care of the islands. Share your island and the importance they hold in your life. For when the islands are cared for, you are too. When you notice someone else in life is maybe ignoring their islands or the bridge is cracking – reach out- find ways to invest in their island and keep it green and growing.

4- Inside Out can make difficult conversations much easier with children.

The ride home fromInside Outmay leave parents and children alike facing emotions they had never really considered before. A child may not have realized their own core memories had some sadness to them. They may realize their personality islands have been shaken lately. They may want (and need) to address such feelings. Try to ride home without the radio on, without checking your phone after the movie, without popping in a DVD for the ride. Plan to talk and to plant the seeds that you have emotions and are available for whatever emotions your kids may {ever} have. A firm foundation on knowing they can share their feelings is critical. Knowing that whatever emotion is happening, regardless of sad, happy, scared, angry, is one they can share with parents will help them to feel & heal vs. bottle and explode.

There is a scene in the movie where the emotional characters see a new button show up on their “emotional computer.” This button labeled “PUBERTY” is one that may fly over the heads of younger children, but for the child who reads and has questions, this may be a great and emotionally easier way to ease into that conversation than a formal birds and bees talk. (At least that’s what happened on our car ride home. We had a conversation I had no intentions of having that day but it was quite possibly greater than what I would have come up with otherwise!)

Prepare yourself, too, as adults that the movie may bring up emotions you thought you had stuffed far down or dealt with. It,’s amazing how those things can bubble back up sometimes. Allow the emotions to play out. Allow yourself to feel. To understand what and why you’re feeling such things. Without feeling we limit healing.

Inside Out managed to create an educational, enlightening and heartwarming story all under the guise of entertainment. Whether we were tricked into learning or Pixar knew that society needs some true, honest feelings – it worked. Well done Pixar. Well done. You deserve the Academy.

And with that, we joined the others in the theater clapping at the conclusion of the movie. Just like the “old days” when people would clap at the end of the movie as if at a live performance. We sat, we clapped, and we left with an even greater respect for our emotions.