Talking about feelings make them more manageable

A popular essay topic is: What movie should everyone see and why? In 2015, Disney/Pixar gave us “Inside/Out,” which delivers on many levels beyond mere entertainment. I’d like to encourage families to revisit “Inside/Out” at a time when everything feels inside-out and upside-down.

Here’s why: The audience is offered an inside glimpse into the tumultuous emotions of an 11-year-old girl named Riley when her life is uprooted from Minnesota to San Francisco due to her dad’s job.

Joy, fear, disgust and anger are featured responding to these tumultuous developments in Riley’s life. The 3-D example of how thoughts and emotions affect our actions is an invaluable teaching tool for children and many adults, including myself.

I found it particularly insightful when sadness threatens to overtake Riley and we see how her sadness spills over — even tainting previously joyous long-term core memories.

In one scene Riley’s mom says she needs Riley to be her happy old self. This is a teachable moment for parents. We have a front-row seat to observe Riley’s internal struggle unfold and the resulting confusion as her subconscious struggles to comply with her mother’s wishes.

In order to please her parents and seem strong for the family, Riley begins to hide her true feelings.

It has been said that the mind is the greatest battlefield and “Inside/Out” deftly paints a picture of the confusion resulting from hiding and denying one’s true feelings in order to placate others. Her journey to regaining stability and balance is visualized as a maze.

We learn that each emotion has a purpose – even the ones that don’t feel enjoyable in the moment. We also learn it is OK and natural to feel more than one way about something. Everything isn’t tidy and compartmentalized when it comes to processing events and one’s feelings about them, and that’s OK too.

There are also lots of laughs when ‘emotions’ engage in dialogue revealing humorous and frustrating aspects of communication and spousal dynamics.

There has never been a more relevant time for families everywhere to discuss the concepts explored in “Inside/Out.”

An hour and a half spent watching this animation provides material for many relationship-building discussions. So, enjoy this movie and the opportunity it presents to discuss how family members of all ages are feeling about current events.

Mr. Rogers reminds us, “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”

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