Inside Out

My 4-year-old granddaughter loves the movie “Inside Out”. As you can imagine, I’ve seen it many times. I suspect she doesn’t really understand the nuances of the film. Although it’s a realistic depiction of emotions and how they can control us, she mostly delights in the colors and the animated characters. She has even adopted a line that she frequently uses on us about the power of “core memories”, using her best know-it-all voice. From the mouths of babes!

I’ve been recommending the movie to all my clients and friends. Why? Because it conveys something that up to now has been difficult to portray. And the movie does it so well, with minimal psychobabble and a ton of heart.

“Inside Out” sets out to simplify a complex aspect of our human experience: that emotions are life-like energetic entities that live in our bodies, push us around and make us do crazy and illogical things. Yet, no one really shows us as kids, or even as adults, how to address them, or use them to learn about our inner beliefs. Until we go to therapy, that is, or start on a path of inner discovery.

In this wonderful movie, an 11-year-old girl is faced with big emotional challenges. Her mother just wants her to be a “brave and happy girl” and to smile, no matter how tough it is.

This is how most of us grew up: being told what to feel and what not to feel, even when our authentic emotions wanted to boil over and burst from inside us. And when they did, we discovered the pain of the expectations and disappointments that others projected on to us.

This is a scene played out again and again in our childhood memories, one which creates more emotional suffering. We come away from childhood thinking that there is something wrong with our feelings. This is how we learn to shut down the feeling channel that opens us to living a full and joyful life.

So please watch the film, with family if you can. Pay really close attention to the ending because this is where the brilliance of the message really shines. I’ll sum it up a wee bit: the real connection with ourselves and others is made when you allow your darker, heavier emotions, the ones that you and others aren’t comfortable with, to surface. Even with messy tears flowing, and snot running down your face, true, powerful connections are being made.

Authentic, messy, unpredictable, confusing emotions—the ones we want to hide, to repress, the ones we have so many stories about not revealing to anyone,—when they are really felt, the heart opens, we connect to our loved ones, and to our lives, and everything shines brilliantly through our eyes once again.