I saw Pixar’s latest offering ‘Inside Out’ last night. As well as being a fantastic animation (as usual), there is definitely a mental health lesson for us all. I have spent the time since watching it deciding what I am going to take away from it.
Inside Out teaches us is that all of our emotions are important. We need to nurture them, and keep them in check wether it’s Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear or Anger. We must not be afraid to express them, but we must also keep them in check and hopefully Joy will be our captain. If we lose or side line one of our emotions we risk slipping into depression.
So if that’s true, I’ve been doing it all wrong. I have spent a substantial part of my life evading sadness. Until now I have wrongly thought that the key to happiness is to not be sad. Inside Out has just shown me that I have been wrong. I’ve tried to sideline Sadness, I’ve told it it is useless and tried to put it in the corner. You can’t do that with sadness. It always finds a way to creep back in and mess us up at the worst possible times. If I had properly nurtured sadness, given it its space at the console, and tried to banish sadness to the memory dump then perhaps Joy would be in charge of the console. Instead Anger, Fear and Disgust lead the way and get me into all sorts of trouble.
Pixar so eloquently describe Riley’s descent into depression without even mentioning the word. I have never seen such intelligent animation and storytelling. If you allow your Joy to control sadness it ends up somewhere in the memory banks dragging Sadness along by the foot. It all makes sense to me now having watched the film. It was like watching my own head. So I have a plan. Instead of pursuing Joy, I am going to pursue sadness. That is not to say I am going do things to make me cry, but I am going to learn how to be sad. It is impossible to repress, evade or forget any of our emotions, they will always make it back to Headquarters. It is quite possible that I will also need to learn how to be angry, scared, disgusted and joyful again. In Inside Out, when the console froze the only thing that could restart it was sadness, and I think that is true of my console.
In Pursuit of Sadness Inside Out
So from now on. when I start to feel sad I’m not going to try and push it to one side anymore. I’m not going to sit on it, ring fence it, sit it down with the manuals to read or hide it away. I’m not going allow anyone to tell me not to be sad either. If I am sad I’m going to feel it inside and out. This may mean I cry. But as in Inside Out, my outward sadness will alert others that I may need some help and support. Warning: This may lead to a happy memory!