Inside Out 2 • ep. 101

Make Room for New Emotions

Last night I got to see Disney/Pixar’s latest movie “Inside Out 2”! This movie has already broken several box office records, including the biggest opening for an animated movie worldwide, and the biggest opening for any movie so far in 2024. I absolutely loved this movie, would totally see it again. And I want to talk about it–no spoilers, of course, though I will highlight themes.

Inside Out 2 Premise

The first “Inside Out” movie came out nine years ago, introduced us to the main character–an 11 year old girl named Riley–and her emotions–Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust–and showed us how they all interacted and adapted to change after her family moved across the country. “Inside Out 2” continues Riley’s story as a now 13 year old adjusting to puberty and new emotions that come with it–Envy, Embarrassment, Enuui (like boredom), and Anxiety.

The movie explores a lot of things we talk about on the podcast, like belief systems and developing a sense of self, as well as stress and anxiety and how they can fuel shame and negative self-talk. So I want to share with you 7 themes I got from “Inside Out 2.”

1. All emotions are valid.

We are multifaceted and complex human beings who experience a variety of feelings even in just one day. Suppressing emotions builds up pressure like shaking a soda can, and may lead to discouragement, frustration and resentment. Give yourself permission to go through your emotion tunnels. All vibes are welcome.

2. Emotions need balance; one emotion can’t always be in control.

Too much sadness can lead to depression, too much fear and worry can lead to anxiety. You get the idea. And you may be wondering, why aren’t we trying to be happy all the time, isn’t that a good thing? That’d be more like toxic positivity, forcing yourself to fake cheerfulness no matter how difficult things are, and rejecting any negative emotions, even if they could help you process the situation. Again you want to aim for balance, allowing yourself space to feel through your emotions.

3. Anxiety isn’t always bad.

I actually first heard this concept from Dr. Lisa Damour. Pixar consulted with multiple experts while creating “Inside Out 2” and one of them was Dr. Lisa Damour, a psychologist and author of some great books, including “Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls.” In that book, Dr. Damour explains how stress and anxiety can be helpful when utilized in healthy ways that keep us safe, help us prepare, and allow us to function without them calling all the shots. Getting to this point takes a lot of practice, but practice makes progress.

4. Breathing, mindfulness, rest/sleep and physical activity can help manage stress and anxiety.

You can practice these as regular habits that help you stay in a good headspace, and they can also be utilized in stressful situations or when you feel your anxiety rising. We talked about breathing exercises in episode 005, about rest in episode 060, and about mindfulness, sleep and physical activity in episode 046. I highly recommend you relisten to those and set a goal of practicing one of those tools for the next few weeks and see how you feel afterward.

5. We need more self-compassion.

I’m so glad that Pixar also consulted with self-compassion expert Dr. Kristin Neff so this message could be included in “Inside Out 2.” We’re our own worst critics, and the negative things we tell ourselves (our self talk), we’d never say those things to our friends, right? We tend to offer others more kindness, understanding, and encouragement. But we need to extend that same compassion to us. Instead of focusing on our faults, we can reframe the way we talk to ourselves by practicing more self-compassion.

6. Puberty is messy.

It just is. Both kids and parents dread its arrival and loathe the years it occurs–yes, it takes years. Another insight I learned from Dr. Kristin Neff is suffering = pain x resistance. In this context, the more you resist the changes puberty brings and pain in the neck it is, the more suffering you will experience. But if you can accept that puberty is a part of life, and it’s messy, and you’re gonna fumble your way through it, the less you will suffer. FYI the movie didn’t cover all aspects of puberty, probably because of time constraints and storyline focus. Also I’d say the emotional shifts puberty brings start much sooner than age 13. Regardless, if you want to know more about puberty in girls, you can listen to my puberty series, episodes 43 through 46.

7. You Are Enough.

You’ve heard me say this so many times, and I’m not gonna stop. You are enough, already, just as you are. Even when you make mistakes, you’re still enough. You don’t have to change anything about you either, not your looks, not your interests, not your personality. You don’t have to become anyone else, you only need to be yourself, and you’re already enough.

Go See This Movie

I’m telling you, “Inside Out 2” is a really good movie. And even if you’re not a young teen girl like the main character, the movie still resonates with people younger, older, boy, girl, whatever. I appreciate the personification of the emotions, the puns, the laughs, the easter eggs, the tender moments. I wish this movie had been around when I was a tween and teen, but I’m glad it’s out now for my kids and you girls and parents like me to learn from it. If you go see “Inside Out 2,” I’d love to hear your thoughts about it, the messages and themes that stuck out to you.


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