Pixar’s new movie, Inside out has broken box office records. That is huge, but it’s also a really big deal. The movie’s success throws emotions firmly in the spotlight. Why is that important? Because exploring how emotions work is not a typical topic of conversation, and it should be. Especially for parents with children. Emotions play a critical role in every decision, communication and experience. Yet talking about feelings usually makes people feel … well, uncomfortable. I should know. I’ve been talking about the importance of emotions for 15 years. I teach how to capture the power of emotions, and how to develop emotional intelligence – especially in children. Thanks to the power of Disney, emotions are finally getting the attention and respect they deserve.
Pixar’s movie makes understanding emotions accessible, tangible and yes, even fun. It offers a delightful visual for that subconscious emotional experience. Audiences see how it looks when emotions take control from the inside. As the movie’s lead characters speak and interact, their thoughts and feelings are pictured as distinct personalities. The audience sees what happens when feelings take control. It’s a fun movie, but it’s also a really important movie. Here are 5 life-changing lessons you can learn from Inside Out.
- Emotions influence every part of your life. Inside Out shows there is always a feeling at the mind’s control panel. Sometimes it takes the lead role, and other times it is more passive. Understanding there is always a feeling at work helps you to stay in control of that feeling. You will be more aware when anger says, ‘the foot has come down!’
- You have an emotional default setting. There is a primary feeling that regularly takes the controls in your life. Your default emotion is a habit of response that operates your autopilot. Want to know what your default emotion is? Name the emotion that best describes the most recent year of your life. That has become your default setting. The more you understand, the more action you can take.
- All emotions have a purpose. Fear keeps you safe. Disgust prevents you from becoming poisoned – physically or socially. Most people prefer to feel happy, to have Joy in control. However, Joy isn’t always the best feeling for the job. We need all emotions to navigate the challenges of life. Every emotion has value and makes a contribution.
- Emotions color perceptions, point of view and well, everything. In the movie, the character of Sadness touches memories and changes the way they are remembered. I call this, ‘the filter of emotion.’ When a feeling is at the control, it colors every experience.
- Emotions are energy. Inside Out shows the high energy of Joy and the dead weight of sadness. Emotions are energy and that energy can push you forward or hold you back. Feelings can lift you up or hold you down.
I often describe emotions as the invisible co-pilot of our lives. It’s like having a right hand wing-man. A feeling can steer towards our goals or crash before we ever get off the ground. Understanding the inner workings of emotions can help leverage them to a great advantage. If you’ve not seen this movie, run to the nearest theater. So, the next time you are faced with a decision, look closely to see which feeling is at the wheel.
Diana B. Thompson is the creator of Fairytales and Feelings a program to teach emotional intelligence. She speaks to parent and professional groups on How to Capture the Power of Emotions. and is the author of CinderSilly, and the Empowered Princess.