2024-07-11

Since its release, “Inside Out” has been adored by audiences, praised by critics, and has become the likely frontrunner for the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. However, perhaps the film’s greatest achievement has been it moved viewers to take a look inside their minds. You may know by now that much of the movie happens in the head of an 11-year-old girl named Riley, with five emotions, Sadness, Joy, Anger, Disgust, and Fear, embodied as characters who help Riley traverse her world.

Now, nine years later, Disney and Pixar are back with “Inside Out 2,” which has been making waves internationally for its introduction of new emotions like Envy, Anxiety, Ennui, Embarrassment, and Nostalgia. This sequel picks up from the point when Riley is on the verge of finding new emotions as she enters high school. It goes deeper into the intricacies of human emotions and resonates with audiences of all ages. Here are some lessons we can learn from “Inside Out 2” to help us navigate our emotions.

All emotions have a purpose.

One of the most compelling lessons from “Inside Out 2” is that every emotion plays a critical role in our lives, including those typically perceived as negative. For example, anxiety means more than misgivings or pent-up stress. It can be channeled into something that gets us out of bed and encourages us to start tackling our lives. By acknowledging the purpose of each emotion, we can better understand our responses and where people are coming from. This perspective change encourages us to examine our full emotional range instead of shunning and suppressing emotions that have been socially conditioned as negative or bad because they, too, have a purpose.

Self-compassion is the best gift to give ourselves.

Riley learns the power of applying self-compassion in the face of challenging, lesser-acknowledged emotions. If there’s anything “Inside Out 2” does best, it’s beautifully displaying self-compassion as a critical tool for building emotional resilience. The movie makes a resonant case for treating ourselves with the same kindness we would give to our loved ones, but it also goes to show that we can direct emotional challenges with finesse if we set aside our disposition to judge or project self-limiting thoughts onto ourselves.

It’s okay not to be okay.

“Inside Out 2” presents the thought that flaws and mistakes aren’t just acceptable but are essential to the human experience, as they’re typically indicative of room for improvement. While pursuing excellence, we typically forget that aiming for perfection is an unattainable idea that can backfire in the form of dissatisfaction and immense stress. The movie encourages us to see our imperfections as chances for learning and growth. Essentially, it vouches for a realistic perspective of what perfection looks like.

We’re a tapestry of flaws and virtues.

Each of Riley’s emotions is portrayed as a blend of weaknesses and strengths, emphasizing that this intricacy is what makes us human and unique. By recognizing our range of qualities and not resorting to self-sabotaging, we develop greater empathy and self-acceptance. This understanding also goes for our relationships, as we learn to appreciate the multilayered nature of ourselves and those around us. This movie suggests that embracing our whole selves can lead to a more authentic and richer life.

Emotional growth comes from new experiences.

Diving head first into new perspectives and experiences takes center stage in Riley’s life trajectory in “Inside Out 2.” The movie shows that going out of our comfort zones is critical for personal development. Riley’s voyage through adolescence is filled with new experiences, like trying out for a new hockey team and making new friends, that challenge her existing beliefs and increase her understanding of the world. By being open to diversity and change, we can develop a more adaptable and empathetic mindset that helps us bring out the best versions of ourselves. This lesson is particularly relevant today, where the ability to tolerate, understand, and appreciate diverse perspectives is more important than ever.

Our younger selves are always with us.

In “Inside Out 2,” Riley is changing, but she’s still Riley. Watching her and the emotions in her head makes you feel compassionate for her and yourself as a 13-year-old. The various locations and emotions in Riley’s mind were a genius way to unpack what it means to be human. It reminds us how challenging yet beautiful it was to be a child, become a teenager, and enter adulthood. It makes you think about yourself as a 13-year-old who had acne, braces, and newly formed anxiety. No matter what we endure as adults, we can sometimes go back to that scared child we once were. When that happens, it’s essential to listen to our inner child and let ourselves feel our emotions. Even when we’re going through challenges, Joy is around the corner, waiting to tap a button on the console that’s in our minds. After all, no matter our age, we’re all still growing up.

“Inside Out 2” is relatable as we look back on our younger selves, but also as the adults we’ve become. Even though the movie focuses on Riley as a 13-year-old going into high school, the story inside her mind can help us process our experiences as adults. That being said, if you haven’t already, go to your nearest theater and see “Inside Out 2” to experience the new emotions.

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