Usually I like descriptive titles, but let me just fill you in with where I’m going with this. If you’ve read my posts before, I always reference different books I’m reading or make book suggestions. Not this time! I’m going to suggest a movie our family watched recently…and both my husband and I were tearing up. It was one of those, “I’m not crying, you are!” moments.
What’s the movie?...Inside Out. We decided to have a family cuddle session on the couch and as a therapist I naturally wanted to watch a movie on emotions. It was fantastic! If you have access to it, I certainly recommend it. I don’t want to spoil the movie, but here are the reasons I would suggest to individuals I see in my counseling office:
1) It brings emotions to life. Each emotion has a face and a personality. Sometimes in counseling, I encourage clients to befriend their emotions and see what they might be trying to say to them. A lot of times we push emotions away, which then actually keeps us in bondage. When we get to know our emotions, we have more room to learn and grow from what they are trying to tell us.
2) All emotions are important. We are the ones to label emotions “good” and “bad.” Yes, some are more fun to feel, like joy and excitement. Yet, all emotions are what make us whole people. When we numb out the “bad,” we also numb out the “good.” When we do that, we stay at a baseline place that lacks gusto in our lives. We need to feel all feelings to be whole people.
3) Depression feels like a breakdown of all our internal resources. In the movie, there were different islands, such as “family island”, “hockey island,” “friendship island.” They all started breaking down. That’s what depression feels like. You lose interest in things you once loved and relationships just seem hard. Also, in the movie the main character lacked two big emotions for awhile, joy and sadness. She still had anger, disgust, and fear. From when I’ve worked with people going through a tough time, those emotions usually do stick around longer, before more of a full numb out. Not always, but often it's anger, disgust, cynicism...those types emotions that hold on longer. We might become cynical before we show hurt, we might show anger instead of letting the sadness penetrate. Nothing is wrong with that, but those emotions are sometimes “easier” to feel because we aren't fully going to a vulnerable place of feeling deep sorrow, sadness, or regret.
4) We tie certain emotions to “core memories”…and those can be altered. In the movie there was a period when Riley (the main character) was having some of her core memories altered, but more in a negative way. I’ve seen how clients store memories either in a way that leaves them feeling stuck or in a way that helps them flourish. When memories seem to keep clients stuck, I often pull out a therapeutic technique called EMDR. Ah! I’m doing it again. Here I am talking about a movie suggestion and I’m about to include a book suggestion. If you find yourself feeling stuck in a certain area of your life, I’d suggest “Getting Past Your Past” by Francine Shapiro. EMDR is a process that helps us rewire how we store memories and beliefs we hold about ourselves. The book by Francine Shapiro is a guide for any individual (not just therapists) who want to create more freedom in a certain area of their life, especially their past, which is keeping them in a "stuck" feeling.
Those are some therapeutic lessons that come to mind as I reflect on “Inside Out.” If you would like to plop on the couch with a bucket of popcorn, I highly recommend it! :) Happy rooting, everyone.