Animated movies sure have come a long way. Not just in the effects they use, but in the affect they can have on us.
Inside Out is a movie which features the bright colours, animation, and big eyed characters that kids love, while managing to explore an issue that’s unfortunately surrounded by so much stigma, that even adults feel uncomfortable going near it; it’s mental health. I remember leaving the cinema after Toy Story feeling touched. After Inside Out, I felt like I had also been taught; there’s definitely a few things to be learnt from this movie. Mostly about the role that emotions and memories play in our lives. Here’s 5 of those insights.
1) WE’RE MADE FROM MEMORIES & MOMENTS
The theory is that one’s personality consists of “islands”. These islands are the different attitudes and interests that make us who we are. For example, hockey island and goofball island are two of Rliey’s (Inside Out’s protagonist). Forming these islands are certain “core” memories – often obtained during our childhood when we’re first discovering the world and what about it most appeals to us. Keeping these islands running is the ongoing experience of similar moments: the creation of new memories, and essentially, reinforcement. Old islands can crumble and new ones can be built. Definitely simplified, but it’s a great way to understand how we come to be who we are, as well as go on to change.
2) MEMORIES ARE ALWAYS ON THE MOVE
Throughout the film, memories are represented by yellow glowing orbs – and they’re everywhere! They’re being sent back and forth between Riliey’s conscious awareness and storage, and even getting thrown to the dump when they’re deemed to be no longer needed. Memories might actually be neurological signals rather than rolling orbs, but we’re able to “call” on them in a similar way. During our worst times, remember better ones can have a drastic effect on our mood – hence the effectiveness of meditations that focus on positive experiences and emotions. When it comes to memories getting dumped, that might happen with age, but activities like journaling, taking photos, and keeping mementos can help us hold onto our favourites.
3) HOW WE FEEL NOW CAN CHANGE HOW WE FELT THEN
The memories that once made Riley happy eventually start making her sad. This occurs when Sadness (one of the voices in Riley’s head) starts “accidentally” touching Joy’s memories, turning them from yellow to an upsetting blue. We perfectly capable of making the same mistake and that’s important to remember. Most things in our past can be looked back at through more than one perspective. Just take relationships for example. Which is pretty much why Dr Sues said it’s possible to “cry because it’s over, or smile because it happened.”
4) IT’S DARK DOWN THERE
A fear of clowns might be specific to Riley and an early experience she had at a birthday party. But if anything has troubled you in the past, it might still be lurking in your subconscious. It’s a place that’s not just for things that come creeping out when we’re asleep; they can affect us on daily basis, even without us knowing. If you do find yourself often shaken and stirred without knowing why, it might be worth taking the hand of a good friend or therapist and exploring what’s being repressed down there. Because the subconscious might be dark, but it’s certainly there.
5) SOMETIMES, SADNESS SHOULD TAKE OVER
The movie ends with Joy giving up her need of always being in control. Sadness takes over, and Riley goes from being an ever-enduring optimist to a young girl that’s expected to be sad. Her honesty serves as the cue for the people in her life to respond and give her the support she needs. As simple as it sounds, people still aren’t as honest about their feelings as they should be. Sadly, many people around the world take their own lives despite their friends and family never seeing them without a smile. Part of that reason is the stigma that surrounds mental health. That’s why it’s so great Inside Out was made. More than a movie, it’s a message that we’re not alone in our heads, and we shouldn’t feel alone outside of them either.