inside out

By: Dale Hicks, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist, Certified CEO Effectiveness Coach

After hearing positive reviews from younger family members and professional colleagues, I recently watched Pixar’s movie Inside Out. Surrounded by an audience of mostly children, pre-teens and their mothers, I wondered what messages each would take away with them. The movie was a delightfully entertaining look at the sometimes tumultuous and conflicting emotions within the mind of a pre-teen. It afforded a wonderful opportunity for pre-teens and young parents to understand the development and complexity of emotions, including the impact of peers, parents (often inadvertently) and a host of experiences in shaping the “core memories” (and mental models) that often unconsciously continue to drive our behaviors throughout our lives. Importantly, it demonstrated that most of our emotions (anger, sadness, joy) are adaptive in certain circumstances and that ambivalence (experiencing seemingly conflicting emotions simultaneously) is a normal phenomenon. However, it further emphasized the critical role of the brain’s “control center” (i.e. the area that controls executive functioning), necessary for self-mastery.  While the movie focused largely on the emotional experiences (and eventual emotional resolution) of an 11 year old child, it also powerfully reinforced the importance of understanding ourselves and our emotions (i.e. self-knowledge) in order to experience our most adaptive and optimal functioning and to avoid developing patterns of self-defeating and self-sabotaging behaviors that can limit our happiness and success throughout our lives. This is a valuable lesson for those of every age!