There are millions of reviews on this movie from parents, therapists, neuroscientists, and countless others, so I’ll try to keep my comments brief.
Here it goes:
When I first began teaching at Riverdale Nursery School, I began working with an incredible teacher, Amie Therrien, who I am fortunate enough to call a friend. Her insight, thoughtfulness, and dedication to the children she works with inspired me in part to become the therapist I am today. Throughout the years, she has taught me many things, but one lesson that I remember each and every day is to "Sit with Sadness."
Another confession: In the not so distant past, I couldn’t stand to see a child upset. Everything in my being wanted to scoop the child up and do something to distract them from what I viewed as “negative emotions.”
I know, I know, what you may be thinking: “but you’re a therapist!” At the time I will admit I was incredibly green (This post is full of confessions isn’t it!).
I digress. After the third or fourth time I literally scooped a child into my arms to try and “make things better,” Amie sat me down to talk - another thing she excels in (If you can’t already tell, I really could go on and on about how wonderful she is!).
She then posed a question: “How am I helping the child to deal with their “negative emotions” if I am not allowing them to feel them?”
Much like Joy in Inside Out, I was pushing Sadness away! But why? Did I want to make things better for the child, or was it my own discomfort with their sadness that was propelling my actions? It was time for a little insight and self-discovery of my own (but I'll save that for another post!)
Sadness, like any other emotion is an important part of our development. Without enduring sadness, how do we truly appreciate joy? And let’s be honest, we are providing our children with a false sense of reality if we teach them that any time they feel a "negative emotion," someone is going to scoop them up and make it all better.
In life we have to learn to sit with sadness, know that it’s ok to feel sad, and realize we don’t always have try to make things better because sometimes things stink and it’s ok to feel sad.
Thankfully, I’ve come a long way since then, and I’m now equipped with the tools to help you do the same. There are endless parenting and mindfulness techniques to help one sit with sadness and make what we view as “negative emotions” much more tolerable. The caveat is figuring out what makes these emotions so intolerable for you.
The good news is that it isn’t impossible! And as Inside Out has shown us, our children are resilient and will be better equipped to handle the world with these skills in tow.