I Took My Daughter to See Inside Out 2 – But It Taught Me More About My Emotions

Everett Collection / Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection

It’s Saturday night and whilst the cool kids were at Glastonbury I was taking my eight-year-old daughter to see Inside Out 2. We had both been eagerly waiting for the sequel to our favourite Disney movie and as I saw the first film heavily pregnant with the aforementioned child, it felt like one of those “core memory” full-circle moments.

For those of you who may not have watched the original, what have you been doing with your time? It is one of the greatest, most underrated Disney films of our generation and as I walked into the packed 7.45pm performance (after being unable to buy tickets for the four earlier showings) I realised I was not alone in my adoration for the film. Parents with kids, older teens and even groups of 20-somethings filled the room, all choosing to spend Saturday night watching a group of animated emotions explain more about human feelings than the majority of the therapists I have seen.

In the first movie, we saw Riley go from a child to a preteen, as she moves to a new town and has to deal with all the feelings this brings – from sadness to fear, disgust and anger. The film is led by the character who plays Joy and throughout we see how she tries to encourage Riley not to give up on happiness and fun as she gets older. The first time I watched the movie, I found it to be incredibly moving, but watching it with my children again recently – who have both now moved through the toddler years into childhood – left me in floods of tears. Especially when Riley’s imaginary friend Bing Bong disappears, the film uses this metaphor to show how as we grow up we lose the blissful power to believe real life and imagination are intrinsically linked.

I loved how it made us also look at sadness as a positive and accept that sometimes it’s ok to cry

It also addresses anger and how sometimes our emotions can take over. “I can’t control what happens, but I can control how I react to it,” Anger concludes as the movie comes to an end, something my daughter who can frequently lose her temper found really reassuring and helpful in understanding why she can often see red for no reason. I loved how it made us also look at sadness as a positive and accept that sometimes it’s ok to cry – and this can actually make us stronger in the long run. Something I have often reverted back to with my children and myself over the last few years. It also helped me accept that it was ok for my children to see me cry.

In terms of my own life and parenthood, we are now nearing the puberty stage and I felt a bit smug that Inside Out 2 would be able to give me a bit of help in explaining the rush of emotions she may start experiencing in this new phase in her life. Which if I am totally honest about, I’m dreading. It feels a bit like that last week before you give birth and realise this thing you’ve been buying cute outfits for and organising the nursery to sleep in actually has to come out of you.

The movie starts and almost immediately the puberty alarm goes off and I settle back to let Disney do the parenting. Except, as the film went on I realised it was helping me too. I won’t include spoilers as I think this film should be part of the national curriculum and possibly included in NCT courses – but once you are introduced to anxiety, it is like everything you’ve struggled to explain, and wrongly believed only affects you, is being shown on the large screen. From the imaginary scenarios our mind creates in the middle of the night, to the bad decision we make to fit in or succeed, all culminating in a visual description of a panic attack that made me feel like a 30 year weight had been removed from my shoulders.

I settle back to let Disney do the parenting. Except as the film goes on I realised it was helping me too.

As I looked around the cinema I noticed a room full of people who looked lighter, there were tears in eyes, nods of heads and a communal feeling similar to an AA meeting where you realise you are not alone. It was a joint experience that I didn’t just share with my daughter, but also my inner child who needed to know she wasn’t the only one experiencing those feelings and understand that my thoughts are not the truth.

As Joy concludes at the end: “You don’t get to choose who Riley is. Anxiety, you need to let her go.” And thanks to Inside Out 2, and as someone who has suffered with high functioning and sometimes all-consuming anxiety, maybe I also needed to hear that too.

Lauren Ezekiel is an associate editor at PS UK, where she writes about all things beauty and wellness. With a degree in journalism and 12 years’ experience as a beauty editor at a leading Sunday supplement, she is obsessed with skincare, hair and makeup, and is often found offering advice to innocent bystanders. Her work has been published in Grazia, OK, Health and Beauty, The Sun, ASDA, Dare and Metro.

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