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What Inside Out Teaches Us About The Significance of Sadness

Feelings add dimension and flavor to our lives. Without them, life would be flat and lacking the full essence of human experience. Our personality, mood, and behavior are all motivated by emotion. Pixar’s most recent “emotion” picture, Inside Out, illustrates just how emotion drives us through life and the raw way in which our feelings impact our reactions to life’s challenges.


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The Suppression of Sadness

Anger, Fear, Disgust, and Joy. These four very strong emotions run the roost in this family friendly animation. They play huge roles in the way Reilly responds to the events and people in her life. Then there’s Sadness, who is always told to step aside and let the others do the controlling. Sadness is made to feel unimportant and a nuisance within Reilly’s brain, as she seems to only “ruin” thoughts and moments. Anger, Fear, Disgust, and Joy help move Reilly forward through life while Sadness is portrayed as keeping her emotionally stagnant. Because Sadness is suppressed, Reilly’s life is carried by her other four emotions, with Joy being the prominent fix-all. Joy is relied on for providing quick solutions to life’s problems, so in her absence, the other emotions try to find ways to keep Reilly happy.


Emotions Are a Catalyst Toward Growth

As humans we are never going to be positive all of the time. Often, we may need the time to reflect and work through our complex emotions in order to emerge happier and more resilient on the other side of an issue. We tend to want to find a quick fix to make things better. However, many times this can lead us to beat ourselves up because we assume that we “should” have already moved forward and we shouldn’t be dwelling in the past. Sometimes, however, we need the time to reflect on our experience and feel the full weight of all of the emotions involved.

Emotional contrasts are extremely important for the way that we view and move through life. If we never had to endure life’s difficult moments, we would have less appreciation for the happy ones. In a similar vein, we would have a much harder time getting through tough moments if we were not motivated by the fact that there is light at the end of the tunnel. If we were to get stuck in one emotion, we would not be able to appreciate and move towards another. When we experience success and when we experience setbacks or loss, the positive and negative energy from each respectively is what propels us toward personal growth and maturation.


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Humans naturally have powerful responses to life’s every day moments. We are inevitably going to feel angry, scared, disgusted, joyful, and sad throughout our lives. This is especially true of major events, changes, loss, and stressors. We simply cannot bury our feelings or force ourselves to feel a certain way at any given moment.

Throughout the film, Reilly is always referred to by her parents as “happy girl”. Although not her parent’s intent, Reilly grew up thinking that she had to make her parents happy. When Sadness takes the stage, Reilly found herself embraced in her parents arms the same way in which she was embraced as a happy child. Reilly was stuck in her feelings of Anger, Disgust, and Fear about her family’s big move to San Francisco. By allowing Sadness to take the reigns, Reilly was able to advance into Joy. Without Sadness, we cannot feel the true expansiveness of Joy.


Creating Core Values

Inside Out reminds us how intricately intertwined our emotions truly are and the way in which the strong connections between them are vital for our overall well-being. Each of our emotions holds a distinct purpose in our lives and when interwoven, they help define our core values. In my work with adult individuals, teens, young adults, and couples, I help clients become more comfortable exploring their internal world. Becoming more familiar with the complex array of emotions experienced and developing ways to effectively manage and express these emotions, enables my clients to lead happier, healthier lives. If you are interested in learning more about how I can help you or a loved one, contact me today by calling 310.892.2572 or email me. I look forward to hearing from you!