In Pixar’s animated film Inside Out, the audience gains an “inside” perspective of an 11-year old girl named Riley whose family has to move to San Francisco from their home in Minnesota. The majority of the action in the movie takes place in Riley’s “Head-quarters,” where several different emotions run the show (Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust). These parts of Riley appear to be incompatible, and the goal of the team inside Riley’s head is to provide as much joy as possible and as little of the other emotions as they can.
Over the course of their move, Riley becomes increasingly out of sync with her inner self, and her various parts frantically try to recover what once was. Riley believes she no longer has access to her best friend, ice hockey, or any of the other things that she loved about her home town. All of these changes were difficult for Riley, and her emotions become so disjointed that she loses most control over them. Meanwhile, inside Riley, everything is also going a little crazy, as the audience is presented with an image of her entire “self” becoming lost, and something less-than-Riley is left in her body. Her emotions war with one another as Joy attempts to regain control and Sadness thwarts her many efforts. Anger, Fear, and Disgust are left alone in the Headquarters and cause further chaos for Riley.
Without giving away the entirety of the movie (but still spoiling the moral of the story, so spoiler alert!), Riley comes to find out that her various parts are not incompatible. In reality, each part of her serves an essential purpose. The goal is not to compartmentalize our different parts or emotions, but rather to honor them for the role they have played in our lives and to integrate them to promote a fuller picture of our true selves. In doing this, we are allowed to take the reins and work alongside these other essential parts. The journey towards this integration is by no means an easy one, and I believe that this movie may have taught (or retaught) these truths to adults as much as to children. Here at Refuge, we aim to help you (re)locate your “true self” and to bring it back into the driver’s seat of your life, better able to integrate Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, Disgust, and any other part that makes up your full, unique self.