Inside Out and the principles of Mindfulness
Jul 15, 2021
Today I would like to use a great movie about emotional intelligence to explain the importance of one of the keys to Mindfulness and its importance in our lives: acceptance (Hoffman and Asmundson, 2008). As many of you have heard, there are 6 basic emotions (Ekman, 1992). These are Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, Surprise, Fear.
All these emotions have an important load in the development of the story of the movie Inside Out, with the exception of Surprise, who was not finally added as a character in the story. These characters delve into the mental world and give an animated explanation, quite close to reality, on various aspects studied in psychology. Let's focus, in this article, on the emotional issue.
- Related article: "What is Mindfulness? The 7 answers to your questions"
Positive and negative emotions
We have a tendency to consider emotions as positive or negative depending on the effect produced on us, well-being or discomfort. In this way, we tend to ignore negative emotions and constantly search for positive ones.
This is something that we can see in our day to day. With just one click, by touching our mobile phone, we enter the world of any social network where everything that appears is perfect. And we begin to have that feeling, which becomes a necessity, to live all the moments that the people around us (or on our list of followed) live.
That is, although obviously this also happened before, the need to live positive emotions that we have in the Western world today is much stronger, even, it could be said that it is almost a social imposition... Or, how many times have you heard that "dry your tears, smile and go out there outside"?
With this I do not mean that putting an intention to improve our mood is something negative. Quite the contrary, but first, we must give our emotions the space and time they need to express themselves. On this is based one of the key principles of mindfulness: acceptance (Hoffman and Asmundson, 2008).
- You may be interested: "The 8 types of emotions (classification and description)"
How does Mindfulness relate to the outcome of the film?
The movie Inside Out introduces the viewer into the mind of a baby (Riley). There, you can see how it grows and faces different situations thanks to emotions (characters who are in charge of monitoring Riley's behavior). Over time, Riley goes through certain experiences that influence his mood.
However, Alegría, the main character in charge of the monitoring command, does not allow Tristeza to take control of her for a moment and ends up isolating her so that she does not influence Riley. The result? A set of events that end up causing Riley to make impulsive and drastic decisions. However, the key lies, unexpectedly, in the reinsertion of Tristeza into the group, letting it take the reins of the control unit momentarily. In other words, the moral of the film already hints at the importance of the union of the group to stabilize the situation.
The same is true in real life. When we constantly strive to feel good about a certain situation, we are only isolating our emotion. This has a biological explanation, as living beings, we seek survival, for that reason, we have the tendency to avoid discomfort in all senses.
However, Mindfulness has a lot to teach us in this regard. It is a central component added by Hoffman and Asmundson (2008), on which most of this new technique revolves: acceptance. However, we must be careful when interpreting this word. Acceptance does not mean resignation, it does not mean that we remain seated before what is happening. Acceptance implies not judging, seeing things as they are and how they make us feel. It means becoming aware, giving ourselves a space to attend to what is happening to us and letting it communicate to us without putting up any type of resistance. Thanks to this, Mindfulness gives us the opportunity to stop to pay attention to what we happens internally, and think about what happens to us before making a decision and moving on to action.
Thus, explained in Mindfulness terms, it could be said that when Sadness takes over the central controls, when Riley experiences the emotion and breaks into tears, is paying attention to what Sadness was trying communicate. Thanks to this, he gets to know a new internal experience and make a new decision.
With this interpretation of the outcome of the film, I intend to show the importance of all emotions in our life. Although it is true that not all the secret is hidden by the practice of Mindfulness, its exercises to attend to the happening in the present moment and becoming aware of it, help a lot in the integration of our emotions. Hence, Mindfulness exercises are being incorporated into current Emotional Intelligence programs.
Therefore, use the method you use, dear reader, do not forget one thing, take your time to feel each emotion and do not judge it, each one of them has something to tell you. Remember that no one can know what is great without first knowing what is small.
- Ekman, P. (1992). An argument for basic emotions. Cognition and Emotion, 6 (3-4), 169-200.
- Hoffmann, S. G. and Asmundson, G. J. (2008). Acceptance and mindfulness-based therapy: New wave or old hat? Clinical Psychology Review, 28 (1), 1-16.