Much like what is suggested in the movie Inside Out, I have learned that all of our emotions are useful tools that are necessary for survival and our overall well-being. Unfortunately, many of us grow up being taught to label emotions as "good" and "bad" or we are told that certain emotions are not acceptable to feel or express. I strongly believe that this approach to emotions leads to difficulties with anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.
This blog post is dedicated to sharing what I've learned about emotions and to introduce the new Inside Out pins in the shop. There is a message to take from each of them about emotions! I am also excited to be donating a portion of the profits of the Inside Out inspired items to an organization dedicated to serving young adults with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide called To Write Love On Her Arms.
The Problem With Labels
Labeling is something we all do and to some extent we cannot escape our need to label things and experiences because that is how we make sense of the world. The problem is, labeling also leads to bias, stereotypes, and much more. When it comes to emotions, labeling them as "good" and "bad" usually leads to avoiding the "bad" feelings and seeking the "good" ones. Unfortunately, this is just completely unrealistic because those "bad" feelings exist whether or not you acknowledge them and avoidance can actually prolong suffering. One of things I encourage my clients to do is find new labels for emotions as a way to decrease avoidance. I tend to speak of emotions as either "comfortable" or "uncomfortable." However, I've had clients be really creative and use forms of potatoes to label their emotions (e.g. mashed potatoes were "sad," fries were"angry," tater tots were "joy"). Hey, whatever works! This is why I love my job!
Sadness & Joy
Usually, I find that most people label sadness, anger, and fear in the "bad" emotion category because let's face it, they aren't fun to feel.
Let's start with sadness, who is by far my favorite character in the film. The pin featuring Sadness in the shop is coupled with Joy.
The reason for this is because sadness and joy are mutually exclusive emotions. One cannot exist without the other. If we never felt sad, how would we know what joy is, and vice versa? The quote on this pin is from one of my favorite authors, Jonathan Safran Foer, and it is one of my absolute favorites. While being sad about something can really suck, if you protect yourself from ever feeling it, you're also protecting yourself from experiencing joy. In the movie, Sadness becomes such a valuable character (which makes me SO HAPPYYYYY!!! Irony!) The function of sadness is to slow us down when we need it in order to appropriately grieve or make meaning out of a situation, whether it be a loss, failure, or disappointment. Sadness can also indicate a need for rest and comfort from others. Sadness can create connection with others add dimension to the meaning of our experiences.
So the next time you feel sad, before you reach for that tub of ice cream, glass of wine, or start browsing Amazon for stuff to buy (I'm speaking from experience here!), I encourage you to ask yourself what you need in that moment and to remind yourself that this is a necessary, temporary and useful state of being.
Another emotion that gets a bad rap is anger. I consistently hear people say that they are "angry" people because it seems that we tend to equate anger with being out of control or violent. The truth is, WE ARE ALL ANGRY PEOPLE BECAUSE ANGER IS AN ADAPTIVE NECESSARY EMOTION! That was me using my anger about people not allowing themselves to feel anger. We have classes for "anger management" and I absolutely hate that term. Anger is not something that needs to be "managed," it is an emotion that needs to be acknowledged and channeled in a useful way.
Admitting you are angry does not mean you are an aggressive person. It means that you know you or someone else deserves better. When you acknowledge this, it can be empowering, energizing and motivating. Anger can drive us toward goals and create awareness of injustice, leading to PRODUCTIVE ACTION! Next time you feel angry, take a step back and observe this anger and figure out what it's telling you. Then explore the actions you can take that will either improve the situation or empower yourself to change (no punching people please! I don't want people to be messaging me blaming me for their black eyes ha ha!)
And now for good ol' fear. He cracks me up in the movie!!
Fear is another tough one because it is extremely uncomfortable and can often lead to difficulties with anxiety. While both fear and anxiety produce a stress response, anxiety is more of a worry about an unknown threat while fear is about a clear, definite threat. The problem is, we often experience the same physical responses to both so it gets super confusing! The function of fear is to protect us from experiencing pain. If you touch a hot stove as a kid and get burned, you feel fear, which then leads you to avoid touching a hot stove again! The problem is when you get rejected by someone or experience a huge failure, the fear can also kick in to protect us from ever experiencing that again. When we fear psychological pain, that usually leads to anxiety or avoidance. We do everything we can to avoid being vulnerable with people or we try to control every aspect of a situation to avoid failing. This is when fear needs to be faced.
Being "brave" does not mean you are fearless or worry-free. It means you are TERRIFIED, but you are doing the thing that scares you anyway because it can lead to something amazing like an awesome job or a connection with a new person. And let me tell you, it feels SO good to face your fears! When you face something that makes you anxious or nervous, it usually means you're growing. I know, what a pain in the ass, haha!
I chose the quote for the Fear pin because it is something he says in the movie, but it also speaks to the function of fear keeping us alive and safe! Also, this quote stood out to me because for a portion of people in the world, being alive for another day is a thing to be thankful for. This pin serves as a reminder that there are people everywhere who are facing both psychological and physical threats to their lives because of mental illness, trauma, discrimination, oppression, or lack of basic needs like food, water, and shelter.
Believe or not, disgust is not just some hilarious character voiced by Mindy Kaling with the best one-liners! Disgust is also a very necessary and vital emotion. First, it protects us from disease by causing us to be repelled by rotten food or germs. It also keeps us looking good by motivating us to engage in good hygiene practices because body odor ain't cute and I'm pretty sure no one finds it attractive when another person has a bunch of food stuck in their teeth. Disgust can also signal that something is occurring that is inhumane or violates human dignity, which leads us to create social distance from certain acts.
So this pin is mean to remind us of 1) how amazing and hilarious this character is 2) that disgust is keeping you clean, ethical, and healthy!
I hope you all enjoyed the little background behind these new pins in the shop! There's also a cute mix and match earring set! Check them all out in the Pixar Pals collection of the shop and help me donate to an organization that I care so much about!!
Until Next Time!