Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Inside Out

Took the boys to see the movie 'Inside Out' and it was FANTASTIC! We all loved it.

I've just read this article called "Four Lessons from 'Inside Out' to Discuss with Kids" which highlights the deep things the film has to say about how our emotions work. It's pretty heavy reading (the film is not heavy!) but is a really good piece for articulating the deeper lessons the film carries. And it's actually bloody good from a sobriety perspective.

Through cute cartoon characters and cool animation what the film tells us is that happiness is not just about experiencing joy. Joy is only one element of happiness. Only when we experience all sorts of emotions - both positive and negative - do we find true happiness.

Only by fully experiencing all emotions do we achieve a deep sense that life is good, meaningful and worthwhile.

If we try to be happy all the time we actually end up miserable (sometimes subtly, without realising it) because the more we expect and strive for constant happiness, the more disappointed (and less happy) we are likely to be when we can't achieve this goal.

This makes good sense to me. When I was boozing I wanted to be 'fun' and 'upbeat' Mrs D all the time. I didn't want to be sad - no way! Nor did I want to be angry. Now that I am much more at peace with the sad and angry versions of myself, overall I feel much happier with myself.

Yes we have to prioritise positivity (by doing things that make us feel good), but not at the expense of avoiding or denying negative feelings or the situations that cause them.

Sadness is important. It makes us empathetic. It helps us connect deeply with people, and that connection is a crucial component of happiness. Seems crazy to acknowledge that sadness is a part of happiness but that's what this movie is all about!! The blue cartoon character 'Sadness' actually emerges as much as the hero as the perky 'Joy' character does.

This quote is from the article; "With great sensitivity, Inside Out shows how tough emotions like sadness, fear, and anger, can be extremely uncomfortable for people to experience - which is why many of us go to great lengths to avoid them. But in the film, as in real life, all of these emotions serve an important purpose by providing insight into our inner and outer environments in ways that can help us connect with others, avoid danger, or recover from loss."

I went to great lengths (glug glug) to avoid tough emotions for most of my adult life, until I was nearly 40 and took alcohol away. Since then I have been learning how to accept and deal with them.

It's been a rough process (sometimes not fun at all) but overall - without a shadow of a doubt - I am happier now than I have ever been.

Think about that. I feel sadness and anger and stress and frustration and disappointment much more keenly now than I ever have. Yet overall I am a much happier and more content person now than I have ever been.

I might still very occasionally get a sad thought about not-drinking (see my last post) but that is just a tiny blip in my mind's horizon.

No way do I miss booze. I'm enjoying getting to know myself far too much to want that shit back in my life.

Love, Mrs D xxx


  1. Hi Mrs D,
    I like how you point out that joy is the upside and - sometimes it is all too easy to get lost when we feel entitled to be always joyful.
    Navigating our ups and downs and having the emotional mastery to step back and just observe where our thoughts are trying to take us - now that in itself can be a source of joy.
    Go spread your wings, grasshopper, your time has come...
    (Feeling a bit zen this morning)

  2. I also took my kids this week-end and like you thought it was brilliant! Thank you for writing the post I was going to write too :) Like you I felt it had some great lessons as relates to sobriety. As I was saying to Prim on email it makes the fleeting sadness I feel about stopping drinking that I get sometimes feel more okay. It's part of the recovery experience and we can't be joyful about it all the time. Valuable insight xx

  3. Very interesting, Mrs. D..... I took my nieces to see Inside Out and I hated it. Now that I am reading your commentary, I realize that probably I don't really want to deal with the issues in the movie. I used alcohol to numb all feelings after my divorce 7 years ago. Now, at almost 5 months AF, I still panic a bit when a huge crying spell comes on (usually when I am out in nature, running) because I worry that I am clinically depressed, or that the sadness will never go away. I am going to take what you wrote here and let myself really cry when I need to, even it it scares me. It is true that sadness was the hero of that story. I guess probably this goes back to childhood in a family where we weren't supposed to be sad or angry, but nonetheless, now that I am never going to drink again, I sure am dealing with all those characters from the movie. Maybe I should watch it again. In fact, the end of the movie made me want to cry, but I forced myself not to cry in front of my nieces. I sure have a lot to learn. Thanks for this, Mrs. D.

  4. Yes! We took our boys to see Inside Out also and while I had pretty low expectations going into it, and even during first 30 min or so I was like jeez this is kind of heavy for a kids movie... but we ended up loving it! I cried like 3 times. What a great opportunity to have kids (and myself) realize the different feelings and how they all work together.

  5. I loved that movie. Joy needs Alanon. lol I could relate to her so much!! The worlds cheerleader.

  6. Dear Mrs. D,
    I so agree.
    I can't be positive all the time.
    I am learning how to feel and deal with my emotions.
    We are human.

  7. Hi Mrs D, we loved that movie too! My son's school recommended seeing it last school holidays. It sends a good message. My son still talks about it. It was a great movie. A x

  8. Bloody brilliant my sweet friend!


  9. Amen, Sister! Funny how in early sobriety, I tried to act like I was still the happy go lucky, Fun and Frolic Kary. But now, as I grow more comfortable in my own rapidly sagging skin, I say, "F#$% that shit, it's too exhausting trying to be someone I'm not and it keeps me from shining up the real me.. I don't have enough time left to waste on not being my "Happy, Sad, Grumpy, Fascinating-if I do say so-self.

  10. I need to kidnapp a young child to go and watch this (note for any internet police out there.. this is UK humour - it is a joke) Given I drank 25 years to block all emotions, esp happiness and joy since I felt I didn't deserve them even 11 years of sobriety I still consider myself an emotional naïve and I need to continue to work and grow on recognising, processing and accepting emotions I think I may well learn something from it. As a recovering drunk I phoned my sponsor one day to ask "I'm feeling both happy and sad about this thing my wife said. Is that normal?" I was 42 - he explained no one could deny my feelings as only I feel them and normal is therefore surely relative. WOW! I mean like... WOW!!! I just never knew I thought we had a one bit register in the brain for emotions and it was set on or off with no ambiguity or shade of grey. Opening up that realising has meant a slow embracing of the rainbow of emotions that makes life what it is