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Let’s Save Riley or Every One of Us, from Managing Emotions?!?

Updated: Jul 5

Managing Emotions through Cinema Therapy
Emotions for Self-Management

Recently I watched the Disney & Pixar Movie ‘Inside Out 2’, simply because I like the creative art form of Animated Movies and they are more often inspired by positive psychology. I am certainly not a movie buff in any sense of the word, but I do like watching pure heartland movies, every now and then. Neither do I have an interest in watching every other released movie nor do I prefer reviewing work of fiction to any degree.

Then why am I writing this blog post in the first place? Because it goes beyond the realm of Fiction. It touches the reality of most of us in our time and has a strong Take Away message. It falls in the category of what is known as ‘Cinema Therapy’ which stems from ‘Bibliotherapy’, both of which are intended to let someone go through similar experiences, emotions, and feelings through the medium of stories (in the former using theatre or movie, in the later using books). Stories that result in gaining either some positive insights or a new perspective on their thoughts. Dr. Sigmund Freud called it Catharsis i.e. discovering one’s feelings and releasing repressed emotions within. So through the process, one can feel purified as their emotions start to get a positive channeling through new perspectives & resonating community story v/s being stuck in the shell of dogmas & stigmas carried through negative thought patterns. My experience was all about Unlocking Emotions using Cinema Therapy.


As Riley, a girl protagonist in the movie, experiences emotions that are universal to all human beings & are gender-neutral; faces her biggest challenge of dealing with incrementally developing Anxiety which triggers her to lose her sense of positive self-image, are we all struggling with a similar if not the same challenge in today’s modern-day lives?

The most honest and truthful answer is, yes. As evolving human beings, we all face this!

Growing up is never easy, especially when you do not have a supportive environment, positive role models, good associations, elevating guidance, and a positive North Star to work towards in life.


From childhood to the onset of adulthood, Riley faced many following challenges:

  • The challenge of making room for new emotions like Anxiety, Embarrassment, Envy, and Boredom while at the same time managing to keep her positive self-image.

  • While she was just beginning to understand and settle with basic emotions like Joy, Anger, Sadness, and Disgust, she was asked to welcome a new set of emotions i.e. Anxiety, Embarrassment, Envy, and Boredom.

  • New emotions by their fundamental nature keep complaining and teaming up to lament that acted as fuel to exhaust any pleasant, happy, and joyous reserves out of our life. They collectively resisted Joy.

  • As she was growing up her fading memories of positive experiences and changing beliefs added to existing difficulties. Not finding any positive memory which kept her struggling to find her internal voice that ‘She is a good person, she is good enough’.

  • She soon found herself dealing with an unsettled mind due to age, environment, new experiences, and old beliefs all of which contributed to a constant battle between protecting and reinstating the positive self-image v/s keeping it tied down.

  • At its deepest, it affected a stream of consciousness outwardly representing her thoughts, moods, and intentions. The endless flow of tragedy and consequences kept her away from their positive self-image as she didn’t know how to work through them.


We can draw many parallels to Riley’s challenges, struggles, and demotivated self to invite new & complex emotions with open arms. From Riley’s approach to resolving challenges, one can learn How to Deal with Emotions Effectively.

1.     Trigger Your Imagination: Change negative projections around you into positive ones.

2.     Take a Longer-term View: View the current episode as an instance in a span of a long duration of life course & that of the future.

3.     Acknowledge the Role of Emotions: Acknowledge that any new, complex emotions are here to stay. Be it Anxiety, Embarrassment, etc. Stay prepared to welcome them but be vigilant of them being overused. i.e. know the triggers when they start dictating who you are v/s who you need to be.

4.     Stay Open to New Perspectives: Brainstorm for what is good, bad, and big ideas. New perspectives to help keep a sense of overbearing voice ‘I am not good enough’ to low so that you can handle anything big and address anxiety consciously.

5.     Embrace the Growth: Accept that it’s part of the growing up process to feel complex emotions in varying degrees of exposure based on situations you are exposed to. Growing up is a struggle to keep struggling less and less. It’s not about enjoyment but minimizing our sufferings effectively.

6.     Let it Go: Open a channel for bad experiences to flow out despite internal resistance. Expect resistance and yet consciously choose to stay on course without expecting immediate outcomes.

7.     Plant Positive Beliefs: Remodel your beliefs rationally and actively practice them as you go along your life course.

Manage Diverse Emotions
Manage Diverse Emotions

Learning beyond knowing ‘How-Tos’ is what makes lessons transpire in us deeply. Here are some of them that stood out from watching Riley’s emotional experiences:

  1. Basic, complex, and sophisticated emotions all have their ways of making us function as human beings so that we can have an optimal experience of life. E.g. Anxiety is neither bad nor good. Anxiety can help us make better decisions that protect us but when felt to an overwhelming degree it can overpower one’s self-image and start deciding who they are.

  2. Emotions can act as a GPS of how much to use them seriously and when to ignore them. When used in moderation, they protect us or facilitate deeper learning about ourselves.

  3. Emotions can help keep us in check; understanding, knowing, and reminding ourselves that we are going to experience a mix of all emotions but choose basic emotions and their positive aspects to keep a sense of positive self-image (in most situations).

  4. Our conscious choices have a higher effect on how we channel our experiences. For e.g. Riley chooses Joy over everything else. But it works well in times of distress. Channel positive Joy or emotions through a controlled mind.

  5. Our beliefs, experiences, and memories result in forming our thoughts & feelings which are crucial in building a positive self-image.

  6. Learning as you go through experiences, understanding & creating a bank of knowledge in which situations based on time, place, circumstances, and emotions work when used in moderation. This iterative process helps one to  

  7. Let emotions work for you in harmony. Let emotions be trained to be adaptable to change & work them for you by choosing to go through tough or pleasant situations.


And lastly, here are some of the recommendations, specifically to address Anxiety:

  1. In the moment of feeling high anxiety, relax yourself through deep breathing. Sama Vritti Pranayama or Box Breathing can help.

  2. When anxiety is overwhelming you, shun the thoughts as if it is not happening now.

  3. Focus & lead with your strengths and improvement areas that make you, You! Regularly Introspect to find & refine these.

  4. Choose Cinema and Books as a Therapy modality to stay hopeful, optimistic, and treat yourself lovingly, and compassionately.

  5. Seek help, support, and Therapy if Anxiety attacks are more regular and affecting you to live a normal, harmonious life course.

Managing Relationship with Self through Mindfulness
Practice Mindfulness & Self-Regulation

As a Mental & Emotional Well-being Coach & Counselor, I drew many parallels to how ‘Inside Out 2’ the movie facilitates the premise of Personal Growth. One thought that repeatedly stood out for me is,


All of our experiences eventually make us grow when we come to an understanding that ‘Nothing in this world or within us is absolutely good nor bad’. E.g. Joy in excess can lead to unwanted embarrassment, Fear in excess can lead to stagnation or being stuck, Envy in excess can lead to losing meaning, Anxiety can weaken the positive self-image, etc.
Practicing Effective Moderation leads to better Self-Management and aids in society to grow at a sustainable pace.


In it’s subtlety, this movie can help any adult struggling to keep their emotions effectively working for them (for instance in this case specifically Anxiety affecting one’s positive self-image). For children, it can be a great boost as they watch stories and pick nuances from them. This by itself can help them learn positive self-management practices at an early age when they are most adaptable to change. This movie addresses one such emotion and its effect, but it’s a good start to build awareness and set an example for building a community & society that is driven by empathy and practices compassion, which, in today’s age, we are in dire need of.

My highest recommendation as a ‘Cinema Therapy’.

Disclaimers: No written part of this blog is produced using AI Assistance. All rights reserved. 2024 eDC - elementsD Coach Professional Services.

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About Author:

Tejal Rathod - Tj (she/her)

eDC - elementsD Coach Professional Services

Empower | Transform | Evolve


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