If you’ve been following for a while, you already know that my mission and purpose in writing has become simply this- to help people better acknowledge, process, and respond to their emotions. I think it’s so important because I spent the majority of my life stuffing emotions and they eventually poured out in an ugly, excruciating downpour. And I’ve seen others have the same experience. But, my miracle has come as I’ve slowly learned about my emotions and how to relate to them in a non-judgmental, open, and honest way. I truly believe that we can change the trajectory of our lives by learning about our emotions.
So today I’d like to further convince you of this theory by talking about movies. Movies are interesting because they all have an underlying commentary on humans and what we’re like. Sure, they’re exaggerated to add interest but as I thought about some of my favorite movies I realized all of the story lines come down to emotions.
One of my all time favorites is The Grinch, you know the Jim Carrey one? I watch it all year long. If you literally live under a rock and don’t know the story, basically the Grinch is this odd green creature who floats into Whoville in a bassinet (cause that’s how babies are made right?) He tries to fit in but is so different that he is mocked endlessly by the other kids. He finally goes into this rage and throws a Christmas tree and marches his way up Mt. Krumpit to become a grumpy cynical loner who tries to steal Christmas.
But what if the old ladies who took in Mr. Grinch as a baby had taught him emotional coping tools? What if they had fostered open communication with him so that they knew he had been feeling left out and then provided him with healthy outlets for his feelings? The Grinch might not have displaced his feelings of inadequacy and inferiority into hatred for Christmas, and that Christmas tree and the town of Whoville would have been saved a lot of trouble.
But then we wouldn’t have much of a story to watch at Christmas time (or all the time like me) now would we?
How about Matilda? That classic movie from my childhood is about little girl who is neglected by her parents but has magic powers that help her fight against the cruel principal at her school, Miss Trunchbull.
First we could dissect Matilda’s parents and their obvious issues regarding having their daughter. Maybe she was a surprise baby; maybe they wanted another boy and instead got a girl; or maybe they were simply overwhelmed by the task of raising such a brilliant little girl. Either way they expressed their emotions through rudeness, neglect, distraction. What if they had found a way to effectively process their primary emotions and work through them early on in their daughter’s life? They might not have been such bad parents (or scammed as many people buying used cars.)
And let’s not even get started on the host of issues Miss Trunchbull obviously has. Many deep, unresolved emotions must have piled up to produce that kind of cruelty and hatred for everyone. In fact in the end, Matilda takes her down by manipulating Trunchbull’s obvious fear of the ghost of Magnus (her brother in law who she may or may not have killed) which is probably an emotional storage unit of it’s own. If the Trunchbull had learned how to feel her emotions and developed better coping skills, she might have been the sweetest principal in the world.
But then what movie would I have watched a million times on VHS as a kid?
And while we’re on the subject of great 90’s movies, let’s talk about Mrs. Doubtfire. The whole premise of that movie is that Daniel’s wife sat him down one day and declared she didn’t love him and wanted a divorce. Obviously they’d had issues before but the severity of it seems to to shock him. What if she had told him earlier what she’d been feeling? What if they’d gone to therapy where he could realize he wasn’t being present for his wife and she could loosen up a bit to let him have fun with the kids? Maybe they could have worked out their differences through acknowledging, processing, and responding to their emotions in healthy ways.
But then we wouldn’t have the privilege of seeing Robin Williams dress as a woman in an effort to get his family back. And that would have been a shame.
Do you see my point here? All of these stories (and every other one I can think about) have a conflict that boils down to emotional problems. And while all of these movies end up with a happy ending, in real life people are suffering for a lack of knowledge and acceptance regarding their emotions. Brene Brown says, “We are the most in-debt, obese, addicted, and medicated cohort in U.S. history.” I don’t doubt that, and I feel strongly that it’s a direct result of our issues with feelings and an attempt to numb them. LET’S STOP NUMBING, okay?
I don’t claim to be an expert by a long shot. We’re all in this together, this journey of figuring out feelings and how the heck to feel them properly. But I do feel called to share what I know and continue writing and teaching about it along the way. Maybe we can help each other and maybe, we can help the world.