Disney’s Inside Out Shows Emotional Teamwork: Sadness and Joy

Disney’s Inside Out Shows Emotional Teamwork: Sadness and Joy

This film came out within the last few years, and if you haven’t seen it yet….do it.

Are you an adult? Still see it. Are you a guy who might feel weird getting caught watching a kid’s Disney movie? Watch it anyway.

Watch it alone with a bunch of your favorite snacks and get ready to potentially ball your eyes out as you relate to the intricate balance of emotions portrayed in the mind of a little 11-year-old girl, Riley. By the way, she’s a badass that plays hockey, so it definitely crosses genders.

When Riley’s family suddenly moves from the comfort of her Minnesota home to the new, strange world of San Francisco, not to mention at a very tender age, her emotions get slapped in the face with the reality of her new situation.

Five emotions are represented: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust.

Each has a unique role in keeping Riley safe and happy. Throughout the film, Joy seems to lead the pack of emotions, doing her best to make lemonade wherever possible. Sadness and Joy are often together the most, with Joy being uncomfortably frustrated with nearly everything she does.

Joy does her best to keep Sadness at bay. She draws a circle for her to stand (and stay) in. And, at one point, she ditches Sadness in the “long term memory bank,” hoping she will eventually disappear from Riley’s mind. Joy wants Riley to be happy, not sad.

What Joy realizes though, is that Riley cannot have Joy without Sadness. They absolutely must have a partnership and it is because of the other that they exist. For example, there is a day that Joy remembers differently from Sadness where Riley misses the final goal and her hockey team loses the championship and she feels she is to blame. It is through this Sadness that her family comforts her, giving her Joy.

You see, without Sadness, how would we know Joy?

Although the feelings of Sadness can be uncomfortable, it can also bring us great happiness. For example, when you remember someone that you have lost…. It is painful. So painful that you may burst into uncontrollable tears thinking of the soul you loved so much. But, through the pain of sadness, you still undoubtedly remember the joy and happiness that you felt knowing that person and the gratefulness for having them once in your life.

Sadness and Joy must be friends, for to have one without the other would render each completely useless. It’s an incredible film that explains emotions in a universally understood way.

Here’s a quick video from the movie when Joy realizes the importance of Sadness. Does it move you too?


Are you in a place right now that feels more sadness than joy on a regular, repeated basis?

Maybe it’s time to talk to someone about balancing your sadness with joy. That’s what therapy can do. It allows you a support system and person to lean on during tough times. It allows you a safe place to talk about what has happened or is happening to you. It’s a place where joy can come back into your life.

Ready to take a chance? You’ll find out if therapy is right for you and if we might make a good team together. Take a deep breath and go for it. There’s nothing to lose and a lot to gain. Hope to hear from you!


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