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Emotional intelligence, movies, and mirrors... Oh My! or Why I left a kids movie in tears.

Mirrors are hard. They are hard like when you have to take a good look at yourself. Or when you GET to.

Sometimes mirrors are hard when you catch a glimpse of a new grey hair, or you pass a store window and didn’t realize your butt looked like THAT in those jeans!

Sometimes a mirror is your kids when they act like you. Or when a coworker or loved one tells you how they feel about something you’ve done. Have you ever realized you’ve been “acting like your mother”? Yeah, I could punch that mirror in the throat sometimes! 

Melissa Bowen, not her happiest

Either way, with mirrors, we get information that might be hard to take in. Hard to learn about yourself. 

What do you do with that information?

It is a key to developing emotional intelligence.

A mirror to my soul

My latest mirror was in the movie, "Inside Out 2". I truly did not realize how much I resembled one of the new characters, Anxiety. Cute, bright orange, ball of infectious energy, Anxiety


In the movie, that little fireball is making sure people are pleased, and no apple-carts are upset. Anxiety protects her human by running herself ragged to ensure she presents the most perfect version of herself, that everyone likes her, and nothing goes wrong.  Ever!

Well-meaning, bright and hard working Anxiety makes sure her human doesn't ever have to deal with the feeling that she isn’t good enough. 

Ugh. 😅

I don’t think others would see the similarities in me so acutely. She/me/we are working hard behind the scenes to look and feel like another character… Joy.

Hard stop. I do a double take in that mirror. Wait, is that…!

By chance, is that…you?

SPOILER ALERT: If you’re gonna keep reading, be warned, I talk about the movie like you’ve seen it. I mean, I’m not spoiling any surprise ending like Darth Vader is Luke’s father, or anything, but I will get to the resolution of the movie, and these swirling emotions. Cuz they are one and the same.

All get equal billing

I think Disney Pixar does a masterful job of depicting how different emotions show up in us. They make  it easy to watch, relate to, and understand what’s happening.  It’s such a sweet relationship, how all the emotions show up as themselves, and how they all play their part in their human’s life. 

Even the emotions we call “negative”, like Anger and Fear, get to play an important part. 

Every emotion gets to be authentic. None of them are labelled bad or ostracized.

This is something we tend to avoid or ignore in real life. I mean, seriously, do aaaallll your emotions play well together and get to have their useful moments?

But the movie did something else sweetly and specifically, and something we can all learn from:

  1. They showed HOW the emotions have a range of impact, positive and negative. 

  2. They showed HOW we can integrate the whole spectrum of our experiences and emotions to create one strong sense of self; not a one sided, or only the good parts, but a beautiful lovable whole. 

  3. They also showed HOW a person can take care of herself in hard emotions, with breathing, physical touch, getting present, sharing with friends…  and the precious self-care of Anxiety with a hot tea and vibrating chair. ❤️‍🩹

Yep, I feel seen, heard, and understood!

You can look, but you better not judge

We don’t have to be afraid of mirrors. Take a good look. But not in judgment. 

See yourself, with all the messy, beautiful imperfect, fascinating, unique parts of yourself and shower yourself with love, compassion, and understanding

It’s that approach that will allow you to truly move forward and get your core soul needs met. When you can see that being with love and not critical eyes, you’re free to see what your insides truly need. 

Hey you. I’m talking about you. Read that again. Love you so you can figure out what you really need. Let all those useful parts of you love on you. Then go be that freaking awesome you that only you are!


Some people are surprised to learn that I live with these big emotions, star-of-the-show Anxiety, potentially paralyzing insecurities; that I struggle with confidence. 

So does all my disclosure here make it seem like the persona and life I live on the outside is fake?

Not at all. It is REAL. 

And when I am able to be real, I live out a whole other facet of my being.

And that is … you guessed it … JOY. 💛

Check out your own mirrors. Get a good glimpse of you. Let all the things come together to create a strong sense of yourself.

Integrate the outside and all the inside, and create a true WHOLE belief system that you are imperfect and enough.

Did you see the movie? What did you think? Who did you relate to?

Mastery level question: How do you integrate all of your emotions?

Melissa Bowen with all the emotions from the movie, "Inside Out 2"
I may have had too much fun playing with this graphic in Canva ;-)

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