9 youth showed up for a screening of the movie “Inside Out” even though they have all seen it before. Some of them have seen it several times too. The movie was our way of continuing a conversation on mental health and inviting more youth to join HeadStrong, a safe and brave space for learning strategies to improve psychological and emotional wellbeing.
Before the movie began, we asked what emotions they experienced regularly and while happiness and hopefulness were mentioned, so were sadness, fear, disappointment, and tiredness. One revealed that the moments he felt good did not last long and he would find himself feeling fearful, anxious, or just extremely uncomfortable. He likened it to a roller coaster ride that did not end and one he did not buy a ticket for.
We did not have much time for a long conversation after the movie but what emerged was nonetheless meaningful. The group felt that it was a rare and special movie because it communicated the importance of “sadness.” Members wholehearted nodded when one lamented that the media and cultural norms made it very difficult to be honest about how one was feeling. They unanimously agreed that they had to put up a strong front if they did not want to be criticised or regarded as being inferior. “Suck it up and move on!” was a common response whenever they tried to speak of their challenges.
One participant reflected that challenges are just tucked away somewhere inside. He said that whenever his parents are worried about money, he feels burdened and helpless. Basically, when others at home are troubled, he is troubled too and finds it very difficult to get on with his day.
We were gratified that the movie seemed to have fortified the safe and brave space for authenticity, vulnerability, and respect. When a 17-year-old girl shared that she will not come back for the next session because she did not like examining her own challenges so frequently, the others told her that she would always be welcomed should she change her mind.
A young man then revealed that the scene where the protagonist was hugged and comforted by her parents after she revealed her sadness is one that has been playing repeatedly in his mind since he watched the movie some years ago. He had always dreamed of experiencing a similar connection with his parents, but he is still waiting for it to happen as feelings were seldom expressed at home. So, he had been trying to change that by playing the movie at home every now and then in the hope that his parents would pay attention to it, and he could express his needs and share his dream with them.
For peace and community and emphatic listening,
Sadness’s purpose is alerting others when one is emotionally overwhelmed and needs help. – adapted from Inside-Out