H had been looking forward to this film for absolutely ages; a new Disney Pixar movie and one that explain how your emotions work, I could understand why!
The film is incredibly clever, it personifies our emotions, making them into likeable characters and shows how the different emotions interact with each other and how that differs in every one of us.
In the film the character Joy rules supreme, she is in charge of keeping Reilly happy and she does a great job, in fact they only reason Reilly gets unhappy is because Joy gets lost in Reilly’s subconscious with Sadness leaving Fear, Distaste and Anger in control of her emotions.
In our everyday like H’s emotions work very differently, Joy is certainly there, but she is not the ruling emotion, in fact I’d go so far as to say in they all play a part in her day to day life and we have to work really hard to ensure Joy stays in the forefront. Our lives need order, stability and planning. If we don’t have that, then Anger, Fear, Sadness and Disgust all vie for the controlling emotion. It’s hard work, but necessary and certainly worth the extra effort.
We have a little joke with H that she would make a wonderful Health and Safety officer, she has a wonderful knack of seeing the worst possible outcome in a situation. ‘Don’t do that, you’ll fall!’ … ‘but it might break!’ … ‘but what if?’ are regular utterances. Anxiety Girl to the rescue!!!
She also has social fears, these stop her trying new things, from calling for friends (‘what if they say no?’), from asking for help, from saying things incase she gets it wrong.
Fear comes from her aspergers, yet it is often counter balanced and cancelled out but her ADHD, but in split seconds. It becomes a revolving door, I want to, I don’t want to, I want to, I need to, I don’t want to … etc and you never know which one she is going to jump into.
I quite like Disgust, bizarre I know, but Disgust is normal! When Disgust comes out to play I say thanks for a normal moment. because H is nearly 11, pre teen with all the hormones that go with it. We have plenty of normal moments, eyes rolling, sassy back chat, and stomping up the stairs. We don’t allow it, there are always sanctions, but it’s nice to deal with something more normal and easier to understand.
Anger can go hand in hand with Disgust, sometimes he can feature on his own. When he’s with Disgust again it is normal stuff, anger at being told off for doing something she shouldn’t or rather, being caught out at it! Or getting angry with her sister over terribly normal sibling stuff. But other times she is angry with the world, with her world. She gets angry when she doesn’t understand why. Why and how she has upset someone, why we don’t understand her actions, why she is different. We’ve been through some horrible, dark times when she really couldn’t deal with her anger, she was hurting herself as a defense mechanism and Anger was becoming the dominant personality. Luckily we are through that now and it is now a rare occurrence rather than the norm.
We don’t see Sadness too much, she is there a lot of the time with Anger, but Anger is the more dominant character and we get displays of Anger far more than tears of Sadness. Because things are more black and white for H, her emotions play out differently to others. When she recently left primary school there were no tears at all, her class mates were in floods of tears (as was I), yet it was not an emotion she knew how to relate to. Anger came instead, she dealt with the mixed emotions and draining experiences that week by having anger meltdowns, with nasty words, slamming of doors, shutting herself in her room and not wanting to speak to people. We see Sadness in other times, more out of frustration and lack of understanding the world around her. When things are simply getting too much to deal with.
It’s hard not having Sadness around much, in the film Joy realised that the memories that Sadness had created weren’t bad memories, Riley needed Sadness to show other people she needed help. When someone is sad you know they need cheering up or help. The absence of that emotion in H makes it harder to help her. We’ve had to learn that when Anger comes out to play, that is when H needs help. It’s taken a long while to understand that, but now we do, life is a lot easier to deal with and we can get back to being happy again a lot quicker.
Finally Joy. As I mentioned before, Joy was absent for a while. H struggled to be happy for a long while, but with help from family, friends and school, we managed to rescue Joy from the Memory Dump. Just like in the film, Joy had fallen into the Dump, where memories that have been forgotten about fall. But as I said earlier, once we had realised that it wasn’t Sadness that signals help for H, but Anger, we managed to rescue Joy and life has been a lot sunnier and happier since.
Joy is now the prevailing emotion and I am so happy to be able to say that. We see it in many ways, from singing and dancing at 6.45 am on a school day, from talking about her Blobbles, being proud of a new achievement, having fun with her friends, laughing at funny jokes on the TV, sharing moments with the family, to all the quirky, funny things that H does.
As I said earlier, it takes a lot of hard work to make sure Joy is the controlling emotion. We have timetables, charts and lists every where for every part of H’s day and life. It takes a lot of extra work and spontaneity is not something that works well! But it works so it is definitely worth the extra effort. In fact putting that effort in makes it easier in the long run, having to deal with meltdowns is far, far more stressful than what we do on a daily basis.
Welcome back Joy, long may you reign supreme!