Pre-teen Struggle in The Movie Inside Out

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 3043 |

Pages: 7|

16 min read

Published: May 24, 2022

Words: 3043|Pages: 7|16 min read

Published: May 24, 2022

Table of contents

  1. Emotional intelligence
  2. Self-awareness
  3. Self-management
  4. Empathy
  5. Emotional Intelligence
  6. Coping Strategies
  7. Value of All Feelings
  8. Communication Skills
  9. Counselling Themes
  10. Loss and Sacrifice
  11. Creating a New Normal
  12. Plans Do Not Always Work Out and the Locus of Control

The movie inside out is about a pre-teen struggling with her inner emotions. In the movie, it’s shown that every person has major emotions in their head and every single person has headquarters where their emotions work to guide and protect them. Like a person sees anything with their eyes so emotions also do see it and then emotions give out their result the most dominant emotion according to the situation presses the buzzer which that person expresses through words, actions, or gestures.

'Why Violent Video Games Shouldn't Be Banned'?

In the movie, the main story is based on a girl named Riley. She has headquarters where 5 of her major emotions live Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust. Residing in the mind of a preteen girl named Riley. Throughout the movie, the five embodied emotions all work to guide and protect her.

She is a happy, hockey-loving 11-year-old Midwestern girl, but her world turns upside-down when she and her parents move to San Francisco. Riley's emotions led by Joy try to guide her through this difficult, life-changing event. However, the stress of the move brings Sadness to the forefront. Then Joy and Sadness are sent on an adventure to go save the island the only emotions left in Headquarters are Anger, Fear, and Disgust. Everything in her emotional complex starts to break down leaving disgust, anger, and fear to run her outside emotions.

Emotional intelligence

The capacity to be aware of the control and express one’s emotions and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciary and empathetically.

There are five components of emotional intelligence:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Empathy
  • Social skills
  • Internal motivation


How well we handle ourselves our relationships the self-awareness, knowing what we are feeling, why we are feeling. Which is the basis of good intuition and good design making?


Handling your distressing emotions in an effective way so that they do not cripple you and they do not get in the way of what you are doing. Every emotion has a function and a role. Tunning in the positive emotion and getting involved and enthused about what we are doing align our actions with our passions is the best way of self-management

Now a day’s self-management is considered to be more crucial to be successful than having an excellent IQ. For example, in the scene in which Riley was playing ice hockey and she couldn’t goal in her first attempt, she got furious, threw her hockey, and came back. This happened due to the lack of self-management.


Empathy is the ability to communicate (send and receive messages) and lead by understanding others’ thoughts, views, and feelings. Empathy is the ability to trust others and to feel what the other person is feeling. It is to experience their emotions. It is the ability to put you in the other person’s shoes in a big and meaningful way. Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage your own emotions, as well as the emotions of others.

For Example:

  • On the first day of Riley’s school teachers and students should have shown some empathy when Riley cried while she was introducing herself.
  • When Bing Bong cried because his carriage was thrown in dump. He remembered his memories with Riley at that moment Sadness showed empathy towards Bing Bong which helped him get over his emotion and to start their journey again.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence: It is the ability to monitor one’s own and others' emotions. It refers to the ability of a person to manage and control his emotions as well as others. Emotional intelligence is an important skill in leadership. It is one’s capacity of controlling and expressing emotions. It is the ability to perceive, access, and generate emotions.

Riley’s Emotional Intelligence:

  • When Riley and her family moved to San Francisco, she was thinking of a beautiful house and was happy but when they arrived she was disappointed to see a small house beyond her imagination but she consoled herself by thinking that it may be better inside but again she gets disappointed. She went upstairs to watch her room which again offends her but she started thinking about how she will decorate it which made her appeal.
  • She tries to adjust in the new city and goes to eat pizza with her mother but again broccoli pizza disappoints her. On watching the stair railing she slid down when she remembered a core memory to cope her sadness.
  • On Riley’s first day at school, in her mind joy was saying to talk to girls but disgust wanted the girls to like and talk to her when the teacher came and asked Riley to introduce herself. She started introducing excitedly about the snowfall in Minnesota and ice hockey suddenly she gets sad and started crying.
  • On return from school when her dad asked about her day she gets angry, hits the table and rushes into her room, and shuts the door.
  • It was when she started thinking she cannot be happy and she starts losing her core memories one by one when she decides to run back to Minnesota. When she jumped on the bus her mind was blank and she was unable to think of anything when suddenly she gets sad and felt bad for leaving her parents and running away and then she returns home and apologized to her parents.

Coping Strategies

Coping strategies refer to the specific efforts, both behavioral and psychological, that people tend to master, tolerate, reduce, or minimize stressful events. There are two general coping strategies:

  1. Problem-solving strategies are efforts to do something active to alleviate stressful circumstances
  2. Emotion-focused coping strategies involve efforts to regulate the emotional consequences of stressful or potentially stressful events.

There are many coping strategies for stress. The positive ones are:

  • Finding positive things to take off our mind from discomfort: when Riley came to her new house in San Francisco, she saw a gloomy old house nothing as she imagined in her brain. She still remained hopeful and went to see her room and imagined decorating her room with furniture and stars.
  • When the house of Riley in Minnesota was suddenly sold, the five emotions in Riley’s head were all confused. But the joy, which was always optimistic, remained positive and she tried to display the positive image of moving to a new house.
  • Putting on a happy face despite our discomfort: when the moving van was late and Riley’s father had some business issues, so she smiled and cheered her parents by playing imaginary ice hockey with the newspaper ball. Sometimes we have to put aside our feelings to support our loved ones.
  • Spending time with loved ones and talking to them when times are difficult: when the atmosphere in the new house was tense because Riley’s father was stressed about his work, her mother came to console her and told her to continue supporting her father in this hard time.
  • Riley with her mother went out to the pizza place near the house. They didn’t like the pizza but on their way back, they cherished all memories of Minnesota together.
  • Finding an appropriate way to let out your feelings: Many people let out their feelings by playing in sports activities. Some cry out their stuffed feelings and others let theirs out through anger. Some vent out their stress by talking to their loved ones. Mental stress is very much relieved by physical touching and hugs from loved ones.

Riley stuffed her feelings and became alone because she didn’t tell her parents and friends how she felt about the new place and school. When she left the home, she remembered all her memories of Minnesota; she expressed her feelings to her parents that she missed her old house, friends, and her old lifestyle. When Bing Bong’s flying rocket was dumped into the memory dump he became sad but upon this sadness consoled him, she made him express himself lightened Bing Bong’s heart.

The negative coping strategies are:

  • Stuffing your feelings: A wrong way to cope with your stress is to stuff your feelings inside yourself. It may lead to negative thoughts about life and sometimes lead to suicidal thoughts. It makes people feel alone. Riley stuffed her feelings inside too and she became alone and her personality that was once cheerful and happy converted to a gloomy and angry person. She let out her feelings through anger.
  • Turning away from the people who love you: By stuffing your feelings inside and not expressing those people turn away from their love ones. Riley misbehaved with his parents by shouting at them and tries to run away from the house. She also ended her friendship with her childhood friend just because she thought that her friend has now made now friends.
  • Breaking trust: Due to the stress of school, loneliness, not understood by her parents, Riley left her home to Minnesota and stole a credit card from her mother’s purse. She broke her parents trust.

Value of All Feelings

All feelings are valuable in life. Sometimes two emotions can be felt at one time.

  • Without sadness there is no Joy: Joy stifling Sadness is a very common condition. We routinely try to get others to look on the bright side, in misguided attempts to help them avoid feeling the pain of sadness. When Joy stifles Sadness, they both get lost. The more Joy tries to stifle Sadness, the more Manic, obnoxious, and lost Joy gets and it becomes, leading to core personality breakdown and melancholy.
  • Sadness is important when adjusting to loss: Sadness is not bad. Riley is naturally saddened to leave the home, parents and old friends. Her parents always placed a premium of joy and there is no room for sadness. Sinking into sadness and letting it flow is what frees Riley to move forward with a brighter outlook. In other words, when Sadness is called for, let it flow so Sadness can contribute to your resilience instead of becoming destructive.
  • All feelings are important: All your feelings help you authentically handle a variety of situations and realize your needs, wants, and values. For example, Anger helps you get mad and stand up for yourself if you are being mistreated. Disgust helps you be discerning and reach for what is right for you. Fear helps you be scared and flee/fight/freeze if you are in danger. In addition, of course, Sadness helps you feel bereft if you have lost something dear to you and Joy helps you feel gratitude and seek contentment where you can find it. This emotional flow and balance is what helps any of us recover our sense of well-being.
  • Anger can be a cover for Fear: When Riley tries out for the new hockey team; she naturally worries that she will not be good enough to make the cut. However, her mother encourages her to push aside her fears so after she makes a mistake the anger pushed fear aside and taking over control. The result is that Riley storms off. Replacing Fear with Anger is so common that you can easily witness it in yourself and others.
  • Disgust is exhausting: Disgust can help us avoid putting something icky in our mouths or making bad fashion choices. However, when it is the default response toward everyone and everything, we become judgmental, cold, and mean. Moreover, that is exhausting.

Communication Skills

Communication skills is the ability to share ideas and feelings effectively. When Riley moved from Minnesota to San Francisco with her family, she left her childhood friends, old home, and her childhood. She could not understand her feelings. On the first day of school, she was optimistic and happy, but due to crying in front of the class, she felt embarrassed when her mother asked her how was her first day at school. She replied it was okay sadly. She didn’t tell her parents about what she felt in school. When her father asked her about school she behaved rudely unlike herself. Riley was depressed because she has no friends in San Francisco, she could not play ice hockey properly and her parents did not understand her. She expressed her emotions only with anger.

Riley apologized to her parents for leaving the house and expressed her inner feelings while crying that she missed her old home and friends. She was ashamed to leave the house. Her parents consoled her. When she adapted the life of San Francisco, she regained her cheerful personality. She started playing ice hockey as her parents were there to support her. She realized that it’s okay to forget some old memories just to make new ones. As Riley grew up, she exited the imaginary fairyland and entered into the imaginary boyfriend world. When she was in the bus, she was emotionally detached from the world. Riley just needed to be understood by her parents. Riley understood that there are many emotions besides happiness and all are important so her communication skills got better as she can manage her emotions.

Counselling Themes

Loss and Sacrifice

Loss is the process of losing something or someone and giving up something valued for the sake of others' consideration is sacrifice. For Riley, Bing Bong's sacrifice symbolizes the end of childhood. Simply put, she is excessively old for imaginary friends. She moved on to imaginary boyfriends—although she will outgrow that, too. For Joy, Bing Bong's sacrifice represents her first taste of loss, as well as her first experience with complex emotions. She's stoked she made it out of the Memory Dump and can go restore order to Riley's emotional world, but she's also gutted to see Bing Bong fade away. Looking back at Bing Bong below, she is experiencing firsthand what she saw Riley experiencing in the rewound hockey memory: a combination of sadness and joy.

Bing Bong sacrifices himself for something bigger. That ability to behave unselfishly itself is symbolic of adulthood. Bing Bong's act of selflessness symbolizes a turning point for Joy and, by extension. When it is time for Riley and her parents to move to San Francisco, Riley becomes sad and misses her life in Minnesota. But Riley sacrifices life as she knows it in order for her dad to peruse a new job in San Francisco. Riley put aside her own disappointment in order to support her father. The next day, Riley video chats with her old friend, Meg from Minnesota. Things go well until Meg tells Riley all about the wonders of her new best friend and Riley gets so angry, that she hangs up on Meg. Riley loses her best friend Meg. Riley also loses her hockey team.

Creating a New Normal

In Pixar’s Inside Out, we get a tour of the mind in the visualization of how our personalities are formed and change based on specific memories and emotions. Riley’s personality formed throughout her childhood. Important events combine with emotions to form her personality traits, which are visualized as personality islands. At the age of 11, Riley’s personality islands range from Friendship to Goofball to Family.

As Riley grows up, she will add new personality islands. At some point in her adolescence, she will form a personality island based on her work and career. Groundbreaking research from the University of Michigan gives us a glimpse of what this “work personality” island might look like if we were to follow Riley into adulthood.

When Riley does not allow herself to be anything but joyful, she cannot adjust to her move. All emotions- positive and negative must be experienced in order for growth to happen. When Riley turns 11, everything changed. Her family left Minnesota as her father got a new job at San Francisco.

While she is initially excited by the trip, once they arrive at San Francisco, things become less enchanting. Riley's Joy tries to keep things positive, but Riley goes from disappointment to depression. She finds her new house decrepit both on the outside as well as inside. Furthermore, the moving van has not yet arrived, and her father becomes distant and less caring for his family as he deals with the struggles of his new company. Even the food becomes disgusting as she encounters broccoli pizza. She starts feeling less joy, much more Disgust, Fear, and Anger and starts to feel Sadness when recalling memories from Minnesota. Nevertheless, that evening her mother talks to her about her father's difficulties and asks her to be joyful to support him, something Riley wholeheartedly agrees to do. The next day is Riley's first day at her new school. She feels mostly excited as Joy takes things in hand. However, as soon as class starts, the teacher, one of the things she is the most afraid of, calls on her. She begins introducing herself shyly; gaining some confidence after the teacher encourages her.

Plans Do Not Always Work Out and the Locus of Control

Locus of control is an individual’s belief system regarding the causes of his or her experiences and the factors to which that person attributes success or failure. This concept is usually divided into two categories: internal and external. If a person has an internal locus of control, that person attributes success to his or her own efforts and abilities. A person who expects to succeed will be more motivated and more likely to learn. A person with an external locus of control, who attributes his or her success to luck or fate, will be less likely to make the effort needed to learn. They are more likely to experience anxiety since they believe that they are not in control of their lives. This is not to say, however, that an internal locus of control is “good” and an external locus of control is “bad’’.

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The characters of Joy and Sadness are instructive here. When Joy, whose can-do attitude exemplifies the internal locus of control, realizes she cannot fix a problem, she crashes. She doubts herself, and painfully so. She deflates profoundly and feels like a failure. Sadness, on the other hand, recognizes that sometimes things are bad. She reacts, sometimes with (comical) despair, but she also does not take it on as a personal failing. When Bing Bong despairs that Riley will forget him, Sadness is a comfort to him. She reassures him that feeling down about something you cannot control is a reasonable response. Joy cannot grasp this and is flabbergasted when Bing Bong feels better after having a cry. She is wired to seek the good feels, and she has a plan to get them. Roadblocks that prove to be too large, however, cause Joy a big crash. Here it proves that what we plan it sometimes does not work.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Pre-Teen Struggle in the Movie Inside Out. (2022, May 24). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 30, 2024, from
“Pre-Teen Struggle in the Movie Inside Out.” GradesFixer, 24 May 2022,
Pre-Teen Struggle in the Movie Inside Out. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 30 May 2024].
Pre-Teen Struggle in the Movie Inside Out [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 May 24 [cited 2024 May 30]. Available from:
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