Pixar’s newest movie Turning Red truly showcases the struggle that comes with dealing with strong emotions. It also addresses how these strong emotions can affect the way that we view ourselves. The movie follows thirteen year old Mei Lee and the struggles that come with being a teenager as well as dealing with the emotions that accompany it.
Though, the way that Mei learns to deal with her emotions is not exactly traditional. In fact, it’s very far from it but hey, it works. I won’t get into all the details of the movie (I’ll let you check it out for yourself) but I do want to share some important moments from the movie that I think we could all take a note or two from.
After showing strong emotion after an incredibly embarrassing event, Mei ends up turning into a red panda. She is distraught and horrified by this because she now finds herself to be gross and ugly. Even though it can be hard, she does her best to keep her emotions (and panda) at bay but it isn’t always easy controlling our emotions.
Out of all the important people in Mei’s life, her friends are absolutely the most important. They are the ones who remind her who she really is and what she’s worth. While in her red panda form, she often feels disgusted by herself and feels that nobody will like her. This clearly isn’t the case but that’s how she feels and that’s okay. Her friends love her for who she is and they even tell her that she’ll always be their girl, “panda or no panda”.
Friends like this are important, these are the people you know will always have your back. They’re the ones that will love you, I mean all of you, the good and the bad. I have a few friends like this and I am very thankful for them. I don’t know what I would do without them.
Before the end of the movie, when Mei is really struggling with whether or not to keep her panda, her father shares something important with her. He reminds her that people have all sorts of sides to them and sometimes, those sides are messy and emotional. We aren’t supposed to push the ‘bad’ or difficult parts of ourselves away, we have to make room for them. Live with it.
We have to accept ourselves for who we are. This means taking the good AND bad parts of who we are and making the most out of them. I know this isn’t always easy but the parts of yourself that seem hard to deal with are important. They’re meant to teach you and help you grow.
I think that the beauty of human relationships (friendships, romantic relationships, familial relationships, etc…) is that completely different individuals can come together and their unique strengths and weaknesses balance out in a way that they become stronger together than apart. We instinctively crave this since humans are social creatures and this desire for connection and relationships is literally written into our DNA. However, the implicit exchange for intimacy is vulnerability, so the stakes for getting hurt from the relationship than from a stranger are much higher. So what can we do if someone we trusted hurts us, either unintentionally or intentionally? What if this person does not want to resolve the situation or cannot be reasoned with?
I recently ran into this experience where someone else’s mental health triggered my own mental health and it caused the breakdown of a friendship and I got hurt in the crossfire. This situation was incredibly reminiscent of a similar experience of getting hurt by someone close to me in high school, with the fundamental fear and trigger being perceived rejection. Both times I was unable to receive closure or accountability from the other person and this sends me reeling! I hyper-fixate on it for months, even years after it, and during the time I didn’t have as many healthy coping skills at my disposal, I would lash out to make them feel bad for the pain they have caused and to get a reaction. Now I know this is only giving that person what they want, which is to know that they have caused pain and internal/external chaos, I don’t like to give into this urge as easily as I did when I was 16. I wanted to take an active role in processing this so I can move on from it in a healthy way and not let it derail my recovery, but I was at a loss as to how to start to heal from it
At around the same time as the second incident, I coincidentally started seeing a therapist again for the first time in a few years. I lamented to her about the situation and the pain it caused and the way I was still so hung up on it, and she offered her first solution in such simple terms that I felt compelled to share them with you all too.
She compared an emotional wound to a physical one and gave me some basic steps based on this concept to help myself heal from an event or person that caused emotional pain:
1. Assess the seriousness of the “injury”
Like physical injuries, emotional injuries can need more professional treatment and there is no shame in that!
I sought out extra guidance from my therapist and my psychiatrist, and I even reached out to the Crisis Text Line (TEXT 741741) because it was something I didn’t feel equipped to deal with on my own.
** If you feel able to address the “injury” by yourself, the following steps can provide a guide for heal from an emotional wound **
2. Remove the thing causing the pain, like the thorn or a splinter, so it can stop doing any more harm.
Remove the person (permanently or temporarily) or remove yourself from the environment that is causing harm (permanently or temporarily)
If you don’t remove the “thorn”, it has the potential to get infected or become a more serious injury than the initial jab.
Enforce boundaries to restrict access to you:
“I need to take a week or so to process this so I am going to block you until then, I hope you can respect this.”
“I feel hurt by X action. I need you to respect that I need some physical distance from you for X until I feel better/safe/understood.”
3.Wash out/clean the wound
Taking out the “thorn” is a good first step, but without washing out the pain and taking the appropriate self-care steps the wound will not heal properly and could turn into a painful emotional scar.
Unprocessed “bad” feelings can lead to resentment and general fatigue.
It is better to cleanse yourself of as much as you can so it doesn’t fester like a real wound would.
Let all of the “bad” emotions (there are no bad emotions, just unwanted feelings) flow out:
Be angry, be mad, cry, scream, vent, b**ch, grieve, or whatever you are feeling that you may be judging yourself for.
(As long as it is not hurting yourself or others)
4. Bandage / protect the wound
Even after you have taken care of the initial injury, the healing process can still be interrupted or impacted by the actions of others.
It’s important to keep the wound clean from any toxic people or stressful situations that can worsen the initial injury.
Practice a lot more self-care and self-compassion during this time to prevent any internal damage and provide a buffer for any outside influence that could make the pain worse.
5. Let time start to repair the intensity of the pain
It won’t ever fully go away, at least not cognitively because we can remember it happening and we can remember the pain it brought us in the moment.
HOWEVER, it does not need to continue being painful after we have extracted all of the healthy lessons we can learn from something like this
“This person is reacting more to their internal sense of chaos than anything I have done to deserve or warrant being treated badly,” “I deserve to be treated with respect,” “I need X from a relationship with someone to feel safe” … etc…
Slowly but surely the pain does dull and hopefully the conflict can be resolved, but even if it doesn’t you know that you have the strength and tools to get through it.
This formula is not guaranteed to provide a complete fix every time, however it does provide the framework to start some healthy healing.
This post was an excerpt from our spring newsletter. For more content like this, check out the newsletter!
“You are c u r s e d,” They told me.
You do not know how to SEE, You only see through a veil your mind creates, those eyes no one else knows about You only see the good in those around you Even if they tread you underfoot You only gaze at others through the eyes of an old soul, Expecting them to look back at you the same way
“You are c u r s e d,” They told me.
You do not know how to love You choose only to love your hate, your rage, your terror And worst of all, have found comfort in it all You have found love not in yourself, But in your abusers Yet your heart is greedy and so full of the ability to GIVE
“You are c u r s e d,” They told me.
You know so much and explain so little, Tell me do you know how your intuition works? Can you explain your own emotions if asked? Can you give yourself the time of day without thinking of someone else first? You have grown complaisant to your pain, You have come to anticipate it and thank those who give it
“But you are B L E S S E D,” They told me.
As you fill your wounds with lacquered gold, A scarred statue who feels so profoundly it connects to the souls around them You cover yourself in the finest of cloth to hide from the snares in your mind You have turned your demons, your monsters, into your familiars – who now service your needs Your veins beat to a drum singing of L O V E, And W O R T H
“My dear, you are blessed.”
Is This Living In Vain?
Hopefully I can use my poetry to inspire someone.
“Is This Living In Vain?” background: I wrote this poem about a year ago. Not long ago but I remember the thoughts I had so clearly. I remember walking in the rain, with thoughts rushing through my mind. The minute I got home, I grabbed a piece of paper and a pen and scribbled the words down. This is the result.
The theme focuses on depression and digs into the multiple symptoms (including racing thoughts) that I was experiencing through my journey.
Here, you can look at other forms of creativity and expression.
If you would like to see how the power of poetry can help mental health, go here.
NCAA March madness
Bruh!!! For you basketball fans out there or for the folks who haven’t been able to ignore it since it is college basketball season still, things have really just heated up. I’ve been a sports fan for my entire life but college ball stole my heart in high school.. then going to the NCAA powerhouse (UCONN) really stepped my interest up. I started to interact with it more and a lot of my friends played/play so I was really invested. This year’s NCAA D1 tournament was one for the books. Not only did some of the big names not make it this year, a lot of them got knocked out just as soon as they got in. Unlikely teams bombarded the tournament and ruined everyone’s bracket (predicted outcomes from the games in a table). Granted, nothing is ever promised in the tournament and it’s up in the air as to who will come out on top… but this year really came by surprise. These young men balled out and I’m super impressed at the talent and athleticism. Shoutout to Oregon for knocking out UCLA and for UNC taking out Kentucky… that was one hell of a game. Luke Maye, you are forever remembered. That last second shot just sealed the deal… welcome to the final four! I am super excited to watch the next few games. This will be the first year that I haven’t been at a live game but whatever… I’m just happy to have witnessed some history. Final Four is upon us: South Carolina vs Gonzaga & UNC vs Oregon!! I’m thinking UNC is taking it back to Chapel Hill this year.. but you never know. May the best team win!
Suicide Prevention Mental Health FIlms! "Breaking Taboo"
We are a non profit working hard on our film series “Breaking Taboo” to break the taboo against Mental Health & Suicide Prevention. We are trying to reach as many people and get as much support as possible in our mission to Save as many lives as possible! Please like* our facebook: www.facebook.com/BreakingTaboo and support us if you can: www.breakingtaboofilm.com and indiegogo campaign: https://life.indiegogo.com/fundraisers/breaking-taboo/x/12237851
TurningPointCT.org was developed by young people in Connecticut who are in recovery from mental health and substance use issues. We know what it’s like to feel alone, stressed, worried, sad, and angry. We’ve lived through the ups and downs of self-harm, drugs and alcohol, and the struggle to find help. Learn More »