inside out 2

6 Life Lessons We’re Taking To Heart From Inside Out 2

That was emotional.

From the struggles of dealing with anxiety to trying to fit in, Inside Out 2 is an relatable movie for youth dealing with complex feelings.

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Warning: Spoilers for Inside Out 2 ahead.

In 2015, Inside Out captivated the world with its charming way of turning complex emotions into understandable tales through the lens of Pixar’s magic. Nine years later, Pixar arguably did it again with Inside Out 2. This go around, we follow Riley as she turns 13, which means entering her puberty stage and the inner turmoil that follows. With that, Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust are joined by new emotions to accompany Riley’s new stage of life, namely: Anxiety, Envy, Ennui, and Embarrassment. This all happens as Riley enters a weekend hockey skills camp that tests her and the emotions’ ability to keep it together in an ever-changing environment.

To some, Inside Out 2 might just be another kid’s movie, but to do so would do a disservice to what this long-awaited sequel has to offer. Not only is it a fine movie, but it also tells a relatable story that translates so well to what many teenagers and young adults are going through. There’s a lot to learn here, some of which we listed down below.  



Early on in the movie, it is revealed that Joy throws Riley’s bad memories to the Back of the Mind, which really is the back of Riley’s mind. However, Joy putting all those things that Riley would rather forget causes some major consequences down the line. Just like in real life, the movie paints an accurate representation of how we often put things we don’t want to think about or deal with at the back of our minds and only get to them when it’s convenient. 

Yet, doing so can cause you to ignore small problems that can become major issues when left unattended. Whether it be mundane inconveniences or the start of a serious concern, it’s never healthy to go the easy way out and leave them at the back of your mind. Address it as soon as you can, because the last thing you want is for a mental weight to build up that you can’t ignore. 



One of the main conflicts of Inside Out 2 is how the old emotions beef with the new emotions on how they think Riley should feel, especially now that she’s getting older. But as they learn, it isn’t right for Riley to just have a certain set of emotions running her mind. She needs all of them to grow and become a more rounded individual.

Don’t be afraid to feel your feels, even the difficult ones, because it will help you process your emotions better. Even Joy, the cheerful leader of the group, pops off at one point as she expresses how hard it is to remain positive when everything is going wrong. Don’t gatekeep yourself from feeling some type of way, because that’s only going to haunt you as you get older. From joy to anxiety and everything in between, just let it all out because that’s what emotions are for, after all.  



Just like with many teenagers, Riley’s main dilemma in Inside Out 2 was trying to fit in and be accepted, specifically by the older girls of the hockey camp. This also was Anxiety’s goal, which led her, along with Envy, Ennui, and Embarrassment, to change Riley from the person that she used to be. This causes Riley’s Belief System, which helps her make decisions and navigate the world, to go haywire as the new emotions try to replace the old beliefs the old emotions built for Riley. 

In the process, Riley loses her old friends and herself, becoming someone she doesn’t want to be. This conflict leads to one of the most poignant scenes of the film where Riley has a panic attack as all her beliefs, feelings, and emotions overwhelm her. It might seem cliche at this point, but take Riley’s journey as yet another sign that it really is better for you to be who you are than pretend to be someone else to fit in. 



A main driver for Anxiety to do what she does is that she wants Riley to be accepted by her older peers when she enters high school and get into the hockey team. But in making Riley perfect for her coach and teammates, Anxiety pushes Riley to her breaking point that she begins doubting herself.

In life, we are often pushed, whether it be internally or externally, to be perfect at what we do. This is especially true in Asian households, with some parents pushing their kids to be no less than exemplary. But when you think about it, no one is really perfect, and trying to be so can end up making you lose sight of why you wanted to do it in the first place. What’s the point of being perfect when you lose the fun and purpose? You are allowed to mess up. As long as you learn from it, you’re on the right track.  



Anxiety is lowkey one of the best and most relatable characters in movies this year. Inside Out 2 hits the bullseye by depicting how anxiety really can take over your entire life by having Anxiety take over Riley’s. Much of Anxiety’s job revolves around imagining unwanted scenarios that Riley might find herself in, and working to make sure she doesn’t find herself in them. As she tells the other emotions, Anxiety is there to protect Riley from the threats she can’t see. There’s even a scene where Anxiety has the workers of Riley’s imagination make fake scenarios of how things can go bad that keeps Riley awake at night. Too real. 

It’s ok and even normal to experience anxiety and feel anxious, but as Inside Out 2 shows us, letting it be the sole driver of your life can make a recipe for disaster. The movie is one of the best examples to showcase how anxiety affects us and can lead to our detriment. Like Riley, many of us feel anxious when thinking about our future, wanting to fit in, and feeling that we’re good enough. But letting anxiety lead the way makes you do things out of fear of avoiding something, not because you want to do it. There’s so much more to life than being anxious about everything, so don’t let it control you.  



As the old emotions, led by Joy, fight with the new emotions, led by Anxiety, for control of Riley’s mind, the two sides enter a back-and-forth on what they think Riley should be. This manifests in the Sense of Self, which is Riley’s core and truest inner self. This is who Riley is, and that is what Joy and Anxiety argue over. 

The old emotions want the old Riley while the new emotions think an older Riley needs more complex emotions. Both are right in their own way. However, by the movie’s conclusion, they learn that they were wrong to impose their idea of what they think Riley is and instead let her be all the things she is and wants to be. As Riley enters puberty, her emotions, feelings, and beliefs change. And guess what? That’s ok. 

Change may seem scary at first, but that is a part of life. And when you’re changing, it’s a sign that you’re also growing. Your youth should be a time for you to experiment, find yourself, and be the person you want to become. It’s also understandable if you don’t know yourself fully at this time or have all the answers, it’s part of the journey. So don’t be afraid to discover and embrace new sides of yourself. You’re so much more than just one trait or emotion.

Inside Out 2 is now screening in cinemas nationwide

Photos courtesy of Disney

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