Disney Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’ is a delightful, most enjoyable film. This movie gives us
many opportunities for some important lessons on the nature of our emotions and
how to make sense of them. Learning to regulate emotions is an ongoing lesson for
the Builders & Gamers group at Autastic Avenues. ‘Inside Out’ inspires us to offer
our clients activities with some fun application as we work to increase executive
function skills, critical thinking and how to respond flexibly rather than react when
we deal with the unexpected in our daily life.
Lesson 1: Everyone has emotions and feels feelings. We can’t see them or touch
them but we know how powerful emotions can feel in control of our behavior. Some
people are really good at emotional regulation; they don’t lose their cool irrationally,
they don’t get carried away in celebration, they are good sports even when not
winning. The rest of us have to practice strategies for regulating our emotions.
It is so much easier to identify and attempt to understand the invisible when it is
made visible. We often visually represent feelings using color. ‘Inside Out’
presented emotions in a colorful, entertaining way that opened a door for discussion
in our group. During a LEGO® challenge we discovered that the act of building
drives our train of conversation.
Lesson 2: All emotions are important. All of our emotions serve
important functions. Fear keeps us safe and motivates us to run from
danger. Anger helps us stand up to bullying. Disgust motives us to avoid
and recoil. Sadness motivates us to seek nurturance and comfort. In the
movie we saw how important it is to stay in balance with our emotions. It
is okay to feel feelings. All of our feelings and emotions are important
and add color to our lives. The most critical thing is how we respond to
and cope with feelings.
Lesson 3: Recognizing what we have control over and what we don’t is a
main theme in the movie. Everything happening in Riley’s world is out of
her control. We may not have control over events in our daily life but we
do have control over how we respond and process the big emotions that
often accompany daily events. We can make choices in how we think and
act that affect how we feel and how others feel about us. In our groups
at Autastic Avenues we assist our clients in building a Toolbox full of
tools or strategies that allow them to process and “let out” big feelings in
What about mixed emotions? Can one experience two or more feelings at
the same time? What would that look like? What could be the result of a
mixed feeling? The Builders & Gamers who play the ‘Inside Out’ Train of
Thought Board Game have the chance to work through the concept of
As the kids moved their game pieces around the board and landed in the
same spaces, I realized that this would be a great opportunity to talk
about mixed emotions. Joy and fear together can be surprise. The mixed
feelings of sadness and fear can be anxiety.
The game is a free printable at www.disneygals.com It comes with tiny
paper game pieces, but I got the small Inside Out figures from
If you haven’t already seen the movie, be sure to do so. The Builders &
Gamers went as a group. What a great social experience it is to go to the
movies with your friends!
If you are interested in be a part of the fun, contact us at