Inside Out “Decoded”: Why Is Sadness Important?

Today’s post includes a brief explanation about the film and a discussion about the importance of Sadness in Inside Out. Why is Sadness important? Why do we need it in our lives? Beware of spoilers.

inside out why is sadness important

Inside Out Explained

Riley is a young girl from Minnesota and she is moving to San Francisco because of her father’s new job. However, not everything is “peaches and cream” during this transition. A lot of mishaps happen, which prompts Riley to feel extremely sad about the move. As a desperate attempt to feel happy again, Riley decides to runaway from home and return to Minnesota.

Inside Out introduces emotions as characters and they’re the ones influencing Riley’s decisions. Therefore, everything that happens in the Headquarters has direct consequences in Riley’s life.

The Headquarters

Riley’s emotions are controlled by the Headquarters. There are mainly five characters working at the Headquarters: Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness. Joy is supposedly the leader of the group. She’s the one that is trying to “control” all the other emotions and keep things in order (to keep Riley happy).

Core Memories And Personality Islands

Inside Out brings the concept of core memories and personality islands. What are core memories? Riley’s life is composed by moments. “Core memories” are the most significant moments that helped Riley shape her personality. Different core memories “power” different aspects of her personality, which are called “personality islands”.

Understanding Sadness

In the film, bad things start to happen when Sadness touches Riley’s happy memories. Just like Joy, I was feeling frustrated. No! Why did you do have to that? Stop contaminating Riley’s memories with your bad energy! Why can’t you stay in the “circle” as Joy told you so? Then, I stopped for a moment…

Why am I experiencing so much aversion towards Sadness? Why am I being such a “Joy”? Then, I realized the following: nobody actually teaches you how to deal with Sadness. What do you do to things that you don’t understand? You push them away. That’s what Joy did (and most of us would do), she didn’t want to deal with Sadness. Therefore, she decide to put her inside a circle.

Inside Out – Why Is Sadness Important?

While Joy’s intentions of keeping everyone around her happy are good, it’s not always the “appropriate” thing to do. Having said that, we need Sadness in our lives.

Reason #1 – Empathy And Compassion

Sadness was the only one able to comfort “Bing Bong” (Riley’s imaginary friend) when he was feeling down. Joy is all about good vibrations, which is a good thing. However, that makes her completely clueless about what to do when someone is feeling sad.

Reason #2 – Support

Sadness is not a pleasant emotion, but it can come in handy sometimes. When someone is sad for whatever reason, the body tends to send signals, which helps the people around us understand that we might need some help. When Riley “allowed” herself to be sad, her parents were finally able to understand her pain/frustration and provide her the support she needed.

Reason #3 – Appreciation

Sadness is to Joy, what salt is to chocolate. They are very different. As a matter of fact, they are an usual combination. However, whenever you combine them together, magic happens. In addition, memories shouldn’t be defined by one single emotion. Joy comes to that realization at the very end of the film. Different emotions can coexist and that’s what makes our memories special. For instance, Sadness makes Riley more appreciative of her happy memories.

Final Thoughts

When I watched Inside Out for the very first time, I was looking for a feel-good film, something light and fun. After watching this little gem, I can honestly say that it was one of the most educating and eye-opening experiences that I’ve ever had. By the way, major kudos to the writers. They managed to explain complex matters such as emotions in a “digestible” way for kids and adults.

inside out sadness comforts bing bong

Overall, I think that Inside Out is a film with a lot of heart. It teaches a great lesson about the importance of embracing emotions to kids (and adults). Finally, I hope the film encourages people to stop tagging Sadness as a bad emotion. It’s part of us and we shouldn’t treat our “blue friend” as a foreign object to which we are “allergic” to.