Emotion Panel

“Running, I am the person I want to be when I am standing still.”  Dimity McDowell

When all this started, if you had told me that I would write a blog post about a kids movie, I would never have believed you.  [If you had told me I would write a blog post based on a Kardashian’s episode(see post Her), I would never have believed that either.] Recently, I saw the movie Inside Out, and all I can say is wow, wow, wow!

The last time I saw a kids movie (the Sponge Bob one), I came home and told my husband that I am absolutely done with losing a couple of hours of my life to sitting through a movie like that.  Fortunately, I did at one point in that movie make the conscious decision to just close my eyes and take a nap so that it would be over sooner, and it worked.  My kids are now old enough that I can usually just send them into movies by themselves, while I have a glass of wine at a nearby bar until they are out; however, someone recommended to me that I go and specifically see this movie with one of my kids.

We all have that one child that is just a little more taxing than the others.  I believe that I was (and continue to be) the taxing child for my mother.  I know this is shocking to you….that someone like me who seems so stable and put together and doesn’t have any issues to work through may sometimes have been a challenge to her mother.  And so it seems that karma is actually a real thing in this universe, and yes karma is a b&tch!  My middle child (did I mention that I am a middle child myself…or could you already tell that by my need to blog about myself), is a very very sweet boy who sometimes needs attention and almost always bottles up his emotions and has difficulty expressing them.  So someone advised me that if I take him to see this movie, and also went in with him myself and did not catch up on my nap, it may then provide a good means and tools with which he could initiate a conversation about his emotions.

This movie is so amazingly cleverly done.  The premise is that from birth we all have these different “people” in our head, people for joy, sadness, fear, anger, and disgust, who help navigate and control our “emotional panel.”  We also have these “core memories” that form the foundation of who we are.  It so beautifully depicts how an imbalance or freeze on one or more of these people in our emotional panel can then make us spiral down into a state of fear or anxiety or depression.  If you haven’t seen the movie, whether or not you have kids, I think you should stop reading this instant and go see it….that will be supremely more beneficial to you than reading this post.

So it occurs to me, that we all have this emotional panel, and for me, running dictates which of these five characters is predominantly going to be in charge of my emotional panel.  While I run and mull over my day, fear and anger and sadness may all make an appearance and play out their roles and have their say, and then joy takes over and puts it all in perspective.  And when I do my run first thing in the morning, then joy is in charge of the panel for the entire day.

Further, now that I run, when fear or sadness start taking control of the panel, I can see through the fog of what is happening.  Sometimes when I am in a particularly foul mood (when my insightful first-born says, “Mom, do you need to eat something or go for a run?”), I consciously make myself go for a run so that joy can get back in the driver’s seat.  In the book Tales from Another Mother Runner**, author Dimity McDowell writes about an episode of depression and says,  “Running, I am the person I want to be when I am standing still.”  Yes….that is how I feel….and I suspect if you are a runner who identifies with my blog, that is how you feel as well.

For a while now, I’ve been trying to get my son interested in going running with me, and so far he hasn’t wanted to, so I haven’t pushed it.  But I wonder if maybe I should.  And running may certainly not be the answer for him, and is not the answer for everyone….but something can be the answer for all of us.  Find your vehicle…your thing….whether your mode of meditation is moving or being perfectly still, and let it steer your emotional panel.

*This post was originally published on 7/28/15.

Paria Hassouri