Can Inside Out 2 Navigate Beliefs, Anxiety And Spirituality?

Can Inside Out 2 Navigate Beliefs, Anxiety And Spirituality? June 17, 2024

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How does Disney approach beliefs? Can an animated movie accurately and thoughtfully portray teenage anxiety? Is there room for faith in any of this? These are some of the questions Patheos and Skylight dive into while examining  Disney and Pixar’s newest animated feature, “Inside Out 2,” released on June 14.  The movie explores the mental wellness of a teenage girl through the introduction of new emotional characters not featured in the original film. The sequel delves into the protagonist’s “Belief System,” which raises the potential for exploring religious and spiritual themes.

In conjunction with the release of “Inside Out 2,” Skylight collaborated with Patheos writers across different faiths to review the film through a faith lens while also paying attention to the film’s unique approach to character emotions, like Anxiety.

Skylight is a spiritual wellness platform that integrates mental wellness strategies like meditation, yoga, and prayer with spiritual practices.
It aims to aid individuals dealing with anxiety, stress, and other emotional challenges through a spiritual lens. Skylight seeks to raise awareness of how belief systems can play a critical role in managing mental health issues.

Disney/Pixar movie promo
Courtesy of Disney/Pixar.

Many of the Patheos reviews are in and it’s evident that the writers perceive the spiritual message of “Inside Out 2” as centered around the integration of joy and faith amidst anxiety and turmoil. The writers highlight the importance of finding inner balance and strength through spiritual beliefs, suggesting that connecting with a higher power or faith tradition can provide resilience and guidance during difficult times. This interpretation underscores the film’s exploration of emotions and identity, suggesting that true joy and peace come from aligning one’s beliefs with actions and finding stability in faith-based principles.

Here are some of the reviews:

Inside Out 2 Strikes An Emotional And Spiritual Balance

Evangelical writer Shawn Paul Wood notes that the sequel highlights Riley’s personal growth and emotional struggles as she faces significant changes, such as her friends attending different high schools. Through vivid storytelling, the film emphasizes the importance of understanding and balancing complex emotions. He writes that the film underscores the universal journey of finding purpose and stability during adolescence.

From Anxiety To Joy: Inside Out 2 And The Skylight App

Progressive Christian writer Gregory Smith states that the film offers a smart and spiritual exploration of the inner self, making it engaging for both kids and adults. The movie uses puberty as an allegory for the emotional and psychological upheaval of adolescence, emphasizing the importance of integrating and managing complex emotions. Ultimately, “Inside Out 2” encourages self-love and offers a thoughtful look at emotional growth and regulation.

Beliefs Are Anchors For The Soul In Pixar’s ‘Inside Out 2’

Seasoned religious entertainment writer Dwayne Hamby observes that “Inside Out 2” follows Riley as she navigates puberty, with new emotions like Anxiety and Envy shaping her core belief system. The film, featuring a stellar cast, explores how these emotions interact to form a functional and mentally-stable young girl. As Riley’s belief system shifts from “I am a kind person” to “I’m not good enough,” the film cleverly unpacks the impact of evolving emotions on her mental state. It highlights the importance of maintaining core beliefs for mental wellness, resonating with spiritual and religious undertones.

Inside Out 2 From A Jewish Perspective

Jewish columnist Rebecca Wallace Keene writes that the movie effectively illustrates ideas about mental and spiritual well-being found in Judaism, making complex concepts accessible to children and teens. It shows Riley’s journey through puberty, with new emotions like Anxiety, Envy, and Boredom affecting her belief system, mirroring Jewish teachings on self-exploration and emotional intelligence. Inside Out 2 encourages viewers to embrace their true selves, highlighting the importance of self-love, emotional control, and the integration of both positive and negative experiences.

Feeling Blue? Look Inside: “Inside Out 2”

Hindu writer Shweta Goyal observed that the film portrays anxiety not as a villain, but as a natural and sometimes helpful emotion, highlighting the importance of acknowledging and managing a range of emotions. It emphasizes how memories and beliefs shape our sense of self and the necessity of integrating both positive and negative experiences for personal growth. She noted that collaborates with Patheos to provide therapeutic support, mindfulness programs, and resources for emotional well-being, aligning with insights from Hindu teachings on managing anxiety and achieving emotional balance.

Inside Out 2 Review- What It Got Right And Wrong

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Writer Abby Christianson writes that the film effectively depicts Anxiety’s impact but falls short of fully developing Envy and Ennui and providing concrete coping strategies. Riley’s Belief System is explored, but the movie oversimplifies its formation, neglecting the influence of upbringing and innate spirituality. The author recommends the Skylight app for practical tools to manage anxiety and emphasizes the interconnectedness of mental and spiritual wellness.

The Dharma I Learned From Inside Out 2

Buddhist writer Daniel Scharpenburg notes that our sense of self is dynamic and changes over time, challenging the notion that it is fixed. “Inside Out 2” explores this theme by introducing new emotions such as Anxiety, Embarrassment, Ennui, and Envy, which disrupt Riley’s original emotions and sense of identity. The film illustrates the struggle of adolescence and the Buddhist concept of impermanence, showing that emotions and beliefs are transient. Ultimately, Riley’s journey reflects the importance of accepting change and working with all emotions to maintain a balanced and evolving sense of self.

Inside Out 2: Balancing Anxiety With Joy

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints writer Delisa Hargrove writes that “Inside Out 2” brings back Riley’s familiar emotions and introduces new ones like Anxiety, Embarrassment, Envy, and Ennui as she navigates her teenage years. The film delves into the formation of Riley’s belief system, showing how formative memories shape her core beliefs. Riley’s struggle with anxiety is depicted realistically, highlighting the challenges and importance of balancing anxiety with joy. The author finds personal resonance with Riley’s journey and emphasizes the role of faith in overcoming anxiety, recommending the Skylight app for blending spirituality with mental well-being.

Inside Out 2 Review: The Showdown Between Anxiety And Joy

Catholic writer Jocelyn Soriano writes that the movie explores whether anxiety can serve a purpose over joy as 13-year-old Riley faces the challenges of puberty, including forming new friendships and navigating peer pressure. Anxiety emerges as a dominant force, pushing Riley to excel but ultimately overshadowing her true identity and beliefs. The film highlights the battle between joy and anxiety for control over Riley’s emotions, while also prompting reflection on the absence of religious elements in her journey and the potential impact of spirituality on mental well-being.

The Battle For The Sense Of Self: A Review Of “Inside Out 2”

Catholic writer Mary Pezzulo writes that the movie is successful at both being entertaining and delivering a deeper message. She points out that “Inside Out 2 illustrates the fact that mental health, as well as integrity, don’t come from being able to view yourself as exclusively good.” She appreciates how Inside Out 2 acknowledges the deep connection between maintaining integrity and a moral compass with one’s mental well-being.

Inside Out 2: A Muslim Perspective

Muslim writer Nadia Ahmed writes that the film underscores the importance of all emotions in shaping a balanced belief system and personality. Her article also discusses the role of Islamic practices in mental wellness and notes that the Skylight platform supports spiritual well-being, paralleling the film’s message of emotional management.

Inside Out 2 Parallels Faith Journey, Theological Education

Progressive Christian columnist Leah D. Schade sees parallels between the process of theological education and the journey of faith. While Shade was not participating in the Skylight collaboration she still documented some interesting similarities between the movie’s main character, Riley’s search for self, and students who first enter theological education. “As seminarians study the Bible and their faith through a critical lens, they experience dissonance. And it can feel like their whole worldview is being deconstructed.  Because that’s exactly what’s happening,” writes Schade.


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