If you saw the new Disney movie, Frozen this weekend, it’s likely you are still humming the theme song by Demi Lovato. It isn't just a catchy song. It holds a message that we can all identify with—emotions are difficult to manage. It's important to find a way to just, “let go.” So much easier said than done.
Frozen, the movie, seems like a metaphor for the way we deal and cope with feelings. To recap the movie, the main character freezes things when she gets upset or emotional. Instead of trying to manage her powers, she shuts herself off from everyone—even those who are close to her like her sister. Many times in the movie, she tells herself, “Don’t feel, don’t feel.” We’ve all told ourselves that at one time or another. She hides away trying to protect others from the destructive nature of her uncontrolled feelings and powers.
In my book, EatQ, I talk about how we often wish emotions were controlled like a light switch—that we turn them on or off. Instead, I suggest that managing feelings may be more like a dimmer switch—learning how to turn down the intensity of emotions so that they don't overwhelm you (which is often the root cause of emotional eating, stress and other issues).
It won’t spoil the rest of the movie if I tell you that it has a happy ending. What saves the day? Her ability to use her powers and emotions for good. Love thaws out the ice—in the same way that kindness often helps to connect with someone who has a cool demeanor. Behind their coolness is often fear—just like the queen who was fearful that she would hurt her sister if she got too close.
When the queen decided not to push down her “real self” and let it go, she is transforms. If you’ve ever told yourself, “I am just going to be me and stop trying to be someone else,” it's freeing.
Here are 4 Tips for Letting Go:
1) Let Go. Did you see the movie, Up? Imagine or call to mind the balloons in this movie. Visualize placing your negative thoughts or feelings on a balloon and watching them fly away into the sky.
2) Ta-Da! Sometimes it is helpful to graciously and humorously accept errors—think of a clown bowing down. Imagine (or actually) make a big sweeping gesture as if to say, "Thank you, no applause necessary."
3) Perspective. How serious is this in the grand scheme of life? Put this incident into perspective. Could it have been worse?
4). Lesson Learned. Use this incident as a teaching moment. Ask yourself, "What did I learn from this experience that I can apply to tomorrow?"
You will enjoy the movie, Frozen, if you are a kid or an adult. If you have not seen it yet, keep a close eye on it's message about managing emotions.
Dr. Susan Albers is a psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic and author of 6 books on mindful eating, weight loss and comfort eating including Eating Mindfully and 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food. Her newest book is EatQ: Unlock the Weight Loss Power of Emotional Intelligence. She frequently appears in Shape Magazine, Fitness, Cooking Light, US News and World Report, the New York Times and she has appeared on the Dr. Oz Show. www.eatq.com
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Susan Albers, Psy.D., is a psychologist who specializes in eating issues, weight loss, body image concerns and mindfulness.