Inside Out 2: Review and Analysis

Inside Out 2

Inside Out 2: Review and Analysis

Written By: Shaundtrya Ganasan, Licensed Counselor (KB11097)

The Journey of Emotions Begins

“Inside Out 2” is one of the most eagerly awaited sequels of Pixar’s masterpiece “Inside Out”, 2015. The movie captures a young girl, Riley and the exploration of her emotions. Personified emotions like Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear were highlighted throughout the movie; showing the importance of embracing them all.  

In “Inside Out 2” other deeper complex emotions like Anxiety, Envy, Embarrassment, and Boredom are depicted well as Riley enters her “puberty”. The movie portrayed how puberty plays a significant role in experiencing more variety and complex emotions. Learning to navigate these emotions in a balanced manner is definitely not an easy task.

Inside Out 2

Complex emotions start to show up profoundly as we grow; they are the messenger of what’s going on inside of us.

Shaundtrya Ganasan, Licensed Counselor (KB11097)

Sense of self is made of all emotions and experiences; not through suppressing or hiding unwanted parts of us.

Shaundtrya Ganasan, Licensed Counselor (KB11097)

With the above message from the movie, let us dive through this article to decode the lessons from Inside Out 2.

Note: Spoilers Alert!!!

Reminder: If you or your loved ones are struggling with mental health conditions, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at Soul Mechanics KD or Soul Mechanics Ipoh. Remember, seeking help is not a sign of weakness but strength!

New Characters as a Guiding Light

The movie's new characters help Riley navigate her teenage years further. These characters hold a strong message about our emotional landscape. Below is a brief introduction to the new characters:


Anxiety represents the nervousness or fear Riley feels about something uncertain or bad happening in the future. This emotion instead of making Riley aware of the possible outcomes, started to control Riley to avoid all the worst-case scenarios from taking place. The part where Anxiety forces other emotions into a jar, beautifully portrays how other emotions are “suppressed” when Anxiety takes charge of us. This character shows us how constant anticipation of future events can cause us stress and not live in the present. We all need a balance to navigate future uncertainties and not miss out on the present.

Inside Out 2

Anxiety in this movie is a great example of how sometimes we try to be perfect or make a good impression on ourselves; forgetting to live in the present and experience small joy. Just like how Joy says,

“Maybe this is what happens when you grow up. You feel less joy.”

Inside Out 2

Embarrassment captures the emotion of having done something wrong or shameful; increasing the need to hide or retreat. This huge pink guy, hiding behind his hoodie, where does not talk much. But shows his emotions more through his actions. Embarrassment plays a role in Riley's development of a sense of shame and insecurity while interacting with cooler hockey teammates. However, Embarrassment also recognizes how certain changes Anxiety intends to push on Riley aren’t good for help. This makes him help Sadness silently. This emotion teaches us the importance of self-acceptance while facing our mistakes or social insecurities.


Envy portrays the longing or yearning for something someone else as; material possession, feature, or characteristic. This emotion makes Riley compare herself with others, especially ‘Val’. Along with Anxiety, Envy pushes Riley to be someone else, but not her authentic self. Envy shows the small, insecure part of Riley wanting to be more like the cool students at the hockey camp. This character teaches us the importance of gratitude and having a sense of self-worth for who we are and the drawbacks of comparisons.

Inside Out 2
Inside Out 2

Ennui, or a fancy word for boredom, shows us the struggle we often face in the engagement of daily activities; just like how it controls certain Riley’s actions through a console instead of mingling with the other emotions. This emotion also adds sarcasm to Riley to make her impress her hockey campmates. This character teaches us boredom can be a messenger that encourages us to explore and pursue our passions and interests; feeling more fulfilled and alive.


Nostalgia represents a sentimental longing or reminiscing past, which often idealizes childhood or younger memories. She appears after the arrival of new emotions. But is forced to go back by Anxiety as she’s too early to appear. This character often offers us comfort during tough times. It reminds us to cherish the happy moments from the past while going through the present.

Inside Out 2
Dark Secret
Inside Out 2

Dark Secret shows the hidden truths and denial aspects that Riley does not want to face. This character holds uncomfortable truths about Riley and her experiences, which Riley is not ready yet to embrace or accept. We all have dark secrets; stories of pain, guilt, embarrassment, or regret that we try to run away from. This character teaches us the importance of addressing and embracing our deep-rooted secrets and fears. It helps us to move towards emotional freedom and self-awareness.

Reminder: If you or your loved ones are struggling with mental health conditions, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at Soul Mechanics KD or Soul Mechanics Ipoh. Remember, seeking help is not a sign of weakness but strength!

The Importance of Trust

The movie has also beautifully illustrated the importance of trust towards emotional balance. Below are some deep insights into ‘Trust’ shown in the movie.

Inside Out 2
Trust Among Emotions

The movie portrayed beautifully the trust the other emotions had in Joy. How the emotions relied on each other to protect Riley and provide a space to make balanced decisions; not siding with one emotion entirely.

Anxiety’s Trust Journey

On the other side, Anxiety was shown as a character that does not trust other emotions in handling Riley’s challenges. Anxiety did not trust other emotions, and the damage it caused Riley; preventing her from making balanced decisions. By learning to trust the other emotions, Anxiety learned to manage Riley’s stress and uncertainties more healthily and effectively.

Sense of Self

“Inside Out 2” also shows how Joy has been hiding (subconsciously suppressing) Riley’s unpleasant memories to develop a positive self-image; “I am a good person”.

Whereas, when Anxiety takes over, in the mission of helping Riley make new friends, Anxiety adds on possible future portrayals and past memories, which eventually turns into “I am not good enough”. It causes Riley to experience Anxiety Attack due to her overwhelming thoughts and nervousness.

However, when Joy and the team retrieve the Sense of Self crystal, Joy realizes all of Riley’s experiences and memories are what she truly is. All the good and unpleasant journey is what makes Riley. This motivates her to create a new, authentic Sense of Self.

Fading Inner Child

Just like how Inside Out 1 portrayed ‘Bing Bong’ forgotten part of Riley’s inner child; showing her childhood innocence and memories. This movie also portrayed other characters such as Bloofy; an animated character from children’s cartoons that Riley secretly likes and a video game character, Lance Shashblade, whom Riley secretly likes but is embarrassed due to one of his lamest power attacks in the game.

These characters reside in Riley’s subconscious which she has suppressed or believed to move past as she grows older. These characters are locked away in a vault along with Riley’s Deep Dark Secret. The Dark Secret manifests itself in the form of a gigantic rock monster; embarrassed to reveal itself.

The movie also shows once Riley hits ‘puberty’, the need to be included grows within her strongly. It makes her lose touch with her inner likings and passions. For instance, Riley made fun of her all-time favourite band ‘Get Up and Glow’ to be able to fit in with the other 'perceived' cool hockey teammates.

She was unconsciously pushed to detach from her friends whom she enjoyed being 'crazy' and 'funny' by Anxiety due to the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) and uncertainty of the future with the absence of her friends.

It shows the bittersweet part of the loss of childhood innocence as we are growing up and the need to fit in arises.

Integrating Childhood Joy into Adulthood

In short "Inside Out 2" highlights 'Anxiety' and its role in our lives. But it never fails to emphasize the importance of retaining elements of childhood joy. Learning to integrate the creativity and abstract side of our childhood into adult life, we learn to balance maturity with a playful spirit as well. All those little parts of our childhood or inner child are what make us tag along as bittersweet memories to be cherished.

Stay tuned for the next part to dive deeper into the important lessons that “Inside Out 2” teaches us and how therapy helps us navigate through emotional balance.

If you’re looking for a therapist in Kota Damansara or Ipoh area, you can click here for more information.

If you enjoyed reading this, why not broaden the horizon of knowledge by learning about "Inside Out: The Decoding of Emotions"? You can read the blog here.

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