Inside Out 2 gives you a brilliant in-depth look into your inner world. Just by watching the movie, you’ll better understand yourself, your emotions, and how to handle emotions better.

But if you pair this movie with this podcast episode, you’ll also discover the actionable steps you can take today to balance your emotions, access your higher self, and lead the various parts of you more effectively.

The result?

You’ll become more attractive. You’ll have an easier time dating. You’ll develop healthier and stronger relationships. And you’ll create a better life for yourself all around.

Listen now.

 Show highlights include:

  • Why watching movies like Inside Out 2 are more effective for mastering your emotions than many books and courses (1:39)
  • The weird way watching Inside Out 2 can improve your dating life (3:09) 
  • How to get a better understanding of how anxiety interferes with and sabotages your life (3:42)
  • Why the “Be Yourself” advice shy guys usually hear increases their anxiety (and how to get over this feeling) (5:58)
  • How to radically improve your self-confidence by using the “From Within” secret (8:30)
  • How anxiety hijacks your imagination and weaponizes your thoughts against you (and one trick to help ease your anxiety) (10:35)
  • Why cold water and exercise can dramatically decrease your anxiety (12:40)
  • An in-depth look at how anxiety affects all of your parts from an IFS lens (16:53)
  • How to apply the lessons embedded in Inside Out 2 to real life (19:13)
  • Why balancing your emotions instead of suppressing them leads to healthier relationships and better decisions (25:12)

Does your neediness, fear, or insecurity sabotage your success with women? Do you feel you may be unlovable? For more than 17 years, I’ve helped thousands of people find confidence, fulfillment, and loving relationships. And I can help you, too. I’m therapist and life coach David Tian, Ph.D. I invite you to take this quick quiz to access my free Masterclasses on dating and relationships at now.

For more about David Tian, go here:

Emotional Mastery is David Tian’s step-by-step system to transform, regulate, and control your emotions… so that you can master yourself, your interactions with others, and your relationships… and live a life worth living. Learn more here:


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Welcome to the Masculine Psychology Podcast, where we answer key questions in relationships, attraction, success, and fulfillment. Now, here’s your host, world-renowned therapist and life coach, David Tian.


Welcome to the Masculine Psychology podcast. I’m David Tian, your host. In this episode. We’re diving into Disney Pixar’s Inside Out 2, smash hit movie, and how it can help you understand yourself better, handle anxiety better, and manage your emotions more effectively.

As of the recording of this episode, Inside Out 2 has become the top-grossing film of 2024, and in its opening week, has already raced past the $500-million mark globally at the box office. The current projections are that it will exceed $700 million in the global box office by its second weekend, and it currently has a 96% fresh audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 91% fresh critics’ rating. [01:01.1]

My wife and I watched it on opening day here in Taipei, Taiwan, because we’re big fans of Pixar movies in general, but especially of the original, the first Inside Out movie, and I am delaying the release of this episode to give you guys enough time to go out and watch it so that you don’t have to worry about any spoilers—so, spoiler alert. I am going to try not to spoil anything in the movie in this episode, but you never know, so spoiler alert. It would be best if you watch the movie first so you can follow along as I share the themes that you can pick out from the movie that can help you with your life.

The great thing about learning from movies and from literature is that it brings home the message or the lesson out of the theoretical and abstract and into the heart, because it speaks directly to your emotions and your unconscious mind by tugging at your heartstrings. [01:56.2]

The Inside Out movie, the original, and Inside Out 2 are great examples of how much easier it is and how much more effective it is to learn about emotions and your unconscious and psychology, not through abstract dry theory in books and courses, but through engagement emotionally through a well-told story.

Okay, so Inside Out 2 isn’t obviously just an animated movie for kids. It’s a powerful tool for personal growth. Understanding the movie’s themes can help you access your Higher Self and lead the various parts of you more effectively. Movies like Inside Out 2 offer a creative and effective way to reimagine your life that can show you a different perspective and help you craft a better life for yourself. The movie explores complex emotions and internal struggles, making it a fantastic resource for learning about psychology.

A lot of dudes think animated Pixar movies are just cartoons for kids, and that’s so far from the truth. This movie, in particular, Inside Out 2, again, has a 91% rating among critics and a 96% audience rating in Rotten Tomatoes. These movies are among the best sources for experiencing a range of emotions and learning about your psychology. [03:15.5]

In Inside Out 2, the main character, Riley’s journey, represents a struggle that many of us face, many people face, figuring out how to be ourselves when our sense of self is still forming. Riley tries to fit in with older girls, feeling like she’s just not enough, and this is a lot like how many guys struggle with dating advice to be yourself without knowing who they actually really are. We also see a powerful depiction of anxiety in the film. Anxiety prevents restful sleep and uses your imagination against you, fabricating all sorts of future scenarios to worry about. The movie shows how anxiety can dominate our minds and disrupt our lives. [04:00.2]

Okay, so I’ve got five points here. Let’s dive into the first, which is exploring this challenge of being yourself. The main character, Riley, her journey in Inside Out 2 perfectly captures the struggle. She transitions from a prepubescent sense of self to a new developing identity. This change isn’t smooth and it’s not clear-cut. She seeks approval from the older girls trying to fit in and ends up overcompensating for feeling inadequate, and this mirrors the struggle that many men face when trying to be themselves.

Often, guys receive the advice to be yourself in dating and in social situations. But what does this actually mean? For many men, the sense of self is still developing or is based on external validation. This is just as true for women, and this can lead to a lot of confusion and frustration. It’s hard to be authentic when you don’t know who you are at your core or if your current self feels awkward or shy. [05:02.6]

In the movie Inside Out 2, Riley’s quest for identity highlights this crucial point that self-identity is a journey. It’s a process. It evolves and changes, especially during significant transitions in life. For men, this could be adolescence or starting a new career, or entering a new relationship. Each of these stages can bring new challenges and new opportunities for self-discovery.

The movie shows Riley grappling with her changing identity. She tries to fit in. She tries to mimic the older girls and she tries to find her place. This external-validation quest is something that a lot of guys can relate to. We often look to others for approval, trying to fit into society or our peer groups’ expectations, but this can lead to losing touch with our true selves. [05:55.3]

Okay, so real-life application time. How does this play out for men? Imagine a guy who’s awkward and shy trying to date or make new friends. He hears the advice to be yourself, but his current self is insecure and unsure. He might adopt behaviors that he thinks others would expect and he masks his true self, and this can lead to inauthentic relationships and increased anxiety.

The key here is self-discovery. Before presenting an authentic self to others, you have to understand who you are in the first place, and this involves introspection, self-reflection. It involves personal growth, so take time to explore your values and expect that it will take time, and set aside that time and give yourself permission to explore your values that you want for yourself to try out and experiment with different interests and passions, and to find your strengths. Journaling, therapy, therapeutic coaching, mindfulness practices, all of these can help in this journey. [07:01.7]

You should also engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment, surround yourself with supportive and positive influences. These steps help you develop a more solid and confident sense of self. Once you understand and accept who you actually are, authenticity in relationships and in social situations become so much easier.

Riley’s experience in Inside Out 2 also underscores the importance of embracing change. Your identity, our identity, isn’t static. Instead, as we go through life, it’s dynamic. It’s evolving. If we want to find happiness and fulfillment and joy and love, then we must be open to growth and change. This means letting go of rigid self-concepts and allowing ourselves to evolve. Authenticity doesn’t mean being the same person all the time. It’s about being true to your current “you,” even as that “you” changes and grows. This requires self-awareness and adaptability. It’s okay to change your mind, your interests, and even your personality traits. [08:09.3]

Growth is a sign of progress, not inconsistency. You see this beautifully depicted in the movie as she grows or evolves from one core self to another to another. I don’t want to have to issue a spoiler alert here, so I’m going to not say any more details about that and how it’s so beautifully depicted in the movie.

The movie also teaches us that seeking external validation is a trap. True confidence and self-assurance come from within. By focusing on internal validation, we build a stronger and more authentic sense of self, and this involves trusting our instincts, knowing and honoring and holding to our predetermined values, and setting healthy boundaries. In relationships, authenticity is crucial. It fosters genuine connections and mutual respect. When we are true to ourselves, we attract people who appreciate and respect us for who we are. This leads to more meaningful and fulfilling relationships. [09:09.7]

Now let’s move on to the second point and let’s talk about anxiety. This is something that the Inside Out 2 movie tackles head-on in a really great way. Anxiety is a beast that can totally hijack your mind and body, and the movie portrays this brilliantly through the character of Anxiety. Let’s break this down, how anxiety affects us and what we can do about it.

Okay, so first, let’s look at sleep, and it’s depicted in the movie so wonderfully. Anxiety wreaks havoc on restful sleep. It’s not just about tossing and turning. It’s the endless loop of worries that play in your mind as you try to drift off. Anxiety makes it hard to fall asleep, and when you do, it keeps you from getting that deep, restorative rest that you need. You might even wake up feeling more exhausted, and this fatigue only fuels your anxiety further, and it becomes this vicious cycle. [10:02.4]

When you’re anxious, your mind can’t shut off. You’re constantly thinking about what could go wrong. You’re driven by these fears. You lie there in bed staring at the ceiling and your mind starts to spin. “What if I mess up that presentation tomorrow?” or “What if she doesn’t text back?” or “What if I’m just not good enough?” and these thoughts loop endlessly, preventing you from relaxing and drifting into a peaceful sleep.

In the movie Inside Out 2, this is depicted through the character of Anxiety who imagines all sorts of worst-case scenarios, and this brings us to our next point, the connection between anxiety and imagination, also brilliantly depicted in the movie. Anxiety hijacks your imagination, turning it against you. Instead of using your creativity for positive projection or visualization, anxiety makes you obsess over potential disasters, which in CBT therapy is called catastrophizing or overgeneralization. [11:01.5]

Your mind starts to create these elaborate scenarios where everything goes wrong, even if there’s just a tiny, tiny chance of that, and this can range from minor worries, like missing a deadline, to catastrophic fears, like losing a job or ruining a relationship or dying. These scenarios feel so real when you’re imagining them that your body reacts as if they are actually happening, pumping your body full of cortisol or other stress hormones. Your heart races. Your muscles tense up and you can’t focus on anything else, when actually all of this is just happening inside your brain. Nothing in the external world is actually changing.

Managing anxiety starts with recognizing its tricks. One effective strategy is practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness helps you stay present and grounded in the present moment. When you catch your mind drifting into anxious thoughts, you can gently bring it back to the present, focusing on your breathing, noticing the sensations in your body and observing your surroundings without judgment. [12:04.2]

Another effective strategy is mantra meditation that trains you to float above your thoughts whirling around and to observe them, but not be caught up in them. Another amazing tool is what I cover in my Emotional Mastery program, which is a combination of mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy, as well as DBT, IFS, and various other evidence-based psychotherapeutic approaches.

In the Emotional Mastery program, we’re balancing acceptance and change. The methods in the Emotional Mastery program help to regulate your body’s response to anxiety. For instance, splashing cold water on your face can trigger the dive reflex, thereby slowing your heart rate and calming you down.

Intense exercise is another great way to burn off anxious energy. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, a quick workout can help. It doesn’t even have to be long. Even just a few minutes of jumping jacks or a brisk walk can make a big difference. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. [13:06.5]

Paced breathing and progressive muscle relaxation can also really help, and I cover this in the Emotional Mastery program as well. Slow deep breaths signal to your brain and body that you’re safe, reducing the flight-or-fight response. Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and then slowly releasing each muscle group, which helps to alleviate tension and promote relaxation.

Lifestyle changes can also make a big impact, and I cover this in my course Lifestyle Mastery. Regular exercise, a balanced diet and a consistent sleep schedule can all contribute to reducing anxiety. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol, especially in the evenings, can help improve your sleep quality, and creating a bedtime routine that promotes relaxation, like reading a fiction book or taking a warm bath, can also signal to your body that it’s time to wind down. [14:00.0]

In Inside Out 2, we see how Riley’s mind is overwhelmed by these anxious thoughts, but we also see moments of calm and clarity. These moments are possible for all of us. By using these strategies, you can take back control from anxiety and create a more balanced, peaceful state of mind.

No matter their physical strength, for many men, emotions are too much for them to handle. It’s why they can’t give women the deeper levels of emotional intimacy and connection that they crave. It’s why they fail to be the man that modern women desire most: a man with inner strength, a man who has mastered his emotions.

Find out how to master your emotions through David Tian’s “Emotional Mastery” program. The Emotional Mastery program is a step-by-step system that integrates the best of empirically-verified psychotherapy methods and reveals how to master your internal state and develop the inner strength that makes you naturally attractive, happy, and fulfilled.

Learn more about this transformational program by going to

That’s D-A-V-I-D-T-I-A-N-P-H-D [dot] com [slash] emotional mastery.

Now let’s get to the third point, which is all about the complexity of emotions, and especially of the various parts of us, and how this ties into the IFS or Internal Family Systems therapy model, which is an evidence-based psychotherapeutic model that I think is just the best overall approach. [15:29.8]

This isn’t just about understanding our feelings. It’s about seeing how these emotions shape who we are and how we can navigate our inner world more effectively. In Inside Out 2, the characters break the mold of their original emotional roles that were in the original or the first Inside Out movie. For example, Joy isn’t just the bubbly cheerleader.

She experiences sadness and fear, and this shift is a powerful reminder that our parts aren’t just one-dimensional emotions. The character Joy’s moments of fear and sadness show us that even the brightest parts of us have layers, and this complexity is something that we often overlook, especially when we think of emotions in black-and-white terms or our parts as only the emotions that they’re feeling. [16:13.7]

Similarly, Sadness, the character Sadness in the movie, isn’t just the downer. She demonstrates courage, stepping up in ways that defy her simplistic or even the usual portrayal in the original movie. This mix of emotions, like Joy feeling fear, sadness showing courage, Anger showing levity, they depict a more accurate representation of our parts, challenging the simplistic view that our parts are simply defined by a single emotion. This is a really nice evolution in the story or the character world in Inside Out, and a testament to the rich, multifaceted nature of our inner world, and this level of complexity is central to IFS therapy. [16:57.1]

Internal Family Systems therapy views our mind as made up of various parts of us, each with its own distinct personality, desires and memories. These parts interact with each other, sometimes in harmony, but sometimes in conflict. You can imagine your mind as a family, with each member having a voice and a role to play.

Take a moment now to think about how you experience emotions. You might have an angry part that surfaces when you feel threatened, but that part also has underlying fears and needs. In IFS therapy, it’s not just about the emotion; it’s about understanding the entire system of parts that make up who you are. This approach can help you see beyond the surface of your emotions and understand the deeper drives and needs behind them.

Okay, let’s break this down with some examples. Imagine you’re feeling anxious before a big presentation. In IFS terms, you might have a part that’s terrified of failure. You might have another part that’s trying to control every detail, and maybe you’ve got a part that’s trying to hide or avoid the situation altogether. Each part has its own perspective, its own history and background, its own way of reacting to stress, its own aims and goals. [18:11.3]

By understanding each of these parts, you can start to see how they interact and influence your overall behavior in these situations. This approach is incredibly empowering. It allows you to acknowledge and validate all parts of yourself, rather than shutting down or fighting against certain emotions. For example, instead of pushing away your fear, you can invite it in, listen to what it has to say and find ways to soothe and reassure it. This not only reduces the intensity of the emotion, but also fosters a deeper sense of self-awareness and compassion.

In Inside Out 2, we see this play out in real time in the movie. The characters’ interactions show us that emotions aren’t isolated incidents, but part of a larger interconnected system. When joy and sadness work together, they create a more balanced and nuanced experience and this mirrors the IFS concept that when we embrace and integrate our parts, we achieve greater harmony and resilience. [19:13.1]

How can you apply this to your life now? You can start by paying attention to the different parts of yourself. When you feel a strong emotion, take a moment to ask, “Whoa, what part of me is feeling this?” You might discover that beneath your anger is a part that feels scared or unheard, or underneath your sadness, there might be a part that feels deeply disappointed or abandoned. By identifying these parts, you create a space for them to be heard and understood, and as a result, they will begin to shift.

Practicing self-compassion is key here. Instead of judging or dismissing parts of yourself, go towards them and treat them with the same kindness that you would offer a friend, and this shift in perspective can transform your relationship with your emotions, making it easier to navigate life’s challenges with grace and resilience. [20:07.4]

The goal isn’t to eliminate emotions, but to understand and integrate them. When you can see the full picture of your emotional landscape, you gain the power to lead your inner family with wisdom and compassion. This isn’t just about managing emotions, it’s about embracing the full spectrum of your humanity.

Okay, now let’s get to the fourth point, and this is about something everyone goes through, but nobody really talks about: developing a new sense of self. Whether it’s during adolescence or starting a new career, or entering a new relationship, all of these transitions can be tough, but there are also opportunities for growth. When I’m talking about developing a new sense of self, I’m referring to those times in life when everything seems to be in flux. [20:54.0]

Remember Riley in Inside Out 2, she’s dealing with the upheaval of adolescence and her sense of self is all over the place. This is something many of us can relate to. Whether you’re a teenager figuring out who you are, like Riley, or a professional stepping into a new role, or someone entering a new relationship, these transitions can feel overwhelming.

One of the biggest challenges during these times is the pressure to have it all figured out. Society often pushes us to know exactly who we are and what we want very early on, but the truth is, developing a new sense of self is a process. It takes time, and that’s good. It’s okay to take your time. It’s crucial to have patience and self-compassion during these periods of change. We can’t rush the process of becoming who we are meant to be as we evolve through the various stages and phases of life.

Okay, so how can we support this developmental process in ourselves? Let’s break this down with some practical advice. First, journaling can be an incredibly powerful tool here. When you write down your thoughts and feelings in a kind of stream of consciousness without censoring yourself, you create a space to explore your inner world. [22:08.4]

Journaling helps you process your emotions, track your growth and gain clarity on your evolving identity and sense of self. It’s literally like having a conversation with yourself. Take 15 minutes or whatever you can spare every day to jot down what you’re experiencing. Over time, you’ll start to notice patterns and insights that can guide you through your transition. One of my favorite current styles of journaling is depicted in the Morning Pages practice by Julia Cameron. I highly recommend everyone look that up, Morning pages by Julia Cameron.

Another valuable practice is seeking mentorship. Find someone who has gone through similar transitions and has emerged better for them, and someone who can offer guidance and support. A mentor can provide perspective or share their experiences and help you navigate challenges. They’ve been there, done that and can offer invaluable advice. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone that you respect and ask for their mentorship or coaching. It can make a huge life-changing difference. [23:10.2]

Engaging in therapeutic coaching is also a life-changing experience. A good therapeutic coach can help you explore your thoughts and feelings, uncover the underlying issues that are blocking, and develop strategies for coping with change and transition and these different phases. Therapeutic coaching provides a safe space to express yourself and work through the complexities of your transition. If you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed, consider talking to a professional. It’s a powerful step towards understanding and developing your new sense of self.

And let’s not forget the importance of community. Surrounding yourself with people who support and uplift you can make a huge difference. Whether it’s friends, family, a community group, or a therapeutic coaching group, having a network of positive influences can help you stay grounded and motivated, and can help you dig deeper and help you to spot your blind spots. Sharing your journey with them and allowing them to support you helps you grow. Connection with others can provide comfort and strength during any time of change. [24:12.2]

Okay, lastly, be kind to yourself. Transitions are hard and it’s easy to be self-critical when things don’t go as planned, but remember, developing a new sense of self is a journey. It’s a process, and it’s going to be messy, unpredictable, and that’s totally okay and normal. Practicing self-compassion by acknowledging your efforts and celebrating small victories is essential here. Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer a very good friend.

Developing a new sense of self is an ongoing journey. It’s about exploring, growing and evolving. It requires patience, self-compassion and practical strategies to support your transition. By journaling, seeking mentorship, engaging in therapeutic coaching, entering or building a supportive community and being kind to yourself, you can navigate these changes with greater ease and confidence. [25:05.4]

Okay, so we’ve covered a lot about self-identity, anxiety and emotional complexity, inspired by Inside Out 2. Now let’s get into the final point about how to integrate and balance these different emotions, and this is essential for building healthier relationships and making better decisions.

Okay, so let’s first look at balanced emotional expression. It’s crucial to integrate and balance different emotions, instead of merely suppressing them, like that great scene in the movie, like, “We’re suppressed emotions.” There aren’t negative or positive emotions per se. Emotions are just signals. They tell us something about our internal state in our interactions with the world. What matters is how we respond to these feelings.

For instance, anger isn’t inherently bad. It can signal that a boundary has been crossed. However, it’s the behavior that follows the anger, like yelling or lashing out or striking somebody, the behaviors that follow the anger can be harmful, but these aren’t necessarily going to follow from the emotion. This distinction is essential. All emotions are okay, but not all behaviors are. [26:13.8]

Similarly, in IFS therapy, all parts are welcome, but not all actions are. Our parts might feel extreme anger or fear, but acting out aggressively or destructively isn’t acceptable or helpful. Emotional awareness and expression can lead to healthier relationships. When you understand your emotions, you can express them constructively. This fosters honesty and intimacy in relationships. For example, instead of suppressing your frustration, you might calmly discuss what’s bothering you instead. This can prevent resentment from building up and lead to a deeper connection with your partner. [26:55.7]

Better decision-making is another benefit. When you’re aware of your emotions, you can consider them without being overwhelmed by them. For example, acknowledging your anxiety about a new job can help you prepare better, rather than simply ignoring it, suppressing it and feeling blindsided later. Emotions provide valuable information that, when integrated, leads to a more informed and balanced decision-making.

Okay, let’s look at a real-life example to bring this home. I had a client, let’s call him Alex. Alex struggled with anger and often felt guilty about it. Through IFS therapy, we identified his angry part and discovered it was trying to protect him from feeling vulnerable. By acknowledging and listening to this part, Alex learned to express his anger in healthier ways. He stopped bottling it up, which reduced his outbursts, and this changed and improved his relationships at work and at home. [27:51.3]

Another client, let’s call him Sam, dealt with anxiety that affected his sleep and his decision-making. We worked on recognizing his anxious part and understanding his fears. Sam practiced the mindfulness techniques in the Emotional Mastery program, like paced breathing to calm himself, and over time, his anxiety lessened and he felt more in control. This allowed him to make clearer, more confident decisions.

Integration isn’t about eliminating parts of ourselves. It’s about understanding and balancing them. Emotions and parts aren’t enemies to be fought. They’re allies to be understood and integrated. This holistic approach can lead to significant personal growth and improved wellbeing. In the Inside Out 2 movie, the characters’ development shows this beautifully.

Joy and Sadness, once at odds, learn to work together, and then as the movie progresses, the other emotion characters eventually learn to work together, and this integration allows Riley to experience a fuller, more balanced emotional life. We can learn a lot from this. By embracing all the parts of ourselves, even those that we might have found difficult at first, we can achieve a more harmonious inner life. [29:10.2]

To wrap up, integrating emotional understanding is about balance and acceptance. By recognizing and accepting our emotions and our parts, we can express them constructively and meet their needs more fully. This leads to healthier relationships, better decision-making, and a richer, more fulfilling life.

All right, let’s recap the major points from this episode so far. We explored how Inside Out 2 can help you understand and manage your emotions better. We talked about the challenge of being yourself and the importance of self-discovery and personal growth. Then we dove into the nature and impact of anxiety and how it affects sleep and how it uses your imagination against you.

We also went into the complexity of emotions and our parts from an IFS-therapy perspective, emphasizing that our parts are full sub-personalities with their own desires and needs. Finally, we covered the development of a new sense of self and the importance of integrating emotional understanding for healthier relationships and better decision-making. [30:11.5]

Thank you so much for listening. If this has helped you in any way, please share it with anyone else that you think could benefit from it. Thanks again, and I look forward to welcoming you to the next episode. Until then, David Tian, signing out.