Did Disney Get Anxiety Right?
Name that Disney movie... “Fear will be your enemy.” Yes, this quote is from the movie Frozen. One of the trolls told this to Elsa when he was explaining the danger of her “powers”. He also told her there can be great beauty found within her powers if she learns how to control them. Her powers are a reflection of anxiety.
Half of what the troll told her is true. The other half bothers me. He was right to say that fear would be her greatest enemy. I think the majority of people with anxiety can find this to be true. Usually when we are having anxiety about something it’s because we are thinking worse case scenario and have a strong feeling it’s going to happen. You can either fight against the fear or fall into it. Fear is your greatest enemy when you fall into it.
The half that I don’t agree with is one word that he used. He told her that there can be great beauty in her powers (anxiety) if she learned how to control it. The word that bothers me is control. When I said you can fight against your fear, I did not mean that you would then be in control of your anxiety. Fighting against your fears means, realizing your thoughts aren’t thinking logically. Your anxiety is thinking for you. Once you recognize your anxiety, you then can do something that will either distract you from your fears or do something that will prove your fears wrong. Control is never gained. Only management is.
A great example in the movie that displays Elsa trying to manage her powers is when she wears her gloves. Her dad gave those to her as a strategy to use so her powers don’t get too out of control. Her gloves help her manage her powers. I don’t necessarily agree with the saying that was used with it; conceal don’t feel, but I do agree with the concept of the gloves. You should allow yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling, but then try to let go of some of those intense feelings.
Elsa was told to take off her gloves during her coronation. Elsa was told to stop using her number one strategy used to manage her powers. To manage her anxiety. Luckily, it was only for a few seconds. When she was allowed to put her gloves back on, she put them on as soon as possible. She went running back to her strategy. Instead of running towards fear of being out of control, she ran towards her management strategy. That’s exactly what we with anxiety should do when we recognize our anxiety building. Instead of getting lost in whatever fear it is, we should find our strategies. I’ve mentioned strategies in previous posts, but I’ll list a few strategies that I tend to run to.
2. Write down my feelings
3. Say my thoughts out loud in a silly voice
4. Reach out to a friend
The list can go on and on, but I just gave you my top four that I have used recently. If you have questions about what mine are, please message me! Everyone’s list looks different! What would yours look like?
Another part of this movie that hit home with me is when Anna, her sister, said multiple times that she shut her out and she didn’t know why. She didn’t know why because Elsa was told not to share anything about her powers. Elsa was asked to hide her anxiety from everyone, including the person who used to be her best friend. The only people who knew ended up passing away. Elsa was left all alone in hiding. Elsa was left alone with her anxiety. I have learned, from personal experience, that anxiety feels a lot smaller once you talk about it with others. It feels even better when you find others with similar struggles.
When others found out about her powers though, they looked at her different and called her “dangerous” “a monster” , etc. This is the worst way you can respond to someone once you learn about their anxiety. I was lucky to have a supportive response once I shared about my anxiety. However, I know that's not the case for everyone. I have talked to other people who have come out and have been treated disrespectfully. They were either told they were being dramatic or they were treated like an outsider. Like Elsa was.
Their responses led Elsa to run away from everyone, which I don't recommend at all. That was just part of the plot line! However she started to realize how beautiful her powers can be once she wasn’t afraid of them anymore. She wasn't afraid of them because she didn't have to hide them. She also then said, “It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small.” THIS IS SO TRUE. Once she was out of her head about her fear of showing others her powers, she was able to see everything from a new perspective. Her powers were no longer skewing her perspective of life. They were no longer bigger than herself.
Now, I don’t suggest you run to the top of a mountain alone to figure out the beauty found within having anxiety. I actually suggest the opposite; reach out to people about it. Then take a step back and realize all the strengths you have gained from battling this.
The beauty that was brought out from my anxiety was actually this blog. Without my anxiety, I probably wouldn’t be writing about anxiety and sharing it with others. I have connected with so many people because of my blog. I have felt a sense of freedom and acceptance in who I am. Also, I wouldn’t have my dog Eevee if it weren’t for my anxiety. She wouldn’t be my Emotional Support Animal. She has brought me so much joy and I can’t imagine life without her. My anxiety has also made my relationships much stronger and brought them to deeper levels of love and respect. Be yourself, whether that means having anxiety or not, own who you are! Don’t let your anxiety own you!
I could keep going with how the rest of the movie, Frozen, displays anxiety but I’ll leave that up to you to make the connections. So, to answer my initial question, Did Disney Get Anxiety Right? I would say yes and no.