Have you seen the movie Frozen? Well if you have little ones, own a television and breathe oxygen, then chances are you have watched the movie more times than you’d like to admit. And you have probably listened to “Let It Go” ’til your ear drums bled. But there is something you may have missed in this movie; something a little more out of the ordinary. Something perhaps only a therapist would see: A connection between Elsa’s powers and anxiety. Yes! That’s right- Elsa’s powers and anxiety!
Totally lost? Totally confused? Wondering what the heck I’m talking about? As a therapist who specializes in helping women overcome anxiety, just hear me out.
1. They are part of Us
Elsa’s Powers: Elsa was born with her powers. They are part of who she is.
Anxiety: As human beings we are born to experience a variety of emotions. Anxiety is one those emotions.
2. There is a Desire to Control and Not Feel
Elsa’s Powers: Elsa was comfortable and confident in her powers, but when her little sister’s health became threatened while using them, Elsa vowed to stop using her powers all together for fear they would hurt others. She attempted to control her powers by not feeling. (You remember: Conceal. Don’t feel)
Anxiety: Although anxiety is an emotion we all experience, there can be moments of heightened anxiety which can rock us to the core. After experiences such as these, we may try and avoid feeling that way at all costs. We try to control the feelings, we fight the feelings, and even act in ways to avoid triggers.
3. They Can Become Bigger than Us
Elsa’s Powers: The (unsuccessful) push and pull of trying to keep her powers at bay led Elsa to feel completely out of control. Her powers became bigger than her. They scared her.
Anxiety: It can take on a life of its own when it spirals. It can become this entity that feels bigger than us. It can scare us and interfere with our daily functioning.
4. They Can Lead Us to a Negative Place
Elsa’s Powers: In time, Elsa isolated herself from others. She became withdrawn and unhappy.
Anxiety: Anxiety can make us feel inadequate and alone. It can strip us of our confidence and can lead to feeling unhappy with ourselves and our lives. For this reason, anxiety and depression often go hand in hand.
5. We Can Work Through It with Acceptance
Elsa’s Powers: When Elsa embraced and accepted her powers their control over her lessened.
Anxiety: Anxiety is not a monster to be feared, but instead a small child we must accept and be gentle with. Although uncomfortable, we have to ride out the wave and know that we will be okay. It will pass. We will get through it. With this mindset, the power of our anxiety decreases.
6. We Can Build Ourselves Back Up
Elsa’s Powers: Once Elsa embraced her powers she was able to live again. Her confidence was restored and she was happy.
Anxiety: When we allow ourselves to feel and ride out the wave of anxiety as it comes up, we can begin to see a glimpse of hope within ourselves for having survived it. In time, these small successes build up our confidence both in ourselves and in our ability to handle stressful situations.
So, you see, anxiety and Elsa’s powers have more in common than you think. Watch the movie again if your dare and look for the underlying message that we must accept and embrace not only ourselves but our feelings.
Although clients may be a bit perplexed when I start off a conversation by asking, “Have you seen the movie Frozen?” it continues to serve as a simple, yet wonderful analogy of how to understand and approach anxiety. I thank you, Ms. Elsa, for your example. Let the storm rage on. The cold never bothered me anyway.