How Watching Movies Can Help You Heal

How Watching Movies Can Help You Heal

At Mars Venus, we believe that our deepest healing occurs as we work through the four healing emotions: anger, sadness, fear, and regret. Unfortunately, all too often, our resistance to these feelings stalls our deepest healing. While intellectually we may know that feeling our painful emotions helps to release them, many people resist delving into this dark place because after all, “Who wants to feel angry or sad or afraid or sorrowful?”

At some point, sometimes years into our numbness, we realize that we must grieve, and that the surest and fastest way through our grief is, well, through it. Once you are willing to permit your emotions to flow, you can actually start channeling them productively. You can begin to produce your catharsis, and it can be as easy as renting your next video or DVD.

So what is catharsis and how can it help you?

Aristotle invented this term a long time ago to describe the emotional climax we feel when presented with a drama. As the drama unfolds, our emotions rise and as we release them, we resolve into a state of tranquility. This process often occurs quite naturally. Have you ever cried during a movie and then felt uplifted? That is catharsis, my friend!

What is critical to know is that exploring negative feelings does happen one way or another. You can choose to have some control over this process or you can allow it to happen naturally. If you’re a person who has a natural aversion to this type of work, you may find your feelings leaking out around you. Examples of this are: bursting into tears for no apparent reason, expressing feelings of rage when the situation only calls for irritation or frustration, or feeling terrified of certain behaviors that you would otherwise do without hesitation. If you’re experiencing any of theses, chances are you have some bottled up emotions trying to find their way out.

One easy way to begin gaining control over your feelings again is by exploring them. In our healing technique, there are 4 emotions that we advise exploring. Ideally, you want to bring the feelings to the surface, and then discuss them with a person you trust. A coach is a perfect candidate to help you with this. One simple and convenient way to bring out your feelings is through the use of movies. It’s amazing how a two-hour drama can cause us to laugh, cry and feel the pain and existence of others. We recommend this as a tool to help you begin your cathartic process.

Before turning on the television, here are 5 steps to ensure your movie watching helps your healing process:

1. Take some alone time. Bawling your eyes out in front of family or friends isn’t always fun. Pick a time when you can indulge yourself. You are giving yourself a great gift, the privilege of feeling what you feel without intrusion.

2. Don’t worry about the quality of the movie you pick. You’re not going for an artistic experience, rather an emotional one. However, if you share DNA with Roger Ebert, by all means aim for high art in your catharsis.

3. Let yourself go. In order to “get into the movie” we have to suspend our disbelief in it. Don’t hunt for plot flaws or cinematic effects. Hopefully, you’ve selected a film that allows you to enter into the drama.

4. Let the particular emotion flow. It is a privilege to feel what we feel. It doesn’t mean you will be controlled by your feelings or that you will act on it. Just allow the feeling to be. If you have fully felt the particular feeling, you will feel “drained” of it. This drained feeling is the state you are trying to achieve. It’s the absence of the pent-up emotion you had been harboring. It is a peaceful state.

5. As time passes, repeat this process as needed. Often feelings change over time and you may need to explore certain emotions repeatedly to really expel the negativity.

Below is a starter list of movies that can help you achieve catharsis. A few notes about our choices: you’ll notice that some romantic comedies are included in the sadness category. That’s because watching a happy outcome for others can cause us to feel particularly sad - for while we may rejoice in the happiness of others, it can also raise feelings of being left out, or gypped of our share of happiness. It’s also perfectly normal to feel sadness at the happy ending when we are feeling deprived of joy. Finally, under fear, we are not going for horror, rather psychological fear and dread.

Sadness: A.I (Artificial Intelligence), Bambi, Babette’s Feast, City of Angels, Fried Green Tomatoes, The Joy Luck Club, Million Dollar Baby, Old Yeller, Pay It Forward, Stealing Heaven, Steele Magnolias, Under the Tuscan Sun, You’ve Got Mail.

Anger: Alien, Aliens, Alien 3, Kill Bill 1& 2, Blade Runner, Extremities, Remains of the Day, Road Warrior, Terminator, Thelma and Louise.

Fear: Dracula, The Exorcist, Frankenstein, Jaws, Poltergeist, Memento, Psycho, Ring, Seven, The Others, Silence of the Lambs, The Sixth Sense.

Sorrow: Black Beauty, Captains Courageous, Carousel, Edward Scissorhands, The Hours, Peter Pan, Remember the Titans, The Turning Point, White Oleander, What Dreams May Come, Titanic

How you watch is more important than what you watch, so pick your own movies if this list doesn’t hold anything for you. Make a big batch of popcorn, set your hankies within reach, and enjoy your catharsis! When you’re ready to talk about your feelings, pick up the phone and call a coach; you’ve earned it!

Have any great movie picks that didn't make our list? Feel free to share!

Do you have questions about this article? Do you need help understanding how this information can change your life? Talk to one of our expertly trained coaches today and get the answers you are looking for. Call 1-888-627-7836 from the privacy of any phone, and our operators are available to connect you with a coach.