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What we can learn from Encanto about mental health

As I isolated this week with my two little ones, I found the only thing that kept their

attention (time after time) was Disney’s Encanto and never have I felt so grateful for a distraction! It gave us a mindless escape when we felt too tired to play, but as time past (and symptoms eased), we have found an endless joy, a connection through song and dance, and a love of the different characters.


So, I wanted to share my mindful learnings from some of the main characters:


Mirabel

We meet Mirabel at the very beginning of the film, under society questioning “what’s your gift?”; the idea that we all need to be special and understand our role. What I love about Mirabel is that she is a healer. She may not know this until the end of the film, but after you’ve watched it 100 times (as most parents have!) we can start to see how integral she is to the family in each and every moment. She brings the family together, solves their problems, cares for them and without that, the family will tear apart. What a great message to teach our children, that we all have our place in life and sometimes our ‘gift’ can be as simple as spreading joy and being a healer that this world needs right now.


Luisa

“I’m the strong one”. On the surface Luisa seems super strong and takes what is handed to her, keeps going throughout growing pressures, pretending everything is fine. How

many of us parents can relate to Luisa??? But deep down we sometimes lose who we are under the service to our family. If we don’t practice self-care and allow ourselves our own simple pleasures, then the cracks can start to show. Practicing self-care in front of our children isn't a bad thing, it teaches them how important it is to take care of ourselves. Luisa is the ‘doing’ in all of us and represents the idea that we have to keep busy, but unless we allow ourselves time to BE through meditation, mindful activity, and relaxation, we can crumble.


Isabela

Oh, my favourite song, “what else can I do?”… it reminds me of my work. When I first started, I so wanted to make my classes perfect, but the more I follow my intuition and allow my creativity to flow freely, magic starts to happen, and the results are even more amazing. We cannot work with children in the land of perfect because they see straight through us. Have you noticed that? It’s when we are raw, messy, imperfect, and playful that the connection shines. I love the questions in the song; “What can you do when you are deeply madly truly in the moment?” and “What can you do when you know who you

want to be isn’t perfect, but I’ll still be OK?” If we let go control of our lives and see what happens, that’s when we allow space for something unexpected and beautiful.


Bruno

“We don’t talk about Bruno” – the family secret. When I first heard the song, I instantly felt it was talking about mental health. When I realised that I had a mental health problem as a late teen, I did all I could to pretend to be like my friends, ‘normal’, but I knew I was different and the pressure to not speak of my issues was staggering. As a family, we also didn’t know how to speak about it and people didn’t know how to help me. So, I often felt like hiding behind the walls and that my family would be better without me. Bruno's character represents why I have set out to do what I do, giving children and young people a place to be seen and heard.


Alma


And Alma strives for perfection because she is scared that if her family doesn’t appear perfect to the outside world then everything will crumble, but ironically, it’s only when everything crumbled around her, that she realised what truly mattered all along. When we post to Instagram or Facebook with our children in matching outfits or their achievements or that perfect Insta moment… who are we posting for? When we compare our holidays, weekends, homes and lives, what is it that we wish for… the special moments are in the imperfections, the creative playtimes with a toilet roll, the messy imperfect moments of life. That’s what we need to hold on to. And we need to teach our little ones, by example, that we can mess up and it’s OK.


Who is your favourite character in the film and what is it about them that you can relate to? Share this blog post with others with this same question and see what you learn!


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