10 Life Lessons Disney Taught Us About Letting Go
Disney movies taught us more than just how to fall in love with a prince and that fish are friends, not food. If you take a closer look at Disney movies, you’ll find essential themes of love, compassion and letting go of the past.
1. Releasing Judgment
Belle falling in love with the Beast is enough to show you impressions aren’t everything. In fact, judgment based on physical appearances is a theme throughout the whole film. After he turns away an enchantress disguised as an old hag, the prince and all the inhabitants of his castle become cursed. The Beast only turns back into his handsome self when Belle falls in love with him, letting go of her initial judgment.
2. Shedding Our Egos
In Toy Story, Woody must put his ego aside and understand both he and Buzz can have a place in Andy’s heart. It takes Woody pushing Buzz out of a window and a triumphant return home to drive the point home. Toy Story teaches us there’s always room for someone else at the table, and letting go of our egos helps us love and accept people.
3. Relinquishing the Past
Many people need to learn to put their past behind them and stop feeling guilty about previous mistakes. Simba learned this lesson the hard way in The Lion King.
After Scar tells Simba his father’s death was Simba’s fault, he exiles himself and lets Scar rule. Simba only takes his rightful place as king after he comes to grips with his guilt.
4. Forgetting Negativity
There’s nothing scarier than coming face to face with Maleficent, Sleeping Beauty’s nemesis. But Maleficent teaches us we need to let go of our negativity before we become an evil version of ourselves. When we release our negativity, we can surround ourselves with people who make us more positive until we start to become the person we want to be.
5. Dealing With Grief
Nemo runs — or swims — away because of his overprotective father. It’s all because Marlin hasn’t gotten over the death of his wife, who got eaten by a shark while trying to protect her unborn children. If Marlin had healthily worked through his grief, he might have had a better relationship with Nemo from the beginning.
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6. Ending Fear
This newer Disney movie begins with Rapunzel locked in a tower and dreaming of the world beyond. Fear kept her from leaving the tower her whole life. It’s not until she lets go of that fear that she runs away. It’s a valuable lesson about not saying “if only” and going after what you want today.
7. Removing the Need for Control
This movie is a good lesson for parents — you can’t control your kids forever. King Triton tried to manage everything about Ariel’s life, and it nearly cost him their relationship. Although he had her best intentions at heart, he couldn’t let go and allow her to learn lessons from her mistakes. It’s a powerful teaching moment about relinquishing the need to control and letting people live.
8. Stopping the Need to Please
Oh, Snow White. Because she tried so hard to please everyone, she took a bite of a poisoned apple to avoid hurting the evil queen’s feelings. If you learn anything from Snow White, try to keep in mind you don’t need to please everyone. Some people will be evil from the start, and you need to let go of the need to make them feel good.
9. Saying Goodbye to People Who Aren’t Good for You
The Hunchback of Notre Dame may seem like one weird movie, but it has a valuable lesson in the end. Quasimodo is trapped in the cathedral, with Frollo as the only human he interacts with. However, Quasimodo discovers Esmeralda and a whole host of genuine friends when he gets up the courage to leave. It’s great to learn you can shed the people who aren’t good for you and end up better off.
10. Just Letting Go in General
It’s impossible to not include Frozen in this list. Elsa taught us the importance of just letting go in general with a song you’ll be humming in the shower for the rest of your life. Long live the queen.
Watch Your Favorites!
The next time you need some inspiration to let go of what’s bothering you, watch your favorite Disney movie. You’ll get a helpful reminder that it’s much less burdensome to let go of things such as guilt, negativity and the need to please.
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Also published on Medium.