Isabella: 'She's perfect' (Encanto series)
Mental Health and Wellbeing in 'Encanto'
It might not seem so at first sight, but the Disney movie ‘Encanto’ can become a very useful tool when it comes to Mental Health and Wellbeing Training.
The main characters all have some specificities that make them relevant as examples of Mental Health Challenges we might be facing at some point or another in our lives – Remember, Mental Health is a spectrum, we all go back and forth between Mental Health issues or challenges and overall mental health and wellbeing, overtime.
In this 'Encanto' series, we use the Mental Health spectrum to assess the Mental Health and Wellbeing characteristics of some of the characters in Encanto: Mirabel, Luisa and Isabella. And before I start, yes, I did cry watching Encanto, and definitely identify with some of the character traits!
Isabella: 'She's perfect'
Aaah, Isabella, the perfect sister who has the gift of creating beauty and perfection in every way. She seems to be the one who has it all, the one whose life is perfect and that nothing can alter. And yet…
1. Perfection does not exist
Isabella can be seen as a good example of the perfect ‘influencer’ on social media: beautiful, always, living in beauty, always, creating beautiful things, always, with a perfect life and a soon-to-be fiancé, always. Yet she is unhappy. Because no, perfection does not exist.
“I make perfect, practiced poses So much hides behind my smile” (‘What Else Can I Do?’, Diane Guerrero, Stephanie Beatriz)
There is no such thing as perfect. Yet we all strive for perfection. What if we started striving for Wellbeing instead?
Let’s forget about having it all and doing it all, let’s focus on being well, just that. As a personality trait, Perfectionism can be as helpful as harmful too: a great attention to details and striving for the best is helpful, yet it can also prevent us from doing things we would have done otherwise, simply because we see them as ‘imperfect’ or ‘not good enough’. I remember a very helpful piece of advice I was given when I started designing Mind It Ltd: ‘Good enough is enough’. Launch before you think everything is perfect, fail small, fail often, perfection is a big, big, lie!
2. The big lie of social media
Mirabel thinks her sister does everything perfect, she walks in and everything is beautiful and this is one of the reasons why the sisters don’t get along anymore. And all is said here: ‘Mirabel thinks’. We don’t know what hides behind the screen, we don’t know what is going on in people’s lives, however perfect they look on social media.
“I'm so sick of pretty
I want something true, don't you?” (‘What Else Can I Do?’, Diane Guerrero, Stephanie Beatriz)
Same as perfectionism, social media can be as helpful as harmful. When you notice that scrolling down your social media feed gives you negative thoughts and makes you feel rubbish, maybe it’s time to slow down the social media use, and even delete the apps from your phone, once in a while. It really works!
When I feel overwhelmed, I just stop using social media for a few days, or even weeks: I have more time to do other things (like read novels), I feel less distracted and more focused, and most importantly, I feel more myself. Why don’t you give it a try? I must admit it is difficult, remember that these social media platforms have been designed to be addictive! If it feels too difficult for you too to put digital boundaries in place, we have a session on Digital Wellbeing that might help.
3. Dealing with Expectations from others
Isabella is about to get engaged with a man she doesn’t love, to meet everybody else’s expectations, particularly her grandmother’s ones, Abuela. This seems to be a common trait within the family Madrigal: meeting Abuela’s expectations to keep the miracle burning.
“We swear to always
Help those around us
And earn the miracle
That somehow found us
The town keeps growing
The world keeps turning
But work and dedication will keep the miracle burning
And each new generation must keep the miracle burning”
('The Family Madrigal', Stephanie Beatriz)
In a similar fashion to her sister Luisa, Isabella is struggling with her identity outside of her gift, her work. Isabella is out of sync with her own needs, feelings and desires, because she only sees herself through the expectations of others. Isn’t this a common trait in many of us too? Because we juggle so many different hats, because we care for others, we sometimes tend to forget about our own needs.
The only way to be in sync with our own feelings and desires is to spend time doing things for us, activities that make us smile and relax. What is the last thing that made you smile or relax? What is your latest happy moment? What brings you joy? Whatever crossed your mind here, hold on to it, this is one of your Wellbeing tools. And prioritise it! When can you make it happen next? By prioritising your own wellbeing, other people’s needs and expectations will come after. And no, this is not selfish.
Selfcare is not selfish, it is essential.
4. The practice of ‘letting go’
I often share about letting go when I lead workshops on burnout. ‘Letting go’ is the very last tip at the end of the workshop, yet the hardest one! It is hard to let go of things, particularly for the perfectionists of this world (Hi!), yet it is essential. Not everything is urgent and important. Our wellbeing is!
Letting go of the dishes, the mess on the floor, a few unanswered emails, and so many other things, is absolutely fine. And it can help with practicing being in the moment too: let’s play with our kids before they go to bed, and deal with the state of the living room later; let’s enjoy this warm cup of coffee in the sun, and answer emails later, let’s… (fill in the gaps)
“What can you do when you are deeply, madly, truly in the moment?
(Seize the moment, keep goin')” (‘What Else Can I Do?’, Diane Guerrero, Stephanie Beatriz)
I really hope you enjoyed reading this Encanto series as much as I enjoyed writing them. And who knows, maybe it's the start of something new? 'What else can I dooooo?'