Surface Pressure & Other Encanto Life Lessons

I’m obsessed with Encanto; there, I said it. I’m obsessed with the movie Encanto and I want you to be too! If the soundtrack was on wax, I’d probably have run it down by now- that’s how bad it is over here LOL!! In my constant watching and analyzing, I’ve taken a couple of wonderful life lessons from the “Family Madrigal”, lessons I share with you below. Keep reading then tell me what lessons you took from the movie or if it’s next up on your watchlist!

Warning: This post contains movie spoilers. Don’t proceed if you hate spoilers!

Disney’s Encanto is now available on Disney+

Encanto’s opening scene shows Mirabel, the main character, and Abuela-one of the movie’s main antagonists- sharing a very intimate moment. As the movie proceeds, those shared moments get few and far between and you see the dynamic between the two change drastically. Mirabel is the only Madrigal that doesn’t possess a tangible gift and Abuela makes it obvious- and damming. Eventually, Mirabel’s gift is revealed and we see that her gift is the gift of chain breaking. By the end of Encanto, the message is made clear: You have the power to break curses. Birth order, magical gifts, and familial opinions be damned; YOU have the power to BREAK GENERATIONAL CURSES!

Mirabel’s older sister, Luisa, is the “strong one”. Her gift is strength; unsurprisingly she carries all of the family burdens. Luisa is the movie’s constant reminder to check on your strong friends, to give them a space to drop those burdens they’re expected to carry. As the movie progresses and we get to explore Luisa’s character I realized that strong doesn’t have to be my middle name, that it’s okay to lay my burdens at the feet of a trusted person, and that my worth is not tied to my acts of service. Lessons I needed and have since internalized. Thank you Luisa!

One of my favorite messages the movie emphasizes is: Perfectionism is the thief of joy. Isabela, Mirabel’s eldest sister, is described as “effortlessly perfect who’s never even had a bad hair day”. She is never allowed to misstep or make a mistake and her only gift to the town is her ability to create beautiful flowers. The girl is a friggin florist that has Abuela wrapped around her finger; the perfect depiction of the eldest daughter, actually. Once Mirabel frees her sister from the idea of perfectionism and the burden of the matriarch’s opinion, we really get to see Isabela blossom. You can never be truly happy if you’re focused on being “perfect”- I had to sit with that and then free myself as well.

Some gifts require a little soul searching. That’s it, that’s the message we got from Mirabel’s storyline. My mom often jokes that Mirabel’s gift is “empathy” and I semi-jokingly reply, “That ain’t no gift! Nobody wants to be empathetic!” But… it is a gift. Empathy is a gift and it is a necessary one; one that not everybody posesses. In the beginning of the movie one of the neighborhood kids jokes that Mirabel’s gift “might be denial” and..well… was it really a joke? How many of us run from the Mirabel Madgrial inside of us- the empathetic, trustworthy, “make magic without a gift” selves? I know I do, frequently. Or, I used to, I don’t think I want to anymore so I probably won’t. I think 2022 will be my year of sitting with myself and digging deep to find my “gift” even if it is revealed that my gift is empathy LOL.

Throughout the movie, Abuela is painted as the villian and this terrible, toxic matriarch but she’s really not. From an adult, and mom, lense she’s just an old lady with some baggage and some trauma; one who was never given the freedom or space to lay her worries down. Once Mirabel “snaps” on her we get to see a change in Abuela- a necessary change, that same freedom Luisa was given- and the lesson becomes: No one is ever really stuck in their ways. It’s a lesson that can be applied across many situations and relationships but especially to those family dynamics where you’re shaking things up. Positive Discipline and Conscious Parenting are such bold and “new” journeys that really push the status quo and force our own Abuelas to have to sit and reckon with some of their own shit; to admit that they did the best they could AND that they might’ve traumatized us in the process. I think that was one of the most important themes of the movie: push the boundaries, stand on what you say and believe, and be the change you want to see. When you walk in your true self it’s easier to convert and free others to be themselves, too. That’s a lesson I like to tell my workshop participants, and myself.

I hope you can take some of these lessons and apply them to your own life and personal growth, especially during these trying times. If you haven’t already, go give Encanto a watch and let the magic of the Madrigals transform you too. See you over on Instagram!

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