Emotional Mastery In Chronic Illness… Lessons From Disney’s Frozen

Emotional Mastery In Chronic Illness… Lessons From Disney’s Frozen

What if the thing you really want is hiding right where you are afraid to look?


This week my daughter turns 12.  I am not quite ready to accept that she is ALMOST a teenager – my sweet little girl is turning into a bright and sassy young lady.

For a birthday treat we took her and a friend into London to see the West end production of Disney’s Frozen.

My kids grew up with this movie, the songs embedded in me like a familiar, comforting tune playing in the background – and rather than the movie more recently the Just Dance version has become a firm favourite.  It takes me right back to her prancing around the front room all dressed up and singing at the top of her voice in her princess outfits : innocent, carefree.

We’ve all seen the film we all know the plot but have you ever thought about it… really.

I’m going to give you my take on what Disney’s Frozen taught me about mastering emotions and coping with life’s challenges.  You may be surprised to discover that that the key to unlocking the thing that you deeply desire may actually lie in that last place you want to look.




Conceal, don’t feel


It begins when Elsa accidently hits Anna with her winter powers, Anna’s memory is wiped of the incident and from this moment Elsa hides herself and her powers from her sister.  Early on Elsa’s is given a pair of gloves, as she puts them on her father tells them they will help.  There is a pivotal line at the beginning of the performance that forms the backbone of the show from here on in.


Father: “conceal it.”

Elsa: “Don’t feel it.”

Both: “Don’t let it show.”


How often do we follow this advice in our own lives?

Feeling sad? Conceal, don’t feel.

In pain? Conceal, don’t feel.

Feeling fatigue? Conceal, don’t feel.

Stressed out and overwhelmed? Conceal, don’t feel.

Struggling to get your head around a diagnosis? Conceal, don’t feel.


Whenever we experience what society would deem to be ‘negative’ emotions we are conditioned to pop them in a box and get on with things, to put on a brave face, to not show our perceived weaknesses to the outside world.

“Conceal, don’t feel, put on a show, make one wrong move and everyone will know.”

We have been taught to think of emotions as good or bad.  But feelings are just feelings and all emotions are part of being human. Negative emotions aren’t harder to feel, it’s resisting them that’s hard.  We develop habits NOT to feel what we perceive to be the bad or negative emotions creating resistance, ironically taking the energy from these emotions with us until a situation triggers it again and it keeps piling up inside.




Elsa was tormented by fear, scared to hurt her sister and of not being able to control her powers, the fear had gripped and controlled every part of her life and had built up like a tornado inside her over the years of pushing it away.

Anna knew this was driven by fear but she just didn’t know why.

“Why do you shut me out? Why do you shut the world out? What are you so afraid of?”

Fear wasn’t working for Elsa, but she did not know another way to be.  Like most of us we are just doing the best we can with the resources that we have at the time.  When we know better…. we do better.




Coronation Day proves too much for Elsa after showing her powers she flees to the mountains. 

She is hurting right now.

What do we do when we are hurting? We hide away, we shut ourselves off, we avoid, we feel sorry for ourselves, we feel angry we wallow in self pity for a bit.  Sometimes we come out of it, sometimes we don’t.

But, it all comes back to the underlying fear that she feels.  She is afraid of what people may think of her, that they will reject her and of what she may do.  It is easier for her to hide away than to face up to what she is scared of.


Here in the mountains is where we have the famous song “Let it go” I’m sure most of you know the words by heart. 

It may seem that on one level Elsa has finally embraced and accepted who she is.  But while running away has made her fears and problems seem smaller the internal storm is still raging inside her.

Avoiding our feelings just postpones things, it’s what we do when we are not ready to face up to the hard stuff.


“Let it go , let it go, can’t hold it back anymore

Let it go, let it go, turn away and close the door

I don’t care what they’re going to say

Let the storm rage on

The cold never bothered me anyway”

“It’s funny how some distance, makes everything seem small

And the fears that once controlled me, can’t get to me at all”


Ultimately all that Elsa is doing is running away from her problems instead of dealing with them.

Anna comes to the ice castle in the mountains to find her sister, Elsa thought that she had solved everything on her own by running away and is shocked to know that Arendell has been thrown into an eternal winter but she just can’t bring herself to help, accidently striking Anna again but this time in the heart.  Elsa conjures up a snow monster to send everyone away from the palace before she can hurt anyone else.

Pushing everyone away because she does not know what to do.  

Eventually captured Elsa is told by Hans that Anna has died because of her.  She uses her powers to break free and makes her way to the frozen river, to Anna.

Elsa is overcome with grief and remorse and finds that in the midst of these emotions the blizzard actually stops.  In that moment Elsa realises that she can control her powers.


“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18


A real love for others will chase those worries away. The thought of being punished is what makes us afraid. It shows we have not really learned to love. Perfect love was the antidote to fear.

All emotions are part of being human, not good or bad and our emotional freedom lies in accepting, allowing and releasing our feelings not stuffing them down or drowning in them.

Once again Disney, in my opinion hit the mark with this one.


Lessons in my own life

When I was first diagnosed with Charcot Marie Tooth disease and subsequently Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome I fought so hard to be strong.  I was scared and my strength became my protection.

It felt like I was fighting every day.  I did not let my guard down because I was scared that if I did it would be a weakness and someone may see or I would not be able to cope.  I thought that fighting was the only way.  That I had to have control over everything that I possibly could as everything felt like it was out of my control.

On the outside it seemed like I had everything sorted : the perfect family, life, children, car. I did have all these things… my family especially are bloody amazing but these external things were not what I needed.

While to the outside world our life was perfect (and in many ways it was), underneath it all felt like I was struggling to stay afloat. Because ultimately fighting is tiring, hiding is lonely, being strong and pretending to have it together all the time is not real.  

I had built my Ice castle around me and it was beautiful and strong and I did not let any of those messy feelings out for fear the walls of my castle may crack and it may all come tumbling down.  


The strength that I so desperately was striving for was not found in the depths of the fight or inside the walls of my heavily fortified castle.  

The strength I needed could only be found when I was ready to trust and embrace peace, the very place that I was scared to go.

My strength today, is not found through putting my gloves on and getting into the ring every day ready for battle. It is found in the quiet knowing that I can handle anything that life throws at me. That I have it covered. Peace has opened the aperture to see the bigger picture and the possibilities available to me to face all of life’s setbacks.

Fighting only narrowed that lens.

It’s often the last place that we are willing to look, and the hardest one to go to, that holds the key to everything that we desire.


If you want to find true connection and love you will only find it once you’ve embraced you’re fear of loneliness.

If you want freedom you will find it once you have embrace feeling stuck.

If you want to feel worthiness, embrace the part of you that feels unworthy.

To experience authentic confidence you have to embrace self-doubt.

To feel secure you must know insecurity.

Just imagine that you have been hurt in a past relationship, you are so scared of getting hurt again so you are guarded when dating, never really opening up, just in case you get hurt again.  What you really desire is love but until you are willing to be vulnerable love will never really be open to you. You have to embrace your vulnerability to find what you ultimately desire, true love.


What if the thing you really want is hiding right where you are afraid to look?


So queen, my question to you, what are you willing to embrace in order to get what you desire? Are you brave enough to go there and set yourself free?

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