People

Angelina Jolie shares a lesson in emotional resilience

Posted by
Anna Brech
Published
Angelina Jolie

It’s not easy to own your pain; but that’s exactly what Angelina Jolie did in a series of frank remarks to reporters this weekend

When life throws us curveballs – be it a divorce, a job loss or a sudden bereavement – it can take a lot of time to recover and feel “normal” again. 

Yet, there’s often an instinct to pretend to ourselves or others that everything is OK. We bottle things up, play along; and then, inevitably feel frustrated when things aren’t magically fixed.

“We have a tendency to consistently try to make ourselves or others “feel better,’” writes Baltimore-based clinical therapist Hannah Rose in Psychology Today. But, “often, seeking out a solution to our pain will simply cause us to put off the inevitable process of feeling our feelings.

“All of the articles I have written have the same underlying truths behind them,” she adds. “We must show up for all of our emotional experiences, no matter how painful they are, or they are destined to continue manifesting in our lives in different ways.”

It’s a process that Angelina Jolie openly acknowledged, appearing at Disney’s D23 Expo in Anaheim, California this weekend.

“I’m like everybody and… especially these last few years haven’t been the easiest, and I haven’t felt very strong,” Jolie told reporters from E! News. “There’s something when you’re not feeling very strong, where you push yourself.”

Angelina Jolie speaking to reporters at Disney's D23 Expo

Jolie divorced from her husband Brad Pitt in 2016 after 12 years together, in what she previously described as a “very difficult time” for their family.

But the actor says the string of formidable roles she’s taken on recently – including Maleficent in the Mistress Of Evil sequel and Thena in Marvel’s Eternals film – have inspired her to rebuild her strength.

“I’m so grateful that I have the opportunity to play these kind of characters, that pull out every bit of strength I have and that remind me that I can be strong,” she says.

Jolie’s words are important; not only because she’s showing herself to be vulnerable (itself no mean feat) but also in her recognition that building up your emotional strength is not a straightforward process.

If you’ve had a setback in life, it takes time and patience to recover – you have to work at it, even at the exact point that you really don’t feel like doing so. 

“Sometimes you really feel low and you gotta pull it back up,” she says. “Right now, for Thena, I’m having to do so much training and she’s so positive, so healthy and she’s so aggressive that I’m often like, ‘This is not gonna work.’ But, you gotta push yourself.”

More importantly, the fact that Jolie owns the fact that she’s struggling – that she sees her strength as a work in progress – shows there’s no shame in doing the same. 

This from Rose again: “Actively processing and allowing ourselves to show up for our emotions is what heals all wounds. Is this comfortable? Absolutely not. Is it vital for emotional growth? Without a doubt.”

Images: Getty

Topics

Share this article

Author

Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.