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"Everything Everywhere All at Once"

Updated: Jul 1, 2022

I love movies, and I am not a movie expert.

Over the last 7 days I went to the cinema twice to watch the same movie: Everything Everywhere All at Once.

The first trip was a casual, last-minute one organised by my partner. I had not heard of the movie, I did not know the plot, I just knew that Michelle Yeoh is a big star.

As the final credits are scrolling before my eyes, I can’t fail but notice a recurring, loud thought resonating in my mind, “Genius! Genius! Genius!” over and over and over. It is at that precise moment that I decide to watch the movie again, as soon as possible.

A few days later, the second viewing delivered an equally powerful experience, but with greater insight and entertainment.

SPOILER ALERT – I am about to write about the movie and some of its details. If you intend to watch it, you may want to come back to this article after your cinema trip.


As I mentioned, I had no information about the movie. Few minutes into the screening I thought we were in for a typical Hong-Kong-style, martial arts movie, but was deeply surprised to instead discover a clever representation of depression.

My perspective is clearly biased. As a psychologist, I read life situations in layers that are often filtered through my trained mind, and frankly, it’s ok if my perspective on this wonderful movie is off, I would still love to share the salient messages I took from it.


Mum (Evelyn), dad (Waymond) and daughter (Joy) are laundromat owners living in America and immersed in the ever-so-common life struggles that come from parent-child or husband-wife relationships, running a business, dealing with taxes or the existential questions we all face.

Evelyn is disappointed with herself for not fulfilling her potential. Joy hates her mum for not loving or accepting her as she is. Waymond is disillusioned with his marriage and wants a divorce.

We soon learn that the movie is based on the idea of multiple universes and that there is a great evil, Jobu Tupaki, hell-bent on destroying life across the multiverse. She is the product of a fractured mind, pushed to the extremes by a demanding master who, with all good intentions, was aiming to achieve greatness through her student.


You’re so bad at everything.”

One of the funniest lines in the movie is spoken by Waymond when he is explaining to here-Evelyn why she is the chosen one, “No. Can’t you see? Every failure here branched off into a success for another Evelyn in another life. Most people only have a few significant alternate life paths so close to them. But you, here, you’re capable of anything because you’re so bad at everything.”

I could interpret this message in many ways, the one I choose for the purposes of this article, is that when we are at our lowest, it is also the time when we have the best opportunities to discover our powers.

Very, very often, when we feel we have run out of resources, we discover an unknown pool of power that was there, ready to be accessed when necessary. Anyone who has had to endure struggle beyond their chosen level of comfort will relate to this.

Endurance athletes for example, they often experience a moment during their performance when everything in their bodies and minds says, “No! Enough! Stop!”, but with training, they recognise they can push through and continue forward.

Depression is sneaky and it’s very skilled in making us believe we have run out of options or resources. DO NOT LISTEN TO IT!!!!!!!

You are more powerful than you could possibly imagine and if you cast your mind back through your life struggles, you will realise how many times you witnessed that already.

I'm Not Being Naive.”

In one of the universes, Evelyn is not married to Waymond. She chose to pursue her dreams for stardom and became a super-star.

In this universe she meets the glam-version of Waymond, himself a successful man, who pursued his dreams and fulfilled his talents. Consistent about Waymond, even in this universe, is his signature kindness.

Evelyn and Waymond reminisce and discuss the possibilities of an alternate reality. They discuss life’s difficulties and the need to make important decisions when it matters, often “fighting” the inner conflicts that these important decisions bring. It is here that glam-Waymond delivers one of the best lines in the movie, “When I choose to see the good side of things, I'm not being naive. It is strategic and necessary. It's how I learned to survive through everything.”

Strength and power come in many forms. I love how Waymond reminds us that fighting, competing and creating value can also be done through kindness. I subscribe to this philosophy and as much as possible I act with love and kindness.

There have been times in my life, especially since I set up my own business, when I interacted with people from an open, authentic and kind version of me, and they confused my kindness for weakness.

This has never worried me, however.

All of us…and I mean it… ALL OF US have the ability to be dangerous and destructive, but most of us do not embrace it.

I was lucky enough to spend a couple of years in the Parachute Regiment of the Italian Army, training in combat and leading a platoon of thirty men – and myself – to embrace their dangerous and destructive selves and channel them for the purposes of soldiering. This allowed me to acquaint myself with my power and keep it available for me to access when necessary, learning to modulate the power up and down as needed by the situation, without having to abandon my choice for kindness.

When people mistake my kindness for weakness, all I need to do is hiss. I need not to allow my emotions to take over, I help them see that they mistake me for a different kind of person by unsheathing my sword a few centimetres, before safely putting back without needing to wield it.

Like in Kung Fu Panda, when he discovers that his super power lies in his oversized belly, we all have power, and it is ok to integrate it into a healthy balanced adult who calls upon its various forms as and when necessary.

"I Wasn't Looking For You So I Could Kill You.”

After many dangerous encounters, Evelyn is yet again facing off to her daughter Joy / Jobu Tupaki, and fearing for her life asks, “Why don’t you want to fight me?”, to which Jobu replies, “I wasn't looking for you so I could kill you. I was just looking for someone who could see what I see, feel what I feel.”

In her desperate attempts to stay alive, Jobu visited as many universes to find a version of her mother who could recognise her immense pain and need for acceptance.

People who feel deeply depressed and fantasise about suicide are very seldom interested in dying. It is my experience that what they are mostly interested in is in fact the alleviation of the seemingly endless pain they experience, often alone.

It is at this point, I find, when a suicidal person experiences a friend, a lover, a therapist or someone who witnesses them in their pain and says, “it’s ok, I am here with you, everything can be ok, you can be ok”, that we witness the resurgence of hope.

Depression or no depression, we all suffer, and far too often we suffer in silence. Please speak up, there are so many people around you who are willing to listen…more than you often imagine.

"Please, Be Kind.”

Waymond is an intriguing character, who, throughout the movie, regularly shifts from his kind, amicable, submissive persona in the here-universe, to alpha-Waymond, the assertive, powerful, knowing force leading Evelyn – and the multiverse – to salvation.

At a crucial moment of the movie, when Evelyn is calling upon all her newly acquired skills to fight all sorts of nemeses, Waymond assertively speaks in his here-version addressing all on the scene, “The only thing I do know is that we have to be kind. Please, be kind. Especially when we don't know what's going on.”

Too often we fight our emotions instead of being curious about them. I find this to be true across ages, genders and cultures.

When I see clients who are experiencing strong, negative emotions – i.e., anxiety, fear, anger, regret, hate, shame… – I often hear them claim, “I just don’t want to feel like this any longer. I want these feelings to disappear, I just want them to stop.”

I could write a whole chapter just on this last sentence. For now, let me focus on the power of Waymond’s message.

Please be kind” is almost obvious. The clever part of his message, is the last part, “Especially when we don’t know what’s going on.”

Our emotions are like the icons on our cars’ dashboards, they are signals alerting us to pay attention (you can read one of my previous articles about this). Often, we see icons we do not recognise and our tendency is to ignore them and continue on. Instead of fighting or ignoring our feelings, we could instead be kind to them, welcome them into our awareness and be curious about what they are here to teach us. If we open our minds to hear these messages, who knows what magical things they could reveal!?

Let’s be kind to ourselves.

Let’s be kind to our loved ones.

Let’s be kind to others.

Let’s be kind to nature.

Let’s be kind!

The less it makes sense the better.”

Alpha-Waymond explains to Evelyn, “We discovered a way to temporarily link your consciousness to another version of yourself, accessing all of their emotions, even their skills. It’s called verse jumping. You can live up to your ultimate potential.”

To verse-jump the characters must do something unexpected and improbable, “The less it makes sense the better” says Waymond. And so, we see the characters acting in very silly ways (peeing their pants, dancing foolishly, giving themselves papercuts between the fingers…).

I love this message: do something silly in order to access your greater power.

As adults we have lost most of our ability to play, to be like children, open to explore consequences by testing ourselves and our boundaries in new and often silly ways.

We conduct ourselves so seriously and forget that when we act with a light heart and an open mind, we allow ourselves to receive the learning, whatever it happens to be at that moment.

Let’s be serious when necessary, but let’s also make space for playful silliness to continue learning and growing.

Of All The Places I Could Be, I Just Want To Be Here With You.”

We are nearing the end of the movie, Evelyn and Joy are in the carpark outside the laundromat and having the umpteenth confrontation. For the first time Evelyn is talking to Joy from a place of truth and authenticity, even if the things she is saying can be hurtful.

Failing to recognise the love and assertiveness in Evelyn’s voice, Joy is about to give up – as illustrated in a parallel scene where Jobu Tupaki is being sucked into The Bagel. After all they have been through together, Joy believes that her mum has not changed a bit. Desperate, she wants to go and end it all.

Just as we imagine Joy succumbing to the pressures of her pain, Evelyn declares with equal love and assertion, “Of all the places I could be, I just want to be here with you.”

Daily living with someone who suffers with depression can be taxing for all involved. It takes energy, strength and determination to witness the pains and tribulations that our loved ones experience. It takes resilience and self-compassion to hear for the umpteenth time the threats of suicide. It takes courage and compassion to recover from a suicide attempt.

When we suffer, we crave the reassurance that we are not alone. If you live with or are supporting someone who suffers, and you find the strength, courage and compassion to stay by their side, with care, love and respect, they will be nourished. Even when they continue to berate, blame or batter you, your love and presence can crack through the shield of their pain and make space for more hope.

It was to destroy myself.

The line that most suggests that the Bagel is linked to depression and suicide – at least in my head – is delivered by Jobu Tupaki, who explains to Evelyn, “Do you know why I actually built the bagel? It wasn’t to destroy everything. It was to destroy myself. I wanted to see if I went in, could I finally escape? Like actually die. At least this way I don’t have to do it alone.”

Let me close with this message.

If you or a loved one is suffering with depression and have fantasised about or even planned suicide, remember that most often the desire is to put an end to the pain, not to die.

Recognise that this may be a low point, make space for love and hope, do something silly, act out of kindness, for yourself and the world around you, continue to learn, grow and heal, and seek/provide the support from/to those around you and witness yourself creating more joyful and satisfying life.

Thank you for reading. You can also find it on LinkedIn to share more easily.

I base all my articles on real case studies and research findings that are relevant to my work and my clients.

Feel free to reach out to me with any questions or if you would like to explore something together.


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