Your 2019 Resoultion, Courtesy of ‘Us’: Untether Yourself From Your Bad Side

Lupita Nyong'o facing off against her evil self

2019 is literally here, and with a new year comes new resolutions. For a lot of us, resolutions are just a part of new year celebrations, and too often, they are as temporary as celebratory actions are. We start strong for the first week, start waning after the second or third, and completely forget by the fourth.

But this year, I’m planning on making my 2019 resolutions stick. Why? Because for once, I’m finally cutting my ties to negative energy.

It only occurred to me now that the trailer for Us is something we should all take a look at as an uplifting thing rather than just a good teaser for what looks like an awesome horror movie. We don’t know many details about the movie, but we do know one thing; The Tethered (the dopplegangers of Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex) are ready to cut their ties with their real world counterparts. The horror comes from the fact that The Tethered, the bad sides of these characters, want to break free and run amok. But the story is really not about The Tethered at all, but about how the good sides of these characters unthether themselves from the bad sides. The Tethered may have the golden scissors, but the good sides are the ones with the real power to untether for good.

Lupita Nyong'o's evil self, wearing a red jumpsuit and golden scissors
Universal Studios/Monkeypaw Productions

So how does this figure into our daily lives, much less 2019 resolutions? Well, one thing I’ve learned is that in order for any resolution to work, or for any change in attitude or psychology to work, you have to break away–or untether, if you will-from the bad energy that keeps you trapped. Whether you realize it or not, you might find it hard to break bad habits because you’ve unknowingly become comfortable with that bad energy. I know that’s something I’ve had to learn the absolutely hard way this year. For the longest, I’ve tried making new resolutions to myself throughout 2018 to do better at posting, reach for more, get out more, exercise more, etc. But each time, after tons of gusto, I would wind up telling myself, “Who am I kidding? I’m not going to succeed at this. I always fail.” With that kind of belief system, what else could I do but fail?

What I didn’t realize was that I was treating these bad ideas as facts, when they were really just lies I’d become comfortable with. I’d become comfortable believing that I didn’t have a voice people wanted to hear from, that I was ugly or unattractive, that I was mentally deficient, etc. I was comfortable being abusive towards myself, and that was a hard truth to swallow. But the truth will set you free, and that’s what happened to me. I became more aware of my patterns and how to untether myself away from many of those bad thoughts.

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To be more specific, I began to untether myself from the energies associated with those thoughts. While the lies were comfortable, the low energies associated with those lies were even more comfortable. I’d gotten used to feeling stale and spiritually dirty. I’d gotten used to holding onto events or memories that weighed me down. Instead of releasing those events from my energetic consciousness, I was actively giving those events and thoughts more power over me, even on an unconscious level. Once I got aware of what I was doing, I realized I needed to take my power back and focus that energy on things that uplifted me and fulfilled me. That’s when the real untethering began.

Lupita Nyong'o, bloodied, walks down stairs holding a fire poker.
Universal Studios/Monkeypaw Productions

To me, this is similar to the narrative I’m getting from the Us trailer. Again, the film’s not out yet, so who knows if this is correct. But my theory is that since the film is about how we are often our own worst enemies, The Tethered represent that parts of the characters that they deem are their “worst” attributes. The film feels like it could be an allegory for how we often give too much power to those lies we tell ourselves and the negative feelings we having about ourselves. Too often, all that power allows those lies to feel more real and more evident than they actually are. Even the idea of the rabbits ties into how we can allow bad thoughts to fester; by feeding into them, we can allow them to multiply until they overcrowd our minds.

Like how The Tethered have their scissors, we often think our “bad” sides have the ability to hurt us. But the real gag is that our thoughts, no matter how bad, don’t have any ability to hurt us at all; it’s the power we give to those thoughts that hurt us. It’s the power we apply to those thoughts that our brain accepts as permission to treat ourselves as the enemy. So, it really is us fighting ourselves when we don’t have to. But once you realize you are your worst enemy, then you can start the process of realigning yourself and breaking those bonds to bad energies and behaviors. You can start the process of appreciating yourself.

The scene featuring Evan Alex’s character and his doppleganger connecting was a particularly profound moment in this trailer. Even though the doppleganger is the “evil” side, you can tell there’s still a sense of humanity within. The same goes for our “bad” sides. These sides of ourselves are often created as maladaptive protection mechanisms. I’ve figured out that for me, that’s exactly how my “bad” side developed; its overbearing nature was because I felt I had to protect my myself and my emotions. But instead of realizing that later on, I fought against it. It’s only now that I realize that it’s best to develop some compassion for my brain, which was only trying to protect me. So, if a child can find some common ground with his “evil” self, then surely we as adults can find some compassion for ourselves as well.

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Evan Alex and his doppleganger sit in a flame-lit room. Evan wears a Chewbacca mask and his evil self wears a white mask. Both are holding a hand up to each other.
Universal Studios/Monkeypaw Productions

I’m writing this after a lot of months of hardcore stuff, none of which I’m planning on getting into right now, but I say this to impress upon you that none of what I’m saying is an easy thing to accomplish. It’s hard to untether yourself from bad, self-defeating thoughts and behaviors. To be clear: this is still an ongoing process for me. But once you become clear on why you have allowed those behaviors to persist, it’s easier to deal with them. With time, you’ll become more and more untethered to those bad habits.

This process of untethering is something I’m hoping we all go through in 2019. I know I’m hoping for more of my own untethering process to continue. If you’re a follower of the stars, astrologists and numerologists predict that for 2019, a lot more of the untethering to old habits and practices that happened in 2018 will continue to occur in the next year. However, instead of it being wildly divisive like it was this year, 2019 will be a year about coming together and building upon that untethering spirit. We will be able to find the joy in living out our various truths without much of the baggage that came with 2018. In short, it seems like a lot of the eye-opening, dizzying, disorienting experiences we had in 2018 was the roughest part of the untethering process. There’s still work to be done in 2019, but throughout the year, we will be able to feel happier in our bodies and minds as we fulfill ourselves and find what truly makes us happy.

So it’s on brand for 2019 for Us to make its mark in March. It’s a film that will be about the hell that happens when you try to release the things and attitudes that keep you weighed down in a “tethered” mindset. Initially, the releasing process is messy. But after the dust has settled, you can take stock and figure out who you actually are.

At the very least, this is the meaning I feel like we can take from the film. Granted, the film’s not out yet. But the message of untethering is something I feel we can all take in. Hopefully, 2019 will grant you tons of ways to untether from the energies that are weighing you down. I hope that in 2019, you can feel empowered to tap into your authentic self.