Luisa is strong, really strong. Moving-mountains-and-churches strong. As a descendant of the Madrigal family, she received her superpower as a unique magical gift to serve her family and community. But the magic, and therefore, the special skills the family members hold seem to weaken. That doesn’t go unnoticed. Luisa is the first to show some physiological stress reactions while her strength slowly fades.

And with that, we find ourselves in the heart of Disney’s animated musical movie ‘Encanto’. You might know its composer Lin-Manual Miranda who also created the music for ‘Hamilton’, the musical and film, and contributed to ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’. Although it has got millions of streams already (on YouTube, 350 Mio views and counting!), one Encanto song still gets too little attention, in my opinion: Luisa’s reggaetón feature.

It’s truly a powerful song whose message deeply resonated with me the very first time I heard it. In my personal interpretation, it encapsulates a phenomenon I frequently observe in my work as a coach. Before we continue, please watch and listen to Luisa's song ‘Surface Pressure’ here:

Luisa is a person of action no matter how hard the work is. She does what she has to do and lives up to the expectations put on her loyally and dutifully. But in her song, she expresses what’s under the surface. How losing her strength goes hand in hand with losing her faith in her purpose and role in the family and community. It leads to the heart-breaking line: I'm pretty sure I'm worthless if I can't be of service.

How does that resonate with you?

What’s your self-worth connected to? You might find meaning in your perceived calling or purpose. Maybe you have mental, emotional, or behavioral resources and strengths your family, workplace, or community seem to rely on. Often, we connect our worth to a specific part of our identity or our professional role. It’s so close to our hearts that we identify with it.

What is it for you?

Imagine what once gave you self-worth weakening or disappearing. It might happen due to health reasons or other dramatic changes in your personal life. Or you might realize it doesn’t feel right anymore because it’s not in tune with who you really are. Or simply because – of course – the magic your family was blessed with diminishes.

What if you stopped doing what you thought you were supposed to be doing? How would it affect you, your purpose, and your self-worth?

Maybe you discover some stress reactions. You might experience an upset stomach, headaches or back pain, non-regular sleeping and eating patterns, or a low energy level.

Drip, drip, drip.

This might go along with feelings of sadness, anger, or anxiety. You might feel more worried, moody, and irritable, or have an overall feeling of being misunderstood.

Tip, tip, tip.

You might feel mentally exhausted and unconcentrated, lose attention and objectivity more quickly, or experience destructive thought spirals.

Grip, grip, grip.

But we do what we’re supposed to do. Because we can, it’s who we are, and our self-worth depends on it. We hold up to our commitments, keep smiling, be strong, make decisions. We seem to have everything under control, we work, function, and take responsibility.

But under the surface, like Luisa, we ask ourselves: Who am I if I can’t carry it all?


when do we break? It’s worth taking your notebook and reflecting. Ask yourself:

Who am I – under the surface?

What’s the pressure weighing on me? How’s my self-worth connected? Write down your inner fights, doubts, and fears. In writing them down, you make them visible and tangible, even if it's for your eyes only at this point.

Once you’ve discovered the discrepancies in what the world expects you to do (plus what you yourself might expect you to do), and your true inner thoughts, feelings, and physiological reactions to it ask yourself the same Luisa asked herself:

If I could shake the crushing weight
Of expectations, would that free some room up for joy?
Or relaxation, or simple pleasure?

Christine Paulus Online Coaching Encanto Walt Disney Luisa Surface Pressure

How would that make you feel? What would you experience? You might not find yourself flying atop a sparkling unicorn through the soft, pink cotton candy clouds while confetti rains down on you (or maybe you do!), but still…

The key to opening up this room is acknowledging what’s going on. In your coaching, you explore all external roles and expectations you experience. You also challenge your core beliefs and the expectations you might have for yourself. As your coach, I encourage you to become self-conscious and self-aware about who you are and want to be. Part of it is to embrace your core and worth fully.

Experiencing self-worth has many faces. My clients describe it as feeling valuable again, loving themselves, or reconnecting with their inner self. You might experience it as setting healthy boundaries and letting go of this urge to carry it all, act perfectly well all day, every day, or fulfil specific roles just for the sake of it.

If you’d like to explore what it could mean for you, schedule your free pre-coaching call with me, and we explore this together.

Your room for joy, relaxation, and pleasure comes with you feeling worthy not because of doing but because of being.

For my taste, the movie 'Encanto' stays pretty much on the surface (ironically) – but the song hit right home for me to capture today’s external and internal pressure and its influence on our self-worth.

If you can’t get enough of strong performances, I invite you to join the basement of Studio 54 in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, to experience Jessica Darrow live performing Luisa’s song:

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Christine Paulus Online Personal Business Coach Berlin

Christine Paulus


My name is Christine Paulus. I'm a psychologist and certified Integral Coach and Business Coach. As a longtime musician, I love to bring my improvisational approach to my work as an Online Coach!