Inside Out is torn between two worlds: what happens to Riley in modern-day San Francisco and the metaphorical depictions of those events that take place inside her head.
"Torn" was probably too strong a word there, but it got your attention, didn't it?
The narrative in Inside Out switches back and forth between these inner and outer worlds pretty seamlessly, and these two perspectives inform one another. For example, it's Anger who masterminds Riley's plan to run away. He plants the idea in her head, literally, by plugging the light bulb into her control panel. When Riley needs money to snag a bus ticket, Anger decides Riley will steal the dough from her mom:
DISGUST: A ticket costs money. How do we get money?
ANGER: Mom's purse.
DISGUST: You wouldn't.
ANGER: Oh, but I would. Where was it we saw it last? …It's downstairs somewhere. Mom and Dad got us into this mess. They can pay to get us out.
Riley has nothing to do with this conversation, or with the way Anger rationalizes grand theft purse—at least not consciously or actively. The discussion takes place between the characters in her head, and after Anger decides that nicking Mom's credit card is the way to go, we then see Riley steal it out of Mom's purse while she's on the phone.
The action of the outside world plays off the events of the inside world like this (and vice versa) throughout the entire film, working in tandem to create the film's overall story. It's an interwoven narrative that's heavy on metaphor, and, for Riley's sake, mercifully light on broccoli.
What's amazing about it is that all this back and forth, inside and outside, doesn't feel chopped-up or confusing at all. After we get the concept of what's happening, the story zips right along.