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Atlas of the Heart - Mapping meaningful Connection - Brene Brown 3 Key Takeaways

Brene Brown with her latest extensively researched book on human emotions has created a gem that should be taught in schools. Her book Atlas of the Heart, is a guide to the varieties of emotions we experience as a Human and how its understanding can help us better connect to ourselves and others. Trying to outrun feelings & vulnerability is choosing a life defined by suffering & exhaustion.

According to her team's research across 7000 participants, there were 3 primary emotions experienced by them:




Brene argues that actually there are nearly 87 emotions that we experience as a human but none of us are equipped with the right vocabulary to express which hinders our ability to form healthy connections.

Brené believes that having those insights into your emotional states allows you to feel connected to yourself, instead of feeling numb and disembodied. And that connection with the self creates the foundation for genuine, loving connections with other people.

For all the detailed definition of the various emotions, reading the book is a must but I will list here my favorite definition of Love described in the book-

Love - the preoccupying and strong desire for further connection, the powerful bonds people hold for select few and the intimacy that grows between them, the commitment to loyalty and faithfulness.

We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful self deeply seen and known & we honor the spiritual connection that grows from it with trust ,

Respect, kindness and affection.

Love is not something we give or get, it's something we nurture and grow, a connection that can grow between two people only when it exists within each one of them. We can love each other only to the extent we love ourselves. Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, withholding of affection, damage the roots from which love  grows, love can survive these injuries only if they are acknowledged, healed and reared.

Here are my 3 key takeaways from the book-

  1.  We need to start feeling

Most of us don’t fully feel. We numb, we avoid, we deflect, and we do anything to not feel painful or uncomfortable feelings, in an attempt to remain in control.

When we start feeling our feelings, we discover we need to do a lot of work to reevaluate ourselves, to reset boundaries, choose ourselves over the comfort of others.

We can’t outrun our feelings, and we need to be, to hold people accountable for their hurtful behaviors. If we don’t understand the link between thoughts and behavior, we become more and more disconnected from each other. There is a lot of disconnection in the world at the moment because we’ve lost the ability to see things from a different point of view, to extend empathy, to connect, and to have the courage to have some uncomfortable conversations.

But to do any of this successfully, we need language. Most people unfortunately can only recognize three big emotions; something looking like mad, sad, and glad. As a result, we’re only really accessing a tiny slice of what it means to be human. The more emotions that we can define, access, and recognise in ourselves and others, the wider and better the conversations we can have.

  1. The categories of emotions

The book is structured into 13 groups of emotions;

  1. The places we go when things are uncertain

  2. The places we go when we compare

  3. The places we go when things don’t go as planned

  4. The places we go when it’s beyond us

  5. The places we go when things aren’t what they seem

  6. The places we go when we’re hurting

  7. The places we go with others

  8. The places we go when we fall short

  9. The places we go when we search for connection

  10. The places we go when the heart is open