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Atlas of the Heart, Naming our Emotions

Atlas of the Heart, Naming our Emotions

By Damián Goldvarg

Last week, two colleagues raved about  Brené Brown’s new television show  Atlas of the Heart,  on HBO Max.  She is a writer and researcher at the University of Houston. I especially value her contributions on vulnerability, courage, shame, and empathy because they help us to validate our experiences and develop a new awareness of processes we give for granted I decided to watch the program and buy the book that inspired the series.

I was very pleasantly surprised by how Brené Brown’s new ideas are consistent with what I learned in my Training of Ontological Coaching from my teachers Fernando Flores and Julio Olalla, and also with the concepts of emotional intelligence from Goleman and Bradberry that I have been teaching to my coaching students for more than ten years.

Brené Brown argues that to establish and cultivate a deep connection with oneself and with others, we need to start by getting to know ourselves and using language to identify our experiences and our emotions.   Brené Brown focuses on the definitions of different emotions, which help to recognize them clearly so that they can be identified, named, and embraced instead of suffering from them.

She further explains that language not only describes but also creates our experience. Many studies in neuroscience agree that identifying and naming emotions is one of the first steps to managing them.

The strategy of noticing and identifying your own and other people’s emotions has been discussed for many years as a path to develop emotional intelligence, and in her book, “Atlas of the Heart“, Brené Brown shares her personal and professional experience acquired by researching social issues to illustrate and illuminate the power of language as a way to make meaningful distinctions, learn from them, and gain mastery over our internal experiences.  For example, she explains the difference between being stressed and overwhelmed. Stress is natural, it is part of our life, but when we are overwhelmed we can become confused, and even sometimes paralyzed and unable to take action.  Being overwhelmed may lead us to make bad decisions.

In her book, the author explains that all humans tend to compare themselves, and shows an interesting differentiation between envy and jealousy.   The root of the word envy comes from the Latin: invaders, which is composed of in (put on) and videre (look).”  Envy means, then, “looking at something.”  Brené Brown explains that envy happens when we want something that someone else has. Jealousy is different, occurs when we are afraid of losing a relationship.

I chose this month to discuss  “Atlas of the Heart” because I think is a great resource for personal development and a must-read for all coaches and supervisors.  If you read the book or watched the series, I would like to invite you to share your impressions with me.

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