By Damián Goldvarg

Last week, two colleagues quoted the new television show from Brené Brown: Atlas of the Heart, which can be seen on HBO Max.  She is a writer and researcher that I respect very much at the University of Houston. I especially value her contributions on vulnerability, courage, shame, and empathy. I decided to watch the program and buy the book that inspired the series.

It was very pleasantly surprised on how this book from Brené Brown is consistent with what I learned in my Training of Ontological Coaching from my teachers Fernando Flores and Julio Olalla, and also with the contents of Emotional Intelligence from Goleman and Bradberry, that I have been teaching to my coaching students for more than ten years.

The author argues that to establish and cultivate a deep connection with oneself and with others, we need to start by getting to know ourselves, and through language, identifying our experiences and our emotions.  To help meet this goal, 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 identifying present emotions as a primordial tool for the development of Emotional Intelligence has been discussed for many years, 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 portal that produces signified, connections, cures, and offer learning opportunities. 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.”  I think this new  way to understand the word allows us to better interpret what Brené Brown explains  when she writes: “Envy happens when we want something that someone else has jealousy occurs when we are afraid of losing a relationship or a valued part of a relationship we have.”

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