Brené Brown thinks you should talk about these 87 feelings

Why are people so quick to say they are jealous of someone, but not admit to being jealous? What is the difference between shame and guilt? Is the feeling of despair the same as feeling hopeless? These are the questions Brené Brown, sociology professor turned best-selling author and leadership consultant, tries to answer in her new book, Atlas of the Heart: Mapping meaningful connections and the language of human experience, out November 30.

While these may seem trivial to some people to categorize questions, Brown believes the ability to correctly name sensations is an important skill, especially on division days. “If we want to find our way back to ourselves and to each other, we need the language, and the grounded confidence to both tell our stories and curate the stories we share,” she writes. I can hear it.”
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In surveys conducted by 7,000 people over five years, Brown and her team found that on average people can only identify three emotions when they are actually feeling them: happiness, sad and angry. For Brown, who has made her name by illuminating the finer lines of the human sentimental landscape, it’s not nearly enough. So in atlas of the heart, She mapped 87 different emotions, showing the salient features of each emotion.

For example, the difference between guilt and shame, as Brown fans know from her extravagant popular Ted talks, her five past #1 bestsellers, and her Netflix lecture series, it’s guilt telling people they’ve done something bad while the bad tigers tell people that they are something bad. The difference between envy and jealousy is that jealousy comes to fruition when one person wants what another person has — looks, status, and wealth are the big trio — whereas envy is the feeling that one relationship is at stake. Hopelessness is the fleeting fear that a task is too difficult, and despair is the feeling that life is too difficult. And such.

As a potential mapper of human experience, Brown is a good candidate. She is Dr. Fauci of emotions; she can take complex subjects that require years of study and explain them in a way that is easy to understand and reassure. But unlike America’s most famous public health official, Brown has the freedom to be more of a sharer. In Atlas of the heart, she regularly reviews her personal biography, using her own life as a source of explanation. Brown mentions that she comes from a dysfunctional but high-performing family, and that she is a recovered alcoholic, a dedicated swimmer, a former waitress, resentful, a perfectionist and prone to comparisons, among other things.

She even took her own advice and was vulnerable, admitting to making mistakes in her previous job. “For two decades I have said, ‘We need to understand emotion in order to be able to recognize it in ourselves and in others,’ she wrote. “Well, now let me continue: I no longer believe that we can recognize the emotions of others, no matter how well we understand emotions and human experience or how many languages ​​we speak. .” This isn’t to rule out psychotherapy (we suppose), but to encourage people to talk about what they’re going through instead of expecting others to know — and listen, instead of guessing.

This formula, very human life + very rigorous research, has powered Brown’s work for the 20 years since the Ted Talk that made her famous. Brown wants people to “rely on” their feelings, but she also wants to make it fun. (Last time I wrote about the author, we did part of the interview about swings in the park, at her request.) Atlas of the heart, the 87 emotions she describes are gathered into 13 lands, each labeled as a destination: such as “The places we go when we compare” or “The places we go to” when it is further away from us”.

Comic-style illustrations are scattered throughout. And Brown introduces — or tries to popularize — new concepts. “Story management” is when someone explains their problem and the listener neither dismisses nor tries to solve their problem right away. “Near enemy” is similar to misinterpretation; when a response to a situation that looks like an appropriate one actually makes it worse. Pity is the nearest enemy of compassion, while affection is the nearest enemy of compassion.

The book, which was sold to HBO Max as an unwritten series even before it was published, is her most reader-friendly book yet – but it may also be her slimmest. that. Explaining 87 emotions, exploring the research surrounding them, providing feedback, and encouraging people to test themselves, all in 300 easy-to-understand pages — that’s a tall order. And the reader can feel the stretch marks. A large portion of the book is oversized quotes and has some less convincing passages. Isn’t “happy bittersweet” self-explanatory? What “iron” is doing in a list of emotions?

The joy of reading Brown’s previous work is a clear self-awareness, as she carefully and diligently loosens the knots that bind readers’ hearts and hinder their ability to cope with their circumstances. This is more of a book of quick hits, a reference guide to dip into when the reader needs a little reorientation. Brown’s effort in helping people find their way together is commendable, but she’s compiled an atlas when we need GPS. Brené Brown thinks you should talk about these 87 feelings

Aila Slisco

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