Chipping away at Brené Brown’s: Atlas of heart

As part of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), I carry around an 8.5×11 paper diary card with me (normally tucked away, scrunched up, in my left pants pocket) and fill it throughout without a ballpoint pen throughout day, observing and tracking my thoughts, emotions, and variety of DBT tools (for interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance). The diary card lists only includes a handful of emotions to track, including: love, joy, fear, anger. While being aware and mindful of these handful of emotions throughout the day is a good start for building emotional intelligence, I want to more deeply understand the nuanced emotions that I (and others) experience. When I shared this with my therapist, she had recommended Brené Brown’s book: Atlas of the heart. It’s an amazing book and helping me develop a richer vocabulary around emotions.

It’s a relatively thick with a beautiful red cover. In it’s pages, the book describes a wide array of emotions, grouped together, each emotion group named like: “Places I go when X” where X is some general feeling. For example, “Places we go when we search for connection”, which consists of the following emotions: Belonging, Fitting, Connection, Disconnection, Insecurity, Invisibility, Loneliness. Another example is “Places we go when we fall short”, which includes:  shame, self-compassion, perfectionism, guilt, humiliation, embarassment.

I’m not rigorously reading the book. Rather, when I get a moment of down time — like sliding into bed, eating lunch by myself – I reach my hand into my backpack, pull out the book, and the spend a couple minutes, randomly flipping to a page and reading.