So excited Brene Brown’s new book Atlas of the Heart is now in print. There is so much to unpick, but a good starter is using the right language to explain our experiences and label the emotions involved.
Ludwig Wittgenstein’s quote “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world”.
Fifteen years ago, Brown asked participants on her shame resilience research to list all the emotions they could recognise and to name them. This took five years and involved seven thousand people. The average number of emotions named across the surveys was three, and they were happy, sad and angry.
Brown obviously found this very disheartening when the vastness of human emotion is not about mad, sad or glad. There are so many despair, shame, wonder, awe… that in their richness make us human.
Language is the portal to meaning, making connections, healing, learning and self awareness. When we don’t have the language we lose our ability to explain what is really going on.
In Atlas of the Heart there are eighty seven emotions and experiences that are defined and brought to life so that we can increase our vocabulary.
The next time you say the following:-
- “I am really pissed off”
- “I am so mad”
What are you feeling? Naming it accurately what is really going on. Vocabulary should be as expansive as our experience. Better responses might be..:-
- “I am so overwhelmed with all I am experiencing”
- “I am feeling disappointed”
Yesterday my son failed his driving test and it was pure anger, and it was limiting to his growth. He was not labelling it as disappointment, and his rage directed at the Driving Examiner whom he will never see again, is sadly not constructive.
Articulate what is going on in your world this week, and I would welcome comments and discussion.
Please do reach out firstname.lastname@example.org