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On this episode of Unlocking Us

We are back with Part 2 of our reader and audience Q&A on Atlas of the Heart, with questions from both the book and the HBO Max series. If you listened to Part 1, oh wow, these questions are hard — and I don’t have all the answers, which I love. Because that means I get to learn more, and I’m learning right along with my sisters, Ashley and Barrett.

About the guests

Brené Brown

Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston, where she holds the Huffington Foundation Endowed Chair at the Graduate College of Social Work. She also holds the position of visiting professor in management at the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business.

Brené has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. She is the author of six #1 New York Times bestsellers and is the host of two award-winning podcasts, Unlocking Us and Dare to Lead.

Brené’s books have been translated into more than 30 languages, and her titles include Atlas of the HeartDare to Lead, Braving the Wilderness, Rising Strong, Daring Greatly, and The Gifts of Imperfection. With Tarana Burke, she co-edited the bestselling anthology You Are Your Best Thing: Vulnerability, Shame Resilience, and the Black Experience.

Brené’s TED talk on the Power of Vulnerability is one of the top five most-viewed TED talks in the world, with over 60 million views. Brené is the first researcher to have a filmed lecture on Netflix, and in March 2022, she launched a new show on HBO Max that focuses on her latest book, Atlas of the Heart.

Brené spends most of her time working in organizations around the world, helping develop braver leaders and more courageous cultures.

She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, Steve. They have two children, Ellen and Charlie, and a weird Bichon named Lucy.

Ashley Brown Ruiz headshot

Ashley Brown Ruiz

Ashley Brown Ruiz is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker certified by the State of Texas. She received a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with a specialization in Early Childhood Education from Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. Fueling a passion from working over a decade in a Title 1 school in Houston ISD, Ashley pursued a Master of Social Work from the University of Houston’s Graduate College of Social Work. As part of her role as Senior Director of The Daring Way, she leads The Daring Way Internship Program with students seeking a master’s degree in Social Work. Ashley works with the interns to run therapy groups at different agencies around the Houston area. Her experience comes from working with women in residential recovery, adolescents in recovery, and middle school girls. Ashley’s ability to model and teach vulnerability and courage allows her to help clients pull together all the pieces of their lives to help them move toward the life they hope to create. She is a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator and a member of the National Association of Social Workers.

Barrett Guillen headshot

Barrett Guillen

Barrett Guillen is Co-CEO for Brené Brown Education and Research Group. With her team, Barrett supports both Brené and the organization by helping to prioritize competing demands, managing relationships, and building connective tissue and strategy across all business initiatives. Barrett holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Kinesiology from the University of Houston. After more than a decade in education in the Texas Panhandle, Barrett and her family made the move back to the Houston area to join the BBEARG team in making the world a braver place. Having the opportunity to work with her sisters every day has been one of the great joys of her life. Outside the office, you can find Barrett spending time with her family (immediate and extended), enjoying her daughter’s games, eating her husband’s famous burgers, floating in the water (any water!), or on the pickle ball court.

Show notes

Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown

Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience by Brené Brown

In Atlas of the Heart, Brown takes us on a journey through eighty-seven of the emotions and experiences that define what it means to be human. As she maps the necessary skills and an actionable framework for meaningful connection, she gives us the language and tools to access a universe of new choices and second chances—a universe where we can share and steward the stories of our bravest and most heartbreaking moments with one another in a way that builds connection.

Over the past two decades, Brown’s extensive research into the experiences that make us who we are has shaped the cultural conversation and helped define what it means to be courageous with our lives. Atlas of the Heart draws on this research, as well as on Brown’s singular skills as a storyteller, to show us how accurately naming an experience doesn’t give the experience more power, it gives us the power of understanding, meaning, and choice.


Brené Brown: Hi everyone. I’m Brené Brown, and this is Unlocking Us.


BB: We are back for Part 2 of a reader and audience Q&A on the Atlas of the Heart, on the book, and the HBO show. If you listened to Part 1 hard AF questions. I mean, “Oh my god, these questions are hard, and I don’t have all the answers,” which I love, because that means I get to learn more, which is fun. I’m with my sisters, Ashley and Barrett. Y’all know Ashley and Barrett. Ashley runs the internship program here. She is a clinician, and she oversees The Daring Way community. And Barrett is the newly, newly-titled Co-CEO of Brené Brown Education and Research Group. And we’re going to jump into these questions. Before we jump, I want to remind you that I’m going on sabbatical, and this is the last podcast till September. Do you remember? I can’t sing that. I probably can’t sing more than that, otherwise, I’m going to owe somebody a lot of money. Yeah, we’re doing a collective rest and restoration. Everybody, me, the team, we’re going to take some deep breaths, we’re going to find that space between stimulus and response that gets collapsed on so easy. And we’ll miss you. We’ll be back in September. Let’s jump into the conversation.


BB: I’m Brené Brown, and welcome back to Unlocking Us.

Barrett Guillen: I’m Barrett Guillen.

Ashley Brown Ruiz: I’m Ashley Brown Ruiz.

BB: Alright. Part 2, Atlas of the Heart questions. People have written in around the book, and the HBO Max series. Should we just jump in?

BG: Let’s do it.

BB: Okay. Question number one is from Angie. Let’s listen.

Angie: I binge watched the series and counted down the days. I was not disappointed. And what resonated the most was the part about sarcasm with our children. Ouch. And thank you. [chuckle] My question, when watching the segment about reverence was, “I do not believe in church and God. I’m an atheist. How does reverence apply to me?” I immediately shut it down or have negative associations because of my religious upbringing. I’ve heard this is an incredibly important piece to connection, and I know you’ve spoken on it too, for whole-heartedness. But the story I tell myself is, “This isn’t applicable to me.” I need to fix it, and I can’t live a whole-hearted life, and full life, without this reverence or spiritual piece.” Thank you, Brené. Angie, from Park City, Utah.

BB: Wow, this is… This is a big question.

ABR: It is.

BB: The story I tell myself is, “This isn’t applicable to me. I need to fix it. I can’t live a whole-hearted and full life without the reverence and spirituality piece.” So let me break those down because I think they’re two separate things. Right? So, reverence is an emotion where we want to get closer to something that we feel like is powerful, and inspires us, and we want to move as close to it as we can. In the HBO Max series, I talked really… We… I mean the audience… We had to cut some of that. It was like an hour and a half conversation about reverence. Loaded word. Because a lot of us were taught to be reverent, which meant don’t challenge authority, and don’t ask questions. And so, I’m not a big fan of reverence. The only reverence I really have is for nature.

BG: Oh yeah.

BB: I have reverence for the earth.

ABR: Yeah.

BB: For people, I don’t revere people. But do y’all revere people?

ABR: I don’t know if I revere people, but I revere moments.

BB: Yes, I revere moments.

BG: I don’t think so.

BB: Yeah, I don’t have reverence for people anymore. I think I did, growing up. I think I did, and then, I think, when I skipped church for 20 years, and then when Ellen got to the age where she’s like, “What is happening?” And so, “Well, let’s go to church, and then you can make your own decision.” But I remember, leaving the Catholic Church, and going to the Episcopal church I was… And going to the Cathedral, especially, there’s a lot of reverence, a lot of tradition, a lot of bowing when the priest comes down. And I struggled with some of that. I like my clergy vulnerable, not venerable [chuckle] so to speak.

ABR: And they like you that way as well. [laughter]

BB: So even the clergy, who I respect, I would not say I revere. But I do have moments of spiritual reverence that are very personal to me. But I’m always going to be like at a lake, or an ocean, or something.

ABR: Yeah.

BB: It’s going to be nature. So, I think the only thing I really revere, I think whole-heartedness is reverence-optional. [chuckle] The spiritual piece, I think that’s an interesting question. Do you have to be… Angie says, “I don’t believe in church, I don’t believe in God, I’m an atheist.” I think the research, at least when we were doing the early research on whole-heartedness, spirituality did emerge as a variable of whole-heartedness. But that was in interviews that included agnostic people. Remember atheist…

BG: Yeah.

BB: I mean, we sampled across all kinds of belief systems, including no-belief systems. And I think it’s more about how I ended up defining it, first in The Gifts, and then now that definition of spirituality has withstood the test of new data over 10, 15 years, which is… The deeply held belief that we as humans are inextricably connected to each other by something greater than us. For some people, that’s God, but for some people, that’s fishing, for some people that’s love, for some people that’s nature, for some people that’s just human spirit and connection. And so, to say that spirituality is a prerequisite for whole-heartedness, I would just always caution, “Read how I define that.” Which is, again, the belief that we are inextricably connected to each other. I do think that is a prerequisite for whole-heartedness. That my liberation is always and forever will be bound to your liberation as a person. And that while there are people suffering, none of us are really free.

BG: Yeah.

BB: I do think that’s a part of whole heartedness.

ABR: I agree.

BG: Me too.

BB: And so, a great question. I hope it clarified it for you… Such an important question. A brave question. I loved it. Thank you, Angie.

ABR: Yes.

BB: Alright, let’s go to Roz who has a question for us

Roz: Hi, this is Roz calling from San Francisco, California. And my question is about nostalgia. What is the difference between missing something and nostalgia? So, for a little context, and as an example, when I was watching the HBO specials, my takeaway was that nostalgia can result in remembering only the good times about something, but that can be a little bit dangerous when we try to get back to something that was maybe hurting ourselves or others, and was not really the way we remembered it in our nostalgic state. So how do I acknowledge good times while also being honest about the bad? I had to cut off ties with some people in my life to be okay and to protect myself from a dysfunctional and abusive relationship, but I still have incredible sadness and I miss some of the good times that I remember, so I know the bad was there and I will never go back, but I still feel nostalgic about it. How do I reconcile this?

BB: Wow. What a hard question.

BG: Yeah.

BB: And very relatable. I relate to this question, do y’all?

BG: Yeah.

ABR: Yes.

BB: “I know the bad was still there and I can never go back, but I still feel nostalgic about it. How do I reconcile this?” I think the first question is the difference between missing something and being nostalgic for it, and I don’t know that I can really clarify the difference, I think nostalgia is… The way that we use that word is primarily around positive things when we’re nostalgic for something, there is an embrace of warmness about something that we’ve experienced before we’re nostalgic, we’re taken back to a time that meant something to us. I don’t know really how it’s different than missing something, although I do think… I really loved how in the HBO special, we brought Dr. Stephanie Coontz in, who’s a historian and studies nostalgia, and I loved how she talked about some of the new research on nostalgia. Nostalgia can be dangerous and it can be definitely a dog whistle for scary politics. Hey, y’all remember when life was like this, where everyone knew their place and… dangerous, dangerous. But I think it’s the difference between remembering and feeling some energy around it versus ruminating, and I think rumination is the dangerous part of nostalgia, I think ruminating and being nostalgic is the, Make America Great Again.

BB: If there were just fewer immigrants, if there were just fewer people of color trying to get a piece of the pie, if the women knew their place, if… That can create a rumination because it really leverages a displacement pain that people feel, and so I think nostalgia and missing something can be different, I think there’s a context to nostalgia that’s about time and place. I think missing is more pointed. I miss something specific.

BG: Yeah.

BB: Does that make sense?

BG: Is being nostalgic about a feeling and missing something is about something very specific?

BB: Nostalgia is an affect, an emotion, I feel nostalgic. I miss something. You know you can almost get into grief there.

ABR: I wonder if for some people, when they start to go into nostalgia and they start to remember great things, if there hasn’t been a lot of grief work done around the hard things that happen, if they’re able to separate the two? I remember asking you a lot of questions about us growing up, like, “How did y’all think it was funny that y’all would like…” When we were really little babies, I think we were toddlers and there’s a plastic pool in the back yard and our bathing suits had fallen down and our little heinies were showing…

BB: Yeah.

ABR: And I was like, “How did y’all think that was funny to pull our bathing suits bottoms down and take a picture of it?” And you were like, “That’s weird that that’s how you remember it, because that’s not how it happened.” But for me, I had a really hard time separating… I needed to grieve and let go of some of the things or work through some of the things in order to really allow myself to remember good things.

BB: Oh God, that’s huge.

ABR: Yeah.

BB: Yeah, and that’s such a great example. I appreciate your courage to share it because y’all would get in that pool [chuckle] with your diapers on and those diapers would weigh 700 pounds, and then you were so fast, both of you, and you would split direction, it was almost choreographed. So there was no way we could catch both of y’all and then so your diapers would be around your knees, but it would be so cute because y’all be running as soon as we get you, and get you still, you jump right back in the pool, and so I don’t think anyone would have ever let anyone pull down your diaper then take a picture, and so…

ABR: Yeah.

BB: I do think… Yeah, you were impossible to catch. [chuckle]

ABR: Still are. [chuckle]

BB: I think really what you’re saying is that memories are not facts.

ABR: Yeah.

BB: Which is really hard.

BG: Yeah.

BB: And I think there’s a lot of grief, and I think missing something is around grief, nostalgia is a feeling of a time of before.

BG: Yeah, because I think what I was saying is, “Are you nostalgic for a way you used to feel about something, and do you very specifically miss… When you’re nostalgic, are you remembering a way of being?”

BB: Yes, because when you’re…

BG: Versus I miss my dog or I miss my…

BB: No nostalgia is… I think nostalgia is very much a feeling about a feeling.

BG: Yeah,

BB: I don’t know that’s just that though, because it’s a feeling… Can be also be a feeling about a concept. Now we say, “Remember when we were like, we’d wake up at 6 o’clock in the morning for swim team practice, our moms would give us $0.50 for Frito pie, and we’d have to be back by dinner?” I don’t remember what that felt like. I was just nostalgic for freedom, for that freedom that I never… Can you imagine our kids leaving at 6 o’clock in the morning, riding their bikes out of sight to swim team practice and not seeing them till 7 o’clock that night?

BG: No.

ABR: No.

BB: Just the sunburn alert that we would be under. [laughter] So it’s nostalgia for… It’s more conceptual, I think you were really onto something, Barrett, it’s conceptual. We miss a concept, we miss a feeling, we miss the ability to access something.

BG: Yeah.

BB: That ties back to the way things used to be. And whether they were really like that, or they were spit shine, I don’t know. But I think missing something is grief. And so this question, you really got us with this question. “I know the bad was there. I can never go back. But I still feel nostalgic about it.” Like I still feel nostalgic for times where there was a lot of hard shit going on, too.

ABR: Yeah, me too.

BB: And I think you have to ask yourself, what is the feeling, to Barrett’s point? What is that feeling? And then to Ashley’s… That I’m nostalgic for. And then to Ashley’s point, what is the work I need to do that allows me to separate kind of what is that feeling versus what is the real grief stuff that I need to figure out?

ABR: Yeah.

BB: And talk about. It’s a hard question.

BG: Damn.

BB: Good question.

BG: Yeah.

BB: So let’s go and we’ve got a question from Dawn C. Let’s listen to Dawn.

Dawn: Hi, Brené it’s Dawn calling from beautiful sunny BC, Canada. And my question about Atlas of the Heart is this. My partner is on the autism spectrum, as is his youngest son. So is there a different perspective, which should be considered for applying the concepts from Atlas of the Heart to our neurodiverse relationships? And how do we have a conversation about wholeheartedness with loved ones whose brains relate to the world in a different way from ours? Thank you so much.

BB: God, this is such a good question about neurodiversity. And I think as the term implies, neurodiversity is not a monolith. I mean, there is so much that falls into the bucket of neurodiversity, that I don’t know how to answer that. the only thing I know that we can do is to engage in conversation to read something together or to watch something together. And what do you think, what resonates? What doesn’t make sense? It’s one of those things too, that I know that at least in collecting the data, that we had neurodiverse research participants, but we also had participants who would say, “I don’t have a neurodiversity label. But I have no understanding, and no fluency in emotion at all.” And so just like, I don’t think there’s one way to talk about emotions with someone who is neurodiverse. I don’t think we can make any assumptions about people who are not.

BG: Yeah.

BB: I think this all of this happens in connection with curiosity, a lot of space and just asking. Ash, I’m curious about what you think.

ABR: No, I think the same thing. I mean, I don’t know how you could answer the question, because so many different things fall in that bucket. But I do love the idea of just connection, staying curious, asking questions like, yeah. I love that idea, too, of watching a show together or something because parents, caregivers, people that are in it together know what shows to watch or what they can do and so staying curious, being in conversation, asking questions.

BB: Yeah.

ABR: How do you feel? What was that like? Have you ever seen this happen at your school, stuff like that?

BB: Does this resonate for you? If not, why?

ABR: Yeah.

BB: What makes sense about this? What doesn’t make sense about it?

ABR: What do you want to learn more about?

BB: Yeah, what are you curious about?

ABR: Yeah.

BB: It’s really interesting. My BFF Elena from elementary school. Holy Name of Jesus. In New Orleans…

BG/AGR: Shout out.

BB: Shout out to my elementary school. She and her husband Dave and their three kids who are all grown… One is in college, the other two have graduated and off living independently. They did a 10-week, every Sunday, 90-minute Atlas read.

ABR: That is so cool.

BG: That is so awesome.

BB: Isn’t that amazing?

ABR: Yeah.

BB: Just to say, “What fit for you? What didn’t fit for you? What did you learn?” Isn’t that cool?

BG: Yeah. We’re watching the HBO Max show as a family.

ABR: We couldn’t. [laughter]

BB: Why?

BG: They couldn’t get past bittersweet. [laughter]

ABR: Well, that’s episode 4, but she just watches stuff faster than I do. And she gets frustrated because I’m not on the same schedule as her.

BB: Oh, yeah.

BG: That’s the binge generation.

BB: That’s yeah…

ABR: Yeah, we barely can get through any shows together.

BB: Yeah. I know, I could watch it with her.

ABR: Maybe.

BB: Yeah, because I’m like, “Have you seen Bridgerton 2?” “I’ve seen Bridgerton 2 it came out yesterday. I’m done. [laughter] I’m done.” Okay, “It’s so good.” [laughter] Okay let’s listen to Amy. Amy’s got a question for us.

Amy: Hi, Brené. I’m Amy from Des Moines, Iowa. And I am a parent of three, ages 10, 8 and 6, as well as a middle school teacher. And I would love to know your recommendations for making this resource accessible to kids. Really, what is the best way to help kids be able to recognize their emotions and name them? This book is seriously a textbook for life. And the sooner we can help kids develop the ability to understand emotions, the better humans they’ll be. Thank you so much.

BB: I got to tell you, Amy, I love this question. And there are so many great SEL social emotional learning curricula for kids that are your kids ages for middle school. Usually it’s K through eight where I’ve seen most of them. I haven’t seen a ton in high school. But I would really encourage you to check out Mark Brackett, the Yale Center for Emotional Studies. They have a lot of resources for social emotional learning for kids. I don’t know that we’re going to do anything with Atlas. I don’t know whether there were or not. A lot of people have said, can you do a kid’s book, can you… I just think that that’s… I don’t know that that would be my strength. I think there are a lot of people that do that better than me. And so…

BG: I do think though what Ashley was saying earlier, just about even asking questions about… I know for me, when my daughter comes home and she’s like, “This happened at school today.” I try to wrap language around it. So, she then the next time can have the language to use. There are a lot of great examples that show up in middle school where you can name…

BB: Oh God yes.

ABR: Middle school, middle school. We can still talk about middle school.

BG: Yes.

ABR: Also when Barrett and I interviewed you when Atlas first came out, we talked a lot about this too, about working with kids and just asking questions and doing book reads together or naming emotions. And I think you even shared a story about the dinner table, but I remember talking a lot about this during that interview.

BB: Yeah. And I think some of the best places for kids to learn emotions and be able to label them, name them, regulate them, is fiction.

BG: Mm-hmm, Oh my God.

BB: Yeah. Even as good as non-fiction, if not better sometimes, because they’re swept into the story. What do you think this person is feeling? Why do you think they’re feeling that way? Where do you think those feelings come from? If you think about feelings as biology, biography, behavior, and backstory, then you can take any fictional character and say, “Okay, what’s going on here? What’s the backstory? What’s happening right now? What’s the biology? What are they talking about? Feeling in their body? How are they moving around? What are they saying they’re feeling? What behaviors are showing up?” And then biography. “What do we know about this character’s family and about, do you think it was okay to talk about that?”

BG: Oh, I know. And I think we just interviewed Domee Shi on the podcast.

BB: Oh yes.

BG: If you haven’t seen Turning Red, what an amazing place to start.

BB: Oh God. Yeah. Inside Out. Turning Red.

BG: Yes.

BB: Yes. Turning Red.

ABR: I haven’t seen it yet.

BB: What?

BG: What?

ABR: I’m slower to TV y’all [laughter]

BB: Yeah. I can imagine.

BG: It’s a great one. It does a lot of explaining for you, but it opens up the door to have some really meaningful conversations.

BB: No, God. Yeah. It was so good.

BG: It’s so good.

BB: It’s great.

ABR: All right. I’ll watch it.

BB: Okay. Last question. Let’s go to Keith.

Keith: Hi. I’m Keith Kron from Providence, Rhode Island. I so appreciated listening to Bittersweet and I listened to Atlas of the Heart about how we feel more than one emotion at the same time. It made me think of a wonderful TED Talk from Chimamanda Adichie, where she talks about the danger of a single story. I’m wondering how do we encourage ourselves and others to talk about the reality that rarely are we feeling just one thing? And instead, a more real and nuanced approach to all the things that we feel at the same time. Like I remember when my dad died, feeling relief that his pain had ended. Sadness that my mom was alone for the first time. Appreciation for my dad’s fight throughout his life and his struggles and my own grief around the loss of our relationship. What harm happens when we ask, “How are you feeling?” And we expect an answer of a single story. Again, this is Keith from Providence, Rhode Island.

BB: Yeah. I think this is such a great question. It reminds me of the two-word check-in. Because we always say two words and people are always like excited and overwhelmed.


BG: Yeah.

BB: I think emotions are complex. And if y’all have not seen the Ted Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story.” Oh.

ABR: It’s so good.

BB: It’s incredible. We’ve talked about this a couple times. This is one of the biggest questions I think that came up. I think we are always feeling a swirl of feelings, but I think there are driver feelings and fears that we have to attend to. And so I think it is about unpacking. What’s driving the swirl. What’s kind of that base thing? And when you ask people, what are you feeling? I don’t think you very often… Even my therapist, when my therapist says, “What are you feeling?” You know, the last time I talked to her she’s like, “What are you feeling?” I said, “I’m feeling like fuck you.” She goes, “Okay. I got that, but that’s not a feeling.” I’m like, “It is in my house. That’s a big feeling in my house.” [laughter] She goes, “No, it’s not a feeling.” And I was like, “It’s not in Atlas, but it is still a feeling.”


ABR: Put it in your next one.

BG: And what’s your go-to? I think a lot of us have go-to feelings. So I think when you’re unpacking it, I wonder if sometimes we… I will speak for myself.

ABR: There you go.

BB: Yeah. [laughter] Here we go. There we go. There’s a movement here people. Progress.


BG: I often find myself in the same place disguised. Sometimes disguised as other things, other emotions, but the root is often the same.

BB: And it is for you?

BG: Yeah. That’s what I’m saying.

ABR: What is it? She’s asking.

BG: Oh. No. That’s a different podcast. [laughter]

ABR: Yeah, that’s fair.

BB: Mine’s usually, yeah. I usually have a swirl of emotions. The ones that present first are anger and blame sometimes and… Yeah, anger and blame and the need for control. And then my second layer is often fear. And then my layer under that is sometimes if there’s one underneath that it can be grief or not belonging.

ABR: Damn.

BB: Yeah. I do this work all the F-ing time with my therapist.

ABR: No. I’m just saying when you were naming them, those seem to be… I wonder… I’m surprised how similar mine feel to yours.

BB: Really?

ABR: Yeah. I come off as anger, blame, F you. [chuckle] And I do think you go to the core and it’s about belonging. Not feeling connected. Grief.

BB: Yeah.

ABR: Yeah.

BG: Same. [laughter]

BB: Barrett’s just looking at us like, “Okay.”

ABR: No. I think I can just show up the same. I think it starts a lot as resentment for me. It’s an indicator for me I think the resentment piece. And I think when it comes down to it, I think just feeling alone in things is probably my… In the middle of my onion.

BB: Yeah. I felt really alone about something. And I remember Diana… My therapist, peeling and peeling and peeling, and she’s like, “So under all that, is it abandonment?” Which, aren’t y’all trained that that’s a go-to one?


ABR: It’s common.

BB: Okay. [laughter] Yeah.

ABR: It can be common.

BG: Sorry. Start with abandonment, everyone, and then go from there.

BB: Yeah. I said, “Did y’all go alphabetically usually or what’s the scam?”


ABR: No. I think even before you get there, you get to belonging. You get to… You know what I mean?

BB: Yeah. Yeah. And I think it was like, “No, I don’t feel abandoned. I feel.” Oh no, I think it was the opposite way. I think it was, “Do you feel like you don’t belong?” Yes, and I said, “No,” and then we got to “I feel abandoned, like left alone to deal with stuff, this.” And then I was like, “Wow, that is straight out of a movie, that was a big one.” And then the worst thing is when you talk about Keith is saying all these single stories, like I have a single story where like, “I’ll handle it alone.” I mean, yes or no?

BG: Yeah.


BB: They’re looking at each other like, “Do we say yes or no?”


BB: It’s okay. Yeah, and so I do think this is an interesting question that we keep getting a lot of. There is a danger to a single story, but there’s also a danger to not untangling and unraveling the swirl to get to a big driver that’s core to us.

BG: Yeah.

ABR: I like too how Keith gets questions about how are you feeling, but there’re so many different parts to it to be able to say, “About which part?” You know what I mean?

BB: Amen.

ABR: Yeah.

BB: Because yeah, this is the whole thing, because I mean, if you’ve never had someone that was sick who died, or you did caregiving for someone who died, and you didn’t feel any relief, I don’t know what that is, because…

ABR: Yeah.

BB: Most of us feel relief.

BG: Yeah.

BB: And so I think the answer is the meaningful connection to allow space for… “And I’m feeling a whole bunch of things, thanks for asking Ashley, I feel relieved, I feel guilty for feeling relieved, I feel sad, I feel pissed off about having to go through the house, so I’m just a swirl of things right now,” and then someone to say, “Yeah, I get that. I get everything from the relief to the grief, I get… And everything in between, what does help look like right now?”

ABR: Yeah.

BB: Yeah.

BB: And this is what’s tricky, is I think about the work I’ve done at Pixar, and I think about the work I’ve done around storytelling, single stories have a hundred different emotions in them.

ABR: Yeah, they do.

BB: And if you’re looking for a single story with a single emotion, that’s not a good story.

ABR: Yeah.

ABR: That can be like our childhood [chuckle]

BB: Yeah, I mean, yeah, it’s just a single story with a single emotion is not a good story, you need to have everything from awe and wonder to anguish and confusion.

ABR: Yeah.

ABR: And if you have a single story with a single emotion, you need to check that, because it’s not true.

BB: Yeah, they’re usually not true.

BG: I was going to say, I can’t even think of a scenario where I have just one emotion, because I was like in maybe driving, like rage.

ABR: Talking to Barrett on our way home from work is like really not fun sometimes.

BB: Are you a mad driver?

BG: Oh, I’m a great driver. It’s the other people.

BB: No, I didn’t say are you a bad driver, are you a mad driver?

BG: Oh, that, yeah, oh. I can’t… I… You know what, you’re the same. So, let’s just start there.

ABR: I just don’t drive as much as you do.

BG: Yeah, that’s right.

ABR: Because I live so close [chuckle]

BB: I put myself in the bubble of sanctuary.

ABR: No, you don’t.

BB: No?

ABR: No.

BB: Oh no. Oh yeah.

BG: Oh my God, we had just ran home for lunch. Do you remember what happened when that gentleman didn’t let you over?


BB: That was today. Oh my God. I was like, “Oh, fuck you dude. You want to do this, you want to do this? Let me show you how this is going to work.”

ABR: She says that a lot. “You want to do this? You want to dance?”

BG: She’s like, “Oh, look who’s in the turn lane now?


ABR: A bubble of serenity or what.

BB: Alright, this is Unlocking Us, I’m signing off.


BG: You try to throw me under the bus, but here we are all together under the bus [chuckle]

ABR: I’m just lovely.

BB: I’m passing the bus. Okay, thank y’all for being biggest narcs in the whole world.

ABR: We got you.

BB: Yeah, you got my number.

BG: Anytime you’d like to have us back, we’ll be here.


ABR: A phone call away, 8-6-7-5-3-0-9.


ABR: Jennie, Jennie, who can…

BB: Yeah, then we have to pay like $7000 in copyright, Bill Ashley. Alright.

BG: But listen, I think that we should say we’ve come a long way since the first time we’ve been on the mic and Ashley doesn’t sing at all really anymore, so sad.

ABR: I’m going to have to look through Atlas to find exactly how I’m feeling about it.

BB: Let’s do a two or a check out.

BG: Okay. Tired and hopeful.

ABR: Connected and overwhelmed.

BB: I’m grateful and tired.

BG: Nice.

BB: Y’all stay awkward, brave, and kind.

BG: Bye.

BB: Bye, bye, bye-bye, bye.

ABR: Bye-bye.


BB: Alright, again, I warned y’all, hard questions, great questions, we’re so appreciative of them. I would say summer, but you know what, it’s not summer for everyone that listens, so y’all have a great June, July, and August. I’ll be back in probably mid-September, sometime in September. Take good care of yourselves and of each other. Stay awkward, brave, and kind.


BB: Unlocking Us is a Spotify Original from Parcast. It’s hosted by me, Brené Brown. It’s produced by Max Cutler, Kristen Acevedo, Carleigh Madden, and Tristan McNeil and by Weird Lucy Productions. Sound design by Tristan McNeil, and music is by the amazing Carrie Rodriguez and the amazing Gina Chavez.

© 2022 Brené Brown Education and Research Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Brown, B. (Host). (2022, May 25). Brené, Ashley, and Barrett on Atlas of the Heart, Audience Q&A, Part 2 of 2. [Audio podcast episode]. In Unlocking Us with Brené Brown. Parcast Network.

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