Book Club

“Atlas of the Heart” by Brene Brown

February 28, 2022

Sonia Singh MD
I'm a primary care doctor who is passionate about food, writing and making healthcare less frustrating and more empowering. These are my musings. Thanks for reading!

I bought Atlas of the Heart when it came out w/out really knowing what it was (I will blindly purchase anything by Brene Brown). I would describe it as an encyclopedia of human emotions & experiences. The idea is to give readers the language & framework to build more meaningful connections, which I know sounds a little woo woo…

Y’all. I LOVE this book. I actually bought a second copy recently to give to a friend. I would make a great gift for anyone going through a big transition, a break-up, loss, or other personal challenges.

The beauty of this book is that it doesn’t have to be read in order – you can work your way through it at different times depending on what’s relevant at that time in your life.

You know back in the day when you heard a word you didn’t know and you would actually go LOOK IT UP in a tattered, old dictionary? I feel like this book deserves to be that resource for emotions:

Feeling bored? Look it up. It’s your imagination calling to you.

Feeling disappointed? Look it up. Examine your unexpressed expectations.

Feeling grief? Look it up. Learn what grief & love have in common.

Of course the sections on perfectionism, shame & guilt are fantastic. As I was reading I found myself applying so much of the material to the practice of medicine. (I often joke that my practice is 90% evidence-based medicine and 10% Brene Brown.)

On empathy:

“We need to dispel the myth that empathy is ‘walking in someone else’s shoes.’ Rather than walking your shoes, I need to learn how to listen to the story you tell about what it’s like in your shoes and believe you even when it doesn’t match my experiences.”

This is SO applicable to medicine. We can’t even begin to approach a patient with empathy without first simply believing them. This doesn’t always happen, especially with women and it is a shame.

Have you read it?? What did you learn? Leave me a comment

be well,
Sonia Singh MD

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