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Unlocking Us with Brené Brown
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Unlocking Us with Brené Brown

Author: Brené Brown and Cadence13

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I’ve spent over 20 years studying the emotions and experiences that bring meaning and purpose to our lives, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s this: We are hardwired for connection, and connecting requires courage, vulnerability, and conversation. I want this to be a podcast that’s real, unpolished, honest, and reflects both the magic and the messiness of what it means to be human. Episodes will include conversations with the people who are teaching me, challenging me, confusing me, or maybe even ticking me off a little. I'll also have direct conversations with you about what I’m learning from new research, and we'll do some episodes dedicated to answering your questions. We don’t have to do life alone. We were never meant to.
24 Episodes
We received so many thoughtful and tough AMA questions from listeners that it took us two episodes to cover the most popular topics. In Part 2, I unpack one of the most asked questions: How do parents build shame resilience in our children? I'm also answering another popular question: Are there TV series and/or films that I think do a great job of accurately capturing emotions and the human experience? While there are SO many that do that well, I share a few of my current favorites.
I said, “Ask Me Anything,” and the Unlocking Us community came through with the tough questions. To be honest, I thought I’d get some easy, fun ones—but no, all deep-end questions. In fact, we had hundreds and hundreds of tough, smart, thoughtful questions submitted, and in today’s episode I answer five of them. We cover ‘fake news,’ disappointment vs self-pity, religion and shame, when something is shame-worthy, and we’re just getting started.
In today’s solo episode, I share my thoughts about why accountability is a prerequisite for change, and why we need to get our heads and hearts around the difference between being held accountable for racism and feeling shame, and being shamed. I share my personal stories of being held accountable and holding myself accountable, as well as my strategies for pulling my “thinking brain” back online when I’m experiencing the flight and fight energy fueled by shame.
I'm talking with Judd Apatow, who has directed, produced, and written many of the biggest comedy films and hit TV shows of the last two decades. We look at what's funny, why it's funny, and why laughter creates connection. We also uncover that thin line between humor and grief and what it means to tell the stories of our lives in a way that we recognize ourselves and our shared humanity.
Meet Carrie Rodriguez and Gina Chavez, the musicians who created and perform the music you hear every week on Unlocking Us. Artists and activists, Gina and Carrie integrate stories, culture, and the heart of past generations into their music to create artful and hopeful futures. You can hear it in their music, and you can see it in their lives. I’m so grateful that our weekly Unlocking Us conversations begin and end with their soulful sounds.
In this episode, I talk to artist, advocate, executive producer, and all-around amazing woman and friend Laverne Cox about her new, groundbreaking documentary, Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen, the importance of policy protection for the trans community, and the seismic shifts in the world today. We also discuss the complexities of intersectionality and accountability, the difference between discomfort and safety, and the ultimate power of seeking love and living in the light.
Austin Channing Brown’s anti-racism work is critical to changing our world, and her ability to talk about what is good and true about love, about our faith, and about loving each other is transformative. She is a writer, a speaker, and a media producer providing inspired leadership on racial justice in America. In this episode, we connect on her book I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, and talk about her online television show, The Next Question.
I'm talking with professor Ibram Kendi, New York Times bestselling author of How to Be an Antiracist and the Director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. We talk about racial disparities, policy, and equality, but we really focus on How to Be an Antiracist, which is a groundbreaking approach to understanding uprooting racism and inequality in our society and in ourselves.
Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington are true creatives and storytellers, working to make timely art that is honest and vulnerable and truth-telling. Here’s part two of my conversation on Little Fires Everywhere. This episode covers how Reese and Kerry worked with a team of other creatives to bring Celeste’s words to life. We talked about the challenges and responsibilities of creating authentic, living, breathing characters with complex internal thoughts. We talked about motherhood and how it connects us, changes us, and changes as it goes. And we talked about creating art that honors ordinary, complicated people from completely different backgrounds, while connecting us all together.
My conversation with Celeste Ng is the first of two episodes on Little Fires Everywhere, where I'll cover the book and the series. We talked about the writing process, the stories that we tell, and the stories that define us. We also covered how our hometowns shape us, how parenting is a shame minefield, and how we all have the power to mourn moments even while we’re in them. Celeste also filled us in on what she thinks about the series and what it felt like watching Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington create a show from her novel. I loved this episode as a reader, as a writer, and as an observer of what it means to be human.
Jay and Mark Duplass are two of my favorite humans. They are film-makers, writers, directors, producers, actors, and activists. They’re also partners, fathers, and brothers who believe in connection, love, and the importance of small moments. In this episode we talk about their memoir, Like Brothers, and how so much of what we crave in life comes from straddling the paradoxes inherent in love, creativity, and relationships.
This two-episode special is based on a course that Dr. Harriet Lerner and I did together on her groundbreaking book, “Why Won’t You Apologize?: Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts.” You can expect authentic, hard conversations (and one helluva role play) about making mistakes, healing hurts, and being brave. Harriet is a friend, mentor, and teacher. Her work has shaped my career and made my life better. During a time of deep uncertainty and anxiety - when many of us have struggled to be our best selves all of the time - apologizing has never been more important.
This two-episode special is based on a course that Dr. Harriet Lerner and I did together on her groundbreaking book, “Why Won’t You Apologize?: Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts.” You can expect authentic, hard conversations (and one helluva role play) about making mistakes, healing hurts, and being brave. Harriet is a friend, mentor, and teacher. Her work has shaped my career and made my life better. During a time of deep uncertainty and anxiety - when many of us have struggled to be our best selves all of the time - apologizing has never been more important. (
In this episode, I talk to two women who provide wise counsel for those of us who have struggled with belonging and faith (and still do on occasion). Sue Monk Kidd and Jen Hatmaker are dissident daughters, brave leaders, and the very best companions for a contemplative journey.
Have you ever struggled with feeling lonely - even when you’re surrounded by people you love? I have. It’s painful and confusing. In this episode, I talk to Dr. Vivek Murthy, a physician and the 19th Surgeon General of the United States, about loneliness and the physical and emotional toll that social disconnection takes on us. We talk about his new book, TOGETHER, and what it takes for each of us to tilt the world toward love and connection.
Dr. Marc Brackett has dedicated his life to studying emotions and to teaching us what he’s learning. In this episode, we talk about how emotional literacy - being able to recognize, name, and understand our feelings - affects everything from learning, decision making, and creativity, to relationships, health, and performance.
Alicia’s book, More Myself: A Journey, is a masterclass in authenticity and vulnerability. In this episode, Alicia and I talk about the quiet, subtle experiences that fuel our need to armor up and self-protect, and the courage behind owning our worth, listening to our own voice, and living with our own “girl on fire” energy.
We all have patterned ways of managing our day-to-day anxiety, and these patterns often reflect the roles and expectations of our first families.  In this episode, we’ll talk about over and under-functioning in anxious times, why anxiety is contagious, and how we can cultivate a calm practice.
Grief expert David Kessler takes us by the hand and walks us into what he's learned about love, loss, and finding meaning. As someone who has a lot of fear about grief and grieving, this conversation is not what I expected. The only word I can use to describe what I learned from David is "beautiful."
We have collectively hit weary. This is especially true for the brave folks on the front lines of this pandemic and for the people who love and support them. And, it’s also true for all of us. In this episode, I talk about strategies for falling apart, staying connected + kind, and giving ourselves permission to feel hard things.
Comments (150)

Karenne Donovan

I loved this conversation with these 2 wonderful women. I loved the series Little Fires Everywhere. So emotionally charged it touched my heart as a mother. The quote referencing your children as an apple just gets me every time 😪❤ Thank you Brene' I loved it.

Aug 6th

Anthony Parks

great episode

Aug 5th


Just love her.

Jul 16th

Elizabeth Barber

You all are awesome!!! Thank you for the laughs too!!

Jul 15th


This podcast is groundbreaking! Thank you Ms. Brene’ and Ms. Austin for allowing us (the world) to listen to this genuine conversation! I can feel the genuineness! :)

Jul 12th

Aditi Iyer

hello Brene , I have a question: how do we define self worth? how do we define our true value? thank you.

Jul 11th

Divya Oberoi

How do you access the show notes?

Jul 11th
Reply (1)

Arielle Sears

This show is really interesting and i feel like it's such a cool thing to listen to on a drive or something. I love this episode and I really agree with everything that she said.

Jul 10th

Angela Percy

I have a question, I'm just going to put it here and be hopeful. Is there anything you can tell us about the emotional response to rejection to help me understand it? I have spoken to so many people who have described their response in terms akin to abject terror, and I recognise that. It's something I wish I could understand better so I can be conscious and observing when it happens.

Jul 10th

Ek Sutto

"I am here to get it right, I am not here to be right." Kind Awkward and Brave - perhaps we should all aspire to be so.

Jul 9th

Emily Smith

thank you I love being able to differentiate between all those complicated emotions.

Jul 8th

Sharon MacLeod

I couldn't agree more that managing our own emotions is our responsibility. I love the distinction that you made between feeling shame and being shamed. You do, however, imply that "they" are only attempting to hold us accountable (i.e., not shame us) and that has not been my experience. All I see are examples of shaming that are exactly analogous to the examples you use/give. Our very existence and being are being attacked, not our actions/behavior. So, while it is our responsibility to manage our reactions, justified or not, I didn't like your implication that the reaction wasn't justified.

Jul 3rd

Mag D Lean

You are amazing. I have been rumbling with very old shame that caused a lot of trauma. I needed this. Thank you! Looking forward to the shame resilience podcast.

Jul 3rd


Have you heard of the Buy Nothing Project? It seems like a great way to build trust and empathy in communities and have a tangible impact on climate change and pollution. I think it would make the world a much better place if you shared it to your listeners.

Jul 1st

Adeline Francois

sometimes I feel like I may forget my thoughts when I have more than one point to make [arguing with my husband] so what I do is jot down one or 2 words to remind myself of the point I want to make.

Jun 30th

Elaine Rose Beaudry

In 12 step meetings we laugh all the time, and often at the most tragic, shameful stories people tell. I think part of it is identification and joy that we have learned from it (humility + joy= humour). When we laugh about it, it melts away the shame and we can forgive ourselves because we know we are not alone and because we all understand and are not judging each other.

Jun 29th

Kaisa Siipilehto

😍😍😍 Loved the episode! made so many notes. Thank you for sharing your important work and stories.

Jun 26th

Fatemeh Backtash

Wow I LOVED this episode. How inspiring she is. Her perspective on life and everything.😍

Jun 23rd

Emily Nelson

Looking for the podcast on the Enneagram. Where did it go???? I'm loving everything that I find here. So very grateful!

Jun 23rd

Noor Al Dahshan

Absolutely fond your thoughts ❤️

Jun 21st
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