Photo by Janelle Putrich
A mere twenty-nine years old, Brianna Wiest has already written nine books (three of which have been international best-sellers) and over a thousand articles that have been featured in some of the most reputable publications of our time. While that alone is impressive, even more so is Brianna's depth of wisdom at such a young age which is conveyed through her writing.
One of our favorite reads is Brianna's book, The Mountain Is You: Transforming Self-sabotage into Self-mastery. Brianna beautifully articulates the power of self-awareness, acceptance, and perseverance in determining how we navigate obstacles and create the life we want for ourselves, which we discussed in our interview.
EIM+: I think many people automatically assume that wisdom is a byproduct of aging. While that may be true to some extent, I think we both would agree that wisdom comes from embracing and learning from the challenging experiences that life presents.
If you wouldn’t mind sharing, what life experiences or moments of clarity have led you to obtain so much wisdom at such a young age?
Brianna: I really appreciate your perspective on this. Wisdom is a byproduct of self-inquiry, time, and disposition. Some people are naturally more inclined to think in broader strokes, and I think that leads to a lot of conclusions drawn and insights had. I am also flattered by your question. In the years I’ve spent writing, I certainly was not consciously thinking of myself as wise person or that what I was writing contained wisdom, so I do appreciate that it’s taken that way now. I have tried to be brave with my life, to peer into my unconscious and ask the hard questions. I try to find the balance between working on myself and accepting who I already am. I am interested and intrigued by what it takes to live a healthy and emotionally stable life in a world that can be at times incredibly unhealthy and unstable. I try to think of the big picture and live a life I won’t regret. Probably a dozen different specific events come to mind as being catalysts for introspection for me, but in general, I think I could pinpoint the most important being when I hit a crisis point with my mental health right before I began journaling as part of psychotherapy and eventually ended up sharing it online. It began for me a journey of no longer just going through the motions of life and moving from milestone to milestone, but instead evaluating what a meaningful life would look like, what I believe my purpose is, and what mental shifts I could employ that would help me better organize my big feelings before they become destructive, to move through the world with a little more ease.
EIM+: You talk about how we often must hit rock bottom or become so uncomfortable we can’t ignore our problems anymore before we are motivated to do something about them. Seeing those we care about struggle is challenging but sometimes necessary for them to act. However, what if a leader notices that a team member’s self-sabotage is keeping them from doing their best work, and it’s affecting the entire team? Do you have any recommendations for how this leader can effectively address and navigate this situation?
Brianna: This is a pretty specific question and I think I’d need more context to be able to answer it completely, but there are two things I know for sure: First, when we see someone we care about or have a relationship with engaging in self-destructive behavior, it’s almost always a good idea to sit down and ask them if they are okay, if they need help, or if they are aware of the damage they are causing within their own lives and others. Bringing their attention to it is the first step, but it has to be done with care, and tact, and with someone they trust to have their best interest at heart. Second, while we can try to intervene in other people’s lives as much as possible, ultimately, once their attention is brought to the issue, the willingness, desire, and readiness to change must come from that individual. From that point, it becomes matter of setting boundaries and communicating expectations. I think I’m probably supposed to say the team leader should encourage that individual to learn more about self-sabotage from a certain self-sabotage book I can recommend.
EIM+: Self-awareness can give us the insight we need to act and create change. However, what if someone feels their efforts are unfruitful? For example, if someone becomes aware that their inability to obtain money is tied to their lack of self-worth. They may begin to recite positive affirmations and ask for more money for their services. Yet they fail to see changes. What might this indicate? What advice would you have for someone that finds themselves stuck in self-doubt?
Brianna: To use the specific example you gave, that individual would probably have to look more clearly at the nuances within the issue. Is the problem actually a need to obtain more capital or is it just a desire to appear more outwardly successful? If the issue is actually a need for more capital, is the service being provided as valuable as what the person is asking for it, are the correct marketing efforts being made, is the person offering a service they feel morally comfortable with? Do they really, truly want to do this work? What is the deeper wound that developed the experience of low self-worth, and has that been fully unpacked and have new conclusions and beliefs been drawn surrounding their self-image? Have they given it enough time to actually see the results of the changes, or are they blindly trying to adapt their lives to a greater vision without real thought behind what they are changing, how and why? All of this is part of this deep work. It’s all part of bringing our lives into alignment — beginning with our mindset as the foundation, and then going outward.
EIM+: It's sometimes said that the books we write are ones we longed for ourselves. After writing The Mountain Is You, have you found yourself in moments of self-sabotage? If so, do you ever reference your own advice?
Brianna: Everything I have ever written is, more or less, a series of letters to my younger self. To say that “The Mountain Is You”, or any of my other books, was the book I needed is honestly an understatement. It’s the book that would have saved my life. I don’t pick up my books and re-read them, but I hold within me what I learned through writing them, and I live those truths as fully as I can, as often as I am able. I think that’s what really matters in the end — in the moments we most need structure, guidance, or clarity, it’s not the words on the pages of a book that will help us, but the way it imprinted something within our minds.
EIM+: You have an extensive writing background that covers an array of topics. However, you have taken a strong interest in emotional intelligence and well-being. What about these topics speak to you?
Brianna: Yes, this is part of my journey that I’m not sure many people know about. I’m a writer by profession, and had plans and intentions to continue into journalism, editing and news and culture writing. At the beginning, writing about these topics was a passion. Then, it became a calling. I realized that other people were responding so strongly, it felt obvious that I had to let go and take the big leap. It was scary at first, to think I would build a life from writing about feelings. It’s worked out well.
As for what about these specific topics speak to me, I think it’s beautiful that there is language and art within this world that can actually speak to your deepest emotions and experiences, that can help you understand yourself better, shift your perspective of things, and possibly even savor your life more, enjoy life more, deal with life better. It just feels like the most important kind of self-investment, to ask yourself: what could I learn, or think about, that would make me a more whole, more grounded, more willing human being? More willing to be fully within my experiences, more willing to know and experience real connection, real love, real awe?
EIM+: What do you want to be known for at the end of the day? What is the legacy you want to leave behind?
Brianna: I want to be remembered as a brave soul who helped shift human consciousness.