How To Develop A Relationship With Yourself With Brianna Wiest
If Brianna Wiest’s words haven’t found their way to you via Pinterest or Instagram, you’re missing out. Algorithms have definitely caught on to my love of Wiest’s words, and I’m constantly inspired by her wise-beyond-her-years quotes.
In this interview, Wiest talks about how she got into writing, what transformation really looks like, the limiting beliefs stopping us from living to our potential.
We dig into what healthy boundaries look like, reframing alone time, and the daily non-negotiables that keep her grounded.
And if you’re seeking to make a big leap in life, but you’re scared as hell, she has some advice for you.
What’s your story? How did you get to the place where you are now, inspiring hundreds of thousands of people around the world with your words?
Well first, thanks. I’m really grateful and flattered to get to touch people’s lives, even if briefly. As for how I got here, I would say it’s just been a process of accumulation. I’ve been writing for years, and slowly, it’s built up. I’ve always been drawn to topics and ideas that I have personally found to be helpful to me and my life, so I think that my natural interest in that has really resonated with other people. We are all so similar deep down, and as they say, just walking each other home.
What was it like for you growing up? Have you always known this is what you want to do?
Yes and no. I knew I always loved English, and reading. I thought I wanted to go into publishing and editing, which I did. I definitely knew that this was my zone of interest and skill, but the specific way that it’s unfolded continues to surprise me. I started meditating in my late teens and through that gained the clarity that I needed to write. At the time, it wasn’t about a job or anything like that — I just knew this was what I was born to do, and I still believe that. Even if I couldn’t do it for work, I’d never stop. I don’t think I could.
I did always cry to my mom telling her I had to “help people,” and I needed to figure out how as soon as possible. I did not think writing would be my medium, but I guess it sort of makes sense. I think with atypical careers, it’s hard to imagine yourself doing it when you’re young because everyone pretty much tells you it’s impossible.
How did your career journey start? What steps did you take to get published?
I started submitting articles at the very end of my college career when I was looking for a job. I got picked up by an awesome online magazine that I still work closely with today. After a few years, I started working for myself. Getting published was just a matter of perseverance, and this is true for every single place I have written for. I just kept pitching and submitting until I gave them something they liked.
Okay, let’s jump into your work. Your next book is about self-sabotage, why do we self-sabotage, what does this look like and how can we transform without getting in our way?
Well, that’s a really big question and honestly took an entire book to answer so I am not sure I can do it effectively in a few sentences. However, I can say this: everyone self-sabotages, self-sabotage is probably causing you more pain than you know, and there’s a reason why you can’t just muscle your way through it, find more willpower, or just “get over it.” Self-sabotaging behaviors meet unconscious needs. All of our behaviors have motive. When we’re stuck, there’s something that we’re missing. We are creating an obstruction to meeting our desired goal, which means that we need to figure out what that obstruction is doing for us mentally, emotionally or physically.
In one of your posts, you talk about hitting the tipping point, a critical mass, where all those little steps you’ve taken start to pay off – do you remember what that moment was like for you? What is the before and after of a transformation in your life?
I think I hit tipping points pretty often, and I think most people do. When you’re working toward different things for a very long time, eventually, the compounding effort gives you a result. To answer your latter question, the biggest before and after of my life was when I went from being a closed-minded, depressed, anxious, judgmental and self-sabotaging victim to an empowered, strong, healed, organized, fair leader. I am not perfect and I am constantly working on myself, but that’s part of it. You recognize that we weren’t designed to just be “completed” one day, through our imperfections we are given opportunities for growth. However, when I reconnect with people I haven’t seen for many years they pretty much all say the same thing: “You are a completely different person.” I say, thank you, it took a lot of work to get here.
What limiting beliefs have you faced? And what do you do now when they resurface?
I face limiting beliefs daily, and I think everybody does. It can be as simple as “I’m not good enough for that,” or as complex as “well, I’ve always struggled with this, so there’s no way it will change now.” Every time I come up on a block, a problem, or tension in my chest, I realize that I’m engaging in a limiting belief, and I’m approaching and opportunity to change the story now.
I consciously re-create the thought process in my mind, and I do it in a way that feels realistic to me. It could be: “I’d like to prove to myself that I am good enough to at least try,” or “well, I’ve always struggled with this, but I am willing to see this change, and I’m ready to work toward it changing.”
Going from all negative to all positive usually has an opposite effect than what you intend, you don’t believe it so you get angry and revert back to the old way of thinking. Just opening your mind slightly to possibility is really what makes the difference.
For some people, spending time alone can be really hard – how do you develop a relationship with yourself, spend time alone, and avoid loneliness?
I think everyone needs differing amounts of alone time, and that’s totally normal. We were designed for connection, so if you’re not connecting with others, you need to connect with yourself. Be intentional about time spent alone, decide you’re going to do something on your own and totally savor it, make the experience your own. I take a lot of time for myself and I love it. It’s about deciding whether it’s a matter of you being alone because you have to be, or being alone because you’re taking an opportunity for self-discovery and love.
You have a powerful post on boundaries that reads: “Each time you break your boundaries in order to ensure someone likes you, you end up liking yourself that much less.” When I read that, it hit me how that’s exactly what I have experienced. Can you explain what this means through experiences in your own life? And how can we respect our boundaries more?
Yes. I used to have no boundaries. For a long time, I saw boundaries as obstructions to connection, when they are actually the foundation of connection. I thought that setting boundaries would make people dislike me, when in reality, it made people not respect me, and therefore, I did not like myself.
Setting boundaries in a kind but clear way is life-changing, mostly because it sets the expectation for what you will and will not allow in your life. This is really healthy and everyone needs to learn to do it. You’re not fostering a better relationship by not having boundaries, you’re slowly destroying it because one day, you’re going to snap and cut the person off. Start by communicating what you need and when, and everything goes better.
I’ve had so many aha moments from reading your words – where do you get your aha moments? Who do you learn from?
So many people! A lot of people in my life, honestly. My husband is a genius. My best friends are unbelievable, they teach me things and inspire me non-stop, they are some of the most inspiring, forward-thinking, possibility-driven people I’ve ever known, I’m so blessed to have them all. I read so many articles, posts and books from people I admire. However, the real “aha!” moments come from self-reflection. When I sit down in the morning to have my coffee and do some self-work, that’s when things really start to come together. I see patterns, I start understanding myself better. I can zoom out and make sense of it all.
What still challenges you?
Everything. I am not naturally emotionally intelligent. I am naturally judgmental. I naturally have low self-esteem. It is daily work to improve all of those, and though my baseline has shifted significantly, I am constantly having to learn new techniques, and new perspectives. I am constantly being challenged. I actually think this is a gift.
What are your daily non-negotiables for living your best life?
This is a great one. A clean home, a peaceful living space. Black coffee in the morning, alone time to read. Nature, or at least, open windows when I can’t get that. Time with the people I love. I am a simple person.
What advice do you have to someone who knows she was made for more than the life she is living, but has so much fear on taking the leap?
If you know, deep down, you are meant for more than what is in front of you right now — you are right. But your convictions will be challenged. People will doubt you and try to keep you where you are so as to not call attention to their own lack of progress. You are going to have to embody the true definition of faith, because you are going to have to trust the path when you can’t see the final destination. Get crystal clear on your vision, sum it up in a few key points, and work on that daily. Your new life is at your fingertips, but you have to reach out and take it.