The Mountain Is You by Brianna Wiest: Book Overview

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Mountain Is You" by Brianna Wiest. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is The Mountain Is You by Brianna Wiest about? What are the main takeaways of the book?

In The Mountain Is You, Brianna Wiest tells you how you can quit self-sabotaging behaviors so you can fulfill your life purpose. Her book explains Wiest’s concept of self-sabotage, how to recognize your self-sabotaging behaviors, and what you can do to overcome them.

Read below for a brief overview of The Mountain Is You by Brianna Wiest.

The Mountain Is You by Brianna Wiest

Achieving your life’s purpose and becoming the best version of yourself often seems impossible. However, in The Mountain Is You, Brianna Wiest explains that the only thing holding you back is yourself—and your self-sabotaging behaviors. Wiest explains that you self-sabotage when you desire a change—in yourself, your lifestyle, your career, and so on—but are too afraid to act. This internal conflict creates a barrier between who you are and who you want to be. To overcome this barrier, achieve your life purpose, and become your ideal self, Wiest says you must identify your self-sabotaging behaviors and their root causes, learn how to overcome them, and develop principles that will help you achieve your goals.

Wiest is a best-selling author and poet who focuses on spirituality, mindfulness, emotional intelligence, and self-improvement. Wiest holds a degree in professional writing with a minor in gender studies, and she has published titles including 101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think and The Truth About Everything. In both, Wiest uses her life experiences to provide advice on how to handle challenges, find meaning, and take control of your emotions and circumstances.

What Is Self-Sabotage?

Wiest argues that self-sabotaging behaviors are the avoidance tactics your brain develops in an attempt to protect you from your fears. For example, if you fear being alone, you may avoid this fear with the self-sabotaging tactic of staying in abusive relationships. If you fear failure, you may avoid this fear with the self-sabotaging tactic of never applying for the jobs you truly want. If you fear being disliked, you may avoid this fear with the self-sabotaging tactic of pretending to be someone you’re not.

You tend to develop unhealthy fears when you lack the mental or emotional skills (ME skills) necessary to handle difficult situations—Wiest refers to ME skills as emotional intelligence and mental strength. For example, you may fear being alone if you lack the ME skills to independently satisfy your emotional needs. You may fear failure if you lack the ME skill of self-confidence. You may fear being disliked if you lack the ME skill of self-love and consequently desire external validation.

(Shortform note: Other experts agree with Wiest that self-sabotage often happens when your emotions hijack your thinking and you lack the emotional intelligence skills (or ME skills) necessary to regain control. They add that the skills most helpful in avoiding emotional hijacking and self-sabotage are empathy, awareness, and compassion. These skills are important in overcoming self-sabotage because they allow us to accurately understand ourselves and others.)

Wiest explains that ME skill deficiencies usually develop because of life circumstances that prevented you from developing certain skills. For example, having an absent parent who denied you love and encouragement might have prevented you from developing ME skills like self-confidence and self-love. You’re then likely to fear being in a similar situation in future relationships.

(Shortform note: In Awaken the Giant Within, Tony Robbins cites another way that an emotionally unhealthy past can lead to self-sabotaging behavior. He elaborates that negative past experiences can create what he calls neuro-associations that influence how you perceive and behave in future situations. For instance, if you had an absent parent, you might associate intimate relationships with negative emotions because the relationship with your parent caused you such emotional pain. Consequently, you might engage in the self-sabotaging behavior of pushing away people who love you because you’re afraid you’ll end up getting hurt in the end.)

Wiest argues that the tactics you use to avoid your fears are self-sabotaging because they’re holding you back in life. You use them as a crutch to avoid difficult situations rather than developing the ME skills required to face them, which you must do to grow and achieve your life purpose. 

How to Overcome Self-Sabotage

Wiest explains that there are two steps to overcoming self-sabotage: 

  1. Identify your self-sabotaging behaviors and the ME deficiencies that they stem from. This will help you pinpoint the barriers preventing you from success.

Overcome your self-sabotaging behaviors by improving your ME skills, identifying your life purpose and ideal self, and taking active steps toward achieving these goals.

Step #1: Identify Your Self-Sabotaging Behaviors and Their Root Causes

Wiest explains that you can determine whether you’re self-sabotaging by identifying everything in your life that you’re unhappy about and want to change. Then, create a list of the behaviors that are preventing you from making those changes—these behaviors are self-sabotage.

For example, imagine you’re unhappy at your current job and want to become a writer instead. However, you aren’t making progress because you haven’t started looking for a writing job—your self-sabotaging behavior is procrastination. Write this down.

(Shortform note: While Wiest recommends uncovering self-sabotaging behaviors by identifying the things you don’t want and the barriers preventing you from changing, Tony Robbins advocates focusing on what you do want instead. In Awaken The Giant Within, Robbins says that having a clear idea of what you want will positively frame your efforts to overcome obstacles (such as self-sabotage), provide you with intrinsic motivation, and consequently make you more likely to succeed.) 

This exercise may not uncover all of your self-sabotaging behaviors, so Wiest suggests that you also consider whether any of the following situations are recurring themes in your life. If so, the behaviors that perpetuate them are probably forms of self-sabotage. 

  1. You lack the commitment necessary to achieve goals or nurture relationships.
  2. You engage in relationships that negatively influence you.
  3. You rely on others or society to guide your actions and goals.
  4. You rarely engage with people, information, or situations that feel “new.”

Add the self-sabotaging behaviors that contribute to these themes to your list. Then, take accountability for your self-sabotage by acknowledging that you have the power to change your situation—even if that means leaving relationships, jobs, or security, or changing the way you think or act.

Step #2: Strengthen Your Mental and Emotional Skills

Once you’ve identified your self-sabotaging behaviors and the ME deficits that are causing them, Wiest explains that you must take active, and sometimes uncomfortable, steps to overcome them. First, you must strengthen your ME skills by learning how to follow your instincts and effectively interpret, process, and respond to your emotions. Once you’ve improved your ME skills, you must identify your ideal self and life purpose and take steps to achieve them.

The Mountain Is You by Brianna Wiest: Book Overview

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Here's what you'll find in our full The Mountain Is You summary:

  • Why the only thing standing in your way of achieving your goals is you
  • How to achieve your life purpose and become your ideal self
  • How to identify your self-sabotaging behaviors and stop them

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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