Release year: 2020

Author: Brianna Wiest

Link to my handwritten notes

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Thanks to Marie-Ange for this recommendation!


This is a self-help book in every sense of the word. It feels like it has been a while since I have read a book this dedicated to provoking healing in someone. There is no story. There is no protagonist. The end feels like the beginning, and the tone is constant throughout the text.

It is not boring, though.

My first thought when I opened this book was that the author wasted no time getting straight into the subject matter. I find this good, because I know that people who need mental help don’t have time for fluff. This is text is immediately accessible, and feels very similar to listening to a therapist who explains what you are going through, what your journey will be made of, and what you can reasonably hope for. The fact that therapy is still underutilized in our era makes me want to recommend this book to anyone even more. All of us have annoying tendencies to self-sabotage rooted in trauma. Mine have been particularly strong for the majority of my life (lying, eating junk, self-hate), and I know I can’t claim that I totally got rid of them yet, except the self-hate part. I feel confident in saying that I finally learned what love is and how it works.

What makes this book useful is that it explains us where these urges come from and what to do with them if we hope to ever outgrow them.

I think the star quotes below will speak for themselves. You will know immediately if this is content resonates with you or not. Personally, I have done therapy a couple of years ago and I have undergone a personal revolution. At 31 years old, I am a radically different person than I was at 29 years old. I can confirm that the progression in “climbing the mountain” was very similar to the steps I went through when I merged with the new, better me. I just didn’t know it at the time.

I wonder how my journey would have been impacted had I read this book earlier. Would it have saved me some time when I felt like I was searching in the dark? Would it have made me overthink my current situation? Those questions seem impossible to answer.

If there is one criticism I could make about the book, it is that I wish the author talked more about herself and her own experience working through her mountain. I feel like it would have made this text even more relatable. However, I think I can understand why the book is written with a self-effaced narrator. It probably has something to do with the fact that therapists are also very closed-lipped about their own personal matters.

This is not a book about its author. It is a book about yourself. Its aim is to tell you where to draw the line in your mind in order to get out of your inner turmoil and confusion. I think it can be used as a compass to point to the areas of your life that need your input. You will still need to do the work; climbing your mountain might involve visiting the dark forests of your past that you would rather forget exist.

I did exactly that, and it changed my life, both for the better and for the worst. For example, everywhere around me, I now see challenges and adversity that I could previously brush off and forget by watching YouTube and playing games. This new reality of being accountable for our pain sucks, because it really is uncomfortable at times. However, for the first time in decades, I genuinely love who I am. There is no one in the world that I love more than myself, and I feel like I don’t depend on anyone telling me that they admire me to feel good about myself. I just love what I am, quirks and all, and this motivates me to take better care of myself. It makes me want not to sabotage what I am. I am what I hold dearest. That is what it feels like to have climbed your mountain.

Self-sabotage is a symptom, that’s what it boils down to. Instead of trying to fight your urges, over and over, you can face your inner demons, your traumas, and go beyond your current reality.

This book is an invitation to start your own journey. I strongly recommend it as a first step toward rebuilding your mental strength, especially if you have not yet felt ready to start feeing a therapist. This is a path the majority of us has to go through at least once in our lives, and the sooner we start it, the sooner we can enjoy the purposeful life we were truly meant to live.

Félix rating:

⭐ Star Quotes

  1. (p. 8) You must mourn the loss of your younger self, the person who has gotten you this far but who is no longer equipped to carry you onward.
  2. (p. 11) Self-sabotage is simply the presence of an unconscious need that is being fulfilled by the self-sabotaging behavior. It is a coping mechanism that comes from irrational fear.
  3. (p. 17) Criticism comes with creating anything for the public and isn’t a reason to not do it.
  4. (p. 18) Even though we think we’re after happiness, we’re actually trying to find whatever we’re most used to.
  5. (p. 21) The first step in healing anything is taking full accountability.
  6. (p. 21) The greatest act of self-love is to no longer accept a life you are unhappy with.
  7. (p. 28) Overcoming self-sabotage is not about trying to figure out how to override your impulses; it is first determining why those impulses exist in the first place.
  8. (p. 28) Self-sabotage is not a way we hurt ourselves; it’s a way we try to protect ourselves.
  9. (p. 31) Playing small allows you to evade scrutiny.
  10. (p. 34) We are not really wired to be happy; we are wired to be comfortable.
  11. (p. 34) In uprooting, you are jumping from relationship to relationship instead of confronting relationship issues when they arise. You are not allowing yourself to blossom; you are only comfortable with the process of sprouting.
  12. (p. 37) Don’t worry about writing a bestseller, just write.
  13. (p. 37) Instead of having something done perfectly, focus on just getting it done.
  14. (p. 37) If you don’t get started, you’ll never arrive.
  15. (p. 43) When you find yourself struggling with something, you have to ask yourself: “Do I actually want to do this?”
  16. (p. 45) ⭐ If you learn to love others, you will learn to love yourself.
  17. (p. 48) ⭐ Don’t see your success as a differentiator. That will always make you feel bad and uncomfortable. Instead, see success as a tool that can do important and positive things in the world and your own life.
  18. (p. 50) The idea of having “made it” makes us afraid that we are reaching the pinnacle and therefore will fall off if it.
  19. (p. 53, 54) People who are constantly “busy” are running from themselves. Nobody is “busy” unless they want to be busy. Being “busy” is not a virtue; it only signals to others that you do not know how to manage your time or your tasks.
  20. (p. 56) You should leave a get-together feeling energized and inspired, not exhausted and angry.
  21. (p. 63)
    • ⭐ If your subconscious core commitment is to be in control, your core need is trust.
    • If your subconscious core commitment is to be needed, your core need is wanted.
    • ⭐ If your subconscious core commitment is to be loved by others, your core need is self-love.
  22. (p. 64) ⭐ The only issue that has ever really existed in your life is living out of alignment with your core needs and, therefore, your core purpose.
  23. (p. 68) Your emotions are not always an accurate reflection of reality, but they are always valid and need to be validated.
  24. (p. 74) Sadness is the normal and correct response to the loss of something you very much love.
  25. (p. 74) ⭐ Sadness does not release itself all at once. It happens in waves, sometimes unexpectedly.
  26. (p. 74) ⭐ Crying at appropriate times is one of the biggest signs of mental strength, as people who are struggling often find it difficult to release their feelings and be vulnerable.
  27. (p. 77) Other people are under no obligation to live up to our ideas of them.
  28. (p. 77) We imagine that if we are worried, anxious or angry about a potential threat, it will remain within our awareness and therefore cannot surprise us. This is derailing our lives right now, because we are channeling our energy into something that is outside of our control.
  29. (p. 81) An incomplete list of valid needs:
    • To feel validated
    • To feel the presence of another person
    • To feel wanted
    • To feel secure
  30. (p. 82) Often, the first reason we start neglecting our essential needs is because we think we are weak for having them.
  31. (p. 84) No outward accomplishment is going to give you a true and lasting sense if inner peace.
  32. (p. 86) The happier you are with something, the less you need other people to be.
  33. (p. 93) ⭐ Your feelings, while valid, are not always accurate reflections of reality. They are accurate reflections of your thoughts.
  34. (p. 93) Our thoughts change our feelings. Our thoughts do not change our instincts.
  35. (p. 103) Self-sabotage is just a product of low emotional intelligence.
  36. (p. 104) Emotional intelligence is the ability to interpret the sensations that come up in your body and understand what they are trying to tell you about your life.
  37. (p. 105) Neurologically, when we get something we really want, we just start to want more.
  38. (p. 105) Dopamine is the chemical that gives you the pleasure of wanting more.
  39. (p. 108) When we are so deeply enmeshed in the feeling of “wanting,” it becomes hard to adjust to the experience of “having.”
  40. (p. 108) ⭐ Any change, no matter how positive, is uncomfortable until it is also familiar.
  41. (p. 111) It’s not radical moments of action that give us long-lasting, permeating change – it’s the restructuring of our habits.
  42. (p. 112) The outcomes of life are not governed by passion, they are governed by principle. We control our actions, but the consequences that flow from those actions are controlled by principles.
  43. (p. 115) Those who can’t help but create problems in their minds often do so because they have ceased creative control of their existence. They think that life happens to them, rather than being the product of their actions.
  44. (p. 115) Adversity makes you creative.
  45. (p. 117) The expectation that a positive event will eliminate all stress and bring unprecedented happiness is a destructive one, because the event rarely does that (e.g. weddings, childbirth, pay raise, new job, etc.)
  46. (p. 119) Big achievements actually pressure us to become increasingly better versions of ourselves. They are a not positive for our lives, but can be just as uncomfortable as struggling was, if not more.
  47. (p. 120) Psychic thinking is assuming you know what somebody else is thinking or what they intend to do.
  48. (p. 121) Psychic thinking detaches us from reality. It is biased toward what we want to believe.
  49. (p. 121) Instead of feeling like we are having a down day, psychic thinking makes us assume we are having a terrible life.
  50. (p. 123) ⭐ “This moment is not my life. It is a moment in my life.”
  51. (p. 126) ⭐ When you experience a logical lapse, the climax of your story-telling becomes the conclusion.
  52. (p. 127) Mental strength is believing that we have the capacity to handle things going wrong.
  53. (p. 129) When you’re very anxious, your brain is taking an often innocuous stimulus and extracting some kind of meaning or prediction from it.
  54. (p. 130) The more you avoid a fear, the more intense it becomes.
  55. (p. 130) Faulty inference: When you come up with a false conclusion based on valid evidence.
  56. (p. 132) Crisis is not necessary for an artist to function.
  57. (p. 141) Just because an experience has ended doesn’t mean it’s over.
  58. (p. 142) ⭐ Instead of accepting the ways we think life did not work out, we have to be able to see what was at the core of our desire and figure out a way to still give ourselves that experience now.
  59. (p. 145) A mind stuck in the past doesn’t want to return there. It was impacted more deeply than you realized and the aftershocks are still rippling through you.
  60. (p. 147) You can’t wait for everything to be perfect to be happy. You change your life when you start showing up exactly as you are.
  61. (p. 150) Nature depends on imperfection.
  62. (p. 151) When something is right for you, it brings you clarity. When something is wrong for you, it brings you confusion.
  63. (p. 152) You can fall in love with potential and confuse it with reality.
  64. (p. 153) What is not right for you does not remain with you because you don’t want it, and so you don’t choose it.
  65. (p. 154) Trauma is what happens when something scares you and you do not get over that fear. Trauma is the experience if disconnecting with a fundamental source of safety.
  66. (p. 179) Trauma happens most severely when our attachment to our primary caretakers is compromised.
  67. (p. 156) Recovery comes down to restoring the feeling of one’s safety.
  68. (p. 157) You must reestablish a feeling of safety in the exact area of life that traumatized you.
  69. (p. 161) Stop meditating to feel calm; start meditation to just feel.
  70. (p. 162) Use breath scans to find residual tension in the body. Breathe in and out slowly, and without taking a break between breaths.
  71. (p. 165) Positive disintegration is when we must adapt our self-concept to become someone who can handle, if not thrive, in the situation we are in.
  72. (p. 168)
    • Fear is not going to protect you. Action is.
    • Worrying is not going to protect you. Preparing is.
    • Overthinking is not going to protect you. Understanding is.
  73. (p. 170) People who have truly transformed are not concerned solely with how things appear. Their lives are now focused intently on how things feel.
  74. (p. 170) Prioritize your heart over someone else’s eyes.
  75. (p. 172) ⭐ You have nobody to prove wrong but yourself.
  76. (p. 180,212) The point of meditation is to make yourself quiet enough so that the lake in you comes back to its natural stillness. We can use the ripples at the top of the water to trace back down to the problem at the bottom.
  77. (p. 188) ⭐ Validating feelings means you remind someone that it is human to feel things they don’t always understand. Instead of trying to strategize, just say, “that must really suck.”
  78. (p. 190) When someone is complaining about something simple – and they seem to be doing it more than the situation calls for – they aren’t trying to get your help about a small issue. They are trying to have their feelings validated.
  79. (p. 191) Validating your feelings is just letting yourself have them.
  80. (p. 203) Your purpose doesn’t require you to be the best at something. It is the things that naturally call you, that effortlessly flow out of you, and that evoke specific emotions from you.
  81. (p. 209) In the healing process, suppressing and controlling can seem like a fine line. Suppressing is unconscious. Controlling is conscious.
  82. (p. 212) Behind the goal of happiness is a lingering sense of unhappiness. That’s how balance and duality works. Inner peace is the state between the scales. (p. 214) When we begin to trust our thoughts, we let them inform our feelings. The combination of the two makes the situation feel real.
  83. (p. 215) Our thoughts are not always reflective of reality and should be used as more of suggestions than anything else.
  84. (p. 217) Your happiness has never come from things being perfect on the outside, but from you being present and open and connected to yourself and to the moment.
  85. (p. 220) ⭐ When you are consistently worrying and overthinking, it’s because you don’t have a plan regarding the thing that’s making you scared.
  86. (p. 227) Talk it out, because things are often more complicated in your head.
  87. (p. 230) When you’re struggling, the most insulting and difficult thing that someone can tell you is to “just relax,” or “just enjoy yourself.”
  88. (p. 230) Ironically, many people who struggle emotionally are, at their core, people who actually just have a greater desire to enjoy life.
  89. (p. 231) Happiness is your natural state. You will return to it on your own if you allow the other feelings to come up, be felt and processed, and not resisted.
  90. (p. 232) ⭐ ⭐ Connecting with others is not just spending time with them; it has to do with not trying to dominate, impress, or create an emotional reaction in someone.
  91. (p. 234) Think of life as something you can constantly learn from.
  92. (p. 235) Genuinely happy people are more at peace than they are ecstatic about everything they experience.
  93. (p. 239) One day, the mountain that was in front of you will be so far behind you, it will barely be visible in the distance. But who you will become in learning to climb it will stay with you forever.