In Michelle Obama’s new book “The Light We Carry,” the former First Lady offers her ‘personal toolbox’ with habits, practices, attitudes, and beliefs that helped her through difficult times, such as the COVID Pandemic. 

“What I can offer is a glimpse inside my personal toolbox. This book is meant to show you what I keep there and why, what I use professionally and personally to help me stay balanced and confident, what keeps me moving forward even during times of anxiety and stress,” writes Obama. 

While she was at home, ruminating over what was happening in the US – from an increasing number of COVID deaths to the January 6 Capitol Insurrection – Obama developed a series of tools that she relied upon to move forward. Now, she is sharing those tools with readers. 

As someone who suffers from anxiety, Michelle’s vulnerability when discussing her struggle with such is inspiring and admirable. 

Throughout the book, she explores feelings of self-doubt. This came as a surprise to me. How could the former first lady of the United States, one of the strongest, most powerful women in the world, ever doubt herself? 

In the book, she describes the night before she left for the Becoming book tour, her New York Times best-selling memoir. “I stared hard at the bedroom ceiling, feeling the anxiety rise like a tide in my chest, the doubts looping through my head. Have I said too much? Can I pull this off? Will I blow it? What then?” writes Michelle. 

I had a lot of questions about how to overcome anxiety and fear when it felt like the ground was moving beneath us.

Michelle Obama

Her openness makes Obama’s book relatable to the everyday reader. Again, it is impressive how a former first lady, who lived in the White House for eight years and was present during some of the nation’s most historic moments, could make herself relatable. There is comfort in relatability. 

“He [Barack Obama] helped me remember that anxiety was a natural part of doing something new and big,” describes the author. Here, I believe Obama is communicating that anxiety is not necessarily a negative feeling, as it usually anticipates a critical moment in one’s life. 

Anxiety, she writes, can serve as a form of “fuel” used to grow stronger in the face of challenging situations. 

She also offers comfort to younger generations. 

“If you are a younger person reading this, please remember to be patient with yourself. You are at the beginning of a long and interesting journey, one that will not always be comfortable,” reassured the author. 

Michelle’s doubts and insecurities

To read that coming from someone as powerful as Michelle Obama herself appeases my fears, as I remind myself that even the former first lady was a young woman with doubts and insecurities. 

Michelle urges readers to focus on the “power of small.” She describes the “power of small” as the intermediate steps between starting and finishing. 

“It can be relieving to engage in what’s immediately in front of you, and where a start can more readily lead to a finish.” This was the tool used by the former first lady to move from the mindset of “this is all too much to handle” to “I’ve got this.”

Michelle narrowed her focus, choosing to dedicate her energy and time to smaller tasks that were meaningful to her and her family. And in those small accomplishments, she found hope and comfort.  

“Once again, I’d remind you of the power of small actions, small gestures, and small ways you might allow yourself to reset and restore. Not everyone will be a lion or a hurricane. But that doesn’t mean your work won’t count. Or that your story shouldn’t be told,” writes the author. 

Although at times cliche and repetitive, “The Light We Carry” is a beautiful book that brings comfort and truly productive tools to help those battling anxiety. 

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