We love getting to know our star facilitators, and Miik Wells is no exception. We recently chatted with Miik to get the lowdown on self attunement, gratitude, and what it means to be a Circles facilitator. Enjoy our Q & A with Miik!
Q: Tell us about your journey and what brought you to Circles.
A: I started with Circles in the late summer/early fall of 2022. I started with video groups and when Circles was transitioning to audio groups. Audio groups really appealed to me, and I really felt at home. Until then, I’d been a forward-facing group facilitator for groups of all different sizes. But being a neurodivergent dude, masking is a huge thing. So while being on video is okay, it can be tiring to have to keep my face a certain way and present in a certain way. Going to audio rooms was awesome because it was just about my voice. I can hear people’s different words, inflections, and tones more clearly, and still still use my magic to facilitate without having to spend so much energy on how I present physically.
Right now I facilitate eight audio rooms, and I just started doing a masterclass on Saturdays at 11am Eastern. It’s a self attunement room, which I really love. I’ve worked with a lot of nonprofits and startups, and a lot of different projects, but when Circles came up, I really felt like this was already something I can do really well, and I can do it at home! It’s great to be able to somewhat set my own schedule and it helps me to not only keep my facilitative muscle strengthened, but also to just contribute to this wonderful platform that has the potential to shift how social media works, how it’s viewed, and what it’s leveraged for.
Q: You mentioned “self attunement,” and I see a lot of your rooms are focused on that. Can you share a little bit about what that means?
A: I think of “attunement” to mean as a parent emotionally attunes with their child, or as therapists attuning to their clients. But for me personally, I spent most of my life being told and taught not to be myself, and to look toward others for answers. I don’t think my parents knew that I was neurodivergent, so a lot of the things they taught me and a lot of things that happened at school focused on masking and social mechanics. It felt like I had to make this mask and pretend. Everything was very outward-facing and I had to filter all my thoughts and feelings and actions through an outward lens for others’ consumption. That was me attuning to everyone else. Self attunement, though, is the ability to be aware of and feel what’s happening inside and interpret it in a way that I know what’s going on with me. Then figuring out how I can translate that to others that still honors my experience alongside theirs. I offer the self attunement I was able to find for myself to others, so they can know and feel what’s going on within them, so they can understand themselves a little bit better too. Self attunement is being able to be with myself in a mindful and ecosystemic way. Even when it comes to little things–being hungry, or simply feeling happy or sad–it’s about being really in touch with myself on a deep level and being able to understand what I want, what I need, and what choices I need to make.
Q: Of course, relationships with others are important to mental health, too. Why are relationships so important?
A: Relationships are the foundation of life. It’s the only way that life exists–there’s a relationship among elements that have created what life is. The whole universe is made up of relationships between gravity, space, time, and all the elements colliding and collaborating with each other. So when it comes to life, nature is a wildly diverse network of different types of relationships.
But in our society, we collapse the concept of “relationship” into binary forms or limited concepts. So when you hear the word “relationship,” you probably think of two people being together in a romantic way. And relationships are so much more than that. Relationships include familial, social, professional. Relationships include distance, time, and so many other dynamics. Relationships involve how we process our hopes, dreams, and wounds. But, we are taught to collapse all of this into a romantic relationship, where everything we need from all these other types of relationships is supposed to be fulfilled. And when that fails and those expectations get dashed, everything seems to fall apart.
You’ll notice there’s a whole section of Circles rooms dealing with one part of a relationship–the ending. People often need help navigating all kinds and phases of relationships in all kinds of ways, so when I’m leading sessions, I try to put qualifiers on the term “relationship.” Is it a romantic relationship? An acquaintance relationship? A professional relationship?
For myself, I learned very early on that I could really only thrive in relationships. And I focused on romantic relationships but then thought a level deeper about my friend network and my family and inside myself. And it’s all a network of relationships. My wounding begins in that family relationship, and yet my thriving springs from that family relationship and other relationships, too. I’m fascinated with the foundation of life being relationships and how important relationships are to all of us. Yet we don’t have institutions dedicated to teaching us about the fullness and wildness of relationships–how they form, how they progress, how they die, and what healthy relationships are and feel like.
Q: Why is your work at Circles so rewarding?
A: I enjoy the journey of somebody coming in sharing about something and noticing a shift happen in them. It’s rewarding when somebody can go from being in their head to dropping into their heart and feeling their feelings. That’s where I feel like the work happens. That’s where I feel like the healing happens. I hear a lot of apologies. “Sorry for taking space” or “Sorry I’m taking time.” And I want people to take their time with themselves. We’re all here for exactly this. We all come so that we can actually be in that space together. It’s rewarding for me to cultivate a space that allows that to happen.
Maybe the most rewarding thing for me is to watch the different kinds of people who come into my space and feel comfortable enough to share. So to have dudes who traditionally haven’t really wanted to share their most intimate feelings–it’s great when they can do that in my space. I’ve had young people come in, I’ve had neurodivergent people come in, and I’ve had so many different kinds of people come into my space and appreciate it enough and feel held enough and embraced enough to share and keep coming back to deepen their relationship with themselves alongside others doing the same.
Q: What are your thoughts on gratitude and its role in mental health?
A: Growing up neurodivergent with undiagnosed sensory and processing challenges, it was a journey to learn about my own self and who I was. I was literally in one of those portables in elementary school with a whole bunch of other different kids and didn’t think that I was different. Eventually, later in life I reflected on the unprovoked bullying, school and work issues, and the way I see the world.
But thinking back on that, it’s been a real mental health journey. I’ve been in a couple of mental health facilities in my life. I was taken to one after an incident and I put myself in one because of how I was feeling at the time. I’ve had suicidal ideations in my life, and I’ve had to confront myself and overcome that despair. So navigating all that and being able to take my experience and wisdom and offer it to others–whether it’s facilitating teenagers, folks with cognitive disabilities, folks in survival… connecting with all different types of folks–is incredible. I’ve come from a place of not being healthy, and I’ve navigated it. So I’m walking alongside rather than talking down.
That’s a beautiful thing for me and it all begins with the gratitude I have for and from my parents. They grew up on Galveston Island and were working poor. They sacrificed themselves to the military so I and my future siblings could have more opportunity that wasn’t hampered by what they grew up in. My mom always championed me and helped me, not only because she’s my mom, but I think she’s undiagnosed neurodivergent too. I think she saw herself in me, and she wanted to make sure I could have what she didn’t get to have and do the things she wasn’t able to. She instilled in me an appreciation for what I have, which made room for me to explore different possibilities with gratitude, rather than trying to fill a hole with desperation. My father instilled in me a playful interactive social enjoyment, which has been such a necessary ingredient to how I’m received and the creative ways I can make connections and relationships inside and outside myself.
I find that having gratitude for who I am and what I have presently is an antidote for the stresses and anxieties of being focused on who I’m not and what I don’t have. Even as I want more of me, more comfort and security in my life, I can only start from where I am. And being able to be where I’m at is the healthiest for me mentally.
Q: What would you say to anyone who is hesitant about joining?
A: First, I’ll say I don’t compel people to share. People can come and just listen in. We understand that folks can be nervous about feeling compelled to share even their name or feeling or even just putting their voice out there. So taking away that barrier of not being compelled to speak provides a safe little doorway where people can just listen.
The next thing is that if you listen to people’s stories, you’ll definitely hear your life in their life. Someone will say something and it’ll resonate with something that you’ve been carrying that you don’t even know you’re carrying. You might hear a story and all of a sudden, an answer comes to you on how to navigate that.
Third, there’s a lot of options to go into and different tabs and different themes. There’s grief. There’s separation and divorce. There’s narcissism. There are so many different topics and types of areas and you can go into a room and hear stories and wisdom from folks’ lived and learned experience, while being guided or facilitated into deepening your relationship with yourself and others.
While I don’t compel people to share, I feel I should add that when people are finally comfortable, sharing is magical in a way. You can not only hear yourself speak, but you’re also releasing things that you’re holding onto, which makes room for other things to come. So we’ve been trained to suppress the urge to share it because sharing intimacy and messiness is usually punished in our society. But you’ll find yourself hearing and listening and eventually feeling this kind of this percolating space of maybe wanting to share something. And there’s a tingle that happens in somebody’s gut or their heart or their throat starts to clench. And I let people know that if you’re feeling those things, you probably want to do something. There’s something or someone in you that wants to share. Giving yourself the gift of sharing is a beautiful thing, especially if you’re being held the right way.
If you’re ready to get self attuned, download the Circles app and join one of Miik’s sessions!