Last December, I spent a few days in New York City. I was there to record the Audible audiobook for my new book Happy Days, starting with chapter 1 about feeling free — and I was prepared!
Or, so I thought …
I wore my softest leggings to be cozy for the read.
On the way to the recording studio, I picked up enough water and tea to keep myself hydrated for DAYS.
But unfortunately, I forgot to pack some tissues.
I was just a few pages into the manuscript when tears started flowing. Within minutes, I was back in that trash-strewn car that I describe so vividly in Chapter 1 …
I was an addict again …
I was my 24-year-old self.
Chapter 1: Willing to Become Free
On today’s special episode of the Dear Gabby Podcast, you’ll hear me read the intro to Happy Days, and the entire first chapter from my Audible audiobook. (Yep! This is a MAJOR sneak peek.)
When the book begins, I’m chugging red Gatorade in that littered car. I’m in my 20s — hungover, anxious, and exhausted on every level. As I wait for the street-cleaners to sweep by and free up my parking spot, I listen to a cassette tape over and over.
It’s a recording of a psychic reading I’d had five months earlier. Here’s what happens next:
An Excerpt From Happy Days
Outside the car, the noise of people walking toward the subway interrupts me. They look so put together with their coffee cups and shoulder bags. As I watch everyone begin their day, I accept that mine is ending. The street cleaners sweep through the lane across from me, and I follow them from behind to secure my spot. I leave my empty Gatorade bottle on the floor of my trashed car and head back into my apartment. I’m desperate to get into bed, but I have to wash my face from the night before. I jump in my moldy shower and let the water wash over me as my mascara runs down my face.
“She Let the Path Unfold Perfectly …”
When I’m done showering, I quickly get into bed and take some kind of downer. While I wait for my sleeping pill to kick in, I feverishly journal the psychic’s words over and over. I write so that I don’t have to face the severe anxiety and heart palpitations. As the pill sets in, the anxiety subsides as if it’s being shut behind a door, one that will reopen when I wake. The sounds of the trash cans clashing outside my window and the people heading to work become softer and softer as I finally fall asleep. As I recall that morning, I have tears in my eyes.
I can think my way back into that car as if it were yesterday. Those feelings of shame, insecurity, and unsafety come back to me. I know that girl intimately, and I’m proud of the choice she made to be the woman she is today. Even though it would take her another year of self-destruction, addiction, and near death to finally get clean and sober, she let the path unfold perfectly. I thank God every day that she chose the path of recovery.
My 24-year-old self could never have imagined who I am today. Thankfully she made the right choice to get clean and hold a vision for a better future, for true happiness. A vision of freedom and inner peace.
The Path to Feeling Free
The prediction that psychic made would change my life forever. She helped me see that I had reached a fork in the road. I could take two life paths … and only one led to feeling free.
I share the psychic’s haunting words on Dear Gabby today. As I read aloud from Happy Days, you’ll also learn:
- The spiritual way to treat pain and suffering (it’s not about brushing it off … and I’ll tell you why!)
- The first step to achieving inner peace and feeling free (this is something ANYONE can do, no matter how much suffering you’ve endured)
- Why “udoing” is a key word for anyone looking to heal (put this word on a Post-It note and make it a mantra — this will make sense soon!)
- The ONLY reason that you’re blocked from success, abundance, or whatever it is that you want (this may be hard to grasp at first, but this powerful truth will unlock so much healing)
- How to interrupt patterns from your past so that they don’t keep repeating in the future (you CAN find happy days ahead!)
- What you can do to know — beyond a shadow of a doubt — that Spirit is by your side
The Secret to Manifesting
And, I’ll give you an exercise that will open you up to manifesting the great changes you are here to make. (People ask me all the time for the secret to manifesting … well, this is it!)
Listening to today’s episode of Dear Gabby is a brave and significant act. Whether you know it or not, this is an important step on your path to freedom and inner peace.
By reading this blog, or listening to the Dear Gabby podcast, You’re proving to the Universe that you’re willing to feel better.
You’re willing to become free.
My Promise to You
In the introduction to Happy Days, I make this promise to you:
When you open a book like this it means you’re claiming a level of joy and peace you never knew were possible. When you bravely follow my guidance, show up for the steps, and honor the feelings that come up along the way, you will come out the other side a new version of yourself. You will come back through to you.
I mean that with all of my heart.
Get More Gabby
The following are helpful resources and books I mention within the episode:
Happy Days: The Guided Path from Trauma to Profound Freedom and Inner Peace is out now! This is my greatest spiritual work yet. This book is a journey toward lifelong transformation, and I guide you closer to freedom and peace with every page. I’ve infused each word of this book with love, and it’s my privilege to share it with you.
Get the Happy Days Audible audiobook here: audible.com/HappyDays.
If you need additional support or want to find a trauma therapist near you, please refer to this list of mental health resources.
Want even more support? I created the Miracle Membership to help you design a spiritual practice you can stick to—so you can feel connected, supported and inspired every day. Each week I deliver brand new workshops, guided meditations, community connection, and so much more. Plus, it’s easy to access on your phone, computer or tablet. Click here to join.
The following podcast is a Dear Media production.
Hey there. Welcome to Dear Gabby. I’m your host Gabby Bernstein. And if you landed here, it is absolutely no accident. It means that you’re ready to feel good and manif...
The following podcast is a Dear Media production.
Hey there. Welcome to Dear Gabby. I’m your host Gabby Bernstein. And if you landed here, it is absolutely no accident. It means that you’re ready to feel good and manifest a life beyond your wildest dreams. Let’s get started.
Welcome back. Welcome back. Welcome back. I am sitting in my apartment in New York City voice memoing this intro for you. I’m in the middle of my book tour and I am so freaking psyched to witness so many of you holding Happy Days in your hand, sharing it on Instagram, tagging me in your photos. I wanted to read one of the beautiful testimonials that came in on 2/22/22, when the book came out, this is so gorgeous.
Gabby, I’m reading Happy Days on the bus, on my way to work. I’m struggling to hold back tears. It feels like the biggest relief. I’ve read all your books. I’m a miracle member, but for some reason, this book feels so important. I feel it’s going to save my life. Although I didn’t know I was dying.
I’m 15 minutes in on the Audible and it’s just everything. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Full body chills and tears coming through. I’m so proud to share this work with you. I’m so proud of your bravery to take this journey with me. I’m so excited that my new book, Happy Days is out in the world and I’m pleased to share the introduction to the first chapter with you.
You can listen to the exclusive audio version at audible.com/happydays.
So, if you haven’t read the book yet or if you have the book and haven’t listened to the audio or if you have the audio and wanna just get a little reminder of what Chapter 1 feels like, just keep listening.
My prayer is that this book guides you on a transformational healing path that you will come out from this journey with me a new version of yourself, that you’ll feel a tremendous sense of inner freedom relief.
Like our beautiful testimonial said and inner peace. That’s my promise. So keep listening, enjoy the introduction to the book. I love you guys.
Knowledge is power. And when you know more, you can make better decisions for your body, your health and your future. There aren’t many decisions bigger than having a child. And you know that I’ve shared about this, and I’ve also been really forthcoming about my fertility journey. And that’s why Modern Fertility was created.
It’s an easy and affordable way to test your fertility hormones at home with a simple finger prick. Mail it in with a prepaid label and you’ll get your personalized results within 10 days. And now here’s the deal. When I meet women in their thirties, even women in their late twenties, I asked them, are you aware of what’s going on with your fertility hormones?
And I’ve shared very openly about my struggles and trials and tribulations with my fertility journey. I had my son at 39 years old, after three years of not being able to conceive and then having to do fertility treatment, followed by another year of IVF. So I am very familiar with what happens when you are not aware of your fertility hormones and you wait until you’re older.
The earlier you get this information, the better. And the traditional guidance with fertility has been just wait and see. But now we have the tools, people. And so, it’s time to start taking your wellness into your own hands. And traditional testing with your doctor can cost over a thousand dollars, but Modern Fertility gets you the same info at 159, a fraction of the price.
And if you go to modernfertility.com/gabby, you can get $20 off your test. You’ll get insight into your hormone levels, your ovarian reserve, AKA how many eggs you have compared to other women your age, and other important fertility factors. All of this information can really inform your next steps. The results go so deep with every hormone, and it really is important for you to have this information.
If you want kids today or maybe one day in the future, clinically-sound information about your body can help you make decisions that are right for you. I recommend this to anyone that is on the journey towards conceiving and wants to have a child now or later.
Right now, Modern Fertility is offering our listeners $20 off the test when you go to modernfertility.com/gabby. That means your test will cost 139. Instead of the hundreds or thousands, it could cost at a doctor’s office. Get $20 off your fertility test when you go to modernfertility.com/gabby, modernfertility.com/gabby.
Chapter one. Willing to become free.
It’s 8:00 AM in New York City.
I’m sitting in my double-parked, beat-up white Toyota, waiting for the street cleaners to sweep past me. I shield my eyes from the sunlight as I chug a red Gatorade. I’m dehydrated, nauseous, and still wired from the after party. That ended 30 minutes earlier. I’m a complete mess, having not slept the night before.
I have no business being behind the wheel. Even if it’s to adhere to the neighborhood parking rules, I have to sit in the car for 30 more minutes before I can legally park. So I push a cassette into the tape player and press play. I’ve listened to this recording countless times. It’s a recording from a psychic reading I’d had five months earlier.
The psychic’s first words are, “You’re struggling with alcohol and drugs.” I hear my voice quiver in response. “Well, it’s not that bad.”
Within the next few minutes, she goes on to say, “My dear, you are able to exercise free will in this lifetime. And you are caught between two choices. You can choose to stay on your current path and severely struggle with drug addiction, or you can choose to get clean and make a major impact on the world.”
I rewind the recording to hear it again, then again; her words, repeat in my head. You can choose to stay on your current path and severely struggled with drug addiction, or you can choose to get clean and make a major impact on the world.
I hear her words, but I don’t believe them. I cannot imagine a world free from addiction. Let alone a world where I’m making a major impact. I look at the club. 8:30 AM. The street cleaners should be arriving soon. As I listen to the psychic on repeat, I send a text to my business partner. Hey, late night, I won’t be in the office until noon.
At 24, I own a nightlife PR firm. Getting to work at noon is no big deal. I rewind the tape and play it again. You can choose to stay on your current path and severely struggled with drug addiction. Or you can choose to get clean and make a major impact on the world. Outside the car, the noise of people walking toward the subway interrupts me.
They look so put together with their coffee cups and shoulder bags. As I watch everyone begin their day, I accept that mine is ending. The street cleaners sweep through the lane, across from me, and I follow them from behind to secure my spot. I leave my empty Gatorade bottle on the floor of my trashed car and head back into my apartment.
I’m desperate to get into bed, but I have to wash my face from the night before I jumped in my moldy shower and let the water wash over me as my mascara runs down my face. When I’m done showering, I quickly get into bed and take some kind of downer. While I wait for my sleeping pill to kick in, I furiously journaled the psychic’s words over and over.
You can choose to stay on your current path and severely struggle with drug addiction, or you can choose to get clean and make a major impact on the world. I write so I don’t have to face the severe anxiety and heart palpitations. As the pill sets in the anxiety subsides as if it’s being shut behind a door, one that will reopen when I awake.
The sounds of the trash cans clashing outside my window and the people heading to work become softer and softer as I finally fall asleep. As I recall that morning, I have tears in my eyes. I can think my way back into that car as if it were yesterday. I can connect to those feelings of shame insecurity and unsafety.
I know that girl intimately. And I’m proud of the choice she made to be the woman she is today, even though it would take her another year of self-destruction, addiction and near death to finally get clean and sober. She let the path unfold perfectly. I thank God every day that she chose the path of recovery.
My 24-year-old self could never have imagined who I am today. Thankfully, she made the right choice to get clean and hold a vision for a better future. For true happiness. A vision of freedom and inner peace. Today, that vision has become my reality. I’m free from my past because I became brave enough to face the deeper reasons behind my suffering and fearlessly show up for healing.
And now I know the true meaning of peace in the present. I sit here in my office, surrounded by a stack of spiritual books I’ve authored. My desk is adorned with affirmation cards, crystals, and a sonogram photo of my son, Oliver when he was in utero. My husband’s Zach is downstairs playing with Oliver while I sit in my office, allowing the voice of freedom to move through me so that I can guide you toward freedom today.
Guided by spirit, the journey toward true inner peace begins with the willingness to hold a vision for a new way of living. No matter how much you’ve struggled or suffered, you have the power to hold a vision for a better life. When we claim that vision, we open an invisible door to receive spiritual support and intuitive guidance to help us manifest the change we desire.
We begin the journey of undoing the fears from our past so that we can claim love peace and freedom in the present. Undoing is the operative word. Deep within all of us is a loving truth, but we’ve built up walls against it. Undoing the patterns, thought forms and programming we were brought up to believe is what’s required to return to the truth of who we are.
There’s nothing out there that can give us that love it’s already within us. We must dismantle the fear, trauma and patterns that keep us stuck in the belief that peace is unattainable. Peace and love are who we are. We just forgot. I’m here to remind you that it’s safe to reclaim that love and affirm that you are ready to live with more inner peace and freedom than you’ve ever thought possible.
And it begins with your new vision for a better life. That vision is enough to set a transformational process in motion, a process that will guide you to freedom from the past and inner peace in the present. My willingness to see beyond a world of limitation allowed me to begin the process of stepping into a better future.
That willingness is what allowed me to heal myself so that I could help others heal and make an impact on the world. But before I could embrace a new vision for my life, I had to face the wounds of my past that were keeping me down. It’s a brave act to face your fears and past experiences. Many people spend a lifetime doing everything in their power to avoid past wounds.
It’s painful, scary, and even heartbreaking to accept the wounded parts of ourselves. And we can’t do it alone. In order to go to the places that scare us, we must be brave enough to ask for help. That help will come in many forms from therapists to counselors, spiritual guides and friends.
Throughout this book, I will introduce you to the help I received to claim my experience of freedom, but none of those forms of help could have been available to me if I hadn’t turned to the most important place first, my spiritual faith.
I’d always believed in a higher power and felt drawn to spiritual principles and teachers. I intuitively knew that I had a connection to a source of love beyond my physical sight. Even in my darkest moments of addiction, I had a stack of spiritual books next to my bed.
My desire to know God ultimately was what saved my life. Without my spiritual faith and my pursuit to expand my inner awareness, I wouldn’t have been able to survive some of the experiences I share in this book. My spirituality held me up, kept me safe and directed my healing path. In retrospect, I can see how spirit was guiding me every step of the way.
Every therapist, yoga teacher, spiritual book, or healer was divinely planted into my life at the exact moments I needed them in order to take the next step on my journey. It was all divine guidance. I always had faith that spirit was leading me. And that is what allowed me to show up as a teacher, even when I didn’t have it all together.
And it was the source of inspiration that allowed me to feel safe enough to face the wreckage from my past so it could be healed.
If you’re a regular listener to the show, you know, that taking care of my gut is my highest priority. I believe that the gut is connected to everything. I don’t even believe that. I know that. Probiotics are something I take religiously, but in all of my years, I’ve known that not all probiotics are created equal.
And if you’re looking for something to support your digestive health, this product is 100000% for you. I love this sponsor so much. Seeds Daily Symbiotic is the freaking real deal, people. Seeds Daily Symbiotic is a broad-spectrum, two-in-one probiotic and prebiotic, a proprietary formula of 24 distinct probiotic strains in scientifically studied dosages.
It’s a two in one capsule that protects probiotics through digestion. To ensure the delivery to the colon. And you could be taking a probiotic that you just bought off the shelf and it might not be working. So if you’ve taken a probiotic before and never felt the difference, it’s likely because the good bacteria wasn’t surviving your GI system and seed is designed differently.
And that’s why it works. It also supports benefits beyond the gut suitable support, bloating, healthy regularity, and ease of evacuation. And my skin has never been so glowy. Many see improvements in digestion within 24 to 48 hours, O M G let’s get this going, people that feel better now, that’s pretty incredible.
And the packaging of Seeds is also extremely chic. I have obsessed with this little glass travel vial as I prepare for my book tour. And as I’m stepping out into the world again, I’ve got my travel vial packed, ready to go. With all my beautiful essentials. And we’ve worked out a special dea that’s just for you.
Start a new healthy habit today. Visit seed.com/deargabby and use code Dear Gabby to redeem 20% off your first month of Seeds Daily Symbiotic. That’s seed.com seed.com/deargabby and use code Dear Gabby.
At first, it wasn’t easy for me to face my past. Deep down, even though I didn’t realize it at the time.
What I was most afraid of was that I was unworthy of a life of happiness and peace. My formative experiences painted a worldview based on fear that separated me from the peace within. The feeling of unworthiness is buried deep. Most people can’t even identify it. It took me over a decade. I once gave a talk in front of hundreds of spiritual entrepreneurs.
These were people who had devoted their lives to personal growth and spiritual development, and they were committed to helping others do the same. They arrived at the event thinking that I was going to teach them methods for promoting their work or growing their spiritual business. They were wrong.
They were in for something much more important. My talk that day was all about worthiness. In the opening of my talk. I proclaimed that the only reason they were blocked from the successes, abundance or whatever it was that they wanted was because they didn’t believe they were worthy of it. The audience protested at first, because this was an alarming concept to people who had previously identified as confident and influential, but what they weren’t yet facing was that the blocks in their way weren’t because of the outside world, but lingering feelings of unworthiness.
When I speak of worthiness, I’m not talking about being worthy of money or romance or a career advancement. I’m speaking of being worthy of love. Early in my therapeutic recovery by therapist explained to me that behind all of my blocks and fear were the feelings of being unlovable and inadequate. It took a moment for that to sink in.
At first, I wanted to resist her because I built up a worldview of my life that convinced me I was very adequate and as time went on in my therapy, I was able to look closer. I could see that underneath all of my credentials love from my fans and my seemingly positive self perception was a traumatized little girl who thought she was unworthy.
I started noticing the moments when I would actually say out loud to myself. I’m just a piece of shit. Previously, I’d brushed these moments under the rug, but the more I shine light on them. The more apparent it became to me that I was indeed suffering from the core wound of feeling unlovable and inadequate.
As I continued to unpack my therapist’s theory, I started to witness all the ways that avoided feeling unlovable and inadequate. I’d spent decades anesthetizing those feelings with drugs, romantic relationships, work, food, and any form of outside validation. I could see how I was running and the core wounds that I was running from.
And these wounds continued to be perpetuated throughout my life.
When we have core beliefs of unworthiness, they will manifest in every corner of our lives. In order to undo that belief, we must look at what’s behind it. The spiritual teachers, Abraham-Hicks, say a belief is really only a thought that you keep thinking.
The fear-based thoughts that turn into beliefs of unworthiness often show up in early childhood. When we are children, the world presents us with experiences that separate us from our worthiness, and we build up thoughts that we’re not good enough, we’re different, or we’re unsafe. When these fear-based thoughts are not fully processed, they become a storyline that we repeat over and over until it becomes a belief.
No matter how seemingly happy or blatantly painful our childhood was, those early experiences have influenced the way we live. Throughout the book, I will guide you to look more closely at how your childhood experiences affect your life.
When we’re looking more closely at these experiences, I’ll reference a word that can be very triggering. The word is trauma. There’s trauma with a big T and trauma with a small T. Typically people associate trauma with big issues like sexual assault, abuse, severe neglect, or death in the family—trauma with a big T.
Trauma with a big T can occur when someone is exposed to varied and multiple traumatic events often have an invasive nature or natural disasters, medical injuries, hospitalization, school violence, and loss. Early childhood trauma encompasses the painful experiences that occur to children ages zero to six.
Trauma with a small T on the other hand can be a highly distressing, but non-threatening experience that goes unrecognized. Some examples of small T trauma include being bullied, the death of a pet emotional abuse or harassment, or losing an important relationship.
From a spiritual perspective, the painful experiences we had as kids were fractures in our energetic connection to the love within us or the God within. Each minor or major fracture such as being bullied or feeling unsafe, separated us further and further from the source of love. In some cases of trauma with a big T the fractures can be so severe that the child grows up living in a constant state of fear.
Each fracture adds up and distances us further from our connection to spirit and love. Childhood neglect and trauma with a big T or a small T has a proven effect on the brain. A child’s brain development is directly affected by the type of attachment they received from their parents. A secure attachment helps the child’s problem-solving part of the brain developed properly while allowing them to process emotions in a healthy way.
With a secure attachment, a child knows that it’s safe to return to their loving parent when they’re afraid. This sense of safety with a primary caregiver helps the child develop a greater sense of trust in love. Whereas a child who experienced poor attachment due to abuse, neglect, et cetera, may not develop as fully the problem-solving areas of the brain and may therefore act out in undesirable ways.
Poor attachment can lead a child to struggle with coping social engagement skills, problem-solving tantrums, and the inability to self-regulate. A child with poor attachment does not have an anchor back to love and therefore feels alone in the world. Many of you listening to this right now, maybe thinking, luckily I didn’t experience any type of trauma.
I can’t relate to this, but small T trauma can be a single incident of being bullied on the playground. A teacher calling you stupid, a public humiliation in the cafeteria or the passive neglect of not getting your needs met in the first years of your life. And these too can have a real impact. We don’t necessarily realize for instance, how hurtful it was for us if our mother was constantly stressed or if our parents were emotionally unavailable.
Whether a child suffers either form of trauma, big T or small T the end result can be deep, rooted, unconscious pain and feeling unworthy of love. Maybe you grew up in a household with financial insecurity so you believe you always live in lack.
Or maybe you experienced neglect as a child and today you feel unworthy of a loving relationship, or maybe you thought that your childhood was perfect, but deep down, you know, you’re struggling with feelings of not being seen and heard. Our early childhood experiences become the driving force behind the way we live as adult. And those painful events contribute to the feelings of being unlovable and inadequate.
Many people are aware of the ways their childhood experiences play a role in who they have become, but they still write it off thinking, well, that was just in the past. It’s over now. Or we tend to believe that it’s now just who we are. Well, we don’t realize is that the shadows from the past are replayed in the present and projected onto the future until we awaken to a healing path. Dismissal of the past stems from the fact that it can often feel too painful to look back.
In other cases, we can go through life, not remembering the experiences that contributed to the feelings or beliefs we have about ourselves today. From infancy to the present, we’ve been avoiding these feelings of unworthiness with all kinds of addictive patterns and avoidance tactics. We will do anything to avoid feeling unlovable or inadequate.
In addition to exiling the impermissible feelings of unworthiness. We look for the lost love in all the wrong places. We look for love in relationships in praise. And even at the bottom of a bottle. We believe that something outside of us will provide the love we cannot find within, but when we become safe enough to face the feelings from the past, we can reconnect to the loving presence that never left us.
That’s the journey we are embarking on now.
No freaking joke. People, no joke, no joke, no joke. I have found my latest obsession, obsession, obsession, Stripe and Stare. I have filled my drawers with this incredible brand. Not only their comfortable knickers, their little underwear, but the most comfortable, most decadent beautifully-produced pajamas.
I am all about sleep hygiene. I am all about becoming the most comfortable version of myself when I get into bed and this brand has blown my mind. I’ve actually emailed my producers and said I want more. And if they don’t send me more, I’m going to buy it myself with my own discount code that I’m giving you today.
They use sustainable and renewably-sourced Beechwood fibers that produce 95% less water than cotton. And the fiber is proven to be up to three times softer than cotton. And let me tell you, people, it is! It’s so freaking soft. It’s so fricking soft. And if you’ve been listening to my show. You know how serious I take my sleep and my sleep temperature and how important it is to me.
And that’s why I’m going to reiterate this again. Stripe and Stare make the most divine sleepwear. Their lounge and nightwear are coming from the same super soft, sustainable fibers. Perfect for all climates and natural fibers breathe with the skin so you don’t overheat, but they keep you cool, like wearing a cloud and I’m not even freaking kidding you.
I’m obsessed. Not to mention my husband walked by me yesterday. He says, wow, your butt looks really good in those pants. You can shop on their website at stripeandstare.com with the exclusive Dear Gabby code GABBY for 20% off their range available at major retailers, such as Revolve, Bloomingdale’s and Shopbop. That’s StripeandStare.com. Use the code Gabby.
We’re all in this together.
Whether we’ve experienced trauma with a big T or a small T, we’ve all experienced suffering. And while that suffering may have seemed like a moment in time, it lives in our subconscious and in our body informing every thought and every action. The core underlying perceptions of being unlovable or inadequate play into our career path, romantic relationships, and even how we handle stress.
These deep-rooted feelings will be addressed in depth later, but they must be called out here. Many of us are able to co-exist with these unconscious feelings because we built up coping mechanisms to manage them. Several of the ways we’ve mitigated our underlying pain have often been socially acceptable. For instance, drinking to fall asleep at night, always being in a romantic relationship or working to the point of burnout.
In some cases, coping mechanisms look like praiseworthy behavior. For me, getting sober was only the first step to recovery. In the early days of my sobriety, I didn’t have the tools for healing, the root cause of my addiction. In fact, I didn’t even know a deeper wound existed. So while I put down the drink and the drugs, I was still acting out in addictive ways in efforts to control the unconscious impermissible feelings that I couldn’t possibly face.
I became a work addict and I was praised for it. People would say things like, wow, Gabby, you get so much done or you are so impressive. It was not only socially acceptable to be a work addict, but it was something people admired. All the while, I was avoiding true healing because it was too terrifying to face my unconscious pain.
Of course, I didn’t realize that at the time. I thought this is who I am. I’m driven. I’m a worker and I have an important job. I’m helping so many people. I thought my behavior was healthy, but deep down, it was just another addictive pattern protecting me. It’s important to call this out, as you may not identify with having destructive patterns. But take a moment to look at your socially-acceptable patterns and how they may be a way to avoid deeper feelings.
Do you obsess about everything you eat and in return, get praise from others for how good you look? Are you giving so much to others that you give up all of your time? Often deeper feelings are hard to uncover. For now, you don’t have to know what those deeper feelings are. I simply want to encourage you to notice where something feels off inside you.
And when you turn to certain activities, comforts or people to numb uncomfortable feelings. The simple noticing is a small step toward discovering what’s deeper. In 2020 in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world experienced a trauma together that activated everyone on an individual level. Forced to slow down, stay home and isolate, we were left with ourselves.
Feeling out of control, often triggers those impermissible feelings. We spent our lives running. Many of you listening right now may have been unaware of your unresolved pain and suffering before the pandemic only to be totally triggered and out of control when the world shut down. During the pandemic, I received hundreds of messages from people throughout the world, suffering with depression, anxiety, addiction, and chronic pain.
When we slow down and become still, our deep-rooted pain comes to the surface for healing. The body naturally wants to repair itself and psychological repair sets in too. But if we lack the tools for identifying and healing trauma and the therapeutic resources to free us from the past, we become frozen in the terror of facing our suffering.
My therapist taught me to recognize the ways I’ve built up forms of protection. She called these the protector parts of myself. My protector parts attack back when I feel threatened, or I immediately try to fix things when I feel out of control. One of my protectors had a mantra that I paraphrased from my favorite hip hop music.
If you mess with me, now, it’s a must that I mess with you. I know it sounds dramatic and silly, but it was literally a fighting attitude that I hid behind. My lack of safety as a child led me to always feel unsafe. Therefore, I built up a shield of protection to avoid ever feeling the sadness and disappointment of not being cared for or loved.
We all have protectors that work really hard in an attempt to keep us safe. But in order to truly be free, we must ask the protectors to step aside so that we can create space for spiritual healing and therapeutic guidance back to the resourced, loving presence with. This book will be your guide to laying down your extreme protection mechanisms so that you can allow the spirit of love to step in and guide you back to peace.
In time, you’ll feel safe and cared for through your own ability to love and support yourself unconditionally. It may seem hard to contemplate what freedom and peace could look like. If you were to ask me 16 years ago, what freedom and happiness were, I would’ve said something entirely different from the freedom I know today, I couldn’t have even contemplated the relief, joy, and inner peace that I have cultivated.
I couldn’t see what freedom was because I didn’t know yet what stood in the way of it, but I had a willingness to be free. And that was enough. While you won’t feel worthy of love overnight, trust that going on the journey through this book will heal the false perceptions of being unlovable and inadequate.
For today, all I ask is that you stay willing to feel free. Pay attention to the ways you may feel unworthy of that freedom and witness and honor your experiences from the past. I don’t want you to get overwhelmed. Instead, be proud of yourself for having the willingness to look for those ways you may be caught in unresolved fear and feelings of unworthiness.
Even if you don’t realize it, you are willing to live in a new way. It’s your willingness that guided you to listen to this book. It’s your willingness that opened your consciousness to see the book advertised online or listened to your friend who suggested it or to finally press play and listen. The slightest willingness to feel better as a prayer to the universe, asking for help and an acceptance that there is a better way.
Unconsciously or consciously, you’ve set the intention to open up to a new freedom and peace. As long as you stay connected to that intention, you will be guided every step of the way. That is my promise. If any of the principles in this book, whether they be spiritual or psychological happen to trigger you in some way, do not stop listening.
This is a journey of facing the truth of who you are, and the truth can be uncomfortable at first. But I assure you, it’s far more uncomfortable to hide it. You’re listening now. You’re willing to witness your resistance and you’re ready to be at peace.
If at any point you feel that you need further support and therapeutic guidance, visit deargabby.com/happyresources.
Your Spiritual Guidance System.
I’ve been brave enough to witness my fear and I’ve had one way of working through it that never failed me. Honor my experience and surrender it to a spiritual guidance system.
Even early in my sobriety, when I didn’t yet have a strong spiritual foundation, I was willing to surrender my fear to something beyond me. I remember my sober mentor suggested that I get on my knees and pray. “To who?” I said. “Whoever or whatever you want,” she responded.
At the time. It didn’t matter whether or not I knew who or what I was praying to. What mattered was my willingness to humbly ask for help. And that’s what I’ll say to you today. When I suggest you pray, you don’t have to know who we’re, what you’re praying to. All you have to do is be willing to turn over your fears to a presence or power greater than you. If spirituality is new or uncomfortable to you, then call it by a different name, like the universe or spirit or love.
Think of this as establishing a greater connection to an inner compass or voice of love. Throughout the book, I will guide you to release control to a spiritual presence. With that in mind, I want to honor you for whatever your spiritual, religious or personal growth path may be. I’m here to help you become open to inviting a spiritual presence or love into your consciousness to help you surrender to the path ahead.
Throughout this book, I will guide you to establish a spiritual connection of your own understanding, a connection that will give you strength and hope as you embark on the healing practices that follow. Although in the coming chapters, I will lean on neuroscience and life-changing psychological approaches to aid your healing, a spiritual connection will be your lighthouse throughout this process.
I’ve relied on my spiritual connection to be the steady force of love that kept me moving forward in my pursuit of freedom. I want this for you too. Most of us live life, trying to control our circumstances in order to feel safe. When we catastrophize, obsess over fearful thoughts or feel an unconscious sense of anxiety, these behaviors are subconscious ways of trying to control our circumstances.
Whenever we try to control everything, we’re not going to feel at peace. Our true state of peace comes when we’re willing to give over our plans and trust in a higher power. When we invite a spiritual presence to help us, we can let ourselves off the hook.
Developing a relationship with a higher power. God, the universe or the voice of love is a decision to let go and be guided. We can choose at any moment to release control to a higher power by letting go of the rope. This practice may sound simple, but it’s challenging for the fearful parts of ourselves that want to hold on tightly to some semblance of control.
Surrendering, your need to control comes through prayer. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never prayed before, or if you don’t know who or what you’re praying to. Think of the following prayer as setting an intention to surrender.
Thank you universe for guiding me on this path to becoming new. I honor this vision of how I want to feel. I’m willing to receive guidance now.
Now take a moment to pause and feel what it’s like to turn over your control to a higher power or inner voice of love. Honor what is, and what was. And hold a vision for what can be.
This episode is brought to you by Better Help. This is an incredibly important sponsor for this podcast. At this time, last week I launched my newest book, Happy Days, the guided path from trauma to profound freedom and inner peace. And in this book, I share extremely intimate details of my own journey through trauma recovery. And so much, I would say the majority of that healing happened in my therapist’s office.
Or on the phone with her or on a zoom with her for the past decade, I have worked with the same therapist to help me undo the patterns from my past to become truly free in this present moment. And that’s why I’m such a huge supporter of Better Help, especially as you start cracking open to some of these experiences from your past if you’re reading the book or even if you’re listening to Dear Gabby.
Therapy is something that has saved my life and I’ve been doing it for 20 years. I’ve been with the same therapist for a decade. Better Help will match you with your own licensed professional therapists that you can start communicating with in under 48 hours. And I’ve been getting all these messages from my listeners that are reporting back to me saying. Gabby. Thank you so much for mentioning Better Help on your podcast.
I’m now in therapy for the first time in my life, and it’s changing me and I’ve gotten countless messages like this, that I’ve sent them to my producers so that they could carry the message over to Better Help and make sure that everyone’s aware that this is really working. And you can schedule your own weekly video or phone session.
It’s really amazing because Better Help makes it easy to connect in a safe and private online environment. It’s so convenient. You can start communicating with someone in under 48 hours and best of all, Better Help is more affordable than traditional offline counseling. And there is financial aid available. They have licensed counselors who are specialized for depression, anxiety, relationships, trauma, LGBTQ self-esteem, and so much more.
And in the book, Happy Days, I constantly referenced. This might be too much. This might activate you. And when you witness and read stories of others, going through traumatic events and having difficulties in their life, it can be triggering. I constantly drive back to therapy, therapy, therapy. Better Help is online therapy that offers video, phone and even live chat sessions with your therapist.
So you don’t have to see anyone on camera if you don’t want to, it’s much more affordable than in-person therapy and you can be matched with a therapist in under 48 hours.
Give it a try and see why over 2 million people have used Better Help online therapy. This podcast is sponsored by Better Help. And Dear Gabby listeners get 10% off their first month betterhelp.com/deargabby that’s B E T T E R H E L P.com/deargabby
Honor your Suffering.
Feeling genuine, inner peace and freedom isn’t something many people are familiar with. I’ve spent my entire career witnessing the suffering of others. I’ve led talks throughout the world. And no matter what country I’m in, people are suffering silently. Even if you’re outside conditions seem excellent. There’s probably an inner disturbance begging to be repaired.
We must be willing to accept this truth. We all suffer. Bringing loving awareness to our suffering is part of the solution. The Zen master Thich Nhat Than says when we know how to suffer, we suffer much, much less. To me, this means that when we know how to honor our feelings of suffering, we can allow them to move through us rather than resist them. It is our resistance to suffering that keeps us silent, alone and afraid.
It’s okay to admit that you’ve struggled or you’re struggling. In fact, it’s freeing to get honest about it, calling it out and naming it can bring real relief. Give yourself permission to be going through a tough time or to acknowledge a past trauma, big or small. Honor your feelings and your experience.
Many of us didn’t grow up with parents or adults who honored our feelings. That’s all more reason why we must do that for ourselves right now. When we learn to embrace our suffering, we can honor our pain and transform our perceptions of it. A few simple words that will help you come to peace with where you are.
The words, there has to be a better way, are a prayer for a miracle. These words invoke a journey of undoing your fears from the past so that you can claim freedom and peace in the present. You don’t even need to know or understand your subconscious fears. All that matters is that you believe there can be a better way to live.
Try saying these words out loud. There has to be a better way. Those simple words opened me up to receive the guidance to get clean and sober. My willingness to accept that life didn’t have to be so hard was what I needed to open the door to a new vision for my life.
Create a vision for a new life.
Having a vision for a better life isn’t about a certain amount of money in the bank, a special love partner or credential. I’m talking about a vision for how you want to feel when you wake up each day. In my early sobriety, I couldn’t contemplate what a better life could look like, but I knew one thing for sure.
I wanted to wake up without anxiety, excited to live another day. Knowing how I wanted to feel became the backbone of my journey toward peace. I was never aiming for special recognition or accomplishment. So I didn’t have to rely on the outside world to show me the way. My vision was about how I wanted to feel and how I feel is something I have always had the power to change.
So do you. So now I want to ask you, what is your vision? In answering this, forget what you think you need, and instead, focus on how you want to feel. Maybe it’s hard for you to even ponder what it could look like to feel a different way, or maybe you’re blocked by feelings of fear or unworthiness. Try for a moment to suspend your disbelief and give yourself full permission to dream of how you want to feel in your life.
Answer this question quickly in a journal. How do I want to feel? Don’t think, just let your pen flow capturing all the feelings you want to experience. Find some uninterrupted time in your day to do some free writing. At the top of the page, ask yourself, how do I want to feel and what would it look like?
Then just write. Let whatever comes to your mind, move through you. Be open to receiving this vision statement with clarity. Again, we are aiming for a feeling, not an outcome, like a job or a credential or a title. Try not to let your vision be reliant on someone or something. For instance, you may feel tempted to hold division vision of a deep, romantic partnership, thinking that will make you feel complete.
While there’s nothing wrong with wanting romance that freedom in romance cannot come until you assume the feeling of freedom on your own. You may want that romance to feel safe, connected, or at ease, but safety, connection and ease must come from you first. Committing to how you want to feel and accepting that it cannot come from an outside force is the secret to manifesting the great changes you are here to make.
Give yourself permission, to believe in a new vision of how you can feel, even if you can’t see how you’ll get there. Keep it simple, just envision what it would be like to have the feelings you want. A vision statement can be something like, I feel relaxed and easy-going. I feel safe in my body. I open my arms and fearlessly welcome whatever unfolds. Or it might be as simple as I wake up without anxiety every day. Holding the vision of how you want to feel will set you up to receive the exact guidance you need to get there.
This vision opens you up to infinite possibilities for great change and growth. And because it’s based on a feeling rather than an outside source, it makes the possibilities for your life limitless. Now that you have a vision statement, consider what it reveals about feelings you may have been avoiding or something deep inside you that needs to be healed.
For me, realizing I wanted to wake up without anxiety every day made the anxiety I was living with much more apparent. And this motivated me to dig deeper into that feeling of living without anxiety. So what might your vision statement reveal about deeper feelings? Once you’ve written your vision statement, say it out loud a few times. See how it makes you feel to put it into spoken words.
You’ll know you’ve established it when you feel good saying it out loud. Now it’s important to realize that a part of you may resist your new vision. This brings us back to unworthiness and the part of you that doesn’t believe you’re worthy of peace and freedom. That part of you that doesn’t believe you can feel safe without a romantic partner or a certain amount of money or a specific body weight.
Remember that is the part of you that became fractured and disconnected from love. It’s the voice of fear within you. Acknowledge that fear and say nice things to it. Such as I witnessed my resistance and I honor the fearful part of me. I’m willing to feel [insert your desired feeling here]. Talking back to your resistance with love is a form of acceptance that dissolves the fear.
Many of us are used to shutting down parts of ourselves and only listening to other parts. But throughout this book, I will help you learn to listen with love. Each practice in this book is designed to remind you of the voice of love within you. Follow my guidance and return to the love of who you are.
Be kind to yourself, be patient and trust the plan ahead. The beauty here that you don’t have to figure out how to make your vision happen. Continue listening to this book and trust that the path will unfold.
Now let’s return to your prayer. Listen to this prayer again, and then pause.
Thank you universe for guiding me on this path to becoming new. I honor this vision of how I want to feel. I’m willing to receive guidance now.
A simple prayer allows a spiritual connection of your own understanding to set in. Throughout the book, I will help you strengthen that connection so you feel safe and guided to your new vision and how you want to feel. There is a presence of spiritual guidance that is devoted to each and every one of us. Each time we commit to feeling good and are willing to change, spirit can step up.
You’ll begin to feel this spiritual presence show up in your life often in the form of intuition. Maybe you’ll be listening to a chapter of the book and feel a strong desire to try out one of the methods I recommend. That intuition is spirit guiding you to the exact modality that could change your life forever.
My constant commitment to feel better is what helped me stay open to receiving the spiritual guidance that was always available to me. When you make your own commitment to how you want to feel and remain willing to do what it takes to get there. You can know that spirit is by your side. As we move forward, I will ask you to look closely at patterns and feelings that may be uncomfortable.
If you ever feel challenged to continue on, return to the prayer above. Write it on a post-it or note card, revisit it daily to help you stay in contact with spiritual guidance so that, you know, and affirm you are not alone on this journey. If prayer is new to you, then consider this a form of intention setting, say the same prayer, but omit the first sentence. Instead, say, I honor this vision of how I want to feel. I’m willing to receive guidance now. My willingness to get clean and sober. And my vision of waking up without anxiety was enough to set me on the path to become the woman I am today. My willingness to become new and my daily practice of surrender is what got me here. You don’t need to figure out how you’ll get there.
Focus on feeling peaceful. Then the rest will follow. This is all about accepting that nothing outside of yourself can help you feel freedom and peace. This is a journey inward, not an outward action. The promise of inner peace is better than any material possession. By placing your feelings above all else, you make your energy a priority.
In order to manifest the life we want, we must first assume this desired, positive energy. Initially, it’s our feelings that create this, not our actions. Feeling joy and peace is what puts you in a place of attraction to living a life beyond your wildest dreams. Stay focused on the feeling rather than the outcome. And you will be amazed by what unfolds.
Surrender one step at a time.
Surrender your old story and become willing to embrace a new one. Respect. What is in front of you and surrender to your vision statement now; stay willing and trust what unfolds next. Even the morning of writing this chapter, I relied on surrender.
I drove to a doctor’s appointment with my mask at the ready, due to the Coronavirus pandemic. We were only two and a half months into social distancing and stay at home orders. I had a bag filled with hand sanitizer and rubber gloves. The world around me was out of control. Uncertainty was at an all-time high and I was trying to get pregnant.
Instead of listening to the news, I chose to listen to an interview with the spiritual author, Michael Singer. At one point in the interview, Singer said, “To let the flow of life be in charge means we first put aside our made-up preferences and respect what is unfolding in front of us. First, respect it, then with love and compassion, taise it as it passes by you. That is how you become open to life’s gifts.”
Singer’s words were so meaningful to me at that moment. The idea of respecting what is in front of me felt like the most radical act of surrender surrender requires acceptance of the past, presence in the moment, and a faith in the future.
When we respect this moment, we become free from the judgment we place upon ourselves and our experience. One day at a time, I have patiently developed a new relationship with myself. Over time, I’ve learned to care for myself in the ways that I wasn’t cared for. I’ve learned how to undo the feelings of being inadequate and unlovable.
I’ve become safe in my body and my mind. I’ve learned to rely on a higher power to support my healing, and I’ve stepped into a new freedom and happiness. I feel that freedom deeply within my body. I feel safe. I feel confident. And I feel certain that my life is unfolding in miraculous ways. Each day, I surrender through prayer and allow the universe to show me what to do.
This is what I know works. So this is what I do. When I listen to the wisdom that is within me, I can lean into uncertainty with ease. This is the promise, my friend—a path toward peace and freedom and the way to true happiness. Freedom doesn’t come overnight, but it comes when you’re consistent.
Each time you listen to a chapter of this book, you’re taking a small action toward honoring your feelings, dismantling your coping mechanisms and transforming your history so that you can be free.
I remember sitting at my first 12-step meeting, 16 years ago, only days sober with the willingness to get clean. At the beginning of the meeting, the group read promises out loud. One of the promises that stood out most for me was we’re going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. Those were the only words I took in the entire meeting, but they were enough to inspire me to stay clean and keep coming back.
Today, I’m promising the same to you. Keep showing up for this book and the book will show up for you. Each chapter will guide you closer to a new freedom and the new happiness. Today, I woke up without anxiety. I woke up excited to get to my desk and write this book. I woke up proud of myself for all that I have healed and all that I can contribute.
I can still hear the words of the psychic in the back of my mind. You can choose to stay on your current path and severely struggle with drug addiction, or you can choose to get clean. And make a major impact on the world. I made a choice that set me free.
If you made it to the end of this episode, that means you’re truly committed to miracles. I’m really proud of you. If you want to get more Gabby, tune in every Monday for a new episode. Make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any of the guidance or special bonus episodes. Your experience at this show means a lot to me.
So I really want to welcome you to leave an honest review and you can follow me on social media at @GabbyBernstein. And if you want to get in on the action, sign up for a chance to be Dear Gabby’d live deargabby.com. See you next week.