There Are No Chance Encounters—All Relationships Are Spiritual Assignments

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Early addiction recovery is like plugging the holes of a sinking ship: once you plug one hole, another one appears. This was the case for me. As soon as I put down the drugs and the alcohol, all my other addictions flooded back in. I turned to food, work, shopping, and relationships to avoid dealing with my ego’s fear. Overeating was a great way for me to numb out at first. I’d plan each meal hours in advance for a sense of control. Then I’d binge to fill myself up. This pattern kept me focused on something other than my pain.

At first I just ate over my feelings, and then I began to date over them. When overeating no longer worked, I turned to my best avoidance tactic of all: romantic relationships. Sounds like a broken record, right?

The pandemic has made many of us feel like our ship is continuously sinking and we are feverishly trying to bail the water out…but those holes keep appearing, particularly when it comes to our relationships.

We are all doing so much more with a lot less support. And instead of dealing with the stress and pain and fear, we are turning to (or repeating) harmful behaviors. Maybe you are stuck in a relationship that you know should end, but because you fear being alone at this time you stay. Or perhaps you are being treated badly at work, but are scared to look for a new job—instead of looking for something new, you turn to emotional eating. Or it could be that you are so burnt out that even the smallest negative encounter (like getting bumped into or someone standing too close to you in a store) can trigger anger within you and you lash out.

I’m here to tell you that there are no chance encounters. Each one of these experiences offers us an opportunity to transform that fear to love—and create a miracle.

All relationships are assignments. Oftentimes, the same type of problem, person or situation will keep appearing in your life. That’s because it’s one of your spiritual (or Universal) assignments. Spiritual assignments show us that we’re always being guided, even when it doesn’t feel like it. The Universe wants us to heal, so we’ll keep being presented with our issues until we choose to heal them.

Here are seven steps to help you show up for those spiritual assignments, so you can stop plugging the holes and actually move forward with the life you want.


In The Universe Has Your Back I share the story of my friend Lance. He had this core childhood wound of feeling like he wasn’t smart enough. As an adult Lance became sober and quit dating for a few years to focus on his recovery. When he decided to start dating again, he got into a relationship with an awesome woman who was super into him and respected him deeply.

Amazing, right? Well, not to Lance. He came to me one day saying he had to break up with her because she clearly needed to be with someone smarter than him. His evidence for this was that she’d rib him for things like misreading a recipe or not being up to speed on some news story.

What she intended as loving jokes triggered his wounds big-time. Being 10-plus years into my own recovery, I saw this immediately and was like, “Whoa, hang on!” I explained to Lance how his girlfriend was literally the perfect spiritual assignment.

I could see the light bulb go off over his head. The Universe knew that he was ready to tackle this issue now that he’d been in recovery for long enough to feel stable in it.


Step 1: Recognize the spiritual assignment and call it by its name

Its name is fear. When you find yourself in a super uncomfortable situation, recognize and accept that fear has shown up in this way to get your attention.

When you can see the situation as an assignment, that’s the beginning of healing. This is a beautiful step!

Step 2: Accept that you can’t avoid the spiritual assignment

Here’s a gorgeous quote I put in The Universe Has Your Back from my teacher Ken Wapnick. He says, “We should be grateful for all the situations that make us the most uncomfortable, because without them we would not know there is something unhealed within us.”

Take that in. Read it again.

Can you be grateful for your discomfort and see it as an opportunity to grow, instead of seeing it as a punishment to complain about?

When a spiritual assignment comes up for me, I say “thank you for the assignment.” I thank the spiritual assignment for giving me the chance to heal.

Step 3: Honor your feelings

Let yourself be present with your pain and fear. If we want to get to the root cause of these assignments and really show up for them, we have to be willing to feel the pain.

true healing | gabby bernstein card deck

When you notice yourself triggered by your spiritual assignment, brea

the into the pain. By feeling the pain you allow it to pass through you. You strip away its power.

Set a 90-second timer on your phone and give yourself that short time to safely feel that feeling you’ve been avoiding. Know that you will have transformed it in some positive way when the timer goes off.

Step 4: Call on compassion

Being compassionate toward yourself is a big part of healing your old wounds.

When I recognize a spiritual assignment come up in my own life, I don’t judge myself for being back in the old belief system. Instead, I honor myself for being willing to heal. When you have the courage to witness your spiritual assignment, take a moment to call in self-love and say, “Here’s this old belief system again, but I’m awesome for showing up for it.”


Step 5: Place your faith in the Universe

When you’re dealing with your spiritual assignments, there’s a prayer I like to say to help me place my faith in the Universe. Say to yourself:

Thank you, Universe, for presenting me with this divine assignment for spiritual growth and healing. I am ready and willing to show up for this assignment with love. I welcome your support. Show me where to go, what to do and what to say. I trust I’m being guided.


Step 6: Clean up your side of the street

So often when we get caught up in our spiritual assignment, we can create a lot of drama around it. It’s easy to blame other people for our discomfort.

With my friend Lance, he went back to his girlfriend and said, “Hey listen, here’s what came up for me, and I didn’t show up for it in the best way.” In doing this he was able to restore their intimacy.

In The Universe Has Your Back I offer up a detailed breakdown of how to clean up your side of the street.

Step 7: Welcome healing

The final step is to allow the healing to occur naturally. All you need to do is have the willingness to accept the assignment, show up for it, and pray for it to be healed. Just step back and let the Universe lead the way. You will be amazed by the miracles that unfold.

All the greatest healing I’ve experienced in my life has come from an experience that the Universe placed in front of me and not something that I made happen. That’s the beauty of a spiritual path. When you surrender and allow the Universe to do her thing, true healing is presented to you.

You’ll learn that it’s safe to be vulnerable. You won’t stay in that toxic state. By showing up for your assignment, you’ll deepen your relationships and strengthen your trust in others. You won’t suffer by holding on to a job that isn’t right for you. You’ll no longer turn to emotional eating or harmful habits to plug the hole in your sinking ship.

the universe has your back gabby bernsteinI can testify that when you show up for your Universal assignments, you will be set free. My greatest experiences of healing, recovery, and spiritual growth are all the result of my willingness to do so.


ALL these steps are laid out in The Universe Has Your Back, with a beautiful meditation and lots of guidance. I hope this serves you.



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  1. Thank you Gabby for this blog. I am a codependent who is in excruciating pain because I can’t surrender and accept my current situation. The coping patterns you described are me. Overeating or trolling online dating sites looking for attention and/or love. I accept this spiritual assignment that the universe has put before me. I need to work on it so I can have peace. Once and for all❤️

  2. I’m a bit heartbroken today because I haven’t had any contact with my family for many years because of childhood abuse that tears families apart, and this has deeply affected me so I have had to deal with severe trauma plus ‘mourning’ the loss of my blood relatives. The other day I found something which belonged to an aunt, who had died years previously, and I suddenly thought of a cousin who might be interested in being in touch with me. I wrote to her and told her a bit about my life over the past few decades and she wrote back a nice letter to say that she, and my other cousins, were unaware of what I had gone through and she was sorry that my experiences had hindered my life so much. I felt immediately as if I had been ‘anchored’ in some way and so I wrote back with my telephone number and I said it would be nice to meet up, even every two years, and her letter had really made me happy. However, last night I got a letter from her to say that she would not be keeping in touch – I imagine she had a family ‘consult’ with her siblings and they didn’t want to get involved. I can’t help my background and I am so proud of my progress but just as people talk about their marriages, their children, their divorces and other things when they are first getting to know someone, I allude to my life in a similar way, with no great descriptions or sentimentality. Abuse and loss of one’s family and thereby future relationships (because we can’t function in isolation and usually a potential partner will run a mile also) – if that happens to be your life, then so be it. I am not ashamed but most of the rest of the world seem to be and I have faced chronic rejection in workplaces (just for being quiet but yet having truly exceptional skills), and in relationships. I am just disappointed that what with the universe having my back, ‘he’ would let me have this family anchor. But whatever it is that he wants me to turn up for in terms of a spiritual assignment, please let me know because I am all out of searches. Sorry this is a bit heavy. I have recently joined your Miracle Membership and it’s nice to be part of that although I am not confident enough in myself at the moment, to share anything on it, and I don’t know how to trust strangers. Thanks Gabby. Just wanted to say that this as a great blog that you wrote and I am enjoying reading it.

    1. Thank you for your honest share, Ann. You actually answered your own question (what is my spiritual assignment?) when you wrote, “I am not confident enough in myself to share and I don’t know how to trust strangers.” Great work.

      There are some great resources in the miracle membership portal such as the December 2015 Podcast and Meditation “Forgiveness Sets Me Free” as well as the January 2018 “Love Dissolves all Boundaries” content.

      You may also want to check out these additional blog posts:

      Finally, amazing that you’re a miracle member! I hope the content and the community serve you on your healing journey. xoxo

    1. Thank for this blog, Gabby. ah, I kept feeling sad and disappointed inspite meditating and working towards improving situations. Now I have the prayer and I draw one card every day from ‘universe has your back’ and retell believe after reading the book one year back. I am practicing with prayers and being guided.

  3. I now recognize that in the past couple weeks I have been given many spiritual assignments. I’m not going to lie. They hurt like hell. In a couple of them I kind of felt like my insides were being torn open. They involved health, and relationships with family and loved ones. Reading this blog is helping me (a little) let go of my need to control the outcomes and let myself be guided. It’s helping me look at these situations with love and not fear (trying at least). I recognize that if it is hard to love the others in the situations, I need to look inward and love myself more. Then I am guessing my guides will help me walk through the anger and pain and see love in others.

  4. Dear Gabby,
    This post and email reminder could not have come at a better time. A recent relationship has made an unexpected turn in my life. After reading these steps I am ready to start the healing and I see this now as my own spiritual assignment.
    Truly thankful for your words

    1. So glad this post was delivered to your inbox at the right and perfect time. The universe is always guiding and supporting you! xoxo

  5. I love The Universe has your Back. It has been so helpful. Is Gabby working on a new book??? Inquiring minds would like to know. lol

    1. Gabby’s latest book, You Are the Guru, was released on August 31st! You can find it on Audible. Her next book will be out in 2022! xoxo

  6. Hi Gabriel
    By reading the book (The Universe Has your back) I became very familiar with my spiritual duties and also with the emails I receive from you, I believe more than ever that the Universe has my air.

  7. This is exactly what I needed to read today! I have been trying to control everything in my life and it is exhausting! So right now I’m making a commitment to step back and let the Universe take the lead. ❤

  8. Thank you Gabrielle,

    Your book helped me to live a true, honest and happy life as a fully single mum with life experience.

    It served both me and my daughter. Right now I’m in a committed love relationship and following A Course in Miracles myself. Besides a connection with sufism as a path of inner awakening and surrender.

    I enjoy the way those seemimgly different ideas all lead us to a deeper profound interaction with or from a source. Abundance ;-).

    I love reading your blog and book again, to allow your help to support me to strengthen my relationship(s), work satisfaction and family stability during the pandemics. It is a challenging time (with several side effects) and I feel very strong and calm in it (again).

    Meditation and following my intuition have often inspired me, and you stimulated me to add more prayer into that (again), after several hurtful experiences, to open up to my most sensitive nature and trust the process to find my own calling again.

    Single motherhood has been the best lesson life could give me, to become irresitably addicted to unconditional love, no matter circumstances.

    Love to you all – believe in yourself and open up in your pain as a door to truth and self recovery


  9. Thank you sooooo much for this. They always come at the right time and when I’m stuck. I just looked up yesterday and found your Article ,All is Well!
    I need to read this everyday! It’s sooo true!
    Ginormous hugs!

    1. Wonderful! So glad this post resonates with you! Sounds like it was delivered to you at the right and perfect time. xoxo

  10. OMGosh I so needed to see & read this. I was bought up by a controlling narcissist. When I understood my mother’s behaviour I realised with horror I had married the same. I exited that relationship & thought understanding & knowledge were enough to ensure it didn’t happen again. But sadly in the midst of lockdown I realised I was embroiled in another toxic relationship. I couldn’t believe I had allowed myself to get caught up in that dynamic again. And then I realised knowledge & understanding isn’t enough, I have to heal too. And of course I’d forgotten how the Universe will keep giving us the same lesson until we learn it. Thank you SO much for this blog, Gabby, just what I needed to help me heal properly once & for all. I love you’re work. It inspires me beyond belief. Thank you ✨

  11. Thank you! Placing faith in the Universe is the only way. It has helped me (with your guidance) time and time again. You are making a difference in my life ❤️

  12. Hi Gabby~ All lessons at the right time. I was sitting here crying, petrified at having quit my job due to the increase of Covid 19 at my job and the concerns, no FEAR of if I stayed, how it might impact my 86 year old Mom with Stage 4 Urothelial Cancer. I am her sole care provider. I had to call her Dr to ask them to sign a form regarding her medical status for me to apply for unemployment. I was sick at the thought of having to call ( Left message, waiting for call back) and ask for help. Would they think I’m lazy? A loser trying to cheat the system?? I LOVED my job, however I love my Mom more and the gift of being able to take care of her. Having to make the call made me feel like my undeserving self…So I can myself a rest period so I could read your email and this lesson. I KNOW in my heart it will all work out, it always has. Still at 64, knowing I made the right decision, I am working my brain to get it to connect with my heart right now. Thank you, Gaby for reminding me to have faith and trust in the Universe, ALWAYS ! I am sincerely grateful and blessed!

  13. Hello Gabby,
    Thank you very much for this. I have been dating men that weren’t a good fit for me. I stayed in the relationship because I was afraid of being alone. My ex left me for another girl and this hurt me very much and opened an old wound. My lack of self-esteem and self-love exploded that now when a man does not love me back or commit to me aI lways think because there is another woman. Instead of seeing this as an opportunity to nurture the love for myself I become jealous, an my sense of not feeling enough increase. So now I am here again with the same situation. I have dated a guy for a year and a half and even though he kept saying we were ”friends” he was acting like if we were a couple, vacation together, everyday call, etc. We broke up a two months ago and a week ago we started texting again. Today he texted on WhatsApp and I replied. It took him awhile to reply back even though he was online and I immediately thought he was chatting with another girl. I started to see a therapist to overcome and see this fear that I can’t really name because I don’t know what it is anymore. I knew he was not the right fit for me but I kept going and he treated me not so well. And I accepted it because I thought I was in love with him.indeed I think I was more afraid of being single and alone than stay in a relationship that was not good since it’s inception. Thank you for your guidance!

  14. Hello Gabby,

    Thank you for bringing light during these uncertain and stressful times. You have a way of
    “appearing” with a message, meditation or strategies just when I need them. “The Universe has Your Back” was my first experience with your books, but I was familiar with you from Super Soul Sunday. Your warmth and positive energy are palpable and I have seen the power of allowing the universe to support me and aligning my energy. Please continue to spread your message because you are truly making a difference in the world. Stay safe and be blessed.

  15. Dear Gabby Bernstein,

    I have myself been on a spiritual path for 6 years. Healing addiction to drugs, and continuous healing for bipolar depression for one full year. I have shown up and done the work and your knowledge, wisdom and how you interpret and explain things in great and practical detail is the most helpful part for me. I thank you kindly.

    God bless you and yours and Team Gabby.


    Dennis Stella

  16. This is exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you for reminding me that the universe always has my back. Sending love your way. Thank you Gabby!

      1. I needed this today , thank you For being the guidance that the universe sent me when it was so desperately needed

  17. Just what I needed today to remind me the universe has my back, that I need to step back and surrender. Thank you!

  18. Thank you for all of your inspiration. Besides reading your books, your blog helps me everyday as I heal through my mother’s death and an impending divorce ! Thanks for also have my back!

  19. Thank you so much! I had no idea you were in recovery! I am a grateful recovering addict myself. God willing I will have 18 months on the 1st of Jan! I really needed to hear this article. Thank you love!

  20. Needed to read that just then! Thank you. I love this reframe of a spiritual assignment. I think when things feel random and without meaning it is way harder than when it feels like an assignment.

  21. Thank you for the information, I connected with Lance. It is a spiritual assignment I have come up against many times in my life. It was a very helpful read and I appreciate your words.

  22. This is one of the post I love the most because it really hits the truth of every of our negative feelings. We are born with love, love is our nature, all the triggers are showing our unhealed wound and once we recognized and act with love and compassion to ourselves, we healed and we live better live we have ever imagined. Thank you so much for the post.

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