Gabrielle Bernstein on Healing Trauma & Finding Joy

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This episode, I’m really excited to share with you today, because it’s all about healing trauma, releasing shame, finding joy, and becoming a super attractor. I’m here with Gabrielle Bernstein, who is the number one New York Times best-selling author of books like “The Universe has Your Back,” and “Super Attractor,” her newest book, which launched last year. She’s been featured on everything from Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday to almost every TV show, the Dr. Oz show, all kinds of networks, and she co-hosted the Guinness world record largest guided meditation, along with Deepak Chopra.

The reason I wanted to have her on is that she also has trauma in her past, and has recovered and then let her recovery become a path to helping other people. And since trauma recovery has been a big part of my story these last couple of years, I’ve gotten many, many questions about it, and I don’t consider myself qualified as an expert in mental health or trauma recovery, but I’m trying to connect you guys with more people who are a good resource for that, and I think Gabby has a lot of great resources, and I’m very excited to share her, and share those resources with you today. Gabby, welcome. Thank you so much for being here.

Gabby: I’m so happy to be with you.

Katie: It is such an honor to finally get to chat with you. I’ve read several of your books and I’ve known of your work for a really long time. And the last two years for me have been a journey through healing from trauma and kind of recovery that led to like a dramatic 80 pound weight loss and just completely changed my life. And since I’ve shared my story, so many people have come with questions of how did you work through this and where do you start? And I have similar trauma or a similar story. Where do I even begin? And I think you’re just such an amazing voice for this, that I knew I had to have you on to talk. And if you don’t mind, I would love to hear a little bit of your story as we start because you also have a really incredible story of recovery and healing.

Gabby: Well, first of all, I want to honor you because anyone who is brave enough to face trauma is a warrior. Truly. It’s, uh, it’s something that I think often people are too terrified to face, which is why so many people become addicted or why they become, it’s all the reasons why we run. So when we do become brave enough to even listen to a podcast with this topic, that’s a big deal. So whoever’s listening right now, God bless you and to you, I just want to really bow to you for your bravery because I’ve been through it myself and I really am going to say that’s what I’m most proud of about myself today is my bravery and my willingness to go to the places that scare me so that I could come out the other side so we can start there.

I’ve been a spiritual teacher for 15 years, but prior to that I was quite the opposite. In my early twenties, I was running a nightlife PR company. And I was running, running, running, running from something I was unaware of. I didn’t know what I was running from, but I was severely anxious all the time. I had a severe codependency addiction, constantly in and out of relationships that didn’t serve me. And I ultimately became quite addicted to cocaine and alcohol, but primarily to cocaine, which if anyone, unfortunately, had the unfortunate experience of being addicted to cocaine, you know, it’s a very, very dark drug, but at the same time, it’s a drug that takes you down. So I was quite blessed by the age of 25 to be really on my knees ready to change because it was life or death for me.

And there was a voice within me in the deepest throes of my addiction that knew I was running from something but didn’t know what it was. There was a voice within me that wanted more. I had stacks of self-help books next to my bed. I would constantly read through them and journal and seek. I was seeking, seeking, seeking, all the while using. But by the grace of God, at age 25, I made the decision to get clean and sober and I made that commitment, not just to myself, but ultimately to the world in a big way. My decision to get sober was the catalyst for my own personal growth, but also my spiritual awakening, which then led me to become a self-proclaimed spirit junkie, the author of now eight spiritual self-help books and most importantly, a shame-shifter.

Somebody who really made the commitment to, to live with vulnerability and authenticity so that I could take away the shame of addiction and trauma and be a voice for recovery. My recovery began with my sobriety, but it continued far beyond that. My sober recovery was one step, but then I kept running. I was running for many, many years through workaholism and finally I really hit another bottom with that to only crack into a memory of childhood trauma. So, in 2016, I had a dream of being sexually abused as a child and then being an adult confronting it. When I woke up, I thought to myself, hell no, I am not going to touch that. I am not ever speaking of that. I’m not going anywhere with that. Then I was in a therapy session days later to be prompted to remember it fully. Not completely, but to accept the remembrance of that moment. When we’re children and we have these types of traumas, we can dissociate from them, which was the case for me. But as soon as I accepted my experience as a child, I realized that’s why I use drugs and alcohol. That’s why I’ve been a workaholic. That’s why I have anxiety attacks. That’s why I have chronic pain. That’s why, that’s why, that’s why, and that conversation, that’s why I went on you know, I could go on for hours of all the “that’s why’s.” TMJ, sleep issues, everything. So since 2016 I’ve been on an extremely devoted journey of healing from that traumatic remembrance and from the traumas of my history. Uh, and most recently I’m still in trauma recovery. I’m 16 months postpartum and when I had my child, about four months after I gave birth, I was blessed with postpartum depression.

I say blessed because it deepened my personal growth journey once again. Whenever we hit these bottoms, we’re led to more. So the trauma healing has become even more grounded. And even more freedom has come from having been to the darkest moment of my life, which was the postpartum depression. So that’s a very sort of, a quick way of saying this has been a long journey of recovery, but I want to really acknowledge that throughout this journey of recovery, I have accepted fully and completely, but every single experience I’ve had has been exactly as it’s needed to be so that I could become the woman that I am today. And so that I could face those places within me that scared me. So that I could live to tell what freedom really looks like and help guide people spiritually and through psychological practices and methods that I have garnered over the years to really help others become free and to know what mental illness is and to know what trauma feels like and looks like. And to know what addiction is from a very vulnerable and authentic place is what has allowed me to, in many cases, help people save their own lives. So I’m grateful for all of it.

Katie: I love that. And I’m so, I love that you brought up the term “shame” and that term “shame-shifter,” which is so perfect because I think for women especially, they certainly… Way too many women have been through some form of trauma and we hear the awful statistics about that. But then there’s all these other layers that come after it. I feel like the shame and the shame attached to things like mental illness or postpartum depression or miscarriage or like there’s all these aspects of like a female existence, there’s just so much shame attached to. And I know like that was kind of a long process for me unraveling and trying to take all those layers of shame and guilt and all of the emotions that came with that often. And even realizing like, you, I’m very driven and I’ve felt like that’s been an advantage to me in life. And so I worried if I work through this, am I going to lose my edge? Am I going to stop being driven? Am I going to stop being as productive? And it’s just, there’s so many layers, so I’d love to go a little deeper on, for women especially, but anyone listening, how can we start shifting from that shame to stepping more into vulnerability and into the lessons of that and like to you, now having gratitude for that?

Gabby: Oh yeah. Well, first of all, I just wanted to speak to you directly in terms of, you know, am I going to lose my edge? You know, I think that drive that traumatized people have is actually, you’re driven by fear. So yes, sometimes traumatized people can become immobilized and do nothing. And then folks like you and I can fight, flight, freeze. We were in flight, right? And in that flight state, you can sometimes be very overly productive because it’s another form of running. So I just wanted to acknowledge that and as you’re still in your recovery and you’re in this, this beautiful journey that, sorry, I don’t mean to be like coaching you right now, but I just, I just heard that and I wanted to respond to it ,that you won’t lose your edge, that you will lose the edges and it will become a much more fluid way of creating and you’ll be able to do less and attract more. So I just want to really be a voice of hope for you and I imagine that you’re already on that path. As it relates to shame, so many people don’t even recognize their shame, not speaking for myself. I was a year into my recovery, my trauma recovery. It was a year since I had remembered this trauma and we did a workshop that I was leading and there was another teacher co-leading it with me and I sat in on her program and in her program she did a whole bit on shame. And I sat there in that room for the first time, after having, at that point, probably a decade of personal and spiritual growth, and a decade of teaching and writing behind me.

And in that moment was when I really looked at myself and said, Holy shit, this is all about shame. I am carrying the shame of the abuser. I’m carrying the shame of being abused. I’m carrying the shame of being an addict. I’m carrying the shame of not feeling good enough and carrying the shame of being unworthy. I’m carrying the shame of all the wreckage from my past I’m carrying…but mostly I’m carrying the shame of being a child who was neglected and felt unlovable. Because when we have moments in our childhood that dissociate us from, that separate us from the God within us, from the love within us, the story that’s built up around us is that I am unlovable and I am unworthy. And being in that place of feeling unlovable is a very shameful place for a child to be. So the person, the child, will do anything they can to avoid that feeling. And that becomes a lifetime of avoiding that feeling. That was the experience I had. So having a recognition of my shame, which came a decade into my career was a really big turning point for me.

Katie: Yeah, I think that’s really profound and it seems like many people, I mean, I would guess the vast majority make it to adulthood with some version of that kind of filter in their head of “I’m not lovable or I’m not worthy.” Or for me it was, I’m not good enough. And I was always a striving to be, to prove myself good enough and I don’t know if it was the same for you, but like you mentioned gratitude. I had to realize kind of now at this point in my journey looking back, I could be grateful for the lessons and the things that I had learned as a result of the trauma and still not have to hold onto the shame and not have to hold onto the pain. But there was like a fear in releasing that at the beginning because I felt like those things kept me safe for a long time and I had to acknowledge like these mental filters I had kept me safe. They protected me for a long time. Or even the physical weight kind of was a shield that I used to protect myself for a long time and now I can let it go, but that doesn’t mean I have to lose the lesson. And in fact, like you said, I loved that, that was a perfect line. You don’t lose your edge, but you soften your edges. That’s such a perfect reframe of that. And, and you’re right, I think it’s like we also are a constant journey of that. I thought I had dealt with pretty much all of it and I was feeling in this great place. And then with the lockdowns and quarantine, the first week I was like viscerally angry and I didn’t want to eat anything and I was working out nonstop and I just like felt like I wanted to get in a fight and I couldn’t figure out what it was at first.

And eventually talking through it with a therapist, I realized because of my trauma I had resolved, I would never feel helpless again. So I had put all these systems in place so that I never felt helpless. I could always be in control. And then this big thing happened that I had no control over and that helplessness came raring back. And so I had to face it once again. But in a sense it was also a beautiful opportunity because I was able to acknowledge that and work through it and kind of face an aspect that I thought I had already dealt with. And it’s, I love your perspective and you’ve mentioned that it’s in many of your books about finding the gratitude and finding the lessons and being grateful in all of that. I think you just, you frame it so beautifully.

Gabby: Well first, Katie, I want to just to acknowledge that you are not alone in that, that first week of coronavirus re-traumatization. So first of all, I mean, I was right there with you. Rage was my number one emotion. But the world right now is in a pre-traumatized state and particularly people who are folks who do have deeper traumatic wounds are very kicked up, very activated. And for anyone out there who doesn’t have the right resources or the right therapeutic guidance or even psychiatric guidance, if that’s what’s necessary, you may feel as though you’re so activated at this time because the deep root desire of a traumatized person is to feel in control. That’s my belief because we’ve been experienced an experience that has been so out of our control that we will do whatever we can to stay in control in order to feel safe and that was what you were saying about I will never be helpless again. That’s another form of saying I will never be out of control again. So when a pandemic hits and our control is taken from us, we can no longer safely walk to the grocery store and walk in with our child or we can no longer send our kids to school or whatever the ways that we’ve created a life that felt seemingly safe are taken from us. The traumatic events from our history are going to be extremely activated. And that’s for anyone, whether you have severe trauma or not, that we are all going through a pre-traumatized state and I say pre-traumatized because we can work through it now so that we don’t come out with PTSD. Or honestly I’m going to be a, I’m going to be writing books for a very long time and there will be guidance for us when we do come out of this and there will be a lot of PTSD and there’ll be support then.

So I just want to just also acknowledge anyone that’s listening right now is in some way open to personal growth at this time. So it’s taking this experience that we’re going through right now where we are absolutely activated, absolutely re-traumatized and retriggered feeling completely out of control, which is the biggest fear of a person who has any kind of history of trauma. And even those of you who don’t remember or don’t recognize it, the feeling of out of control is very, very severe. And that’s when we can really begin to rely on a spiritual foundation. That’s when we can rely on a prayer practice, a meditation practice, and even therapeutic practices for grounding ourselves in regulating our own nervous system. Because when we are in a triggered state, our cortisol levels are shot through the roof, which then creates inflammation in our body, which makes our gastrointestinal tract really malfunction, which makes our physical pain get exacerbated, which makes our relationships out of whack and ultimately puts us into a vibrational stance that’s very frantic.

And in that place we can’t attract the, the opportunities, the abundance, the connections, the support that we need right now. So this is a time right now for learning how to self-regulate. Frankly, it’s always been a time for learning how to self-regulate, but now more than ever, and so we can talk about that a bit. I’m happy to give some tools on this podcast as well. But I will answer your question or speak to the concept of gratitude because what we can be most grateful for right now in the midst of this pandemic is, that we can be grateful for being given the opportunity to choose a different path. Right now we can go through this numb and dissociate or we can wake up. We can wake up to a path of personal growth, a path of spiritual development, a path of a different way of perceiving the world, a way of seeing the world through the lens of love, seeing more oneness seen through the lens of compassion, feeling more connected, feeling awakened to a spiritual relationship. That’s an opportunity that I’m grateful for.

Katie: I love that. And I would love to go into the idea of how to self-regulate a little bit more because that’s been very top of mind for me. And I also find myself saying that to my kids quite a bit right now cause I think even older kids are having some of these similar experiences in trying to navigate this sort of out of control feeling and all the uncertainty. And I love the quote from Viktor Frankel that says “between stimulus and response, there’s a space. And in that space is our power to choose our response. And in our response lies our growth and our freedoms.” And I think you’re right, like we are in, if we look at it this way, we’re in a very unique opportunity of growth right now and almost like, I heard someone refer to it as a cocoon of sorts.

Like we are in this tough time, but we have the option to transform through it and to emerge better on the other side. So I’d love to hear the tips you have for how do you self-regulate, especially for all the other parents listening who maybe are overwhelmed right now and have kids at home and are navigating a new reality.

Gabby: These are tools that I want every mom or dad or person, human being listening to master. And as you master these methods, you then can give them to your children because they’re tools that you could give to a child that would change the course of their life. It’s ultimately a resilient child. As a child who knows how to self-regulate. And these are tools that most of us were never gifted as children, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever. So I’ll get into the kid part first, but let’s first put our own oxygen mask on and take care of ourselves as the parents or as the adults. So one really beautiful empowering method that I use all throughout the day is a hold. It’s a heart hold where you place your left hand on your heart and your right hand on your belly. And on the inhale you extend your diaphragm. You let your diaphragm really just move out and extend, on the exhale you relax your diaphragm, you inhale out and you can close your eyes while we do this. And exhale and release.

Inhale out, exhale and release, inhale out and exhale and release. And on the inhale and the exhale, you can now begin to say to yourself, and I’ll say first, but you can say to yourself, silently, I am safe. I am safe, I am safe, I am safe, I am safe, I am safe. Just take a deep breath in and hold that feeling of safety and on the exhale, just let it go. That simple practice practiced in about a minute can regulate your energy. What it’s doing is the breath is actually sending oxygen to your brain, stimulating your vagus nerve, which is going to regulate… It’s the nerve that regulates your entire nervous system, relaxes your gastrointestinal system. It will just get you back to a state of peace and then keep going. If it feels good, go for more. You can do it in the moment.

You can do it in the bath. You can do it when you wake up in the morning and you’re lying in bed. You can do it when you wake up in the middle of the night and you need to fall back asleep. Just hold and say, I am safe. If I am safe, doesn’t resonate with you. You can say, I am taken care of, I am supported, I am loved. Whatever affirmation makes you feel comfortable. It makes you feel grounded. And again, I’d love to share this, you know, for people to share this with their children. The most important thing that we can be doing right now for self-regulation also is really releasing our rage because I think that that pent up rage is what causes so much of the reactivity in our life. And this is really taking from the work of Dr. John Sarno who wrote books like Healing Back Pain and The Mindbody Prescription and his whole belief system is that chronic pain is the direct result of impermissible rage.

So right now we are, are definitely being activated and in that activation, this rage that’s just been brewing within us for decades is busting out. So one thing you can do is just go for a walk and scream it out. You can really literally just scream it out into the woods if it’s possible, a method that I’ve been practicing that my friend Nicole Sachs had taught me what she called a journal speak. I call it rage on the page. I raged for 20 minutes in my journal. This is a method she gave me over about a month ago. And I was like, this has changed my life. Twenty minutes of raging on the page in the journal and then 20 minutes of meditation. And what I added to that was actually binaural music or bilateral music from Spotify where I just listened to this bilateral music, which stimulates both sides of the brain and really calms that lower part of the brain so that you can then be in more of your resource brain and balance out your emotions. So that’s 20 minutes of writing all the rage on the page while you’re listening to this bilateral music. And it’s stimulating both sides of the brain, which is when the music comes in one ear and then comes in the other and then really meditating to that music for about another 20 minutes. Now, if you don’t have 40 minutes, my child’s sleeping for three hours in middle of the day, you have six children. So you do not have 40 minutes, do it for 10 minutes, whatever you can do.

Katie: I love that and I think people maybe often underestimate how just saying those same things to ourselves can have such a dramatic impact. And I definitely discounted that for a really long time before I actually tried it myself. When you talk about rage, that really resonates because after my trauma in high school, I shut down my emotions, I remember consciously doing it. Like I will not feel again, so I will not be hurt again. And I didn’t raise my voice. I didn’t experience anger that I knew of for 16 years until I actually did that. I kind of went through this almost like rage therapy and when that finally like broke back open and I was able to feel it was like this, you know, decades of emotion came flooding out. I did a similar thing with tapping and the person I was working with, she had me say, you know, even though I am experiencing whatever it was right now, I love and accept myself and I love and accept myself as I now choose.

And then whatever the new state I was going to move into was and those first few times it was like I didn’t believe myself saying that I love and accept myself. It was hard. Like I cried. It was hard to even hear those words because I knew they weren’t even true. And then I felt that shift. Like it did slowly shift over time and it changed my mental state. And I know you talk about this in Super Attractor and you’ve talked about it in some of your other books as well, but let’s talk about that. How can we start to like move into alignment with those new mental states or like in Super Attractor, like into joy because I think that’s so profound when you can make that shift.

Gabby: Well, first of all, I’m really glad that you mentioned EFT. So emotional freedom technique is excellent for anyone who’s traumatized or anxious. And why don’t I give you one more tool and then I’ll talk about another tool which is about really reprogramming our thinking and it’s a method from Super Attractor. But one thing you can also do is you can tap on this one specific point and these are energy meridians and when they’re tapped on they actually can really release that fight or flight state. So the point is called the gamut point, but I like to refer to it, Katie, as the “holy shit point.” And this is when you’re really activated. And so it’s between your pinky finger and your ring finger and maybe in your show notes you can link to an image of it or something and you tap on this point and you can still use that affirmation, I am safe or I am well, or you can even say I deeply and completely love and accept myself.

Even though I feel anxious, I deeply and completely love and accept myself that point, I would tap that point all day long, early in my trauma recovery when I was in this sort of re-traumatized state, I would walk around all day just tapping that point and it’s that little point, that little skin between the pinky finger and the ring finger on the top of the hand. So we can find an image of it for everybody. But, um, that’s a really nice practice that I would highly recommend if you are new to EFT and you just want to tap to feel instant relief, that’s a big one. What I want to really call out as a practice that you’ve just recognized is how do we change our thinking? How do we change our behavioral patterns at this time? And in my book, Super Attractor, the most important method in the book, and the book has methods for manifesting a life beyond your wildest dreams, but really their methods for feeling good.

That’s what the whole book is about, is feeling good. Because when we feel good, we become a super attractor. So the method that’s in the book that I think is so valuable that’s especially for right now, it’s kind of like a cognitive behavioral therapy method because it’s about rethinking. So it’s called the choose again method. And the first step is to witness the negative fear-based thought that you have on repeat. So for me, I’ll just use myself as example. For me right now, when I had postpartum depression and anxiety, I suffered from insomnia. And right now I’m about to try to conceive again and I’m nervous about my sleep because I had been using melatonin and some other sleep aids that I won’t be able to use when I’m pregnant. So I’m trying to just learn how to sleep again and I’m nervous about it.

So my story has been oh God, I’m scared of my sleep. I’m scared I’m not gonna be able to sleep. And so I’ve been using this choose, again, method all throughout the day. So the first step is to notice the fearful thought and notice how it makes you feel. So the fearful thought for me is I’m scared about sleeping, then sends this pang of anxiety into my chest. Okay? So I’m familiar with the thought, now I know what it is. I’m calling it out. And then referencing, there it is. There’s my fear. And the second step is to forgive yourself for having the thought. Now, Katie, this is major because if we don’t forgive ourselves for… when we forgive ourselves for the thought, what we do is we recognize that the thought is not who I am. The thought that I have insomnia is not the truth of who I am.

That’s an old story. That’s an old ego-based belief that I’m bringing into the present, but when I forgive myself for having the thought, I disconnect myself from the belief that that thought is who I am. Now I unpack that a lot in the book, but I want to just really highlight that even in this moment when I say I forgive myself for thinking that I have, a sleep issue, it immediately dissolves the thought for me because it’s saying I am not my past. I am in a different place in this present moment. Now, the third step is the fun and crucial step, which is to choose again. The choose again method is about reaching for the next best feeling thought. So if we’re going to use my example, I can start reaching. I can say, well, I’m no longer in a panic disorder because I’ve treated the postpartum experience and I’m not where I was a year ago.

I have the resources and the support system. I’ve never felt more grounded than I do today. After all that I’ve been through and all that I have faced, I have a connection to a spiritual guidance system that can help me through this period. I can accept that my sleep might not be as great if I’m not on melatonin, but I will change my new patterns and accept each day as it goes. Or I can also go to the place of saying, when I’m pregnant, I will be tired and that will help me sleep. So just reaching for the thoughts that you believe in, proactively guide you out of the story that you’ve been hooked into. And it’s these stories that we grasp onto that become belief systems and the beautiful teacher, Abraham Hicks say that a belief is just a thought that you keep thinking.

So when we just repeat that thought and repeat that thought and repeat that thought, that becomes a belief system. And for me, I have just been totally in acceptance that that thought doesn’t have to be mine right now. And I can choose to believe, through the practice of rethinking this and choosing again, I can choose to believe that I’m going to be tired when I’m pregnant and sleep beautifully and that my body does remember how to sleep and my brain does remember how to sleep and that I have all these great sleep hygiene routines and I can really reprogram the way I’m thinking. Did that, did that make sense to you Katie?

Katie: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I think that’s such an important point. And I think, like I said, I didn’t believe just how profound these things were until I started actually changing the internal things I was saying to myself. And you know, you hear all those quotes and things about how your body listens to everything your mind says and all of that but it really is incredible when you actually start reprogramming that.

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And like the other thing you talk about like Super Attractor, I loved it. It was all about kind of like getting into that alignment. And then in doing so, being able to attract the things that you want and need in your life. Can you kind of explain the concept of that? And then, and then also maybe some of the roadblocks that happen when people are attracting things they don’t want and how we can fix that.

Gabby: Yeah. I think that anytime we’re not attracting what we want or attracting things we don’t want, it’s just a sign of misalignment. It’s a sign that we’ve been thinking a thought for too long that we don’t want and has become a belief system. That belief system has created a vibration within us, an energetic state. That energetic state has been expressed out into the world and that is what we’re getting back. It’s being served back up to us. So it’s really about just recognizing that the energy that we express is a boomerang and our thoughts inform our energy and our energy informs our actions and our actions are picked up and put back to us. And as well as our energy, even if we don’t take any action, the feelings that we have are reflected back to us in our experiences. So practicing a book like Super Attractor will put you on a path of undoing the belief systems and the patterns and the energetic state that has kept you in the misalignment and kept you from attracting what you genuinely want in your life. By undoing those patterns and belief systems, you start to restore a greater sense of presence and peace within you that ultimately changes the direction of your life.

Katie: Gotcha. Okay. So can you kind of walk us through, in a little bit more detail, like I know you have the four step action method for kind of creating the life you want. Can you walk us through that?

Gabby: Well, I know the whole book is filled with methods. One of them was the choose again, method that I gave you. Other methods could include, there’s a daily design method, which I think would be very valuable for folks right now because right now a lot of people are feeling immobilized. They’re feeling stuck. In that state, they don’t have much… They wake up in the morning, maybe turn right to the news or social media or whatever’s going on. But instead, what would happen if you woke up in the morning, you opened a journal or even your phone and you answered these three questions or four questions actually. How do I want to feel today? Who do I want to be today? The answers to something like that like I want to be a good mother. I want to be a happy person today or whatever.

So how do I want to feel today? Who do I want to be today? What do I want to give today and what do I want to receive today? When we answer those four questions, we design our day. We set the day up the way that we want, the way that we’re intending. Even simply making those statements to ourselves silently or writing them down in the morning, sets ourselves up to win. It sets an intention and it redirects us off of the news, the drama, the stories, the emails, the text messages, the fear from yesterday, and it redirects the energetic state that we’re in into a place that we want to be in today. So I would love for people to start using that daily design.

Katie: I love that. That seems like something great to do with kids as well, which was going to be one of my next questions. You’re a mom so how can we foster this mindset from like a very early age with our kids and I know obviously I’m hearing some of the stuff you’ve already said and thinking this would be great to do with my kids, especially that four step formula, but I’m curious how you’re approaching it as a mom even with the really little ones to kind of hopefully give them this foundation so that they’re not having to address some of these things as an adult like many of us are, but they can start from a young age, having this mindset.

Gabby: The absolute most valuable thing I believe as a mom, that a parent could do right now is read these two books. One of them is called Trauma-Proofing Your Kids and it’s a book by the leading trauma therapist, Peter Levine, Dr. Peter Levine, and the other book is by Dan Siegel, which I’m sure you’ve read some of the Dan Siegel books and this book is called No-Drama Discipline. I cannot recommend these two books enough. No-Drama Discipline is frankly blowing my mind because what it’s teaching is how to connect with your child’s feelings and to validate their feelings, honor their feelings. Because when a child is in an overactive state and acting out and doing something that’s inappropriate or whatever it may be, they’re not in their resource part of their brain. They’re not in their upstairs brain. They’re in their downstairs brain. And that downstairs brain is emotion.

It’s all the feelings, whereas the upstairs brain can problem solve, but we can’t just force them into that problem solving brain because that doesn’t work. Throwing them into a timeout saying you’re not, you know, what are you doing? You shouldn’t be doing this. It just throws them into more of a triggered state. So if we just can regulate them by just being really, really recognizing their emotions, their feelings, validating their feelings, even though we may not say that what they did was correct, we can validate their feelings about it and it’s all about connection. And then once you felt that connection, that’s when you can redirect. I could do an entire podcast with you on this work. But Dan Siegel’s work and Peter Levine are just blowing my mind personally and as a parent and professionally actually because I’m just like, I got to teach this work everywhere I can. It’s unbelievable.

Katie: I’m definitely going to check out both of those because having been through trauma myself, that’s something I think about a lot with my kids. And I know obviously every parent, you know, with very rare exceptions or like mental illness, every parent wants to do the best they can with their kids. But yet I think so, like we talked about the beginning of so many people make it to adulthood with these filters or these scripts of not being good enough or not being worthy or not being lovable. And so I’ve thought about that a lot in the recent years as my kids get older. It’s like, how can we as parents better navigate this and still teach them and help them learn important life lessons, but also make sure that they get to adulthood with the feeling of being loved and worthy and valuable and good enough. And I’m sure like we still will do many things wrong or wish we could do things a little better as parents. But, um, I can’t wait to check out both of those books. How old is your little guy now?

Gabby: He’s 16 months.

Katie: Oh, that’s awesome. That’s such a great age.

Gabby: He’s so much fun. He’s so cool. Yeah. Yeah. It’s been, and that’s been the silver lining of this whole experience is that I actually, we have full time childcare, not full, you know, five days a week childcare when we’re working, because my husband and I run our business, but we don’t have that right now. And it’s been really a blessing even though I have a lot less hours in the day. I have this bond that when I went through the postpartum depression, I didn’t, I lost some of that bonding time and I’ve now been able to reignite that with my son. So it’s very special.

Katie: That is, and two things there I want to touch on a little bit. So I’m curious if you have any strategies or just any personal experience of how you’ve navigated this path with your husband and being in relationship? Because I know at least from my own experience, having been through some kind of trauma like that, and especially once you’ve put up walls or with the shame that we talked about earlier, it’s like it can make it hard to be vulnerable and to connect in relationships sometimes. And so I’m curious if you have anything that’s been helpful for you guys in your relationship or help to strengthen that bond as you work through these levels of trauma.

Gabby: Oh, this is such a whole other podcast. I agree with that. So there’s really great gifts in being on your own personal growth journey, but there’s an even greater gift than in being on one with a partner because your partner is the one who continues to trigger your core wounds and activate them, which only allows you to have the opportunity to go deeper into your own personal growth. So if you see it that way, it can be a real blessing, if you don’t, it can be a pain in the ass. It can be torturous. So thankfully my husband and I both been on our own journeys separately and together. The places that I think I’ve felt the most, the deepest connection is even reading these, these Dan Siegel books, realizing that the same way that I would treat my child when he’s activated is how I have to treat my husband and myself. So if my husband’s, you know, throwing an attitude around and he’s upset about things, I have to recognize that I can’t just jump into solution with him. I have to honor his feelings. So by simply saying… Last night I said, he was really stressed out because we have so much going on. And I said, “You know, listen honey, why don’t you just tell me how you feel and I don’t need to problem solve. I’ll just listen.” And his whole face just lit up. Like, thank you so much. So the answer is I recommend couples therapy to every family, every human, every couple. I think every couple should be in couples therapy, especially if you have children, every couple should be in couples therapy. And I say that should with a real “S” a capital “S,” Should, and I’m not a “should”er, but I think that is my big should for the lifetime. And uh, it’s my highest recommendation. Also just doing your own personal growth work, you have to hope and pray that your partner will grow with you.

Katie: Absolutely. Yeah, definitely agree. And I love that. And then the other point of what you said that I really resonated with as you said, you were just you’re being grateful for not having the childcare right now and for more time with your son and at home and I think it’s easy to fall into that out of control feeling or the uncertainty or the helplessness like we talked about earlier on. But we also all do have the choice to choose gratitude. And I’m hopeful, especially, I think moms kind of direct the mood at a lot of households and I’m hopeful that we can kind of collectively let this become a great experience like we talked about for us and for our families and for our kids.

And I’m hopeful that we’ll also keep some of the good lessons of this. Like many more people are gardening and many more people are cooking at home with their families or spending more one on one time with their kids or just spending more time in nature. So as things hopefully relatively quickly move back towards what we remember in life, I also hope we can keep the good and keep the lessons. And, um, and like you said, use this as a catalyst for change in our lives and kind of a metamorphosis of sorts. Um, for people who are new to you, I know you’re very well-known and I guess most listeners have heard of you, but for someone who’s new, who is ready to kind of jump in and kind of go on this journey, where would you recommend that they start with your work and your books?

Gabby: I would say head over to my site, Gabbybernstein.com and really just allow yourself to be guided there because there’s so much content. There’s so many free resources. If you’re a reader and you are looking for a spiritual book, I think a great place to start is my book, The Universe Has Your Back. If you read The Universe Has Your Back, a great one would be Super Attractor. But I’ve written eight books now, so I think that the best thing to do is also just go read the introductions online and see what’s the most, what’s really striking you as your path, your journey with me. I probably need to do sort of like a website form of like a choose your own adventure with the books, you know, like, which direction do you want to go in right now? But you can spend some time on Amazon reading the introductions and seeing what feels right for you.

Katie: I love it and I will make sure all of those links are at wellnessmama.fm in the show notes. If you guys are listening while you are driving or exercising, you can find everything we’ve talked about there. And I know Gabby, you have so many resources on your site including a meditation challenge. I’ll make sure we link to that as well. But I love that you’re a voice of calm and gratitude even in these kind of tough and uncertain times. And I love your message throughout your books of us being able to choose joy. And to choose a positive response. I think it’s so important and so needed right now and especially with no childcare. I really appreciate you making the time today to be here and to share your, your message and your journey.

Gabby: Thank you. And listen, I really do want to encourage people, if this is coming out in before the 17th of May or even within that week to take me up on this journey of this 21-day challenge because Katie, I’d love to have you involved in doing it because I’ve put in these meditations, daily new meditations for people and I think so many people have been begging me right now for guidance on how to meditate in this crisis. And so I feel it’s my responsibility as a spiritual teacher to give those tools. So I’m really glad that you brought that up because I think that taking… and also being part of a community right now, feeling part of a collective group of people going on a journey together. So we’ll give them all those details.

Katie: I love it. So yeah, you guys make sure you check out the show notes and find those links. Gabby, thank you so much for your time and for all that you do.

Gabby: Thank you. Thank you for your vulnerability too. Thank you so much.

Katie: And thanks as always to you for listening and sharing one of your most valuable resources, your time, with both of us today. We’re very grateful that you did and I hope that you will join me again on the next episode of the Wellness Mama podcast.

If you’re enjoying these interviews, would you please take two minutes to leave a rating or review on iTunes for me? Doing this helps more people to find the podcast, which means even more moms and families could benefit from the information. I really appreciate your time, and thanks as always for listening.