Big Happiness Interview: Gabby Bernstein on manifesting a new vision for 2023

I’m feeling a bit gloomy. It’s freezing outside, I have a cold and the headlines are an onslaught of negative news. So, I’m delighted to be interviewing Gabby Bernstein, New York Times bestselling author of Happy Days: The Guided Path from Trauma to Profound Freedom and Inner Peace.

It’s not been the easiest year so how do we create a better one in 2023? ‘We choose it,’ says Gabby. ‘In any given moment, we can choose the perspective that we want to have. So rather than beginning the year with the story of how bleak and awful everything is, we can choose optimism, we can choose hope.’

We’re here to talk about Gabby’s upcoming event in London on 13 January, which invites us not only to be hopeful but to ‘manifest our wildest dreams.’ And she walks the talk. After a run in with addictions in her twenties and becoming ‘sober’ in 2003, Gabby became a motivational speaker who The New York Times describes as a ‘role model for a new generation of spiritual seekers’, has written nine number one bestselling books, hosts a popular podcast Dear Gabby, and was featured on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday as a next generation thought leader.

Gabby made a choice to turn her life around and she’s passionate about inviting us to do the same: ‘Don’t underestimate that choice. Because the decision we make of how we want to show up every day dictates the exact direction of our life. And it doesn’t mean that we ignore the suffering in the world, or our hardships, but it means we choose to lean into what’s possible, rather than the impossible.’

Here we talk to Gabby about ‘how to be the happiest person you know’.

When you’ve had a terrible year, how do you dare to trust that things might be OK in 2023? 

We have to first trust in our own ability to change. Because some of the challenges we face are behavioural patterns due to belief systems that we hold about ourselves, or life, that land us in the same situation over and over again. So, start there. You can have hope and faith in your ability to change. Make the commitment to do the inner work and change the way that you perceive your life.

When we show up for that work, that’s when we can have faith that everything in our life will begin to change. You can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results.

Where do we start to make changes?

Try an exercise I call ‘choose again.’ When you have a negative thought that’s on repeat, for example: ‘I’m not going to get that job’, observe that thought. That’s the first step.

The second step is to forgive yourself for having that thought and say to yourself: ‘That’s just the thought that I keep thinking and it’s not my reality. It’s just a thought that I keep repeating.’

Then the third step is to ‘choose again’, which is to reach for different thoughts, such as: ‘I have a lot of people in my LinkedIn account that are interested in connecting with me,’ or, ‘I’m going fix up my CV,’ or, ‘I’m going to do some part time work until I get my dream job.’ Simply start reaching for the next best thought. You can make this process a daily practice of personal development. And if you practice this method regularly, you’re doing the work to change your life, and then you can have more faith that things will change.

Start reaching for the next best thought. You can make this process a daily practice of personal development.

Sometimes we can get so triggered by negative thoughts and feelings that in the moment we can’t catch ourselves and react badly – any advice?

When we get triggered, we can go straight into a flight or fight response, we are flooded by stress hormones. One of the quickest ways to counter that, is with a breathing exercise.

First, breathe in deeply and allow yourself to be fully present with the feeling. One of the hardest habits to break is pushing away our negative feelings. Instead, give yourself the chance to become comfortable in the discomfort by breathing into them. On the out breath, visualize your body releasing energy. You may even want to physically shake out your arms and legs to actively let go of tension in your body. The out breath offers freedom to release the tension and resistance. Taking it further, wrap your arms around your body and give yourself a hug. Say to yourself, ‘I’ve got you. It’s safe to move forward. You are not alone.’

You’re coming to London in January to talk about manifesting ‘your wildest dreams’. Give us a beginner’s guide to manifestation?

Start by doing the inner work. We can’t start just say what you want, without doing the work to get attuned and aligned with what we want. We manifest what we are, we manifest what we believe. If we are full of faith and love and grace, we’re going to manifest more of that.

How can we create an exciting vision for ourselves in 2023?

Having a vision for a better life isn’t about a certain amount of money in the bank, a special love partner, or a credential. Focus instead on a vision for how you want to feel when you wake up each day. Ask yourself, ‘What is my 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 answer this question quickly in a journal. 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 freewriting. Then just write.

Forget what you think you need and instead focus on how you want to feel.

What if you do want a new job or a new relationship?

Aim 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 a vision of a deep romantic partnership, thinking that this 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 think that a romance will make you 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. Write a vision statement.

A vision statement?

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. 

What next?

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 landed on 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 that 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 at a specific body weight. This is the voice of fear within you.

Acknowledge that fear and say nice things to it, such as: ‘I witness my resistance, and I honour the fearful part of me. I am willing to feel what it is you want to feel [insert your desired feeling here].’ Talking back to your resistance with love is a form of acceptance that dissolves the fear.

Feeling joy and peace is what puts you in a place of attraction to living a life beyond your wildest dreams.

Many of us are used to shutting down parts of ourselves and listening only to other parts like the inner critic. Be kind to yourself, be patient, and trust the plan ahead. The beauty here is that you don’t have 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.

What to do when you’re hijacked by negative thoughts

‘The way to begin the process of undoing negative reactivity is to put something productive, spiritual, and grounding in place of your reactive response. Each time you do this, you will create a new neural pathway in your brain,’ says Gabby

Answer the following questions in your journal:

• What am I feeling right now? Describe your feelings.

• What could be triggering this feeling? Describe the situation.

• What do I want to do to fight this feeling? Describe in detail.

• What can I do instead? List out healthy ways that you could respond to these feelings, such as; call a friend and vent, go for a walk, cry, write about it in your journal, stretch your body, say a prayer, sit in meditation, or even schedule an appointment with your therapist.

Gabrielle Bernstein is in London on 13th January 2023, speaking at the Manifest your wildest dreams event.

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