Trigger Warning: This piece contains discussions surrounding sexual abuse and trauma.
To many, Gabby Bernstein is a household name when it comes to manifestation and mindfulness. And in her latest book, Happy Days: The Guided Path from Trauma to Profound Freedom and Inner Peace, the author and spiritual teacher talks about why the key to ultimate happiness is healing the things you can’t see. In other words, the feelings that make us the most uncomfortable reveal what we need to heal. But how can one figure that out? TZR spoke to Bernstein to get to the bottom of the complex topic of healing, as well as other themes from her new book, as she embodies self-care, wellness, and diving deep into one’s traumas.
“In Happy Days, I write: ‘In order to let true healing begin, we must become conscious of the triggers and the feelings that live beneath our destructive patterns,” Bernstein tells TZR in an email. “A huge shift occurs when you become brave enough to look closely at what you’ve been unwilling to see.”
She says her own life was a perfect example of this sentiment. “In my 20s and 30s, I was living a pretty groovy life, in many, many ways,” she explains. “I was a New York Times bestselling author. I was (and still am!) married to the man of my dreams. I was helping thousands of people through my work; I had a strong spiritual practice that supported me every step of the way.” But Bernstein says she was also struggling on the inside: she was a workaholic; had gastrointestinal issues and panic attacks; her jaw was constantly hurting from TMJ pain; and she often had brain fog. “Then, at 36, I uncovered a repressed memory of sexual abuse as a child (I describe this in Happy Days),” she says. “Remembering my trauma was the scariest moment of my life, and yet, it was a big relief. Suddenly, I understood why I’d been hurting, and why I’d been falling into addictive patterns when it came to my work.”
Uncovering The Pain That Is Holding You Back
Bernstein’s ah-ha moment then led to a deep dive of awareness and self-discovery, which was essential to healing. “I’d been brave enough to wonder what was lying beneath all the behaviors that were holding me back,” she explains. “And once I discovered the root of my pain, I was able to start the deep healing work.” She emphasizes that the key is to go slow. “If you dive into healing too quickly, it can feel like ripping the lid off a pressure cooker,” she says. “In Happy Days, I offer a slow and gentle healing path that explains the nine tools I used to survive and thrive after trauma. I dive into somatic experiencing, Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy, attachment theory, and more. I also include prayers, meditations, and tapping exercises people can use to settle their nervous systems in an instant.”
Bernstein adds that while some of these tools can be done alone at home, others are best practiced with the guidance of a trained professional. “I don’t expect any reader to try all nine of these tools,” she says. “But even if I can crack a reader up to just one healing tool that will help them feel more free and at peace, I’ve done my job.” She explains that, while self-help tools are helpful, they don’t work overnight. “As I write in the intro to Happy Days: ‘This isn’t a book filled with self-help tools offering a quick fix for your discomfort. Instead, it’s a journey toward lifelong transformation filled with stories of resilience,’” she says.
Why It’s Important To Dig Deep To Heal
While really digging into your past hurts and trauma is not easy, it’s essential so you can progress and heal. “No one deserves to suffer,” says Bernstein. “I was doing an Instagram Live about the book and someone asked me, ‘Gabby, what if I deserve the shame?’ My answer was, ‘No one deserves the shame.’” She says no matter what you’ve been through in life, you deserve to feel peaceful and free. And if there’s any part of you that thinks healing work or self-care is selfish, just think of it this way: Your positive thoughts and actions have a ripple effect in the world. And, as you feel freer and more peaceful, you’ll extend that energy to everyone you come into contact with. “But you have to start with extending that light to yourself,” says Bernstein.
The author says that Happy Days reveals parts of her that she never knew were there until she started the writing process (much less shared it publicly). “It isn’t like my eight previous books on manifesting and miracles,” she says. “But the fact that I can proudly put my face on the cover of a book that says ‘The Guided Path from Trauma to Profound Freedom and Inner Peace’ is the biggest miracle of all. I wouldn’t put my face on the cover if I didn’t mean every word of that subtitle, which is the promise of the book, and I show up for that promise on every page.” Bernstein says her latest work is the most personal and vulnerable of hers yet, as well as the most important spiritual book she’s written to date.
Defining & Talking About Trauma
Bernstein says that “trauma” is a tricky word. “It’s a triggering word,” she says. “And I understand completely why some people might look at a book like Happy Days and say: ‘No, thanks, not for me. I haven’t experienced trauma.’ But I would gently point out that anyone who’s living in this day and age has experienced trauma of some kind. (The whole world has been through a pandemic!) According to the American Psychological Association (APA), trauma is defined as “an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape, or natural disaster.” Immediately afterwards, shock and denial are common reactions, and longer-term ones include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, and strained relationships; physical symptoms (like headaches) can occur, as well.
In her book, Bernstein talks about the difference between trauma with a “big T” and trauma with a “little t”. “Trauma with a big T can include anything from the death of a family member to sexual assault or a natural disaster,” she explains. “But trauma with a little t — such as being called stupid by a teacher or being bullied on the playground — is actually not-so-little after all.” This is why Bernstein’s on a mission to let people know that they deserve to heal, feel free, and more peaceful — no matter what they’ve experienced in life.
“Happy Days is for anyone who’s willing to become free from the patterns from their past,” she says. “It takes bravery to read a book like this, and this is why I treat the reader with extreme care and compassion. I allow time for reflection and breaks, and I include gentle exercises for feeling at peace and getting back in the body.” She also infused every word of the book with energetic love and compassion. “I really mean this — the reader will be able to feel it,” she says. “All that said, I always say: ‘You read it when you need it.’ When you are ready to read this book, you will know. And I’ll be waiting for you on page one.”