Over a week ago, I had the privilege of attending Cosmopolitan‘s Fun Fearless Life. Though I was thrilled about the entire weekend, I was most excited to listen to Gabrielle Bernstein. So, as she spoke during Cosmo’s amazing Fun Fearless Life conference, I made sure to record so I could share with you what I can only assume will be an inspiring speech:
One of the questions that was asked just about 10 to 15 minutes ago was: What advice would you have given yourself in your early 20s? And I had a really deep moment. I heard my inner voice say, Woah! And I responded, Wow! I would’ve given myself a lot of advice in my early 20s.
And I think back to a time specifically in October of 2005, and this is nine years ago. And I’m thinking back to this time, and I’m looking at my life. I’m seeing all these seemingly successful experiences happening in my life. I’m looking at my life and I’m seeing I’ve got this awesome career. I’m the president of my company, I’m running a PR business here in New York City, representing nightclubs. I can walk into any nightclub and the velvet ropes will open. I have all these different dates lined up. I have fabulous shoes. I live in the West Village. I think I am fierce. I think I am fierce, but why am I once again on the floor, in some random person’s apartment, coming down from God-knows-what-drugs I’ve taken, watching the sunrise out the window with no idea how I’m gonna get home.
Why am I once again on the floor, picking myself back up, pulling myself together, walking onto the streets of New York City, seeing people walking to work with their coffee in their hand, and I’m going nowhere. I don’t know how to get home. Somehow I stumble, I find my way, I get a taxi, I find my way back into my apartment. I hear the clinking of the garbage cans outside my window. I hear the garbage trucks rolling in, and I see people out the window walking to work, and I’m going nowhere. Because even though on the outside I had created this seemingly successful world, this world of being the president of this business, this world of having access to all these nightclubs, of having this false pretense of what it looked like to be successful, I was somehow some way completely emotionally and spiritually bankrupted.
I’d chosen a path of choosing to perceive the outside world as my source of safety, the outside world as my source of security, the outside world as my source of success, and being in that conversation I was led to all these dark places, and I was led to a very deep, dark addiction. Not only addiction to drugs and alcohol, but addiction to my career, addiction to my credentials, addiction to my shoes, addiction to my own pretense of fabulousness.
And if any of you know, when we look outside of ourselves for a sense of safety, or security, or happiness, or peace, we will always fall short.
So here I am, it’s October 2nd, 2005, and I’m sitting on the floor in my room, and I open up my journal. And I’m looking at my life and I’m saying: This has got to be better. There has to be a better way. And I write in my journal: I need a miracle.
And I go to sleep for a few hours, and I wake up with this strong intuition. This intuitive voice wakes me up, and I hear this calling. I sit up by the bed, and I hear this voice within me that says: Get clean. Get sober. And you will live a life beyond your wildest dreams. And for whatever reason that day, that morning, I was ready and willing and able to hear that inner guidance system. For whatever reason I made that commitment that day, and I picked myself up off the floor, and I found my way to recovery, and I made a commitment to get clean.
October 2nd of 2014, a few weeks, I celebrated nine years of sober recovery.
And being in that reflection of what that commitment was. Getting sober was really the first step. Getting clean was the first step. It was the first commitment. It was being the witness of what was going on in my life, seeing this is not working and making that magical statement: There has to be a better way. I need a miracle. And little did I know just writing those magical words down in my journal would open an invisible door that would change my life forever.
When we say those magic words – I need change, I choose to see this differently, there has to be a better way – however that expression comes through us naturally, we open an invisible door. We say, I choose again, and I am ready for something new. And when that invisible door swings open, all that we need is given to us, all that we need, all the resources, all the books, all the teachers, all the Yellow-Book classes, all the therapists, all the friends, all the gentle reminders, all the events like this come into our psyche and we are ready, willing and able to say yes.
And so I spent the past nine years on a journey of saying yes. I’ve been on a journey of saying yes. I’ve been on a journey of unlearning and remembering. Unlearning all of the fear-based stories that I had chosen to believe in, the stories of success means struggle, the stories of I build up this world around me and I will feel good enough, the stories that outside circumstances and people could fill me up.
And I started to unlearn these fear-based stories and started to remember the truth of why I’m here, the truth of what is real, the truth of what we come here to learn, and I started to really begin this journey of reorganizing my belief systems. And so I started to, you know, I remember seeing myself rollerblading. I would rollerblade from yoga class to meditation studio to juice – actually there was no juice bars in 2005 – so I was rollerblading through coffee shops, and I was meeting people, and I was soaking up these principles. I had stacks of self-help books next to my bed, and I became so receptive to receive whatever it was that I needed to reorganize my believes and change my perceptions so that I could recognize that success was an inside job.
And I remember the joy I felt on this journey. There’s so much joy when we make the commitment to tune inward and start to seek our source of happiness and self-worth inside of ourselves. A little light turns on, and there’s this really beautiful experience of just walking through life with a new lens, walking through life with a new perception.
On my journey, I really started to pick up my spiritual roots. I was brought up visiting ashrams. I was taught to meditate as a child, and I turned my back on that. So now in my new path to recovery, I started to pick up my spiritual roots, and I started to really deepen my meditation practice. I became a student of metaphysics, and I became a spirit junkie.
I opened my heart, and I opened my mind to learn what it meant to live fearless and free and fun with a new sense of freedom from my perceptions. And there was one great teacher I had early in my path, a guy by the name of Gary Bernard, and he had this really cool metaphor where he talked about where you know when you’re watching a movie and you see all the crazy crap going on in the movie screen and you’re just like throwing popcorn at the movie, you’re like, “Noooo! Don’t turn that corner! No, no, no, please, don’t turn that corner” because you know what happens when they turn the corner.
And if you ever feel like sometimes you’re witnessing your own life and you’re like, “No! Don’t call that guy again!” And you know these stories, and you know when you’re looking at that movie screen and you’re throwing that popcorn and you’re screaming “Please, please, please don’t do that, don’t do that, don’t do that,” but the simplicity is that all we have to do is walk behind that projector room and switch the reel. We just have to switch the reel. The projection that we place forth is the perception of the reality we live in. Projection is perception, and so we are on every given moment of our life choosing the projector that we want to see. And so for the past nine years I’ve been on this journey of changing the projector screen, choosing again, shifting my thinking, reorganizing my beliefs, opening up to receptivity of recovery, recovering from the food addictions, recovering from the drug addictions, recovering from the love addictions and today celebrating a fun fearless life.
And why did you come here today? I wanted to close this magnificent event with my specific tools for how we can live that fun fearless life and how we can live with freedom, how we can live with ease and how we can open up our subconscious and conscious being to what it means to be radically successful because we’ve made our focus our inside job. Do you want that?
Yes! I like it. Good!
We all want that. Honestly, all we want is that authentic life! All we want is that happiness and that peace, so when I was asked what would you have told yourself when you were 25 years old, I said, I would have told myself to be real, that all the world wants for you is your authentic truth. All the world wants from you is your authentic truth. There is nothing sexier than your truth. There is nothing sexier than your truth. And I really had to look closely at what it meant for me to get to the place where I could be authentic again, where I could remember what it mean to really be me, where I could remember to step into the truth of who I am.
And the first step was really that moment on October 2nd, 2005, being on that floor and being the nonjudgmental witness of my fear, being able to look at my life and say, This isn’t working. There has to be a better way. I forgive myself for what I’ve been doing. I am not gonna to judge myself for where I’ve been, because had I been in judgement that day, I wouldn’t be standing on this stage right now. Had I been in judgment that day, I would have chosen to beat myself up more, probably pick myself up and picked up a drink a few hours later, but because I was in the experience of being in the non-judgement of of my fears and being able to truthfully and authentically and honestly look at the fears right in front of me, witness it, see it, say, Girl, this ain’t working! It’s time to change, I was able to open that invisible door.
So being the nonjudgmental witness of your fear, being honest with yourselves: What is it within you right now that is holding you back from stepping into your highest truth? What is that’s within you might be holding you back from stepping into that authentic power, into that sexy authenticity? What is it that’s blocking you?
Write this down write now. You all have your phones. Take a little note: I’m struggling because I believe that without the love of a romantic partner I’m not good enough. Or I’m struggling right now and I’m blocked because I believe that I will never be able to make that money I think I want to make. Or I’m struggling right now because all weekend as inspired as I’ve been, I’ve been comparing myself to all those speakers, wishing I had something that they have. Or I’m struggling right now because I just can’t get out of the story that I’m not good enough.
What is the story that you are creating? What is the projector that you are placing onto the perceptions of your life? What is it? And without judgment, in this moment, just take a moment, just take a moment to get brutally honest with yourselves. You know what it is. You all know. Does everyone know what it is that’s holding you back? Do you have an idea or understanding of the belief systems that might be repurposing and replaying over and over and over again like a broken record? Anyone? Is there any real honesty in this room? Come forward. Tell me. Yes? Yes! Because that honesty is so required in being that nonjudgmental witness of your fear.
The next step here is to really recognize that the presence of fear is a sure sign that we are relying on our own strength. Take that in: The presence of fear is a sure sign that we are relying on our own strength.
Now when I started off on my spiritual journey nine years ago, it wasn’t like this hip thing to like be drinking green juice and like be in a yoga studio…That wasn’t hip then, so I was creating my own world of building this new experience, and my predecessors had done this beautiful job of creating these teachings, but I felt this call that it was my responsibility to demystify these spiritual principles and expand the spiritual lexicon for this new generation that was gonna come too and realize, I have fear that I need to clean up. And so being in my spiritual journey is what allowed me to recognize and witness that the presence of fear is a sure sign that I was relying on my own strength, relying on my own stories of if I push hard enough, I will succeed. That’s relying on your own strength. If I make something happen or manipulate or control the outcome of this situation, that’s relying on your own strength. And what does it mean to rely on strength further than you?
When we tune in – whether it be through prayer, through meditation, through yoga, even when we come to an event like this and we have this experience of this collective community of people coming together with a shared intension – something radical happens. Do you guys feel sort of an energy in the room? Do you feel a vibration in the room? Anybody with me on that?
Yeah, I felt it driving up here. Do you feel like the past 48 hours have shifted you in a way?
Do you feel as though there’s a sense of intuition coming up a bit, like you’re getting ideas, you’re inspired to go create more? Anything like that happening for you guys?
Awesome. So that’s a sure sign that this weekend you have stopped relying on your own strength and you made a commitment to tune into your inner guidance system. You made the commitment to tune into a voice of inspiration and a voice of intuition. And the sure sign of true power and fearlessness and fun comes from living from that voice, living from the connection of that inner guidance system and releasing our attachment to that fear voice, releasing our attachment to the fear of being the driver.
And how do we start to cultivate that presence of inspiration in our lives? Well, number one you did this weekend. I want to just give you a round of applause: You showed up.
You showed up! Being in the presence of this. Having your spiritual running buddies, having your sisters around you, holding you and opening up with you and creating a shift with you, changing your conversation. When you’re in conversation with your girlfriends and in your in the story of all the negative stuff and you’re in the story of how things are not going well, choose any given moment to pivot. In any given moment, you can choose again. So if you’re focusing on that negative story, say, You know what! I witness that story without judgment, and I’m gonna choose to see it differently. And that happiness that we’re longing for, that happiness is a choice we make, so at every given moment, we can detour from the fear, back into that intuitive voice.
Another really impactful way to build that voice of intuition is through some kind of daily intention practice and a practice stillness. I have meditated every single day for the last nine years, and I owe all of my successes, every book, every New York Times best-seller, sitting next to Oprah Winfrey, every success in my life, my marriage that I just celebrated a year, every success I have experienced on the outside is the direct reflection of my internal condition, and that internal condition has been cultivated on a beautiful meditation pillow. One day at a time. Committing to that stillness. One day at a time committed to choosing my thoughts through prayer, through intension setting, through affirmations, affirming the life that I want to live and sitting in stillness and listening to the voice of intuition that comes forward and says, Go girl! Yes you can! That has been my practice of reorganizing my faith and fear and surrendering to my faith in love and surrendering to my faith in truth.
The next step in my practice of really cultivating that presence is, this third step here, is measuring your success based on how much fun you’re having. Doesn’t that sound nice? How many of you right now are measuring your success based on how much fun you’re having? Yeah, that’s like fucking 10 people in a room of 2,000 people.
First of all, thank you for your brutal, brutal honesty, people. Thank you. I appreciate it.
But we really don’t. That’s not the energy we’ve been in. That’s not the story we’ve been telling. That’s not what we’ve been brought up to believe. We haven’t been given the tools to say, “You know what? Fun would really equal success.” That’s not what we’re taught when we’re in high school. That’s not what we’re taught when we’re in college. What we’re taught – particularly in this culture – I just got back from Germany and England – and being in the U.S., I really can be back in that conversation of witnessing how outside success and pushing and controlling has been sort of our driving force. And we’ve been thinking that the harder I push – Does anybody have the belief that success is gonna come from struggle? Anybody in any way feel that? Yes?
Yeah. You’re with me. You get that – that we think we have to struggle to achieve successes, and I’m here to completely bust that myth for you today. I want to bust that myth for you, and I want to remind you that measuring your success based on how much fun you’re having.
My dear friend Robert Holding says that when we focus on joy, we increase our chances for success.
Think about it. You’re walking through your life and you’re showing up and you’re in this energy of negativity and you’re in this energy of black and you’re in this energy of separation and you’re in this energy of judgment and telling all these stories and you’re talking a lot of shit….And somebody, you know, comes into your world and you’re on a date and you’re in that vibration – does that date call you back? No. Does that person wanna hire you when you show up with that vibration, when you show up with that energy? Is that attractive in any way? No.
Now imagine you show up to life when you’re number one priority is to be joyful. I want to bring forth my happiness. I want to bring forth fun into all those situations – particularly the situations in my life that are most difficult for me. I want to bring forth joy. Can you contemplate how sexy you would be if you showed up every day with the intension for joy? Can you just imagine where you would be in that way? Can you imagine all of the people that would say, “I don’t know why – her credentials seems so off – but I just wanna hire her because she makes me feel good?”
You know, it’s not what we say or what we wear, it’s how we be. It’s how we be. It’s the energy we bring forth. And this is the next step – which is that our presence is our power. We think, you know, if I show up and I say all the right things and I wear the right outfit, I have the most fabulous bold shoes, it’s all gonna work. That’s what we think. Truthfully, if we don’t show up with our presence, then we might as well not show up at all. Our presence is our greatest source of power.
What did you think of Gabrielle’s speech? Do you agree with her? What are your thoughts on spirituality?