In the spring of 2015, I had a meltdown in yoga class. Out of the blue, while in the middle of a sun salutation, I was taken over by terror and anxiety. I began to feel terrible pain in my neck, and the entire left side of face and arm went numb. Within 24 hours I had undergone multiple MRIs and blood tests. Waiting for the results to come back was one of the scariest times of my life.
When the results did come back, I was at a loss. There was no diagnosis for my physical symptoms, and, ultimately, the doctors classified the episode as a panic attack.
At this point in my life, I had an amazing and supportive husband, a thriving career, a healthy body, and a loving family. In fact, I was living a life far beyond my wildest dreams. What happened?
Over the past year, I’ve come to realize that part of our mind is addicted to fear. Sound ridiculous? Let me give you a powerful example. I’ve worked with a young woman named Samantha for five years. Samantha is a kick-ass copy editor, and she is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever employed. Not only is she fantastic at the work she produces but she’s also lovely to collaborate with. Over the years we’ve become very close friends.
This past year I sent Samantha a ton of work to do, and she always returned her assignments right on time. She never missed a beat. Oddly, Samantha would never bill me for all her work. Month after month I’d ask her to send me an invoice. She’d either ignore the e-mail or say, “I’ll get to it when I’m less busy.” This made me uncomfortable. I saw her resistance to claiming money as a personal fear of recognizing her own worth. But I kept my mouth shut and trusted that she was being guided to learn an important lesson.
Then December rolled around, and we were nearing the New Year. I looked at my accounting and realized that I hadn’t paid her one cent all year long. I immediately e-mailed her and said, “Sister, please let me pay you!”
Within moments she replied, “I’m working on the invoice FOR REAL this week. Several clients have been taking their SWEET, SWEET TIME paying me (like months after I’ve submitted invoices), requiring almost aggressive follow-up. I took it as a sign. I’ll send you an invoice this week. xx”
I replied, “Yes, that is a sign. If you won’t send an invoice to clients who want to pay you, then you are sending a message that you don’t really want to get paid. Then clients pick up the memo and DON’T PAY YOU. It’s time to put out the message and the mantra, ‘I GET PAID FOR MY AWESOME WORK. AND I GET PAID ON TIME!’” In her final response she said, “Amen, Gabby. I really had to be knocked over the head to get that message.”
After my panic attack, I examined my own life and those of people close to me for clues about what could be addictive about fear, and what made us resistant to happiness. I learned how to recognize the unconscious stories we tell ourselves that hold us back from a sense of clarity and freedom. Samantha’s story reminds us that the energy we put out is what we will receive. My story was that I believed struggle and control were necessary to a successful life.
What purpose are you giving your pain? What’s your story?
Gabby's book The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith (Hay House) hits the stands on September 27, 2016. To celebrate, she is offering an incredible bonus: When you order the book you can get her brand new 6 hour online course for free! Check out all the details here.