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Archive for February, 2010

This post is a continuation of the previous post and will cover more of the key principles of Louise Hay’s philosophy.  I am spending so much time discussing these principles because I feel it’s important to lay the groundwork for “the healing project” which I have launched for myself (and on which I hope others will join me).  This post outlines four more of the points which are the basis for “You Can Heal Your Life.”

“Everyone suffers from self-hatred and guilt.”

I believe this principle is important for several reasons.  First, it’s always helpful and comforting to know that we are not alone in our struggles and pain.  Knowing that other people are experiencing the same difficulties as we are can help us to feel more normal and less dysfunctional.  Although I feel that some people struggle with self-hatred and guilt to a larger degree than others, I agree that this is an issue for everyone at some point in their lives. I believe that Louise Hay states this principle as a type of precursor to some of her later principles which work on transforming the painful feelings of self-hatred and guilt, as well as other harmful emotions and habits.

I have experienced a great deal of self-hatred and guilt over the course of my life.  To say that I am hard on myself is putting it mildly, so to speak.  I have a tendency to blame myself for anything that goes wrong and to hold myself to inordinately high standards which are virtually impossible to meet.  I feel guilty for the things which I have done wrong, as well for my poor judgments and missed opportunities.  Although I feel that I’ve improved greatly in terms of being less critical and mean toward myself, I still struggle with this issue.  I look forward to using Louise Hay’s principles to heal my self-critical tendencies.

“The bottom line for everyone is, ‘I’m not good enough’.”

This principle is directly related to the principle above.  We all struggle with feelings of inadequacy and set standards for ourselves which can be unreachable.  It’s common to look at what’s wrong in our lives and in ourselves instead of noticing what’s right.  It’s the proverbial “glass half empty” approach to life which is so prevalent in our society.  What we don’t realize, however, is how this approach to life impacts us.

Many of us are merely carrying on a legacy of thought patterns which were instilled in us from a young age.  We may have been raised by parents who criticized us more than they complimented us.  The tendency to look first for what’s wrong becomes a pattern which follows us throughout our lives.  It is likely that our critical parents were also raised by judgmental mothers and fathers, and the pattern continues from generation to generation.

It is difficult to thrive in the face of intense criticism and judgment.   It’s like going through life with a dark cloud over our heads, only we’re the ones who put the cloud there by our contention that we’re not good enough.  We need to learn that we don’t need to be perfect in order to be good enough; we can make mistakes and still be lovable and “okay.”

“It’s only a thought, and a thought can be changed.”

The feelings of self-hatred, guilt, and “not good enough” all spring from corresponding thoughts.  It isn’t true that we are bad or unworthy; we merely have beliefs that state such things as if they were grounded in fact.  As stated in the previous principle, “every thought we think is creating our future,” our thoughts create our reality.   Yet the wonderful thing is that WE are in control of our thoughts!  With a little practice, we can learn to notice our limiting thoughts and to replace them with empowering thoughts.

I have become a lot more adept at noticing when I am thinking negative thoughts, particularly about myself.  One key is to pay attention to your emotions.  If you are feeling bad, it’s a good sign that you are thinking negative thoughts.  If you notice yourself feeling sad or angry, pause for a moment and ask yourself, “What was I just thinking?”  There’s a good chance that you were thinking something negative and maladaptive.   If you get into the habit of noticing your emotions and questioning your thoughts, you will become more and more aware of what you’re thinking.  Consequently, you’ll be able to replace your negative thoughts with more positive and affirming ones.  It just takes some practice!

“We create every so-called illness in our body.”

This can be a difficult principle for many to take on.   It is uncomfortable to feel bad physically and think that you are to blame for your discomfort.  This is especially difficult in the case of severe and life-threatening illnesses.  Yet it is helpful to remember that such illnesses do not come upon a person overnight. The more severe the disease, the more long-standing the pattern of negative thinking which has preceded its genesis.

I rebelled against this concept when I first read “You Can Heal Your Life.”  I didn’t want to believe that I had created the horrendous migraines which had plagued me since the age of eighteen.  However, when I read the probable thought pattern for migraines, as postulated by Louise Hay, it made sense:  dislike of being driven, resisting the flow of life.  I am what one would call a “control freak” and I hate it when things don’t go my way or when others try to control my actions or experiences.   It makes sense that perhaps my ongoing thought patterns had at least contributed to my migraines.  And although migraines run in my family, it’s likely that controlling and perfectionist tendencies have also been passed down through the generations.

If the word “create” in terms of thoughts and illnesses feels too strong for you to swallow, I suggest that you try on the word “contribute.”  It’s easier to accept that one’s negative thought patterns can contribute to the illnesses which he or she experiences.   Either way, the “remedy” is the same – adopt new thought patterns which better serve you.  Positive thoughts have the power to heal us.  Although I am riddled with a number of physical complaints as I write this, I believe that I have the power to heal my ailments.   Accepting that I have the power to create BOTH illness and health is a cornerstone of my healing project!

More of Louise Hay’s key principles will be outlined in the next two posts.  Then I’ll dive in to my own personal healing project.  I invite you to come along for the ride and to heal your life as I heal mine!

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In order to further lay the groundwork for “The Healing Project,” I would like to highlight some of the key principles which Louise Hay outlines in “You Can Heal Your Life.” I will list each principle as stated by Louise Hay, and then I will explain this principle in my own words and relate a bit about what it means to me personally.  As there are a number of principles which I would like to cover before delving into the deep work of my personal healing project, this is the first of four posts on this topic.

“We are each responsible for our own experiences.”

Louise Hay advocates personal responsibility.  Although she asks people to explore their childhoods and past experiences through the exercises in her book, she cautions her readers against laying blame upon anyone else for his or her current life condition.  While it is true that our past experiences and interactions with others have shaped who we are, we are the only ones who are truly responsible for where we are in our lives today.

There is both good and bad news to this principle.  The bad news is that we don’t get to blame anyone else or hold anyone else responsible for what’s happening in our lives.  The good news is that it is completely in our power to transform our lives wholly and completely.    This is, of course, a double-edged sword.  It is in our power to change, we are free to change our lives in both small and great ways, but it is US who must make those changes.

I am completely willing to own that I am responsible for my experiences.   This means that if I fall into “victim mode,” which happens to all of us at times, it is up to me to pull myself out of that abyss and step back into ownership mode.  I am responsible for what I think and what I do.  I am responsible for doing what I say I’m going to do and for honoring my commitments to myself and others.    This is a tall order, but it affords us great freedom to be and to create.

“Every thought we think is creating our future.”

We each think thousands of thoughts each day.  We are unaware of the majority of these thoughts and many of us have more negative thoughts than positive ones.  Our thoughts have both energy and creative power.  Like attracts like and through the powerful Law of Attraction (see “The Secret by Rhonda Byrne for more information), our thoughts are basically bringing about our experiences.

We all have a negative inner voice which exerts power over us.   This is the voice that tells us we’re not good enough, that we’re foolish to want what we want, and that we’ll never accomplish the goals which we’ve set for ourselves.  This voice is sometimes referred to as the “Gremlin” (see “Taming Your Gremlin” by Rick Carson) and it’s amazing how miserable this gremlin can make us!  I once did an exercise in which I recorded all of my negative thoughts over the course of an eight hour time period.  I literally had hundreds of negative thoughts and many of them were repetitive!  This simple exercise helped me to understand how I was limiting my energy, my creativity and my happiness by my limiting and destructive thoughts.

The good news is that positive thoughts are MUCH more powerful than negative thoughts.  If we consciously replace some of our negative thoughts with positive ones, or if we deliberately think positive thoughts throughout the day, we will notice a big difference in our sense of well-being.  One example of an easy positive thought to think is the declaration “I approve of myself” which I mentioned in my last post.  If you find yourself thinking something negative, either replace it with its opposite, say “cancel cancel” to clear the negative energy, or use a mantra like “I approve of myself” to turn your thoughts and your energy around.

“The point of power is always in the present moment.”

We cannot change the past and we have no control over the future.  The only time which is under our control is this moment, right now.  So often, we spend so much time and energy lamenting what we did or didn’t do in the past and worrying about what we might do and what might happen in the future.   These thoughts and worries are really a big waste of time and usually serve to make us less happy instead of more happy.

If you want to be happy and joyous, focus on the NOW.  Not only is this one of Louise Hay’s key principles, but it is also set forward as a precept among many thought leaders, including Eckhart Tolle, who published the best-selling book, “The Power of Now.”

This is a simple but not easy concept.  When one is first starting to live in the present moment, he or she will often find the mind drifting backwards or forward.  This is the time to gently nudge yourself back to the now, just as one might clear their mind or return to a mantra during meditation.  If you find yourself worrying about the future, it can be helpful to ask yourself the following two questions (from “The Big Leap” by Gay Hendricks):

  1. Is this worry realistic?
  2. If so, is there anything I can do about it right now?

If the answer to the first question is no, then bring your attention back to the present moment; likewise if the answer to the second questions is no.  If the answer to the second question is yes, then do something to remedy your worry.  Even something minor can be helpful.   Then bring your attention back to the here and now, the point of your power.

I will be covering all of these principles in greater detail in this blog moving forward, as they are all critical to the healing project.  In my next blog entry, I will be discussing several more of Louise Hay’s key healing principles.  Stay tuned…

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A confession is in order… I have a tendency to procrastinate!  I get excited about something, have fabulous intentions and then I proceed to do… NOTHING – or at least very little.   This blog represents another example of my procrastinating nature, and I know why.  I am a huge perfectionist and I often wait to do something until I feel it is the best, right, or perfect thing to do.  Well, as part of “the healing project,” I’m going to let that go!  I know that one of the most important keys to a successful blog is to write consistently and frequently.  Yes, it’s also critical to include interesting and compelling content, but I know I am capable of that.  I just need to do it!

My Commitment…

My commitment to my readers (I know I may not have any YET, but I will…) is to post at least once per week.  I hope to post twice a week (or even more), but my promise is to add new content to “The Healing Project” once per week.   My first post was an introduction to the blog – why I decided to do it and what the blog will be about.  This second post includes a few quick tips which have helped me to get started in transforming my thinking and my life.

“I Approve of Myself.”

One tip which Louise Hay offers in “You Can Heal Your Life” is to say to yourself over and over again, “I approve of myself.”  She states that several hundred times per day is not too often for repeating this affirmation.  I started doing this in December when I was going through a personal crisis.  It felt silly at first, but I persisted.  I found that repeating this affirmation helped me to feel less anxious and over time it helped to improve my attitude and outlook.

Think about it…  How often are our thoughts about ourselves negative and disapproving?  I know that I have a tendency to be highly critical of myself and think disparaging thoughts almost automatically.  When I would consciously replace those automatic negative thoughts with the affirming affirmation, “I approve of myself,” it would be like throwing a monkey wrench into the machinery of my negative thought processes.  Do that often enough and an attitudinal shift can be created.

Mirror Work

Another powerful exercise which Louise Hay offers is to look in the mirror and say “I love you” to yourself.  She said that the resistance to this exercise was so high that her clients would sometimes throw the mirror across the room sooner than declare loving feelings toward themselves.  I can identify with those clients, as I felt tremendous resistance toward the exercise when I first read “You Can Heal Your Life” about 15 years ago.  I was angry and thought the exercise was stupid and unnecessary.

My reaction these days is quite different.  I find that I have much more compassion and yes, even love, toward myself.  When I look in the mirror and into my own eyes and say, “I love you,” I am often tearful.  Why?  I think it’s in mourning for the many years during which I treated myself with outright contempt.  I was my own worst enemy for most of my life, and I think that is a big part of the many health and life issues with which I now suffer.  Louise Hay states that most of the problems which people face are side effects of a lack of self-love and self-acceptance.  She asserts that the simple but not easy act of loving oneself can heal even the most profound struggles.

A Good Start…

The above two exercises are what I started with back in December and they helped me get through a very difficult time.  Here we are on February 12th and Valentine’s Day is upon us.  In the spirit of this holiday of love, I suggest we strive to love ourselves a bit more…  The above two exercises are a good start.

Next week, I will get started in working through the exercises in “You Can Heal Your Life.”  Step by step, I will heal my life.  I may be a slow starter, but I’m ready to set “the healing project” into gear.  True, it’s over a month into the New Year, but as the old saying goes, better late than never…   I wish a happy Valentine’s Day to all of you!

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As the calendar moves into a new year, many people take a look at their lives and evaluate their levels of happiness and fulfillment.  As we moved into 2010, I realized that my life was not where I wanted it to be.  I had a plethora of health complaints, some of them long-standing and seemingly intractable.  I felt stuck and discouraged about my career.  I felt a lack of closeness in many of my relationships and was unsure how to improve my existing connections or create new ones .

Will This Year Be Different?

Like most years, I created a list of intentions and goals for the coming year, but felt at a loss as to how I would accomplish many of them.  I have had mixed results with achieving my goals in recent years and I didn’t want this year to follow the same path.  In particular, I really didn’t know how to overcome my health challenges or how I would stop floundering in my career.   I didn’t feel hopeful and that scared me, and I had no idea what to do about it…

An Epiphany…

One night in mid-January, I had somewhat of an epiphany as I was working out at the gym.  I remembered the wonderful book by Louise Hay called “You Can Heal Your Life.”  The basic premise of this book is that our lives are created by our thoughts and that we have the power to heal our illnesses and overcome our life challenges by changing what we think.   I have read this book several times and have completed some of the included exercises, but I have never fully immersed myself in Louise’s philosophy and practices.   I believe in the power of our thoughts and know that I have a tendency to be negative and judgmental toward myself and life in general.  I wondered what would happen in my life if I were to adopt a positive mindset and decide to love and accept myself, as Louise suggests.  I decided to dedicate the time and energy to heal my life in 2010!

“The Healing Project” is Born!

This blog will chronicle my journey toward healing my life through working through all of the exercises in “You Can Heal Your Life.”  I will discuss the concepts introduced in the book and how they apply to my life.  I will share my struggles and my breakthroughs and I will be open and honest in the process.   It is my hope that my readers will grow and learn through my experiences and insights.  As I heal my life, I hope that you will heal your lives as well!  I welcome your feedback and questions.    Let “the Healing Project” begin!

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