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Set GoalsThe end of the year is often a time of looking back.  What was great about the past year?  What didn’t work so well?  We often find ourselves performing a sort of audit on the past year so we can get a sense of closure prior to moving forward into the New Year.  Last week’s post, “Top 10 Posts of 2010” resulted from my reviewing all of the posts I had made to “The Healing Project” in 2010 and determining which ones represented my best work.

I conducted a similar audit on my life as a whole and came up with 15 serious personal and professional wins for the year (including regular blogging!), as well as three key areas of my life which didn’t go as well as I would have liked.  This audit created a firm foundation for my 2011 planning and I highly recommend that you do something similar.

New Year’s Resolutions

The start of a new year is generally a time when we look forward instead of backwards.  Many people set goals for the coming year, which are commonly referred to as “New Year’s Resolutions.”  While such resolutions get a bad rap from many people (often because they are typically broken within a few short weeks), I am a fan of designating areas to work on in one’s life.  In fact, this blog resulted from my wanting to change various areas of my life during 2010.

While my life is still a work in progress (as is the case for everyone), I have made excellent progress in healing various areas of my life since I set the intention to do so in early 2010.  I will be posting on my progress shortly as we approach the one-year milestone of “The Healing Project” on February 3, 2011. Stay tuned…

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Happy New Year!As we move into the final hours of 2010, I thought it would be appropriate to do a “best of” post for “The Healing Project.”

I started this blog in February 2010 and have made 50 posts to date. Regular weekly posts will resume next week (and will continue at least through February 2011 – most likely longer).

Which Posts Were Tops?

I have designated the following posts as the “Top 10 Posts of 2010.” This designation was made based upon several criteria:  post popularity, comments and feedback from others (either directly on the blog or to me personally), and my personal feelings about which posts were my best of the year.   The posts are listed from most recent to least recent and a post summary is included.  To read a post in its entirety, click on the post title.

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Louise L. HayI have been very sick with the flu since last Wednesday evening, so I’ve been unable to write a new blog post.  However, I recently came across an old card I had saved which includes a wonderful passage from Louise L. Hay on ten ways to love yourself.  The card was copyrighted in 1987, but the message is just as relevant and meaningful in 2010.

1. Stop All Criticism

Criticism never changes a thing.  Refuse to criticize yourself.  Accept yourself exactly as you are. Everybody changes. When you criticize yourself, your changes are negative.  When you approve of yourself, your changes are positive.

2. Don’t Scare Yourself

Stop terrorizing yourself with your thoughts. It’s a dreadful way to live.  Find a mental image that gives you pleasure (mine is yellow roses), and immediately switch your scary thought to a pleasure thought.

3. Be Gentle and Kind and Patient

Be gentle with yourself.  Be kind to yourself.  Be patient with yourself as you learn the new ways of thinking.  Treat yourself as you would someone you really loved.

4. Be Kind to Your Mind

Self-hatred is only hating your own thoughts.  Don’t hate yourself for having the thoughts.  Gently change the thoughts.

5. Praise Yourself

Criticism breaks down your inner spirit.  Praise builds it up.  Praise yourself as much as you can.  Tell yourself how well you are doing with every little thing.

6. Support Yourself

Find ways to support yourself.  Reach out to friends and allow them to help you.  It is being strong to ask for help when you need it.

7. Be Loving to Your Negatives

Acknowledge that you created them to fulfill a need.  Now you are finding new, positive ways to fulfill those needs.  So lovingly release the old negative patterns.

8. Take Care of Your Body

Learn about nutrition.  What kind of fuel does your body need to have optimum energy and vitality?  Learn about exercise.  What kind of exercise can you enjoy?  Cherish and revere the temple you live in.

9. Mirror Work

Look into your eyes often.  Express this growing sense of love you have for yourself.  Forgive yourself looking into the mirror.  Talk to your parents looking into the mirror.  Forgive them, too.  A least once a day, say “I love you.  I really love you!”

10. Do It Now!

Don’t wait until you get well, or lose the weight, or get the new job, or the new relationship.  Begin now – do the best you can.


I hope you all enjoyed this message.  When I first re-discovered the card, my plan was to elaborate on Louise’s ten points (and I may still do so at a later point), but her words stand well on their own, as always… I will be back soon with some new posts to “The Healing Project.”  Until then, I wish you peace, love, and most of all, health!

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Stack of booksIn addition to “You Can Heal Your Life,” the main text for “The Healing Project,” I’ve mentioned a number of other books in my posts. I thought it might be helpful to compile a reading list to help guide my readers through their own personal healing projects.

The books on this list are all part of my personal library and I feel comfortable recommending them to others. For each book, I have included a brief summary (mostly from Amazon.com descriptions) and a link to access more information or purchase the book.

I have done my best to categorize the books by their primary subject matter.  Some of the books might logically belong in more than one category, of course, but I only placed each book into one section for the sake of clarity. 

I welcome suggestions from readers for other books to add to the Reading List. If you would like to send me your recommendations, please complete the comment form at the bottom of this page or below any of my blog posts.

Our Sister Blog, “Body Image Rehab”

I started “The Healing Project” in February 2010 to chronicle my journey to heal my life in one year through working through the concepts and exercises in “You Can Heal Your Life” and related texts.  As I’ve been deepening both my self-awareness and my focus on healing, I’ve noticed that body image issues are still highly prevalent in my life. To address these issues and to finally learn to love and accept my body, I have started a second blog, Body Image Rehab.

Woman by Ocean with Arms OutstretchedThe focus of “Body Image Rehab” is on healing my feelings toward and perceptions of my body. As with “The Healing Project,” I have targeted a time frame of one year for this process.  To do this, I will explore all relevant issues related to my body and my physical appearance.   

To guide me in my body image rehab, I will be using a book titled “200 Ways to Love the Body You Have” by Marcia Germaine Hutchinson. This book consists of 200 pleasurable exercises from which you can choose at random, letting the Universe guide your choice. I will be completing exercises from this book and sharing my thoughts, experiences, and insights. I will use exercises and passages from the other books from time to time as well.

My Hopes for This New Blog…

It is my hope that this new blog will not only serve to heal my body image.  My heartfelt wish is that my writings will help countless other women (and perhaps some men as well) who are engaged in battles with their own bodies. I feel that we all deserve to love ourselves and our bodies. We are all worthy of feeling free to be ourselves and proud of who we are and what we look like.

I invite anyone who suffers from body image issues to visit “Body Image Rehab” and work on healing your negative body image along with me. I encourage you to join me on my path toward empowerment, self-love, and freedom.

Upcoming Topics

Here is a “sneak preview” of some upcoming post topics for “The Healing Project”:

  • Disconnectedness
  • What is the Real Problem?
  • Failure and Self-Image
  • Guilt
  • Self-Worth
  • Releasing the Past
  • Worrying About What Others Think
  • Law of Attraction
  • Accessing Our Higher Selves
  • Self-Criticism
  • Fearful Emotions

As always, I am open to topic suggestions, as well as feedback on my blog posts. I want this blog to be as helpful as possible to my readers!  Although I write a lot about my personal journey in my posts, my objective is to help others as well as myself through my insights and experiences.

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Over the past week, I’ve been pondering how I want to structure this blog moving forward.  My original concept for “the Healing Project” was that it would primarily focus on my personal journey toward health and wellness in all aspects of my life, using Louise Hay’s “You Can Heal Your Life” and other books and philosophies.  My intent was to share both my struggles and triumphs while doing my best to formulate my insights into meaningful lessons for my readers.

However, as I actually started writing the blog, it followed a bit of a different path.  My posts have been more in the form of structured lessons.  While I would like to continue to post the formal lessons when appropriate, I would like to also incorporate some informal posts when appropriate.

A “Plan” for the Blog:

Therefore, I’ve decided to structure the blog as follows:

  • Weekly Lesson – A lesson based upon a key self-improvement, healing, or spiritual principle.  This lesson may be based upon “You Can Heal Your Life” or another spiritual text or philosophy, or it may be derived from my personal life experience.
  • Exercise Posts – Entries which focus on the exercises from the “You Can Heal Your Life Companion Book.”  I will share excerpts from my completion of the exercises and encourage my readers to join me and share their insights.  These posts may be formulated into the weekly lesson, but may also stand alone.
  • Wins/Challenges – Shorter posts which chronicle both my triumphs and struggles during my journey.  These posts will be done as often as it feels “right” or appropriate.

The above plan may not sound all that structured, and it isn’t.  I want to allow myself the flexibility and space to post about a variety of topics and at various different times, while always striving to maintain the core focus.  This blog will always focus on self-improvement and the difficult but powerful journey toward healing one’s life.

Post Categories:

My posts will be categorized by type and if you want to only view certain types of posts, you may use the Category Selector in the right column of the Home Page.  The post categories are as follows:

  1. Weekly Lessons – Weekly structured lessons.
  2. Louise Hay Exercises – Exercises from “You Can Heal Your Life Companion Book.”  My target is to complete at least one exercise from Louise Hay each week and post about my experience and resulting insights.
  3. General/Principles – Includes the initial posts about Louise Hay’s key principles.  You may also access this information via the “Key Principles” tab at the top of the page.  This category also includes posts which do not fit into any of the categories above (i.e. “Welcome” post and this post).
  4. Helpful Practices – Useful practices to help you with your own personal “healing project.”
  5. Wins – My personal triumphs and powerful “aha moments” along my healing path.
  6. Challenges – My struggles and difficulties along the way and what I’m learning from these experiences.

Additional categories have also been added for topics which will be addressed frequently in “The Healing Project” (new categories will be added as appropriate):

  1. Body Image
  2. Compulsive Behavior
  3. Health Issues

Feedback Welcomed!

I welcome reader feedback on this post, as well as all of my blog posts.  I am also open to suggestions of topics to cover and how to improve this blog.  Although the blog started as a personal journey, it is my hope that it will evolve into a means for helping others with their own “healing projects.”

Stay tuned for the weekly lesson on handling discouragement, to be posted shortly…

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This post outlines the final three key principles from “You Can Heal Your Life.”


“We must be willing to learn to love ourselves.”

Many years ago, I first heard the saying, “You can’t love anyone else unless you love yourself first.” At the time, I despised this saying and vehemently disagreed with its sentiments.  Although I was clear that I didn’t love myself much back then, I believed that I was a loving person and fully capable of loving others.  Now I am much more open to the message, except that I would qualify the saying by adding the word fully, as in “one cannot love another fully unless he loves himself.” If we are mired in self-criticism and self-hatred, there is much less of ourselves to give to others, which makes us less able to love others to full capacity.

Yet, the ability to love others fully is only one reason for us to love ourselves.  When we treat ourselves with loving kindness, we experience a number of other benefits.   These benefits include:

  • Decreased anxiety
  • Increased inner peace
  • Improved relationships
  • Enhanced health and well-being

Notice that this principle includes two key words, willing and learn.  For those of us who have not loved ourselves for many, many years, it probably won’t happy overnight.  We need to learn to treat ourselves more kindly, much like we would need to learn a new language or the tasks for a new job.  It’s a process and it takes time.  However, the key is to be willing to learn, whether it’s learning a new language or a new way of reacting toward oneself. If we are open and willing to a new way of being, the learning process will flow much more smoothly.

Louise Hay is a big advocate of the use of affirmations.  One affirmation which she uses often is, “I am willing to change.” A variant on this affirmation could be, “I am willing to learn to love myself” or simply, “I am willing to love myself.” Affirmations really do help!  When I find myself engaging in negativity, I often snap myself out of that mindset by repeating a simple affirmation several times inside my head.  Give it a try… You might not notice a difference overnight, but I promise you, it will help!

Start with the willingness to love yourself and build from there.  The first step is always the most difficult.  Take that first step and see how you grow and blossom over time.

“Self-approval and self-acceptance in the now are the keys to positive changes.”

We have all made mistakes in the past.  None of us are perfect and I’m sure that if we could turn back the clock, knowing what we know now, we would make different decisions and act in alternate ways.  This key asks us to stop looking back and stop berating ourselves for our past failings.  It asks us to stand firmly in the now with an attitude of “I approve of myself” and “I am okay.” With this positive attitude, we are better prepared to move forward and to make the changes we want to make in our lives.

Would you feed yourself or your child a meal on one of last night’s dirty dishes?  Of course not!  Well, working on creating a new future on top of the “muck” of berating yourself for your past wrongs is akin to eating a delicious meal from a dirty dish.  It just wouldn’t taste as good!

We need to let go of the past and focus on what we want to create in our lives.  We cannot change the past, so it does virtually no good to ruminate upon it.  The only time when past reflection is productive is when we are looking for lessons to apply moving forward.  Otherwise, let the past go.  Embrace yourself and your life today, set powerful goals for yourself, and work on accomplishing them from a space of self-acceptance and self-approval.

I know this can be easier said than done, but as with the previous key, it begins from an attitude of willingness.  Be willing to approve of yourself and willing to accept yourself.   Use affirmations to help you along the way.  The exercises in “You Can Heal Your Life” and other related teachings will help tremendously.  Being able to accept, approve of, and love ourselves is an ongoing process.  I have definitely made a lot of progress in this regard, but I still have my days when I am highly self-critical.  It is at those times that I recommit to being willing to change, and I move forward as best I can.  I remember one of the powerful tenets from “The Four Agreements,” which is Always Do Your Best.  Our best isn’t always the same.  Some days our best means simply that we get out of bed, whereas our best on other days leads to tremendous accomplishments.  But if we commit to always doing our best and being willing to accept and love ourselves, all things are possible.

“When we really love ourselves, everything in our life works.”

Self-love is a critical facet of “the Healing Project.”  As we move forward in healing our lives, we will work on learning to love ourselves more and on being more gentle and accepting toward ourselves.  As we look at the probable thought patterns for a host of common health challenges, we’ll notice that these patterns are highly negative and destructive.  When we are able to turn these thought patterns around and replace them with more empowering and positive thoughts, miracles will start to happen in our lives.  We will start to feel better physically, we’ll have a more genuinely cheerful disposition, we’ll have more “good days,” our relationships will improve, and we’ll attract better outcomes for our life endeavors.  Quite simply, our lives will work much better.

Don’t you want to have a life that works better?  I know I do.  I used to try to climb an uphill battle to a better life, all the while driving myself with all the sensitivity of a drill sergeant.  That approach didn’t get me what I wanted, so I’m willing to try another avenue.  I am willing to step into the belief that when I really love myself, everything in my life will work.

This concludes my outline of Louise Hay’s Key Principles.  It’s a good idea to review the principles from time to time, as they are very powerful and are critical to “The Healing Project.”  Now it’s time to proceed… Beginning with the next post, I will start working through the exercises in “You Can Heal Your Life.”  I will share my “aha moments” from the exercises, as well as how what I learn is impacting my day to day life.  I hope that others will not only read about my experiences, but that they will also join me on the journey.  I look forward to hearing your comments and questions along the way, and I especially welcome hearing about your challenges and triumphs.

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This post is a continuation of the key principles of Louise Hay’s philosophy.  This post outlines three more of the points which are the basis for “You Can Heal Your Life.”

“Resentment, criticism, and guilt are the most damaging patterns.”

There are many thought patterns that can be harmful to us, especially if we engage in them on a regular basis.   However, some patterns are more harmful than others, and Louise Hay contends that resentment, criticism, and guilt are the most damaging patterns of all.  Upon reflection, I would have to agree with her.  Let’s look at these patterns one by one, along with some examples of each, to drive the point home.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines resentment as follows:

a feeling of indignant displeasure or persistent ill will at something regarded as a wrong, insult, or injury

It is normal to notice when we are wronged and to be upset by it.  But when we continue to rehash a bad situation and ruminate upon how unfair or wrong it was, it can be harmful to our sense of well-being, as well as our health.   There is a man I know who felt he was treated unfairly at work and had filed a grievance against his employer.  Even several years later, one could not have a conversation with him without the topic of his grievance coming up.  Not only did this repel others from desiring to be in his company, I’m sure it also destroyed his inner peace and happiness.  This is just one example of the harmful effects of resentment.

When one is either the target or the source of criticism, it is damaging.  Yet the most detrimental form of criticism is when it is self-directed.  I can speak of this from extensive personal experience.  I used to be extremely critical toward myself.  I had a running tape inside my head of all of the ways in which I was deficient and didn’t measure up to my expectations.  At times my self-criticism would be voiced, but the verbal complaints paled in comparison to the negative voice which lived inside of my head.  I am convinced that the many health complaints which I have today were created by means of my intense criticism of all facets of my being – my appearance, my career pursuits, my interactions with others, you name it… I am gradually turning this around and the negative tape is no longer the constant presence it once was.   As I emerge from the chasm that was my self-criticism, I gain an ever increasing amount of joy, peace, and happiness.  And interestingly enough, as I criticize myself less often, others are less prone to denigrate me as well.  I am also less prone to deriding others.  Win, win!

As the old saying goes, guilt is a wasted emotion.  It doesn’t make anyone feel better, and it cannot do anything to change a given situation.  It is also often misplaced and experienced by people who have nothing to feel guilty about in the first place!  The famous radio talk show host, Dr. Laura, says that guilt is only merited if one has truly done something wrong.  Even then, the guilt should only serve to motivate the individual to do whatever he or she can do to make amends to those they have wronged.  If you have done all you can to make things right, then let the guilt go.  I once had a seminar leader who stated, “Let it go; it’s killing you!”  He was referring to the ongoing guilt and regret which we experience about things that are past and cannot be changed.

If you have done something wrong, apologize, make amends, do what you can to make up for your infractions.  Don’t ruminate in wasted feelings of guilt.  If you have not done anything wrong, do whatever you need to do to release your guilt.  As Louise Hay says, “Your sentence is now over, so let yourself out of prison.”

“Releasing resentment will dissolve even cancer.”

It is Louise Hay’s contention that cancer is caused by deep resentment held for a long time until it literally eats away at the body.  As she states on page 169 of “You Can Heal Your Life,” those who develop cancer often experienced something in childhood which destroyed their sense of trust and led them to find it difficult to develop and maintain long-term, meaningful relationships.   These individuals also have a tendency to feel hopeless and helpless and to be highly self-critical.   A big key toward healing cancer is for the person to release their resentment toward the past and those who hurt them and to learn to love and accept themselves.

I realize that the above paragraph may be difficult to take in and accept.  I am reminded of the 12-step group maxim, “Take what you like and leave the rest.”  If the idea that cancer is caused by resentment seems implausible to you, perhaps this is a concept from Louise Hay that you will choose to leave.  However, as I wrote about under the previous key, resentment can and does cause a lot of damage in those who harbor it, and we would all benefit tremendously from releasing any resentment we hold, particularly resentment of a deep and long-standing nature.  So instead of thinking about dissolving cancer by releasing resentment, why not consider the increased sense of well-being or lightheartedness which you could gain by letting go of a grudge that you hold.

“We must release the past and forgive everyone.”

When we are angry at others and hold grudges, it hurts us more than it hurts the other person.  Think about it… They are off living their lives while we are stewing and seething over how they have wronged us.   Often the person we choose not to forgive is not even in our lives any longer; they may even be deceased.  Yet we hold on to our anger and resentment because we feel justified in doing so.

You may have heard of the expression, “He would rather be right than happy.”  So many people are what might be called “right fighters.”  They are indignant about their position and swear that they are right in their assertions.  They may even BE right, yet that’s not what’s most important.  What’s most important is, are they happy?  Do they have peace of mind?  Are they enjoying their lives, or are they so wrapped up in their being right and someone else being wrong that all of the enjoyment has slipped out of living?

Forgiving someone for what they have done does not mean that you are saying what they did was okay.  Forgiveness is more about YOU than it is about the other person.  When you forgive someone, you are giving yourself permission to release the past and move on with your life.  If all or most of your energy is wrapped up in being angry at someone who hurt you, where is the energy for creating a life you love?

I remember reading a story about a woman who was raped.  Of course, rape is one of the most horrific atrocities which a human being can endure.  There is a temptation to want to crawl up and retreat from life, to go into a sort of cocoon and hide from life.  Yet this particular woman was extremely strong.  I don’t remember her exact words, but her sentiment has stuck with me.  She expressed that although the monster who raped her subjected her to pain and indignity for an hour, she wasn’t going to give him the power to take any more from her than he had already taken.  She decided to let go of the experience (I would imagine this wasn’t immediate and took some time) and embrace the rest of her life with strength, joy and conviction.  Her story was truly empowering to read!

One of the best ways to release the past is to look for lessons from your experiences.  It is a good practice to always ask yourself, “What can I learn from this experience?” or “How has this experience shaped me as a person? How am I a better person as a result of this challenge?”  We all go through difficult times, some of us more than others.  There are many times when life doesn’t feel fair, but once something has happened, we can’t turn back the clock and change it.

I will end this entry with a wonderful quote from Louise Hay – food for thought until my next post…

“The point of power is always in the present moment. The past is over and done and has no power over me. I can begin to be free in this moment. Today’s thoughts create my future. I am in charge. I now take my own power back. I am safe and I am free.”

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Stay tuned for the final Key Principles of Louise Hay’s philosophy, to be posted on or before March 19th.

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