NOTE: This post was originally published on my previous blog, The Healing Project. It is a continuation of the previous post and outlines four more of Louise Hay’s principles that 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!