Full Life Reflections

Striving for happiness, peace, and fulfillment in a chaotic world

I don’t really like the word “addiction” because it carries with it a sense of being completely out of control or even victim to a particular type of behavior. I think this attitude is a big part of why I never stuck with the 12-step programs I attended for both my eating disorders and codependent behavior. I couldn’t get past the first step, which is “I admit that I am powerless over my addiction and my life has become unmanageable.” While I was more than willing to cop to having an unmanageable life, confessing to powerlessness was just something I could never do. I guess I’m just too much of a control freak!

It is not my intent to either criticize or advocate the 12-step philosophy. I know that AA and associated programs have helped a lot of people over the years and very likely could have helped me as well had I steadfastly adhered to the steps. My best advice is always to do what works, and what works can vary for any of us as time goes by. My current choice is to follow Louise Hay’s advice and philosophy outlined in “You Can Heal Your Life.” Louise addresses the concept of addictions in detail in both her book and the corresponding companion book.

This post outlines Louise Hay’s philosophies on addictions, as well as some of the advice she gives for releasing addictive behavior. I also share some secrets regarding one of my compulsive behaviors and the insights I gained from completing the Chapter 6 exercises on addictions in the “You Can Heal Your Life Companion Book.”

Are you a critical person? Do you have a tendency to look at others – and life – with a “glass half empty” attitude? Are you someone who is never happy because you always find things to fault about the people and situations in your life, including yourself?

How do you feel about anger? Are you someone who readily expresses your anger and sometimes has a hard time controlling it? Or are you someone who is very uncomfortable with anger, such that you can’t really remember being angry at anyone? Do you confine your angry feelings only toward yourself because that feels more safe and comfortable?

I recently completed the exercises in Chapter 5 of the “You Can Heal Your Life Companion Book.” This chapter is titled, “Critical Thinking” and explores the tendency we all have to be judgmental and critical toward others and ourselves. The exercises focus on our beliefs and practices related to critical thoughts and the acknowledgment and expression of emotions, including the often controversial feeling of anger.

I’ve decided to focus this week’s post on the topics of criticism and anger. I will share some of Louise Hay’s thoughts on these topics, as well as my reactions and insights from the Chapter 5 exercises.

“We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” – Mother Teresa

I have always wanted to make a difference in the world. Over the years, my vision for how I would do this has shifted, but I have maintained my desire to help others. Lately, I have questioned how much of a contribution I’ve been making and have increasingly felt that what I do is not good enough. A recent experience vividly illustrated the powerful truth in Mother Teresa’s simple quote. The focus of this week’s post is on that experience, what it taught me, and how I will proceed in life based upon what I learned.

A few years ago, I became highly “accident prone.” I broke three toes in three separate incidents, one of which necessitated a fairly involved surgery with a lengthy recovery time. I repeatedly bumped into things and hit my head on at least ten different occasions. After one of my head bumps led to an emergency room visit and a CAT scan, I decided I needed to look more closely at what was going on with all of my accidents.

I came to the conclusion that a large part of the problem had to do with not paying attention to what I was doing. My mind was always on what I had to do next, not on what I was doing in the moment. I frequently rushed around and felt frantic about getting everything done in a timely fashion. I was always running late to appointments and often drove too fast and somewhat recklessly trying to reach my destination on time. Needless to say, I was not living my life in a relaxed fashion!

A little over a year ago, I decided to allow myself more time to get things done and to be more mindful about my actions. This one simple decision made a significant impact on my life. Not only did I stop bumping my head, arms, and toes every few days, I also found myself feeling much more calm and peaceful. I began paying more attention to what I was doing in each moment instead of living for the future, whether it be two minutes or two years later. Without really intending to start being present as a spiritual practice, I experienced strong benefits in that realm. I started to become more of the person I wanted to be – happy, peaceful, calm, and joyous.

Does your weight affect your mood? Mine definitely does… As I’ve mentioned before, I rarely step on the scale and there is a good reason for this. Nothing has the power to deflate my spirit and ruin my day as much as seeing a number on the scale that I view as unacceptable. I wish this wasn’t true, but the sad reality is that I allow a three-digit number to dictate my moods.

Unfortunately, however, my not weighing myself doesn’t mean that I escape what I term as “weight mood shift.” There are other measures of my weight besides the empirical data provided by the scale. There is the way I feel… Do I feel light and energetic, or do I feel heavy, bloated, and tired?

The way my clothes fit also provides me with fairly reliable data on how I am doing weight-wise. If I slip on a pair of pants and find myself unable to effortlessly zip or button them, or if they feel uncomfortably snug in the hips and thigh area, that’s a clue that I have put on some unwanted pounds. While it’s true that the weight might just be water retention instead of actual fat, the end result is the same – I feel unhappy.

“Fears are merely thoughts, and thoughts can be released.” – Louise L. Hay

The quote above begins Chapter 4 of the “You Can Heal Your Life Companion Book,” the chapter which focuses on fearful emotions. Although I have been diligently working through all of the exercises in this book, I have decided to only post on those that are most impactful to me and which I feel will be most relevant to my readers. In this post, I share some of the exercises and my responses from Chapter 4, as well as some insights for you to use in your own journey to facing and overcoming fear.
The Price of Fear

Fear impacts all of us. We let fear stop us from pursuing our dreams, speaking our minds, sharing our love, and fully living our lives. We experience fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of change, fear of the future, fear of intimacy, and even fear of success. Some of us literally become paralyzed by our fears.

Fifteen years ago, one of my closest friends committed suicide at the age of 32. The day on which I found out was absolutely and unequivocally the worst day of my life. Time seemed to stop and I felt shocked, sad, and numb all at the same time. I cried and cried until there were no tears left in my body and I felt a depth of pain that I didn’t even know was possible to experience.

The tears and the sadness lasted for a long, long time, but I gradually moved past the depth of my pain and was increasingly able to take comfort in my happy memories of a person whom I felt blessed to have known. Although I don’t know if one is ever completely “over” a loss of a loved one, I thought that I had mostly moved on after the passage of so much time. As the old saying goes, “time heals all wounds.” Or does it? Surprisingly, I recently realized that I may still have quite a bit of grieving and healing to do over the loss of my dear friend.

I just spent over a week without speaking. No, I didn’t go to an ashram or a silent retreat; I simply had no voice for nine days. My laryngitis was related to the flu virus that I mentioned in my last post and although it wasn’t unexpected, I never thought it would last so long. However, since I am a big believer in the messages of our physical ailments, I decided to look for the meaning and lessons of my “week of silence.”

What Does Louise Hay Say?

As a first step in my search for answers, I referenced “You Can Heal Your Life” to see what Louise Hay had to say about laryngitis. While I generally recognize myself and my situation in her remarks, I was left with a huge question mark on this one.

This post is based upon the first two exercises in Chapter 3 (pg. 45-49) of “You Can Heal Your Life Companion Book” by Louise Hay. I will share some of my responses to the questions, as well as some of the insights I gained from completing the exercises.

Over the course of my “healing project,” I plan to complete all of the exercises in this book and the original “You Can Heal Your Life” book, but I won’t necessarily do them in order (being the rebel that I am…).

The chapter begins with an affirmation (“I restore and maintain my body at optimum health”), as well as a health issue checklist consisting of eleven items, of which I checked eight. Clearly, addressing my health concerns is a major issue for me in terms of healing my life.

Core Health Principles from Louise Hay

At this point, it is helpful to remind myself and my readers of some of Louise Hay’s core principles surrounding health (click here for a comprehensive review of the key principles of “You Can Heal Your Life”):

* Our bodies are always trying to maintain a state of optimum health, no matter how badly we treat them.
* We contribute to every illness we have, as our bodies mirror our inner thoughts and beliefs.
* Every disease we experience is a teacher, and our illnesses signal false ideas within our consciousness.
* Illness may unconsciously serve as a “legitimate” way of avoiding responsibility or unpleasant situations.
* True healing involves body, mind, and spirit.

I had intended to post much earlier in the week, but you know what they say about good intentions… This has been a difficult week for me, which probably means I should have been devoting more attention to my healing project, instead of virtually ignoring it for a number of days. In getting back on track today, I searched for an exercise from “You Can Heal Your Life” to complete and write about. I was quickly drawn to the most appropriate exercise for me at this particularly point in time, the “Mirror Exercise” on page 35.
Simple Yet Not Easy…

The Mirror Exercise is extremely simple, yet not at all easy. The straightforward instructions are: look in a mirror and into your own eyes, speak your name, and say, “I love and accept you exactly as you are.” Louise Hay asks each of her clients to do this exercise during their initial session with her. She states that she has rarely had a calm reaction to her simple request. On the contrary, some clients were brought to tears, while others became angry and refused to do the exercise. One client even threw the mirror across the room! Needless to say, it isn’t easy to proclaim love and acceptance for ourselves.