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.”

You’re probably familiar with the expression, “my past came back to haunt me,” and you likely have some personal examples related to this phrase. While it is always good to live in the present and embrace “the power of now,” do we ever fully escape our pasts? Can we truly be free of our mistakes and poor behavior of years gone by?

This post will focus on our so-called “sins of the past” and how they affect our lives in the present time. I will relate personal examples pertaining to my past relationships and physical health, and do my best to provide useful insights and suggestions for letting go of regrets and repercussions from the past.

The following is a journal entry which I made on August 31, 2009. I titled this passage simply, “The Decision,” and have been carrying it in my purse now for over a year. Although I didn’t start my “healing project” until February 2010, I consider “The Decision” to have been the start of my turning my life around. It was when I decided to change my attitude from negative to positive and to take charge of my life.

======================================

I made an important decision today which I know will be life-changing. It happened while on my elliptical machine reading a book which I’ve had for a year but only recently started to read. The book is called “The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die.” I was so excited when I bought this book last September, but I was too busy to read it until now, or maybe I wasn’t ready until now…

I turned 43 a few weeks ago, so statistically that puts me right at midlife. Of course, I have no way of knowing if I have 40 or 50 more years to live or only a few months. But even if I assume that I will live until 80 or 90 or more, do I want to live my life in the way I have been living it?

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.

This post discusses the concept of “should,” as well as my insights from completing the “I Should” exercise from “You Can Heal Your Life.”

It is my intention to complete at least one exercise from Louise Hay each week and to share my experience and what I learn in this blog. These posts may be combined with the weekly lesson, or they may stand on their own.

Louise Hay presents an exercise in “You Can Heal Your Life” which is focused on examining our internal “shoulds” and how we can create a more empowering inner dialogue. The exercise begins with writing or typing “I Should…” and completing the sentence in as many ways as come to mind. Here are a few of my “shoulds”:

1. I should be more productive.
2. I should make more money.
3. I should get a real job.
4. I should get up earlier.
5. I should dress nicely more often.

Why Should I?

The next step of the exercise involves reading each “should” aloud and then asking, “Why?” The responses to this question reveal where a person is stuck in his or her beliefs and self-imposed limitations.

Fear is a normal emotion and a natural part of life. We all have things which we’re afraid of, and many of our fears are actually healthy and adaptive. Fear can help us to steer clear of dangerous situations and it can help us to navigate safely through treacherous encounters. While some fears can be healthy and helpful, other fears are actually detrimental to our happiness and well-being.
Irrational Fears…

Most of us have fears which could be considered irrational. We can be deathly afraid of things which really cannot hurt us. Some of these fears impact us in fairly minor ways. For example, if you’re afraid of clowns, you may avoid the circus, but this fear likely won’t impact you to any large degree. Likewise, if you are terrified of thunder but live in an area where it rarely even rains, you won’t have to face your fear on a regular basis.

With this post, I begin working through the exercises in Louise Hay’s “You Can Heal Your Life Companion Book.” While you can definitely read my blog and benefit from my insights without doing the exercises yourself, I encourage you to follow along and gain and share your own insights. Not all blog posts will be associated with YCHYL exercises, but these exercises are an integral part of the Healing Project.

Defining the Concept

We all want many things in our lives and we often wonder why we don’t get those things. A big part of it has to do with the concept of deserving, or as Louise Hay terms it, “deservability.” If, at the deepest core of our being, we don’t feel we deserve to have what we wish for, that belief will block those things from coming into our lives. We end up settling for less than what we truly desire as a result of our limiting beliefs. To achieve our goals in life, it is necessary to work on our beliefs as well as take concrete actions toward that which we want.

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.

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