Review posted October 12, 2008.
Hay House, 2004. First published in 1984. 251 pages.
2008 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #4 Nonfiction, Personal Growth
I picked up this book from the library's New Books shelf with some embarrassment. I tried to carry it to my desk and check it out unobtrusively. After all, that New Age mumbo-jumbo is ridiculous nonsense, right? Or worse yet, with demonic roots? What will people think if they see me reading it?
I had some of the same misgivings when I thought about reviewing this book. But, bottom line, there are some tremendously helpful ideas in this book. I'm definitely not the least bit worried that there might be an evil source. Perhaps the book doesn't seem "scientific," and perhaps I'm not completely convinced that affirmations can heal all your diseases, but I am sure that I've gleaned some good from this book, and perhaps others can do the same.
The basic premise of this book is similar to teaching I found in Christel Nani's writings: Your deep-seated beliefs, beliefs so ingrained you think they are fact, can dramatically affect your body and your health. You can heal your body by changing your thinking.
Now, I'm not sure how much I believe that we "choose" the things that happen to us. However, I do find some things interesting. When she describes the beliefs that can contribute to ailments I have had, they do ring true.
For example, soon after my husband left me, I had major gynelogical troubles. Coincidence? Maybe. But I'm sure it didn't hurt me to examine and confront my beliefs about how only bad people get divorced. This was from Christel Nani's writings, but the same ideas are reflected here. Louise Hay recommends the affirmation, "I rejoice in my femaleness. I love being a woman. I love my body." Even if this does not to any good, it certainly doesn't do any harm! And to me, those words even feel healing.
Another example is my lifetime struggle with headaches. Louise Hay says, "Migraine headaches are created by people who want to be perfect and who create a lot of pressure on themselves." Now, that description certainly fits me and has fit me since I was a child. (And I have gotten migraines that long, too.)
However, for the past few years, also about the time my husband left me, my headaches have gotten dramatically better, and I rarely get a bad one. Now, I'd been attributing that to a change in preventative medication. However, in the past I'd experimented with preventative medication after preventative medication, and nothing ever worked. Currently, I've used three different ones, and they have all worked beautifully. It does make sense to suspect that something further might be going on.
If Louise Hay is right, and migraines are created by perfectionism, then I'm attributing my cure to Flylady. Her messages about Finally Loving Yourself and "You are not behind; you do not need to catch up," are truly healing me from perfectionism. Maybe it's no coincidence that my headaches left at about the same time.
I do realize that it would be dangerous to start applying these ideas to other people and their illnesses! That's all we need -- diagnosing other people's beliefs that are making them sick! But for self-analysis, this book has plenty of food for thought.
Now, you may not agree that "Every thought we think is creating our future." However, even if you don't agree that it goes so far, surely you can only do yourself good by doing as she recommends and releasing resentment and self-criticism.
She lists "Some Points of My Philosophy" at the front of the book. Some that stood out to me are:
Resentment, criticism, and guilt are the most damaging patterns.
Releasing resentment will dissolve even cancer.
We must release the past and forgive everyone.
We must be willing to begin to learn to love ourselves.
I'm facing a divorce that will most likely be finalized in the next few months. Her teachings are helping me to purpose to let go of anger and resentment about it, to choose to forgive. And I've got to start my new life not looking at myself as damaged goods.
This completely fits with Christian teaching. Forgiveness is key and God forgives us. C. S. Lewis has stated that "Joy is the hallmark of the Christian." If Louise Hay is right, Joy is also a key to good health.
How do you examine your beliefs about yourself and about life? How do you change thinking that isn't good for you?
It does take practice. This book is full of affirmations: New, healing messages you can fill your mind with.
I just looked at the author's website, www.louisehay.com, and read the affirmation of the day:
Forgiveness is a gift to myself. I forgive, and I set myself free.
Whether all the author's claims are true or not, I certainly don't think that telling yourself a message like that can do you anything but good.