Louise Hay (1926 - 2017)
The self-love movement is a response to the post World War II era which, as we all know, had devastating consequences globally -politically, socially and economically. In India, the same disastrous effect was caused by the Partition of India which caused the largest exodus and displacement of people in human history. These events were the cause of trauma for a large part of the world’s population. Quite obviously, it led to a lot of introspection by people all across the world as to what had gone so wrong.
Around the world as well as in India, people began to speak about ending war and promoting peace and love.
"In the infinity of life where I am, all is perfect, whole, and complete."
You Can Heal Your Life
One of the fundamental questions that arose in the course of the self-love movement was – can we be loving to others if we don’t love ourselves?
Quite a few thinkers wrote extensively about this topic. Most prominent amongst them was Louise L. Hay who wrote about it in her seminal book – YOU CAN HEAL YOUR LIFE. In this book, Louise described her experiences of personal problems and trauma and how she overcame it with self-love. Her book has since sold over 50 Million copies globally.
About the book
What kind of problems does Louise write about in her book? They are the same ones that you commonly see around you – poor physical and mental health, money, career and relationships.
Louise writes extensively about physical and mental health issues. The most common physical health issues globally are high blood pressure, high blood sugar, diabetes, high blood cholesterol, cancer, weak eyesight, digestion issues and other gut related problems, malnutrition and addictions to psychotropic drugs and alcohol. This is not just resulting in lower life expectancy but, more importantly, in day-to-day human suffering, lack of joy and a general unpleasantness in life. In her book HEAL YOUR BODY, Louise has traced the origins of most common physical health problems to our disabling emotions and lack of self-love.
While complaining about money is nothing new, an increasing number of people in the current past few generations (millennials, Gen X, Gen Z ?) are complaining about unfulfilling careers and relationships. What people do professionally is very important to them. It is a means of not just earning money but a very integral part of their social identity. It is important for their self-esteem and their ability to live a fulfilling life.
With the advent of social media, people have also started speaking more openly about unfulfilling relationships. Notice the number of times you encounter the word “toxic relationship” on social media. That tells you a story. Relationships between couples, with parents, with siblings, with friends, with colleagues at work, with boss – people are getting fairly candid about their experiences using blogs, vlogs and social media posts. Unfulfilling relationships are a common source of unhappiness in many people’s lives. In her book, YOU CAN HEAL YOUR LIFE, Louise has written about how we tend to attract such relationships in our lives and the core emotions behind it. No points for guessing that such disabling emotions originate from lack of self-love.
Mental health is a widely discussed topic in the post-pandemic times. But they have already existed. The number of cases of clinical depression and suicide are rising globally. These are a manifestation of poor mental health. Louise has written extensively on emotions and behaviours that cause poor mental health. She has traced the origins of disabling emotions and behaviours to lack of self-love – which is one of the most fascinating aspects about her work.
In the last few decades, Louise’s work has been highly appreciated by the medical community – general physicians, surgeons, oncologists, dieticians, psychologists, psychotherapists and alternative healing practitioners. For example, Mona Lisa Schulz (M.D., Ph.D.) has written about her research on Louise’s work in her book HEAL YOUR MIND. She has found conclusive evidence of how Louise’s work has helped people improve their physical and mental health.
Most importantly, the impact of Louise’s work has been felt by millions of people worldwide who have been direct beneficiaries of her book, talks, conferences and workshops. Her work continues to be propagated by teachers, trainers and coaches worldwide who have been licensed and certified by Louise. The self-love movement is here to stay. It is here to make people’s lives more joyous, fulfilling and pleasant. It is here to make the world a more peaceful and loving place.
Points of Philosophy
As you read through these points, you could feel a strong urge to agree or disagree with them. You are bound to feel an upsurge of emotions, especially the ones that you disagree with. While reading, please remember that this is completely normal. Respecting your emotions is also a critical part of Louise’s philosophy.
So here goes…
What we give out, we get back
You may have heard the adage “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Louise extends this concept to our thoughts. If we constantly criticize someone, we will also be constantly criticized. Thoughts of hate attract thoughts and actions of hate. If we unconditionally love and accept ourselves, we will attract people in our lives that unconditionally love and accept us. Thoughts of love only bring love to our lives.
What we believe about ourselves and life becomes true for us
We inherit a lot of beliefs in our parents, caregivers, friends and other people who we spend time with. Nowadays, news and social media are also big agents of influencing our beliefs. Louise says that our thoughts create our reality. Not the other way around. If we believe that “life is hard”, it will become hard. If we feel that “money doesn’t grow on trees”, wealth will be hard to manifest. On the other hand, if we believe that “success comes to me easily”, you will see that paths to success start opening up.
Our thoughts are creative
Our thoughts accumulate over a period of time. As we continue to think the same thought repeatedly, they grow. Over time, a disabling thought will fill us with skepticism about life. An enabling thought will make us optimistic about life and fill us with pleasantness. Louise says that “It’s just a thought. A thought can be changed.” Of course, she recommends a specific process to change your thoughts.
We are worth loving
Have you ever received advise like “You need to earn respect?”. That’s the sort of messaging that makes people believe that even love needs to be earned. We do not have to “earn” anyone’s love. Just like we have the right to eat, breathe, sleep, take rest, we also have the right to be loved. Louise says that all of us are worth loving in whatever shape or form we are right now. Unconditionally. The important question here is – do you feel you are worth loving unconditionally? Or do you beat yourself up that you need to change something in yourself to deserve to be loved?
Self-approval and self-acceptance are the keys to positive changes
When we are angry with ourselves, we tend to criticise ourselves a lot. A lot of it culminates into self-abuse as well. Our hope is that after we criticise ourselves, our behaviour will change in future. In reality, it rarely does. (Have you noticed it ?) Louise says that a lot of our self-criticism is rooted in old limiting beliefs about ourselves. They may not have any basis in truth, at least not in your present. Self-approval and self-acceptance brings about faster change in behaviours. Self-acceptance does not mean accepting the behaviour and not changing them. It just means being gentle and loving to yourself while bringing about the change.
We can release the past and forgive everyone
Hurtful memories of the past keep re-surfacing from time to time. These cause an upsurge of disabling emotions, like anger, sadness and vengefulness. Such is the nature of human existence. These recurring thoughts build up over a period of time and cause resentment which not only adversely affects our mental health but also our physical health. We tend to punish either ourselves or others for something that happened in the past. Louise offers methods to free ourselves from such disabling thoughts and emotions. She offers methods to forgive ourselves and others for the past. Forgiveness is liberating and helps un-burden ourselves from our past disabling thoughts. Forgiveness eventually leads to love – loving yourself and as a result loving others.
Love is the most powerful healing force there is
Though this is oft repeated by a lot of people, love indeed is the most powerful healing force there is. Have you noticed how its near impossible for someone to heal in an environment of hatred? Louise says that love allows us to move from an attitude of victimhood to the attitude of a champion. We end up attracting people who help us along our healing journey.
How do you feel after reading these principles? Which principles do you already agree with?
Which ones do you disagree with? In which of these principles does your mind go “it depends…”? Whatever your existing opinion and accompanying emotions are, just allow them to surface. It’s your body’s way of dealing with change and new ideas.
If you are curious about what Louise’s philosophy looks like in action, do register for a free webinar where I will talk about it more.