You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay is a stunning book! I read it years ago. My newer copy, shown on the featured photo, is a keepsake copy… bright, colorful, and beautiful. Like the book, there is an accompanying website, if you’re interested, and you *should* be. Just sayin’.
I have so much to say about Hay and this book… and it’s surprisingly both positive and negative.
Let’s get the negative out-of-the-way first. Ahem.
“The List” is my favorite chapter, in a book full of favorite chapters.
You may be saying to yourself, “Sheryl, that doesn’t sound very negative.”
I know, right? But here’s the thing. The list is an actual list of ailments and probable emotional causes, along with a suggested thought pattern to turn it around/ heal.
Let me explain: Take “Arthritic Fingers”. On the list, the probable cause is “A desire to punish. Blame. Feeling victimized.” The New Thought Pattern is “I see with love and understanding. I hold all my experiences up to the light of love.”
Here’s the thing… maybe your arthritic fingers are a result of feeling victimized. I mean, how do I know? Or maybe they’re a result of… oh, I don’t know… arthritis? (I know, snark is not attractive. Ugh.)
Listen, I purposely chose something somewhat common and innocuous to make a point (instead of say, cancer)… and here it is, the point, I mean: Is she saying we BRING ON our illness? Because, if she is, it sounds a lot like blaming the victim and Sheryl don’t play that.
On the other hand, what if she’s right?
What if… you’re so pissed off you get a UTI? Or you’re carrying too much on your shoulders and get a frozen shoulder (which – by the way – I did fifteen years ago)? Or “drive yourself to a stroke”… or, or, or ??? A million other “What if’s… ?”
What if we can reverse an illness by removing that which brought us to this point?
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The whole, “Blaming the Victim” thing is what I find troubling. No, reprehensible.
Except, I have read enough of Hay’s work — and it’s prolific — to know her heart and her intention. It’s anything-but ugly. In fact, it’s bathed in light.
So, where do we go from here?
Well… we have some choices:
- Take what she says with a grain of salt
- Take what you want and toss the rest
- Consider that she may be right
I choose #3.
Let’s talk about what she says about asthma for a moment. I have had it my entire life, or at least, for as long as I can remember. What does Hay say about it? “Smother love” Inability to breathe for one’s self. Feeling stifled. Suppressed crying.
I stopped crying around other people as a kid. Not just in public, but around anyone. It was a sign of vulnerability that I wasn’t willing to share… and also weakness. Doesn’t matter where I learned it or why I did it… point is, I did.
I cried a LOT in private. But I digress.
My first husband hated if I cried, so I continued the quest not cry under any circumstances. Not when he took my dog to the shelter while I was recovering after the birth of our child, not when my precious grandfather died, or even when our son wasn’t breathing when he was born. I went numb. NO CRYING ALLOWED.
And then, fifteen years later, my beloved Bo died in the yard, next to his partner Naomi, who stood vigil until he was found, slumped by his… dog house. Yes, Bo was a dog. A Great Dane, as was Naomi. The day he died, I fell to my knees in the yard and wailed, inconsolable in front of God and everyone. The floodgates were opened. It scared everyone, including the kids, who’d never seen me like that.
I haven’t stopped since. I mean, I’m not crying now, for instance. I think you know what I mean. Thankfully, my second husband holds me when I cry, like a caring person should. (Yes, I digress.)
Anyway, after Bo. Did my asthma get better? Not really. Maybe it’s because I didn’t suddenly feel safer, as Hay suggests as a way to heal (It is safe for me now to take charge of my own life. I choose to be free.) Instead, I thought, “I don’t care what anyone thinks.” In a way, I suppose I was taking charge.
See, now it seems like I’m hating on the book again, which couldn’t be further from the truth. I love it for so many reasons. It is filled with positivity and hope… beautiful quotes and art, affirmations and ideas.
And yet. And yet.
People, I have a headache just thinking about it all.
I guess it should be noted that Hay died a couple of years ago, as all living things eventually do. It broke my heart a little, though I only knew her through her work, of course. People like her seem like they’ll live forever, you know? And when they turn out “only human”… it’s a bit of a shock.
But yes, about this book…
Maybe that’s all you need to know.