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.
Connections to Our Parents’ Illnesses
The first exercise involves listing our parents’ illnesses and our own illnesses and looking for connections which may exist between them. For me, the connections were not difficult to find. With my mother, I share foot problems, migraines, knee problems, allergies, depression, and varicose veins. My father and I have both suffered from knee problems and bursitis.
One thing that struck me is that both of my parents have been and continue to be in better health than me. Since my parents are now senior citizens and I am more “middle-aged” (I don’t care for that term, but I really can’t deny it…), shouldn’t my health be better than theirs? What is it in me that has led me to create so many health challenges?
“I Am Willing to Release the Need…”
Louise Hay suggests that the first step for healing a health condition is to affirm, “I am willing to release the need in me that has created this condition.” It is helpful to repeat this affirmation often and it is even more powerful when said in front of a mirror. Internalizing this affirmation and repeating it frequently is a powerful first step to creating positive changes in the state of our health. I am aware that since I have a number of ongoing conditions, I have many associated needs that are being met in maladaptive ways through my illnesses. I am definitely willing to either release these needs or learn to meet them in a more productive and affirming manner.
Beliefs about Health and Disease
The second exercise explores beliefs we have regarding health and disease. It begins with a few questions regarding how illness was dealt with during childhood and how early beliefs on this topic are impacting us today. I actually don’t remember being sick much as a child, at least not any more than average. When I was sick, however, I remember enjoying the attention and nurturing I received from my mother and being able to stay home from school and watch television all day. Although I didn’t like being sick, I think I welcomed the break from the pressures of school and the social challenges of being a shy and insecure child in the sea of judgment and conformity that was middle school and high school.
Illness as a “Good Excuse”
It is likely that during my childhood, I internalized the belief that illness can serve as a good excuse for avoiding responsibility and for not having to do things we don’t want to do. I also learned that sickness can earn one the attention and sympathy of others. I don’t believe that I consciously create illnesses so that I don’t have to do certain things, but I acknowledge that my health conditions have served as valid excuses for bowing out of commitments.
One change I would like to make is to become more adept at being assertive and speaking up for myself and my needs with others. If I can more adequately voice my needs and wants, I won’t need to generate illnesses to speak for me. I have written a lot more about this topic in my post titled “Illness as Avoidance.”
Two Powerful Health Inquiries
The exercise ends with two powerful inquiries concerning how we have contributed to the state of our health and how we would like our health to change. I acknowledged that I often don’t take care of myself as well as I should in terms of getting enough sleep and eating nutritious foods. Although I have made definite improvements on both fronts, I know that I still need to work on improving my rest and nutrition.
I also need to change my inner dialogue about my body, as my poor body image adversely affects my health. Body image is such a large issue for me that I started a second blog called Body Image Rehab, which deals exclusively with this topic. I invite anyone who suffers from body image issues to visit this blog and work on healing your negative body image along with me.
There are many ways in which I would like my health to change. Basically, I am looking for close to a 180 degree shift in this area. I feel that I have far too many health challenges and although I’m grateful that none of them are life-threatening, they do adversely affect my life. I feel sick in some way (and often multiple ways…) each and every day and this impinges upon my life and decreases my happiness and well-being. I strive to remain positive and upbeat, but that can be challenging in the face of ongoing physical pain and discomfort. I’m definitely in need of some major healing and transformation!
No Longer a Victim
I no longer feel that I’m a victim to my illnesses. I realize that I have more power than I previously acknowledged. I am definitely willing to release the need in me that has created my various health conditions. I am also willing to do the work necessary to turn things around for the better, and to involve my body, mind, and spirit in the healing process. I know that I will be in a much better place by the time 2011 rolls around. My healing project will be a success!