Create an exceptional life!
Cheryl Richardson talks to the inspirational pioneer of the self-help movement, Louise Hay about the importance of loving ourselves and our bodies.
I wonder what Louise knows at 84 about feeling comfortable in her skin that I could learn at 51. I ask her how she looks and feels so good at her age – what’s her secret?
“Well, to me it comes down to loving yourself, loving your body, and making peace with the ageing process,” she replies. “You can’t do anything well or for the long term without loving yourself first. When you love yourself, you care about your body and what you put into it. You also care about the thoughts you choose to think.”
The more I get to know Louise, the more I appreciate, on a deep level, the value of putting good thought habits in place early in life. When she talks about her approach to living, it’s clear that she’s invested a lot of time and energy in managing her mind. This investment has given her a far more positive view of ageing. Her vigilance about living with purpose and intention keeps paying great dividends, year after year.
“Don’t get me wrong,” Louise admits. “I’ve faced the same challenges most people do as they age – wrinkles, weight gain, stiffness, and noticing that young men no longer look longingly at me. But there’s no use making myself miserable about things I cannot change. We’re all going to age. I’ve just made a decision to take care of myself and love myself, no matter what.
Choose your thoughts wisely
“I eat foods that are very good for my body, foods that support me. I also do things like acupuncture and craniosacral sessions once a month as a general tune-up. And I do my best to choose thoughts that make me feel good as much as possible. This is the big lesson that I’ll keep repeating: Our thinking either makes us feel good or it makes us feel bad. It’s not the events nearly as much as it’s the thoughts.”
So it’s not the wrinkle, it’s the thoughts you have about the wrinkle? “Absolutely,” she says. “The wrinkle is just there. And it’s there for everybody. You haven’t been singled out to be the one person who has that wrinkle. We want to enjoy every phase of life as much as possible.” Speaking of wrinkles, I mention, let’s talk about the body. You said that the secret to your success at 84 has to do with loving yourself and your body, but what if you’re a woman who’s overweight and hates what she sees in the mirror? How do you look at yourself and say “I love you” when you don’t like what you see?
“I no longer believe in working on a single issue,” Louise replies. “In the early days, I worked with individual problems like weight loss. Then one day I discovered that if I could get clients to love themselves, we didn’t have to work on problems anymore. Self-love was the core issue for everybody and everything. And that’s a difficult realisation for a lot of people to accept – that it could be that simple. This woman you’re talking about might think her issue is weight, but it isn’t her issue at all: it’s self-hatred. If we can get to the bottom of that or get her to start consistently practising affirmations that will support her in building a good relationship with her body, it will begin the process of self-love.”
The greatest gift
“For many years, one of my affirmations has been: Only good lies before me. It is a comforting thought that allows me to wake up each day with confidence. There’s nothing like a ticking clock to make you worry less about the mundane details of life, or what others think. That’s the real gift of ageing. That, and the fact that I’ve become far more interested in being open to Life’s direction – responding to what shows up – rather than trying to direct Life with my old striving, succeeding, make-it-happen self.
"While I may not have the same youthful appearance, I have a new kind of beauty – the beauty of wisdom. The funny thing is that now you’ll have fewer wrinkles,” Louise says with a giggle. “Let’s face it, people who are really worried about ageing and how they look become very tense. When we make peace with ageing, we’re more concerned with being happy and comfortable with ourselves.
Words of wisdom
Here are Louise’s top affirmations for the man or woman who needs to love their body, in spite of not liking what they see:
My body is such a good friend; we have a great life together.
I listen to my body’s messages and take appropriate action.
I take the time to learn about how my body works and what it needs nutritionally to be at optimal health.
The more I love my body, the healthier I feel.
These affirmations will help get you started. And, if you really want to feel more connected to your body in a good way, you need to get in the habit of looking in the mirror every day and talking to it like a dear friend. You want to say things like:
Hi, body, thank you for being so healthy.
You are looking great today.
It is my joy to love you to perfect health.
You have the most beautiful eyes.
I love your beautiful shape.
I love every inch of you.
I love you dearly.
Experience has certainly taught me that speaking to your body in such a kind way will help you quiet the critical voice that judges you mercilessly. When I began to do this myself, my relationship with my body shifted dramatically. I felt the spirit of the words take hold in my heart. Each day I looked in the mirror and spoke gently to myself, I could actually sense that my body was slowly becoming a dear friend instead of an embattled enemy. The trick was to do it consistently.
“Yes, yes, yes,” Louise confirms. “It’s all about the practice. Know that your affirmations are creating new conditions and situations for you, and these habits will change your life. If we can make a habit of putting ourselves down, we can make a habit of building ourselves back up, too!”
Louise Hay and Cheryl Richardson are the authors of You Can Create an Exceptional Life (Hay House, http://www.hayhouse.com.au/), from which this extract is reproduced with permission. Visit Louise at http://www.healyourlife.com/, and Cheryl at http://www.cherylrichardson.com/