Teaching people how to love themselves and replacing self criticism by thoughts of love and positivity: that’s the life’s work of Louise Hay, who passed away last year. Her philosophy helped Louise to survive a difficult youth.
Suppose you have a tomato seed. You put it in the soil and cover it carefully. You lovingly water it and feed it, and then you wait patiently. If a fragile, little plant emerges, you don’t yell at it: ‘You’re not good enough, you don’t even look like a tomato plant!’ You follow its growth, filled with hope. One day, you reap the tomatoes you expected.
In her books, Louise Hay often made the comparison of the tomato plant. You are worth the same patience and loving care, while you evolve. Somehow, though, we don’t always show ourselves the same appreciation and care. There’s something within us that never thinks we’re good enough, no matter what we do.
Thoughts create experiences
Louise wanted to point out to us that critical, limiting and negative thoughts fill our lives with stress, unrest and absence, while our existence can also be loving, fulfilling and positive. It’s a central notion in her philosophy: your thoughts create your experiences. If, for instance, you think you will only attract unpleasant people, these people will indeed cross your path. And if you think that you have to accept a lack of rest, money or pleasure, it will turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
According to Louise, it all starts with awareness. Once you realize that you have lots of critical, limiting or negative thoughts about yourself, you can change them. That’s when everything changes.
Letting go of limitations
How do you change your thinking? According to Louise, you have to start with little things. Take baby steps and be determined to push through. Sometimes it will be easy for you to replace negative or critical thoughts by positive, affirming thoughts. Other times, it’ll be like lifting a rock with a feather.
All that matters, is that you enter the depths of your soul and let go of more and more limitations. Every time you judge yourself or your life, you open yourself to the endless intelligence of your true self, and the endless possibilities that life gives you.
Be alert to miracles
To stay motivated, it’s important to be alert to every little miracle during your process of change. Notice every positive change in yourself, in your life or in the people around you. It motivates you if someone is helpful, or if something goes smoothly, even if it’s just a green traffic light.
Being in the ‘now’ is a key concept. Louise: ‘You don’t look for the ingredients for your next meal in the garbage, right? The past doesn’t give you the elements you need for a bright future. What you did then, what others may have done to you, doesn’t have to influence your future. Let go of everything but love. This very moment, the here and now, is the moment of your power. You are the only person who’s able to think your thoughts. Only you can decide if they are true or not. Sometimes people come up to me and tell me I changed my life. I always tell them: that wasn’t me, it was you.’
This is how you change negative thoughts
Step 1. Be aware of your convictions
Pick a subject, for instance relationships, your body, family, money or work. Write down your thoughts about it, uninhibitedly. Or ‘monitor’ yourself during the day, if that’s easier for you. Examples of convictions: I hate my body, or: I’m always in need of money.
Step 2. Replace negative thoughts
For every negative conviction, find a positive replacement. For instance: I am happy with my body, because it takes me where I want to go, or: there’s always enough money to fulfill my needs.
Step 3. Use positive affirmations
Pick a positive thought that appeals to you, for instance because it fits your day or your needs. Read it at least ten times today, or say it out loud. Make sure you can’t escape. Put a post-it on your door, a reminder in your phone or a note in your diary.
Step 4. Notice the little miracle
The day after, repeat your affirmation or pick a new one. Be sure you’re open to subtle changes in your mood, your work, relationships etcetera. ‘Little miracles’ like that help you to persevere, until replacing negative thoughts by positive affirmations has become a habit.
Text: Astrid Maria Boshuisen