Louise Hay is one of the pioneers of the self help movement; her first book, Heal Your Body, was published in 1976, long before people were discussing the connection between the mind and the body. Her best known book is You Can Heal Your Life, which hit the New York Times bestseller list twice, something that no other book has done before: for the first time when it was published, in 1984, and the second time twenty years later, when it was presented on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Thanks to Louise Hay’s positive teachings and philosophy, millions of people have learned how to create more wellness in their bodies, minds, and spirits.
Louise Hay was born on October 8, 1926 in Los Angeles. Her mother was poor, and her stepfather was violent. In an interview she gave to the New York Times, she said that when she was about 5, she was raped by a neighbor. At the age of 15 she became pregnant and dropped out of high school; she gave her baby girl for adoption on her 16th birthday.
She ran away from home and moved to Chicago, where she worked in low-paying jobs to support herself. In 1950 she moved to New York, where she changed her name and began a career in fashion modeling. Four years later, Louise married Andrew Hay, an English businessman, who left her after fourteen years of marriage for another woman.
She was devastated. Around that time she found the Church of Religious Science on 48th street, started attending meetings and studying many books and materials on the New Thought philosophy. She discovered that positive thinking could change people’s material circumstances and heal the body.
She underwent training in the ministerial program and became a popular speaker and workshop leader at the church; later she moved on to counseling clients which eventually became her full-time profession. According to her official website, “after several years, Louise compiled a reference guide detailing the mental causes of physical ailments, and developed positive thought patterns for reversing illness and creating health.” This was the basis for her first book, Heal Your Body, published in 1976.
In 1977 or 1978 she was diagnosed with “incurable” cervical cancer. She came to the conclusion that by holding on to her resentment for her childhood abuse and rape she had contributed to its onset, so she refused conventional medical treatment and began a regime of forgiveness, coupled with therapy and nutrition. She claims that she rid herself of the cancer by this method.
In 1984 she published You Can Heal Your Life, which remained on the New York Times bestseller list for 13 consecutive weeks. In 1985 she began leading support groups for people living with H.I.V. or AIDS, the “Hay Rides” – it started with six men diagnosed with AIDS, and grew to a weekly gathering of 800 people by 1988. During this time she wrote The AIDS Book: Creating a Positive Approach.
In 1984 Louise Hay established Hay House Publishing Firm, which is now the primary publisher of books and audio books by many of the Law of attraction and other New Age authors, including the teachings of Abraham, channeled through Esther Hicks. She also runs a charitable organization called the Hay Foundation, founded in 1985.
You Can Heal Your Life was made into a movie in 2008; in her own words, the movie “is the story of my life, my teachings, and how I’ve applied the principles of my teachings to my own life.”
Teachings and Philosophy
Louise Hay believes that we create our experiences and our future. In You Can Heal Your Life she writes: “Life is very simple. What we give out, we get back. I believe that everyone, myself included, is responsible for every experience in our lives, the best and the worst. Every thought we think is creating our future. Each one of us creates our experiences by the thoughts we think and the words we speak and the beliefs we hold.”
Hay teaches how our thoughts and beliefs affect us physically and emotionally. She explains how conditioned thoughts and beliefs actually affect different parts of the body and physical ailments, and includes her own experience with illness to her teaching: she says that she had unknowingly created “dis-ease” in her own body by retaining the negative emotions related to the early years of her life.
She believes that you have to take full responsibility for your thoughts. In Heal Your Body A-Z she talks about how she resolved her problem with a stiff neck:
I could not understand why I repeatedly had problems with a stiff neck. Then I discovered that the neck represented being flexible on issues, being willing to see different sides of a question. I had been a very inflexible person, often refusing to listen to another side of a question out of fear. However, as I became more flexible in my thinking and was more able, with loving understanding, to see another’s viewpoint, my neck ceased to bother me. Now, if my neck becomes a bit stiff, I look to see where my thinking is stiff and rigid.
Hay recommends using positive affirmations as a way to beat our negative self beliefs, since “self acceptance and self approval in the now are the keys to positive change”. Her message is that we should release resentment, love ourselves, release the past, and forgive everyone – it’s a message of love and acceptance.
Louise Hay has published many books, including the workbooks and compilations of positive affirmations. Most of them were published by her own publishing house, The Hay House Publishing.
- Heal Your Body
- You Can Heal Your Life
- A Garden of Thoughts: My Affirmation Journal
- Love Yourself, Heal Your Life Workbook
- The Power Is Within You
- Heart Thoughts
- Loving Thoughts For Increasing Prosperity
- Gratitude: A Way Of Life
- Life! Reflections On Your Journey
- Living Perfect Love: Empowering Rituals For Women
- Heal Your Body A-Z: The Mental Causes for Physical Illness and the Way to Overcome Them
- 101 Ways To Health And Healing
- 101 Ways To Happiness
- Love Your Body
- Inner Wisdom: Meditations for the Heart and Soul
- Meditations To Heal Your Life
- You Can Heal Your Life Companion Book
- I Can Do It
- Everyday Positive Thinking
- Power Thoughts
- The Adventures of Lulu: Three Stories to Help Build Self-Esteem and Courage in Children
- The Times Of Our Lives
- The Present Moment
- I Think I Am
- Modern Day Miracles
- Experience Your Good Now!
- You Can Create An Exceptional Life
- Painting The Future
- Heart Thoughts: A Treasury of Inner Wisdom
- Empowered Youth: A Father and Son’s Journey to Conscious Living
- Empowering Women: Every Woman’s Guide to Successful Living
- I Can Do It 2013 Calendar: 365 Daily Affirmations
- All Is Well: Heal Your Body with Medicine, Affirmations, and Intuition
You have the power to heal your life, and you need to know that. We think so often that we are helpless, but we’re not. We always have the power of our minds…Claim and consciously use your power.
Be willing to take the first step, no matter how small it is. Concentrate on the fact that you are willing to learn. Absolute miracles will happen.
You are the only person who thinks in your mind! You are the power and authority in your world.
You’ve been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.
Here’s a video of Louise Hay explaining how the Law of attraction works, and how your thoughts create your future:
- Louise Hay’s official website can be found at www.louisehay.com.
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