How often do you look in the mirror and notice something wrong instead of something right? From an early age, we are taught to see our own flaws and the flaws in our lives much more readily than the beauty. We internalize the criticism we may have received as a child and then criticize ourselves as we get older. But Louise Hay has taught us that we can change this kind of negative thinking and when we do, miracles can happen in our lives and our health. I had the privilege of interviewing bestselling author, publisher, speaker, and gifted teacher, Louise Hay as well as her dear friend, fellow bestselling author and life coach, Cheryl Richardson. In 2013 they co-wrote a book called, You Can Create An Exceptional Life. I was honored to read this book before it hit the shelves, and since then, I believe it has helped countless women break out of negative cycles they were stuck in. Join us for this great conversation and take home the tips these tremendous women offer to turn your thinking and your life around.

Start with the morning

Marcelle Pick: One concept you bring up in your book is that the way we start our day is so important in terms of what happens for the rest of the day. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

Louise Hay: Most of us just sort of bumble through life. And those of us who are partly aware say, Oh yes! I must do my affirmations, and we sit down once a day and we do our affirmations. And then we get up and we bumble through life for the rest of the day. And the whole point of this book is to bring awareness to where you are, and who you are, and what you are actually doing. The place to begin is the first thing when your eyelids start to twitter in the morning. And if you can catch yourself at that point and really make it a positive, comfortable, joyful, easy moment, then your day begins on that. You don’t have to do the whole day all at once, but start with the morning. That, in itself, will create a miracle.

Affirmations for throughout the day:

  • I love my life.
  • I love this day.
  • Life loves me.

Going to work in the morning

“I think it’s important when you go to work in the morning to program what you would like to happen in the day in a positive way. You never want to say, Oh, I don’t want this to happen, because then you’re putting too much energy on it. But say what you do want to happen. It’s a wonderful day. I have harmonious interactions with all the employees at work. We all get along so well. Each and everything I touch and every phone call I have today is positive. And always send love ahead of you. Send love to the building, to the people in it, to your desk or your cubicle or whatever you have and also to the customers. And if you start doing that, it’s amazing how things shift in a more positive way.”  – Louise Hay

Cheryl Richardson: When Louise and I first started having this conversation, I was amazed at the things I discovered about myself. For example, as I wrote about in the book, I would be taking a shower and for some reason the shower became a place where I would ruminate about problems or worry about something that I needed to handle that day. I started to notice that I wasn’t that thrilled about taking a shower because I was making it a miserable experience. Bring awareness to what your thoughts are first. And the trick is to catch yourself sooner and sooner so you begin to shift your thinking from whatever isn’t working to good thoughts that will work.

How to begin: mirror, mirror on the wall

MP: If somebody wants to begin changing the way they think, how can they start?

LH: With the mirror. I think it’s the most powerful thing and it works very quickly. Within a week big changes happen. Looking in the mirror, saying your name, and saying, I love you. I really, really love you. It’s a powerful step. It works magic. Use the mirror instead of having it be something you shun, or every time you look at it, you say something negative about your body, or your looks, or whatever. Those are terrible affirmations. Every time you face the mirror you’ll start to shudder because you know you’re going to get a negative message. So if you can turn that around and make the mirror your friend, and the person in the mirror your dearest friend, then things change enormously. When Cheryl started to do mirror work she was like most people and thought, Oh no. I can’t do this. But as she did it for a while she made big changes.

CR: In the beginning, I really felt awkward. I thought it was kind of like a Saturday Night Live skit. Both Louise and I hear that a lot from people. They say, “It doesn’t feel true for me when I look in the mirror and say I love you. I think, no I don’t — look at my wrinkles around my eyes, or look at the fat on my stomach, or whatever.” But just do it anyway. When I first started doing Pilates, I was awkward. I was clumsy. And I would catch myself saying, “Oh my God, look at my stomach. Look at my legs. I can’t stretch. I’m so uncoordinated.”

I’m sure my Pilates teacher wonders what the hell I’m doing now, because I have a big smile on my face and I’m looking in the mirror and I’m saying things like, “I love your beautiful shape, look at how strong you are, thank you so much for carrying me through life the way you do, I have the most perfect core,” whatever I can think of. And you know what? I can’t wait to exercise. I can’t wait to get to Pilates because I created a positive association.

Louise talks about making the mirror your friend instead of your enemy — and the person in it. I can’t stress enough how powerful a practice it is because the person we’re most afraid of in life is us. We’re afraid of the way we beat ourselves up, judge ourselves, speak to ourselves in an unloving and critical way. When you make yourself a dear, dear friend, you can do anything because you’re no longer afraid of being judged mercilessly by that internalized critical parent. So we’re really creating a new parental voice if you will, a new peer voice that speaks lovingly.

As we think, our cells are listening

“… A lot of women will use fantasies in their sexual relationships to become aroused. So if a human being, a man or a woman, can think a sexual thought and feel a physiologic response in their body, isn’t that evidence that thinking a good, powerful thought is going have some kind of a physiological effect?” – Cheryl Richardson

MP: This is especially important for women. From the time that we’re very small until we’re older, many women are being so critical of themselves because they’re judging themselves with an outside eye.

CR: Well, they’re judging themselves with an internalized critical parent. And they’ve been objectified. But what we do is internalize that objectification. See, it’s important to make the distinction. It is an internalized voice that we give a tremendous amount of power to. It’s the voice that doesn’t serve us that lives inside and needs to be transformed by love.

LH: We all have those voices within us. And we need to be aware of them to recognize them and realize where they came from. They really have nothing to do with the truth of our being. We are all divine, magnificent expressions of life, and when we recognize this then life flows more smoothly. You know, one of the affirmations that I’ve been using for the last 2 years a lot is: Life loves me. Life loves me. Life loves me. And I get more and more and more examples of how life loves me because this is my affirmation. This is what I am choosing to believe.

You know, a lot of people think life sucks. Now, if that’s your affirmation, how can you possibly bring on good experiences? See, we have the choice of deciding what we want to feel about ourselves and about life. And what we choose to feel and think is what we are going to get.

What we are offering in this book are simple, easy ways of doing small steps. We don’t have to heal the whole world today. We can do small steps. First, make our mind feel comfortable, get our heart warm and glowing, start to allow our body to work well, and have the atmosphere around us full of people responding in a much more kind way. When we get these things, everything starts to fall into place. It’s the tiny little steps that we are willing to make that begin the process.

Take good thoughts into your dreams

MP: One of the things you suggest in the book is that we don’t watch TV, especially the news or anything disturbing before going to sleep. Can you talk about how to prepare for sleep? 

LH: Closing the day is very important because whatever you’re doing at night before you go to sleep, you’re going to take into dream land. And that’s where a lot of healing things can happen. But if you take in the news and frightening thoughts, you’re not going to have a good healing sleep.

It’s just like in the morning. I thank the bed and I just know it’s going to be a good day and all the experiences will be wonderful. I give myself a little pep talk. I also give myself a little slowing down talk at night and I thank the day for being what it was and the things I’ve learned from it. And I know that is over and done now and I can just release everything and I am now nuzzling into my bed and I’m going to have a wonderful deep restful sleep for the night. And then I drift off knowing that life loves me. Life loves me. Life loves me. And to me that is a wonderful way to go to sleep.

Life is paying attention

What struck me most about You Can Create An Exceptional Life is that it isn’t just about positive affirmations. Leading an exceptional life is about changing your thinking from your core. And you can start with small steps like positive affirmations when you first wake up in the morning, mirror work, and drifting to sleep with positive, healing thoughts.

As Cheryl said to me, “Just from the small steps, life gives you evidence that it is paying attention… As you get the evidence, you’re inspired to pay more attention… Before you know it, you really are changing the framework of how you operate in the world…You’re influencing the state of health and balance in the body as well as your life.”

After talking to Louise and Cheryl, I am reminded of how utterly important it is to find the love, peace, and good in ourselves and those around us. As Louise says at the end of the book, “…When you reach out to Life, Life always seems to reach back.”