By Louise Hay
Reviewed by Betty Ann Dean
Those of us who have studied spiritual work likely know of the work of Louise Hay. Her book, You Can Heal Your Life, is considered a classic reference for those interested in the mind/body connection. Louise Hay brings years of experience and her own knowledge of healing to her work. Hay has firsthand knowledge of the effects of that work after she cured herself of cancer early in her life.
Mirror Work, published a year before Hay’s death in 2017, may not be as well-known as some of her other writings, but it is no less powerful. This book, while a small volume, is packed with potentially life-changing techniques. Hay outlines a 21-day program of mirror work to change our inner dialogue from self-criticism to one of self-love.
She says: “Mirror work–looking deeply into your eyes and repeating affirmations–is the most effective method I’ve found for learning to love yourself and see the world as a safe and loving place…Put simply, whatever we say or think is an affirmation. All of your self-talk, the dialogue in your head, is a stream of affirmations. These affirmations are messages to your subconscious that establish habitual ways of thinking and behaving. Positive affirmations plant healing thoughts and ideas that support you in developing self-confidence and self-esteem, and creating peace of mind and inner joy.”
“The most powerful affirmations are those you say out loud when you are in front of your mirror. The mirror reflects back to you the feelings you have about yourself. It makes you immediately aware of where you are resisting and where you are open and flowing. It clearly shows you what thoughts you will need to change if you want to have a joyous, fulfilling life.”
The book is divided into three sections, one for each week of the process. The first week deals with loving yourself, monitoring your self-talk, calming down that inner critic and building your self-esteem. Included in each day’s exercise are a mirror work exercise, a journaling exercise, a heart thought, and a meditation. For example, on the first day, the mirror work exercise includes standing in front of your mirror, looking into your eyes, and repeating this affirmation:
“I want to like you. I want to really learn to love you. Let’s go for it and really have some fun.”
The author suggests repeating these words every time you pass a mirror during your day.
The journaling exercise asks you to write your feelings about the process. What did this bring up for you? How are you feeling–angry, upset, foolish? Hay asks that you journal again after about six hours and see if there is a difference in those feelings. Did the exercise become easier for you, or was it still difficult even after doing it several times?
A key concept comes in the heart thought for the day:
“If we do mirror work to create good in our lives but there’s a part of us that doesn’t believe we are worth it, we are not going to believe the words we are saying as we look in the mirror. We will reach a point at which we start thinking, Mirror work doesn’t work. The truth is, the perception that mirror work doesn’t work has nothing to do with the mirror work itself or the affirmations we say. The problem is that we don’t believe we deserve all the good that life has to offer.”
The final part of the exercise is a meditation about self-love. “Love is the most powerful healing force there is. You can take this love out into the world and silently share it with everyone you meet. Love yourself. Love one another. Love the planet and know that we are all one. And so it is.”
Wow–and that’s only Day 1!
At the end of the first week, there is an opportunity to review your progress. Does the work still feel uncomfortable? Is it getting a bit easier? The author asks readers to affirm:
“I celebrate this week of loving myself with mirror work. I now move into a new space of consciousness in which I am willing to see myself differently.”
The focus of the second week’s work is loving our inner child, loving our bodies, releasing anger, overcoming fear, and beginning each day with love. That’s a big assignment for just a week! It’s all connected, though. Hay says:
“There is a parent inside of us as well. And for most of us, this inner parent is scolding the inner child almost nonstop. If you listen to your inner dialogue, you can hear the scolding. You can hear the parent tell you what you are doing wrong or that you are not good enough…Now, as adults, most of us either totally ignore the child within us or belittle the child in the same way we were belittled in the past. We repeat this pattern over and over.”
She recommends getting to know our inner child through the mirror. Who is this child? How can you help him/her feel safe and secure? “All your inner child really wants is to be noticed, to feel safe, and to be loved. If you can take just a few moments a day to begin to connect with the little person inside of you, life is going to be a lot better.”
The third section deals with relationships, forgiveness, allowing prosperity and gratitude, and living without stress. Hay reminds us that in order to heal a relationship with another, we must first improve the relationship that we have with ourselves. “Why would anyone want to be with you if you don’t want to be with you? When you are happy with yourself, then all your other relationships improve, too. A happy person is very attractive to others. If you are looking for more love, then you need to love yourself too. It is as simple as that.”
Gratitude is equally important in the process. “Spend as many moments as you can today and every day being grateful for all the good in your life…Be grateful for all the lessons you have learned, even the painful ones. They are little treasures that have been given to you. As you learn from them, your life will change for the better.”
The book ends with a list of 12 ways you can love yourself now–and always. She suggests that stopping criticism, forgiving yourself, being kind and gentle with yourself, taking care of your body, and having fun (my personal favorite!) are all a part of changing your mindset. And of course, don’t forget your mirror work!
I struggled with this book when I first read it several years ago. I found the process to be daunting–I didn’t really need to say all of that in my mirror, did I? That probably explains why I just read the book without taking much action in actually DOING the process. Sitting in front of my mirror speaking words of self-love seemed a bit much, as well as downright uncomfortable. I’ve taken a lot of positive steps in my life–surely I didn’t need a whole three-week course in loving myself. The book has been on my shelf for quite a while now, but lately, it’s been calling me again. I can see the importance of following the steps outlined so clearly and I think it’s time for me to try again. I invite you to join me in the process–let’s see what changes for us all! Until then, you know where to find me.
Betty Ann Dean, R.N., B.S.N., has worked in various settings as a registered nurse. In 2008 she began to explore energy medicine as taught by Donna Eden as a way of healing the body in addition to traditional medicine. She is certified as a practitioner of Bowenwork, a hands-on healing therapy, and brings a rich background of corrective exercise to her healing modalities as a result of her ten years of experience as a personal trainer. In 2020, Betty Ann was certified at the Masters level as a medical intuitive. She continues to mentor with her teacher, Tina Zion, and is a recommended practitioner on Tina’s website.
Her practice, Vibrant Bodyworks, is located in Liberty, MO, and Parkville, MO.