You Can Heal Your Life: Summary, Review, & Criticism

you can heal yourself book cover

You Can Heal Your Life (1984) purports to cure at once mental and body ailments via the power of self-love, self-acceptance, the “evaporation of guilt”, and positive thinking.

Bullet Summary

  • The issues that we face in our lives stem from a lack of self-love
  • You have to approve of yourself exactly as you are
  • You get what you focus on. Focus on positives

Full Summary

About the Author:
Louise Lynn Hay was an American motivational author and the founder of Hay House, a publisher of “new thought” and books that revolve around positive thinking, law of attraction, alternative medicine, “life force” and similar semi-spiritual topics -she also published Deepak Chopra’s work-.
Hay authored several New Thought self-help books herself, the most popular being You Can Heal Your Life.

Accept Yourself Unconditionally

Accepting yourself unconditionally is one of the main tenets of You Can Heal Your Life.

Some practical tips on how to do just that:

1. Replace Should

Should is a very dangerous expression says Louise Hay.

It puts you in the position of being wrong and feeling guilty.
Such as, in a position of non-accepting ourselves.
That runs contrary to Louise’s philosophy, which is that of never criticizing ourselves.

She recommends changing your “should” with “could”.

As Tony Robbins said, “quit shoulding all over yourself” :).

2. Release The Past

Recriminating about the past is similar to how should affect us. It poisons us with no real advantages. Learn to let go of your past to enjoy a happier present.

3. Forgive

Forgiving both yourself and others is a great way to let go of much hatred and negative emotions trapped within us.

Your States Of Minds Produce Your Reality

The author says that diseases are a product of our states of mind.
And to invert the trend and heal ourselves, we need to love ourselves first.

You Get What You Focus On

Whatever you focus on, you will get.

The more you focus on something, the more of it you will get.
And sadly we mostly focus on negative thoughts.
Louise Hay exhorts the readers to focus on positive thoughts instead.

This is basically the “(not so) good old law of attraction”, which is in part BS.
Also read:

Connect To The Cosmic Forces For A Feeling of Ultimate Security

You won’t get security with a job or a hefty bank account.

And not even with a spouse.

You Can Heal Your Life says we become secure when we learn to connect with the cosmic power that creates all things (God).
Once you can do that, you will never be alone and insecure again.

you can heal yourself book cover

Real-Life Applications

Ration Out Your Shoulds
I don’t think you should fully abandon your “should” and I believe you should can use pain (read how to leverage pain) as much as you can leverage pleasure.
But most people will definitely gain by using less “should” in their lives -me included-.

Treat Yourself Well
Learn to love and appreciate yourself can be a game changer for many of us.


I highly recommend you read this article on naive self-help since it addresses many of the pitfalls common to books like You Can Heal Yourself:

Potentially dangerous: also seek medical help when needed

If people decide to follow the “power of your healing mind” rather than seeking medical help, they may get that medical help too late -or not at all-.

That’s potentially dangerous, and you or the people close to you who fall for this new age trap must be warned.

Illogic, Unscientific… And Plain Dumbass claims

This was one of the most damning lines against the whole book:

Releasing resentment will dissolve even cancer

Louise Hay

Ouch, what a dumbass claim :S.

Potential victim-blaming

Suggesting that all health issues are a consequence of feelings, thoughts and mental patterns is unhelpful. And I also find it potentially offensive.

New Agey – Woowoo

A bit similar to The Secret, I find You Can Heal Your Life to be too light on science and practical knowledge. And a bit too much based on belief and ethereal states of mind.
My biggest problem with that though is when New Age books tell us everything is a product of our thoughts.

Unscientific, unproven, untested

No, the stories you hear online or the (often fake) reviews on Amazon don’t count.

While placebo and a positive mind are known to help with both mental and body ailments, the author’s recommendations here are simply untested against any specific mental disorder or illness.


Some good wisdom
Learning to absorb knowledge effectively is often a matter of not throwing the baby with the bad water. And albeit there are a few points I disagree with, You Can Heal Your Life does have some powerful wisdom.

It seemingly helped lots of people
Many people testify the book changed their life. You can’t argue with that and I am happy the book helped so many people.
On the other hand, I also believe that one can combine whatever’s good with this book, with more solid and scientific knowledge, as well as a more strategically sound approach on how to maximize well-being.


While not being the greatest fans of You Can Heal Your Life, we also recognize some of the good in it.

Books like You Can Heal Your Life loosely -or not so loosely- based on the law of attraction are some of the biggest best sellers in the self-help genre.

Personally I believe the law of attraction is 50% deep wisdom and 50% BS.
The 50% BS is that you won’t materialize a thing in your life with just your thoughts. Work, grit and skill acquisition will get you there -and yes, a little bit of luck can help too-.

On the other hand, what you focus on does revolutionize your mental states and how you approach the world.
Both in terms of happiness and, indirectly, also on concrete results. Focus on problems indeed and you’ll be depressed and take little actions. Focus on opportunities and you’ll get more power and actions.

Read more summaries or get the book on Amazon

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