The Six Month Secret Experiment.
I first read The Secret on the 4th August 2014 and for that I will be forever grateful. A friend had recommended it to me after I told her about my clear visions of the future; How I wanted to help people believe in themselves, to be a motivational speaker and coach and to travel. But also that I was feeling so stressed and overwhelmed by life, bills and the extreme diet I was following in preparation to compete as a first time bikini competitor, that I couldn’t see how it would happen.
That night by page ten I had goose bumps, my heart was racing and I knew I was discovering something really important. The “aha” for me was that I had a choice about how I felt.
Three months later I was contemplating ending my life.
Within weeks of reading The Secret I was a magnet for opportunity. Introducing gratitude to my life made everything seem smoother, even beginning to feel grateful for a body I had felt uncomfortable in and dieted to change since I was 12. Even though I considered myself a positive person, I became aware of how much negativity I’d unwittingly been allowing into my life. By choosing to change my thoughts everything else changed for the better. Giving my first ever motivational talk about the power of our mind set only one month after reading the book, I visualized the room full and it was. Then I signed a contract for a new business and website with plans of sharing all I had learned with the world. My mood had improved drastically, starting each day with gratitude I felt good and was going to bed each night excited like a child on Christmas Eve.
On 4th of October 14’ I stood on stage and competed. I knew immediately it wasn’t for me and was feeling positive about beginning a more balanced life and setting my plans for the future in motion. The week after competing as I struggled to eat foods that weren’t part of the restrictive plan I had been following, anxiety kicked in. Along with panic at even the slightest weight gain and imagining my clothes were feeling tighter. The realization that I had been living my whole life with an Eating Disorder began to sink in. That same week I lost the investment for my business, the close friend who recommended The Secret cut me out of her life via text. Something I now understand, but then my heart was breaking and I felt a fraud and a failure.
Three of the most challenging months were to follow during which I began to binge in secret, then make myself sick. The guilt and shame this caused me led to chronic anxiety and I was barely able to leave my house. Consumed with negative thoughts about myself and my body, I began to contemplate ending my life, to escape the pain of my own thoughts. Knowing the devastating effect this would have on my two children aged 10 and 6, here was my rock bottom. Deep down a voice whispered “Hannah, maybe this is your journey, maybe you are meant to find a way to get through this so you can share it with others.” and that is when The Secret truly changed my life.
Filled with anger and resentment about how my life had turned out, then guilt for thinking that way, I wondered if the books principles would really work in this situation, with anxiety, despair and a lifetime of hating my body. So I decided to become a guinea pig in a six month experiment, creating ten rules inspired by all I had read in The Secret. Feel good triggers including gratitude, love, kindness, being aware of negativity in my thoughts, feelings or actions and trading it for positivity. My crucial rule was number 3: “Be kind to my reflection. Pay myself a compliment when I look in the mirror”.
Each night even when it seemed impossible, I would visualize the life I wanted and the person I wanted to be, carefree around food, happy and successful, traveling to America. I’d see my passport in my hand and hear the sounds of the airport, and a goal to talk with Oprah Winfrey on Super Soul Sunday.
The positive effects were immediate, from day one I noticed a difference. Each day my sense of well-being, love for life and love for myself grew stronger. A journey that had begun with the simple goal of feeling better than I did, had transformed my life and it’s positive effect radiated out to everyone I came in to contact with.
So many amazing events took place over the six months that I have a separate journal of hundreds of things that manifested into my life. Being accepted to co- author to 20 Beautiful Women Volume 3, becoming a Huffington Post Contributor and writing for local and national newspapers are just a few. An amazing breakthrough was that along the way I said hello to self love which meant goodbye to a lifetime of body shame and my eating disorder. Instead of a negative, painful process that most of what I read described recovery to be, it was a positive and remarkably quick journey.
I now know for sure that if you visualize what you want in life, if you are grateful for all that is in it now, not only believe it is possible but love yourself enough to believe you are worth it, it will come. Most often in a way you least expect. The priceless gift that my experiment gave me was the journey.
I have wanted to write this piece for a long time and this week it felt right. Having visualized a trip to the US since I began, I have just returned from Philadelphia. There I spoke with literary agents about my own book about my Secret Experiment, I had the opportunity to not only hear live but meet the amazing Jack Canfield who’s words in The Secret gave me strength during some of my darkest moments. This experience showed me there is no limit to what is possible and I want to share with the world that life is meant to be amazing. To everyone, not only those people who are living with eating disorders or have negative thoughts about their body I want to say “You deserve to and are meant to live an amazing life and all the tools you need to do so are within you right now”.
I’m glad I hit rock bottom because it forced me to choose change. But you don’t have to experience it to live a better life. Unless you are excited by and proud of your life, unless you are a friend to yourself, unless you can feel gratitude so strongly it’s a physical feeling, then there is room for change. When you create an environment that your true and authentic self can thrive in, everything is possible and there truly is no limit.
Dream big and make those dreams happen. You can hold me accountable to two of mine, to be interviewed by Oprah and to work on a book project with Jack Canfield!
You can follow my blog at www.hannah-lilly.com