Psycho-Cybernetics, A New Way to Get More Living Out of Lifeby Maxwell Maltz
A simple guide that sheds light on how your self-image is responsible for your success or failure in life. In Psycho-Cybernetics, you will find a system of ideas that can teach you how to create an accurate and positive view of yourself so that you can achieve your goals more effectively. The book shows you how to use the power of visualization and other creative techniques to overcome your limiting belief patterns. By learning how to improve your self-image, you can quickly begin to enjoy the success and fulfillment you’ve always desired.
Understand your success mechanism
“Many people make the mistake of interfering with their Success Mechanism by demanding a ‘how’ before a goal is clearly established. After you’ve formed a mental image of the goal you seek to create, the ‘how’ will come to you —not before”
All living things are created with an in-built guidance system that helps them achieve their goals. For simpler creatures, the goal is to survive. But for humans, this internal guidance system is much more complex. Humans are driven to achieve bigger goals, solve problems, invent, create businesses and achieve success. It is this “success mechanism” that encourages humans to desire and create a fuller life.
Your success mechanism is controlled by your creative imagination. Your ability to imagine a better future for yourself is what determines whether you achieve your goals or end up a failure. Your brain and nervous system are critical components of your success mechanism because they are responsible for the thoughts and emotions that guide your everyday decisions. Together, they regulate your self-perception, the goals you desire, your ability to solve problems, and how you respond to your mistakes.
Your success mechanism is designed to lead you toward success no matter the obstacles you may face. But quite too often, we struggle to succeed because we don’t fully understand how this mechanism works. By identifying the basic principles that define your success mechanism, you can consistently achieve your goals and live the life you desire.
Actions to take
The power of imagination
“A human being always acts and feels and performs in accordance with what he imagines to be true about himself and his environment. This is a basic and fundamental law of mind. It is the way we are built”
Whether you’re conscious of it or not, you are constantly imagining. Even right now, you’re forming mental images based on beliefs that shape your self-perception and your worldview. For example, if you believe your nose and ears to be too large, you’ll perceive yourself to be peculiar and may assume that everyone on the street is staring at you. The more you imagine yourself this way, the more uncomfortable you become in public, and this can lead to feelings of shame and low self-esteem.
In this kind of situation, your imagination has destroyed your self-image and may even ruin your career and relationships. Fortunately, there is a silver lining here. If you can use your imagination destructively, then you can also use it to construct a beautiful self-image. By focusing on the right mental pictures, you can recreate your behavior and attitude, thus altering your personality for the better. If you can imagine yourself as a successful individual, your internal success mechanism will guide you to turn your visions into reality.
Science has already proven that your nervous system doesn’t know the difference between an actual experience and a vividly imagined one. Therefore, you can use mental pictures and roleplay to help improve your performance during a sports tournament, boost sales, or pass an examination. The important thing is to relax while visualizing and repeat the mental process until your mind and body perceive it to be real.
Actions to take
Dehypnotize yourself from false beliefs
“Hypnotic subjects are able to do surprising things only when convinced that the hypnotist’s words are true statements. . . . When the hypnotist has guided the subject to the point where he is convinced that the hypnotist’s words are true statements, the subject then behaves differently because he thinks and believes differently”
Every human being is under hypnosis, either from ideas they have repeatedly told themselves or ideas they have absorbed from others. If you’ve accepted false, negative beliefs in your life, then the effect is the same as those implanted into the mind of a hypnotized person. For example, a professional hypnotist can convince a championship weight lifter that they cannot lift a pencil off a desk. The athlete is unable to express their true strength all because someone has implanted a negative idea in their mind.
The reality is that the power to succeed or fail doesn’t lie in some magical words uttered by a hypnotist. The power lies within you and what you have chosen to believe. If you’re struggling with issues of self-esteem, you can dehypnotize yourself to cure your inferiority complex. You can use creative imagination to visualize the kind of person you want to be. But to do so effectively, you have to understand the role of physical relaxation in this process.
When someone hypnotizes you, they first get you to relax your body so that their words can easily seep into your unconscious mind. In the same way, to effectively dehypnotize yourself, you have to be in a relaxed condition. Using conscious effort does not work. Your suggestions must be made without any strain or willpower. By learning how to put yourself in a relaxed state, you stand a better chance of dehypnotizing yourself from negative beliefs that may be blocking your success.
Actions to take
Utilize your rational thinking
“One of the reasons that the power of rational thinking goes unrecognized is that it is so seldom used”
Most people believe that rational conscious thinking has no power to change your negative unconscious beliefs. This is a fallacy. It is the conscious mind that controls the unconscious, and it was your conscious thoughts that triggered the unconscious to develop negative reaction patterns. Therefore, if you want to change your negative belief patterns, you can only do so by working on your conscious rational thoughts.
It isn’t necessary to dig up unconscious memories of your unpleasant past to effect a personality change. All you have to do is see your past failures and painful experiences for what they truly are—learning experiences. They have served their purpose in teaching you the lessons you needed to learn, and there’s no need to keep criticizing yourself for past mistakes.
If you’re criticizing yourself continually for a past failure, then it’s because of your conscious rather than unconscious mind. When you say, “I failed yesterday; therefore it’s obvious that I’ll fail again tomorrow,” you’re making an irrational conclusion with no evidence to support it. To change such a false belief, you need to consciously challenge it, see the absurdity of it, and then replace it with a positive and rational thought. Focus on your new beliefs with vivid images and emotions to further embed them into your unconscious mind.
Actions to take
Allow your creative mechanism to serve you
“Skill in any performance, whether it be in sports, in playing the piano, in conversation, or in selling merchandise, consists not in painfully and consciously thinking out each action as it is performed, but in relaxing, and letting the job do itself through you”
Life poses many problems to us regularly, and we often respond by stressing out and worrying over the challenges we face. The problem with this approach is that we want to solve all our problems through conscious thinking instead of leveraging our innate creative mechanism. Your conscious mind does a good job of identifying problems, forming judgments, and setting goals. However, it does a terrible job when it comes to solving problems because it’s attached to your ego. The moment your ego becomes preoccupied with a problem, you become too concerned with the results, and the fear and anxiety impair your ability to solve it.
To successfully solve a problem, you have to activate your creative mechanism. This can only be done by stepping back from the problem, relaxing, and abandoning all your worries about the outcome. This is how the most successful creatives—writers, inventors, poets, etc.—accomplish their magnificent works. Many creative people say that their best ideas come to them spontaneously when they are engaged in something unrelated to their work. These flashes of intuitive genius come to you in the most unlikely of places, for example, while in the shower, walking along the beach, or even when dreaming.
Therefore, to receive an inspired idea or solution, you can focus intensely on the problem, gather all the information on the subject, and have a burning desire to solve it. Once you’ve done that, there’s no need to struggle and worry about the solution. Cast all your cares away and allow your creative mechanism to kick in and show you how to deal with the problem.
Actions to take
Cultivate the habit of happiness
“Happiness is not something that is earned or deserved. Happiness is not a moral issue, any more than the circulation of the blood is a moral issue. Both are necessary for health and well-being.”
Happiness is a core part of the human experience. When you’re happy, you think better, feel better, and are healthier than someone who’s not happy. Pleasant thoughts are known to improve memory and lower hostile thoughts that lead to crime. Surveys also show that cheerful businesspeople are more successful than pessimistic ones. Therefore, happiness is a mental attitude that you can cultivate to create a more successful and healthier life.
So, why does society keep pushing a false narrative of happiness? We’re often told that we need to be good people to be happy; that we have to achieve success and good health to be happy. Yet the truth is quite the opposite. Once you’re happy, all the good things of life become possible. You should understand that pursuing happiness is a noble act, not a selfish one. Happiness lies in the present, and you don’t have to be miserable today to enjoy your future.
When you begin to cultivate a habit of happiness, you’ll realize that it’s possible to change any negative habit. For example, your self-image and your habits tend to go together. If you change one, you automatically change the other. Therefore, if you’re gloomy all the time and decide to develop a habit of happiness, your self-image and personality will also change to fit your new happiness level. By consciously and deliberately cultivating better habits, your self-image outgrows the old ones and shifts into a new pattern.
Actions to take
Acquire the personality of success
“Just as a doctor learns to diagnose disease from certain symptoms, failure and success can also be diagnosed. The reason is that a man does not simply find success or come to failure. He carries their seeds around in his personality and character”
One of the most effective ways to help someone create a successful personality is to first show them what a successful personality looks like. Most people want to be successful but they don’t have a mental picture to guide them on their journey. Without a clear mental image to work with, it becomes very difficult to define what you want to achieve. Success becomes a buzzword bandied about with no clear meaning. You may have the skills and talent, but without a clear idea of what constitutes a successful personality, you’ll simply end up lost and confused.
So, what does a successful personality look like? A successful personality can be defined as one that enables you to cope effectively with your reality and environment and to gain satisfaction from achieving goals that are significant to you. For example, if you’ve been promoted and you’re struggling to live up to your new role because you feel like a fraud, then the problem is your self-image. You need to develop a clear self-image of what success looks like in your new role and then move toward it. A successful personality is always within reach once you’ve clearly defined what it means to you.
Actions to take
Remove your emotional scars
“We form emotional or spiritual “scars” for self-protection. We are very apt to become hardened of heart, callous toward the world, and to withdraw within a protective shell”
Whenever you get a cut on your body, it forms scar tissue that’s tougher and thicker than your flesh. The purpose of the scar tissue is to create a protective shell that prevents you from aggravating the injury. This same process also applies to emotional injuries. When someone hurts your feelings, you’re likely to form an emotional scar to protect yourself from future emotional injuries. Unfortunately, emotional scars can also cripple you.
When you walk around with emotional scars, you go to extremes to protect your ego. You not only avoid the person who caused the injury, but you also build a wall to keep out anyone who you feel may hurt you. An individual whose love has been rejected by one person may vow never to fall in love with anyone ever again. A child who’s been hurt by a cruel parent or teacher may decide never to trust any authority figure in the future. In most cases, people who appear to have a tough exterior are simply protecting a very soft and vulnerable interior.
Building emotional walls not only cuts you off from the rest of humanity but also separates you from your real self. Emotional scars can also lead to an ugly self-image because you walk around believing that you’re disliked, unwanted and unlovable. This can negatively affect your relationships and career, and by extension, your success in life. Therefore, it’s important to immunize yourself against any emotional hurts that may come your way.
Actions to take
Turn your crisis into a creative opportunity
“If you react properly to the situation, a crisis can give you strength, power, and wisdom you do not ordinarily possess. If you react improperly, a crisis can rob you of the skill, control, and ability that you ordinarily have to call upon”
If you live long enough, you’re going to encounter a crisis at some point in your life. You only have two options when facing a crisis—you step up and perform or you wilt under the pressure. Some people can handle high-pressure situations with ease. Many athletes, for example, can perform better under pressure, and it often seems that a crisis gives them more power and finesse. On the other hand, some athletes perform well during practice but crumble when the spotlight shines on them.
What separates these two groups is not skill level or some inherent quality. The difference is mostly a matter of how they learned to respond to a crisis. People who rise to the occasion in a crisis usually train under calm and peaceful conditions. They avoid over-motivation and pressure so that they can adequately hone their skills. On top of that, they learn to focus on the goal and refuse to be distracted by sideshows. Finally, they know to put a crisis in perspective instead of exaggerating the potential outcome of the situation.
Actions to take
Activate your fountain of youth
“In expecting to grow old at a given age we may unconsciously set up a negative goal image for our Creative Mechanism to accomplish. Or, in expecting old age and fearing its onset, we may unwittingly do those very things necessary to bring it about”
The human body, with its brain and nervous system, has often been equated to a goal-driven machine. However, humans are more than just physical vessels. There is something extra-physical that inhabits, animates, and controls the vehicle we refer to as the human body. This energy that operates the body is what determines why some people are more resistant to disease than others. It’s also the reason why some people live longer and age slower than others.
This vital energy that’s exhibited by people who live long and healthy lives appears to be connected to elements that are within our conscious control. It’s well-known that your mindset plays a huge role in your aging process. If you’re constantly allowing stress and frustration to get to you, then you’re unlikely to enjoy a long and healthy life. Research also shows that patients who are optimistic and cheerful tend to recover faster from their surgery than those who feel pessimistic and hopeless.
The body’s vital energy is drained by negative thinking, stress, and a poor self-image, which are all components of a failure mechanism. In other words, if you want to add more years to your life as well as add more life to your years, you should adopt a success mindset. You should wake up every day with clear intentions and excited about life. Your fountain of youth lies in your success mechanism.