Book Summary: "Psycho Cybernetics" by Maxwell Maltz

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The Self Image: Your Key to a Better Life

Each of us carries about with us a mental blueprint or picture of ourselves — “self-image”. This self-image is our own conceptions of the “sort of person I am”.

All your actions, feelings, behavior — even your abilities — are always consistent with this self-image.

The self-image can be changed. Numerous case histories have shown that one is never too young nor too old to change his self-image and thereby start to live a new life.

To really “live”, that is to find life reasonably satisfying, you must have an adequate and realistic self image that you can live with.

There is within each of us a “life instinct”, which is forever working toward health, happiness, and all that make for more life for the individual. This “life instinct” works for you through what I call the Creative Mechanism, or when used correctly the “Success Mechanism” built into each human being.

Discoveing the Success Mechanism Within You

Every living thing has a built-in guidance system or goal-striving device, put there by its Creator to help it achieve its goal — which is, in broad terms — to “live”.

Man has something animals haven’t — Creative Imagination. Thus man of all creatures is more than a creature, he is also a creator. With his imagination he can formulate a variety of goals. Man alone can direct his Success Mechanism by the use of imagination, or imaging ability.

When we conceive of the human brain and nervous system as a form of servo-mechanism, operations in accordance with Cybernetic principles, we gain a new insight into the why and wherefore of human behavior.

Servo-mechanisms are divided into two general types: where the target, goal, or “answer” is known, and the objective is to reach or accomplish it, and where the target or “answer” is not known and the objective is to discover or locate it. The human brain and nervous system operates in both ways.

Once, a correct or “successful response” has been accomplished — it is “remembered” for future use. The automatic mechanism then duplicates the successful response on future trials. It has “learned” how to respond successfully. It “remembers” its successes, forgets its failures, and repeats the successful action without any further conscious “thought” — or as a habit.

The unhappy, failure-type personality cannot develop a new self-image by pure will power, or by arbitrarily deciding to. There must be some grounds, some justification, some reason for deciding that the old picture of self is in error, and that a new picture is appropriate.

Imagination — The First Key to Your Success Mechanism

A human being always acts and feels and performs in accordance with what he imagines to be true about himself and his environment

Your nervous system reacts appropriately to what “you” think or image to be true.

You must have a clear mental picture of the correct thing before you can do it successfully.

Dehypnotize Yourself From False Beliefs

The important thing for you to remember is that it does not matter in the least how you got the idea or where it came from. You may have never been formally hypnotized. But if have accepted and idea, and further, if you are firmly convinced that idea is true, it has the same power over you as the hypnotist’s words have over the hypnotized subject.

It is not knowledge of actual inferiority in skill or knowledge which gives us an inferiority complex and interferes with our living. It is the feeling of inferiority that does this.

Stop measuring yourself against “their” standards. You are not “them” and can never measure up. Neither “they” measure up to yours — nor should they.

Your suggestions (ideal goals) must be made without effort if they are to be effective.

The best way to break a habit is to form a clear mental image of the desired end result, and to practice without effort toward reaching that goal.

Physical relaxation, when practiced daily, brings about an accompanying “mental relaxation”, and a “relaxed attitude” which enables us to better consciously control our automatic mechanism.

How to Utilize The Power of Rational Thinking

As soon as the error has been recognized as such, and correction of course made, it is equally important that the error be consciously forgotten, and the successful attempt remembered and “dwelt upon.”

Our errors, mistakes, failures, and sometimes even our humiliations, were necessary steps in the learning process. However, they were meant to be means to an end — and not an end in themselves.

The minute that we change our minds, and stop giving power to the past, the past with its mistakes loses power over us.

Rational thought, to be effective in changing belief and behavior, must be accompanied by deep feeling and desire.

Always think of what you have to do as easy and it will become so.

We must learn to do our work, act upon the best assumptions available, and leave results to take care of themselves.

Relax and Let Your Success Mechanism Work for You

Our trouble is that we ignore the automatic creative mechanism and try to do everything and solve all our problems by conscious thought, or “forebrain thinking.”

Do your worrying before you place your bet, not after the wheel starts turning.

Form the habit of consciously responding to the present moment.

Keep constantly in mind that the job of your creative mechanism is to respond appropriately to present environment — here and now.

Try to do only one thing at a time.

Stop occasionally during the day, it need only take a moment, and remember in detail the sensations of relaxation. Practice this remembering faithfully several times each day. You will be surprised at how much it reduces fatigue, and how much better you are able to handle situations.

You Can Acquire the Habit of Happiness

Happiness is simply a state of mind in which our thinking is pleasant a good share of the time.

We are never living, but only hoping to live; and looking forward always to being happy, it is inevitable the we never are so.

When one problem is solved another appears to take it place. Life is a series of problems. If you are to be happy at all, you must be happy — period!

Happiness is a mental habit which can be cultivated and developed.

Form the habit of reacting aggressively and positively toward threats and problems. Form the habit of keeping goal-oriented all the time, regardless of what happens.

The measure of mental health is the disposition to find good everywhere.

Ingredients of the “Success-Type” Personality and How to Acquire Them

A good personality is one which enables you to deal effectively and appropriately with environment and reality, and to gain satisfaction from reaching goals which are important to you.

The “Success-type” personality is composed of: Sense of direction, Understanding, Courage, Charity, Esteem, Self-Confidence, Self-Acceptance

When you’re not goal-striving, not looking forward, you’re not really “living”.

Admit your mistakes and errors but don’t cry over them. Correct them and go forward.

Often the difference between a successful man and a failure is not one’s better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on his ideas, to take a calculated risk — and to act.

When a person begins to feel more charitably about others, he invariably begins to feel more charitably toward himself.

Begin to appreciate other people more; show respect for any human being merely because he is a child of Gold and therefore a “thing of value”.

Confidence is build upon an experience of success.

Form the habit of remembering past successes, and forgetting failures.

It doesn’t matter how many times you have failed in the past. What matters is the successful attempt, which should be remembered, reinforced, and dwelt upon.

No real success or genuine happiness is possible until a person gains some degree of self-acceptance.

Self-acceptance means accepting and coming to terms with ourselves now, just as we are, with all our faults, weaknesses, shortcomings, errors, as well a sour assets and strengths. Self-acceptance is easier, however, if we realize that these negatives belong to us — they are not us.

The Failure Mechanism: How to Make It Work For You Instead of Against You

The failure-type personality also has its symptoms. We need to be able to recognize these failure symptoms in ourselves so that we can do something about them. Negative feedback signals: Frustration, hopelessness, futility; Aggressiveness(misdirected); Insecurity; Loneliness(lack of “oneness”); Uncertainty, Resentment; Emptiness.

Chronic frustration usually means that the goals we have set for ourselves are unrealistic, or the image we have of ourselves is inadequate, or both.

Frustration as a way of solving problems does not work.

Misdirected aggression is an attempt to hit one target(the original goal) by lashing out at any target. It doesn’t work.

The best channel of all aggression is to use it up as it was intended to be used — in working toward some goal.

The feeling of insecurity is based upon a concept or belief of inner inadequacy. If you feel that you do not “measure up” to what is required, you feel insecure.

Loneliness is a way of self-protection. It is the way to protect our idealized self against exposure, hurt, humiliation.

Uncertainty is a “way” of avoiding mistakes, and responsibility.

Big men and big personalities make mistakes and admit them. It is the little man who is afraid to admit he has been wrong.

Resentment is an attempt to make our own failure palatable by explaining it in terms of unfair treatment, injustice.

Habitual resentment invariably leads to self-pity, which is the worst possible emotional habit anyone can develop.

Life becomes worthwhile when you have worthwhile goals.

How to Remove Emotional Scars Or How to Give Yourself An Emotional Face Lift

A big strong man does not feel threatened by a small danger; a little man does. In the same way a healthy strong ego, with plenty of self-esteem, does not feel itself threatened by every innocent remark.

The person who has little or no self-reliance, who feels emotionally dependent upon others, makes himself most vulnerable to emotional hurts.

We are injured and hurt emotionally — not so much by other people or what they say or don’t say — but by our own attitude and our own response.

Forgiveness, when it is real and genuine and complete, and forgotten — is the scalpel which can remove the pus from old emotional wounds, heal them, and eliminate scar tissue.

How to Unlock Your Real Personality

What we call “personality” is the outward evidence of that unique and individual creative self, made in the image of God — that spark of divinity within us — or what might be called the free and full expression of your real self.

The way to make a good impression on other people is: Never consciously “try” to make a good impression on them. Never act, or fail to act purely for consciously contrived effect.

Don’t wonder in advance what you are “going to say”. Just open your mouth and say it.

Don’t think before you act. Act — and correct your actions as you go along.

Stop criticizing yourself.

Make a habit of speaking louder than usual.

Let people know when you like them.

Do-It-Yourself Tranquilizers Which Bring Peace of Mind

It is well to get clearly in your mind the fact that our disturbed feelings — our anger, hostility, fear, anxiety, insecurity, are caused by our own responses — not by externals. Response means tension. Lack of response means relaxation.

Each of us needs a quiet room inside his own mind — a quiet center within him, like the deep of the ocean that is never disturbed, no matter how rough the waves may become upon the surface.

Whenever you have a few spare moments during the day — between appointments, riding the bus, retire into your quiet room.

Be like the promontory against which the waves continually break, but it stands firm and tames the fury of the water around it.

As far as your emotions are concerned, the proper response to worry pictures is totally ignore them. Live emotionally in the present moment.

How to Turn a Crisis Into a Creative Opportunity

A “crisis” is a situation which can either make you or break you. If you react properly to the situation, a “crisis” can give you strength, power, wisdom you do not ordinarily possess. If you react improperly, a crisis can rob you of the skill, control, and ability that you ordinary have to call upon.

Practice without pressure and you will learn more efficiently and be able to perform better in a crisis situation.

Too much tension, too much motivation, too much anxiety for results, jams the mechanism.

How to Get “That Winning Feeling”

If we keep our positive goal in mind, and picture it to ourselves so vividly as to make it “real”, and think of it in terms of an accomplished fact, we will also experience “whining feelings”: self-confidence, courage, and faith that the outcome will be desirable.

When you feel successful and self-confident, you will act successfully.

The object of practice is to make repeated trials, constantly correct errors, until a “hit” is scored.

If you can recapture “that winning feeling”, you also evoke all the “winning actions” that accompanied it.

Use your creative imagination to picture to yourself just how you would act and just how you would feel if you had already succeeded.

If we react to negative feelings aggressively and positively, they become challenges which will automatically arouse more power and more ability within us.

More Years of Life And More Life in Your Years

Mental attitudes can influence the body’s healing mechanisms.

When we decide to curtail mental and social activities, we stultify ourselves.

Develop an enthusiasm for life, create a need for more life, and you will receive more life.

You will experience happiness only as you experience more life.