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Maxwell Maltz’s Perspective
Maxwell Maltz was an American cosmetic surgeon and author. Maltz’s books, especially Psycho-Cybernetics, are claimed to have inspired the modern self-help book genre. Maltz graduated from Columbia University with a doctorate in medicine in 1923. After graduating, Maltz trained to be a plastic surgeon. His experiences within the surgery inspired his thoughts about self-image and success, which led to writing Psycho-Cybernetics and changing the lives of over 40 million people.
StoryShot #1: Experience Is Important
Dr. Maltz was a plastic surgeon. Throughout his time working in this field, he realized that people would have plastic surgery. Still, their inner feelings and attitudes would remain the same. After these experiences, Maltz came across cybernetics. Cybernetics is the actions and requirements of machines that allow them to complete tasks effectively. Then, Maltz realized that people could apply the same processes to achieve success or failure.
Maltz outlines that people’s experiences are like machine programming. Your experiences will lead to specific outcomes. Importantly, we can change these experiences, like programming. Maltz encourages us to consider how we can use our experiences to achieve successful outcomes. However, he also encourages you to read this book with experience in mind. Hence, he suggests you actively read the book by taking notes.
StoryShot #2: Change Your Success Mechanisms
Maltz points out that we each have a self-image that is developed based on our past experiences. Your self-belief will guide how you live your life. Subsequently, some people are perpetually successful, while others seem to fail continually. Their experiences, success or failure, guide their future behaviors.
Maltz learned that most people aim to change their self-image by making external changes, like plastic surgery. On the other hand, some people encourage positive thinking about the future but do not address their self-image beliefs. Both of these types of people are destined to fail. Instead, Maltz suggests that true happiness comes from achieving an adequate self-image you can live with.
In this book, the subconscious is considered a mechanism controlled by your mind. Hence, the function of your subconscious depends on the goals you set. These goals are developed through your self-image. Based on these assumptions, your self-image is dictating the limits of your accomplishments.
Maltz outlines five fundamentals for setting up effective success mechanisms. They are:
- Create goals and targets you believe you can potentially achieve. Success mechanisms depend on goals.
- Make sure your goals focus on the end, not the means. Your mechanism will find a way to work if you are supplying your goals.
- Making mistakes feeds your auto-correct. This is a positive reaction that helps you redirect towards your goal.
- Forget your past errors and move on. You should focus on the final successful choice that will lead you towards your goal.
- Trust the process without worrying about having to adjust it. Let your mechanisms work. Don’t make them work.
StoryShot #3: Imagination And Relaxation Matter
Our reactions to our environment are generally automatic and without thought. Therefore, we react based on our internal systems. Hence, the most important thing is what you believe to be true. These beliefs are what create the reaction. Many studies have found that mental practice can improve performance. Therefore, you must practice correcting your mental image of a specific action. Making changes to what you believe is far easier than just trying harder. Instead of excessive effort, you can relax and enjoy the process.
Maltz encourages you to alter your self-image to improve your outcomes. By picturing yourself differently, you will act differently and improve your life. Therefore, avoid being too harsh on yourself and maintain a conservative, optimistic attitude. It is easy to develop a feeling of inferiority when we have measured ourselves against someone else’s expectations. Instead, you should believe in who you know you are and who you can be.
Relaxation is crucial when seeking to alter our self-image. Maltz outlines that your imagination is vital in encouraging relaxation. For example, he suggests you get comfortable and consciously relax each muscle group in your body. Then, practice positive and calming mental images over and over. Over time, these mental images will align with your physical feelings.
StoryShot #4: Use Rational Thinking
Rational thinking is an effective tool for changing your beliefs and behaviors. For example, rationality allows you to realize that negative unconscious thoughts do not always have to be resurfaced to move on. Instead, it is more rational to focus only on the mistakes that will help you towards your goals. You should forget even these mistakes once you have practiced obtaining your goals.
Maltz suggests that we can create personal success by purging all negative memories. When you start feeling negative, you should look for the cause of this negativity. More often than not, this negativity will be irrational. Therefore, use rational thinking to show the absurdity of your negativity. You should repeat this practice whenever negative thoughts or memories surface. In this space, encourage rational and positive beliefs.
Maltz provides four questions you can ask yourself to evaluate whether a belief should remain. They are:
- Is there any rational reason for such a belief?
- Could it be that I am mistaken in this belief?
- Would I come to the same conclusion about another person in a similar situation?
- Why should I continue to act and feel as if this were true if there is no compelling reason to believe it?
You should be angry about these negative beliefs. These beliefs are the main thing between you and success. Therefore, allow this anger to surface and use it as motivation to create new beliefs. In addition to this anger, you should also accompany your rational thoughts with feelings and desires. Try to get excited about your desires. If you can make this transition, you will be dwelling on positive and desirable goals rather than negative ones.
Maltz highlights that rational thoughts are essential when you are establishing your goals and dismissing negative self-images. However, you should not let rational thoughts dictate your entire life. If you continuously focus on rationality, you will be anxious and stressed. Therefore, once you have set up rational goals, you need to just let go and allow success to come to you. This act of letting go encourages the spontaneity and creativity fundamental to success. Part of letting go includes avoiding multitasking. Multitasking takes your focus away from the moment and increases worry and stress.
StoryShot #5: Happy Habits Breed Success
Happiness is natural and only leads to positive behaviors: unselfishness, creativity, and helpfulness. However, happiness must be practiced and learned. Maltz describes learning to be happy as being free from the habit of responding negatively to external things in our environment. Plus, being happy involves separating facts from opinions. Finally, working towards your goals is another action that encourages happiness. As your thoughts about events lead to happiness, you should recognize negative experiences as challenges, not setbacks, en route to a goal.
Maltz provides a reminder for readers that they can use to identify what success looks like:
- Sense of direction: Maintain your personal focus and goals.
- Understanding: Try to separate fact from fiction, including accepting your errors and correcting them.
- Courage: Have the courage to act on your goals and beliefs to make them a reality.
- Charity: Start by treating others with even more kindness than you currently do. If you treat others with more kindness, you will start treating yourself with more kindness.
- Esteem: Have a healthy picture of who you are. If you can appreciate your own strengths, you can appreciate other people.
- Self-confidence: Your self-confidence will grow as you gain more successful experiences. Also, you can maximize your self-confidence by remembering your past successes and forgetting your failures.
- Self-acceptance: Accept yourself for who you are. Remember that creating a better self-image does not create new abilities, talents, or powers.
StoryShot #6: Avoid Emotional Scars
Individuals with weak self-images are more likely to become emotionally damaged during challenging experiences. This is because your response to experiences leaves you with emotional scars. Therefore, Maltz suggests practicing relaxation to prevent emotional scars from forming.
As well as preventing emotional scars, Maltz guides us on how to remove emotional scars that have already formed. Specifically, he describes forgiveness as a scalpel to remove emotional wounds. You can start forgiving others and yourself once you realize that unforgiveness only leaves you with a debt of emotion. You should never leave space for hatred or condemnation. Forgiving yourself involves accepting that you have made mistakes. You should also understand that blaming yourself achieves nothing.
Inhibition will leave you worried about what other people think of your mistakes. Self-consciousness (monitoring what you do because of how others might perceive you) can lead to inhibition. Again, the best approach to tackle self-consciousness is to engage with relaxation techniques. Maltz suggests remembering a time and place when you felt comfortable and supported. Your self-consciousness will begin to fade once you have recreated the feelings you felt at that time. Then, you can start practicing disinhibition by being less careful and concerned about what other people think.
StoryShot #7: Remove Bad Conditioning
Most of your responses to the environment will be conditioned. They are reactions you have learned and complete automatically. Some conditioned responses will have a negative effect on your life. However, you can unlearn conditioned responses. Maltz suggests you start by delaying your response to a stimulus. This period of non-responding is a form of relaxation and will encourage positive feelings. These positive feelings will act as a natural form of tranquilizer.
One way to delay your response is to create a quiet room for yourself. This should be a place of total relaxation within your mind. This is a mental space, not a physical one. Maltz suggests you start by practicing before you go to sleep. Once you have mastered entering this relaxation room, you can move this practice to the moments before tackling challenges. Upon mastering this practice, you will carry a calmness into all aspects of your life. Another calming practice is to refuse to respond to all the negative possibilities you might think of during the day. Instead, focus on your goals.
StoryShot #8: Find the Good in Everything
Crises are generally considered universally adverse events. However, Maltz defines a crisis as a situation that can make or break you. Suppose you learn to react appropriately to crises. In that case, you can obtain strength, power, and wisdom that you could not otherwise have obtained. To learn to turn a crisis into an opportunity, you need to start reacting to all challenges in the same way you would respond to a crisis. In effect, these reactions are your fire drills before the crisis that is a fire. Learning the actions without stress will allow you to respond to a crisis despite greater pressure naturally.
Maltz suggests readers learn to react actively to crises. Specifically, adopting a combined attitude of calmness, confidence, and competence. Your mentality should be that you can handle any crisis, no matter what happens. However, before choosing your approach, you must evaluate the crises. This evaluation will allow you to sort the true crises from the false ones.
One benefit of actively responding to crises is that you automatically adopt a positive approach. Maltz explains that your brain can’t tell the difference between real and imagined experiences. Hence, thinking negatively about crises could lead to failure becoming part of your goal setting. Therefore, bring to mind feelings of success by focusing on positivity. Focusing on positivity should lead to successful actions and outcomes. You can also take time to recall successes in your past. The imprinting in the brain is strong for these, and becomes stronger with recall.
StoryShot #9: Small Successes Will Make Your Life Better
Over time, adopting a failure mechanism will have a significant impact on your life. You will have poor health and wellbeing. Additionally, you will heal slower than people with a positive mindset. This is something that Dr. Maltz observed in his patients.
Maltz provides seven needs that you should aim to fulfill to better your wellbeing:
- Creative Expression
- New Experiences
- Positivity about the future
Final Summary and Review of Psycho-Cybernetics
Psycho-Cybernetics is a term coined by Dr. Maxwell Maltz. Psycho-Cybernetics focuses on how you can use your mind to steer yourself towards positive goals and success. Maltz was the first researcher and author to explain how self-image has complete control over an individual’s ability to achieve any goal. Based on his outline of self-image, he also provides several suggestions for how to use your self-image to improve your chances of success.
Here’s a recap of the key insights from Psycho-Cybernetics. Let us know which one resonated with you the most:
- Experience is important.
- Change your success mechanisms.
- Imagination and relaxation matter.
- Use rational thinking.
- Happy habits breed success.
- Avoid emotional scars.
- Remove bad conditioning.
- Find the good in everything.
- Small successes will make your life better.
We rate this book 4.5/5.
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