Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz Book Review & Big Takeaways

Psychobernetics by Maxwell Maltz Book Review

This morning’s book was one of my favorite’s, “Psycho-Cybernetics” by Maxwell Maltz.

I love this book so much that I recommend it to all of my clients.

Maxwell Maltz was a plastic surgeon. As he was treating his patients, he noticed two very interesting things:

#1. Many of his patients left his care not only with a new face but a new life. Suddenly, with a scar removed or a facial feature changed, their entire personality changed. Immediately.

#2. Other patients he treated showed no change in personality at all. They continued to feel inadequate and continued to act and behave as though they still had an “ugly” face.

As he began to research this, he uncovered that it was all about their self-image and the book uncovers how self-image impacts the potential you have in your business and in your life.

*** Self-Image ***

Dr. Maltz tells us that one of the most important discoveries of this century is the discovery of the “self-image.” It’s the mental blueprint we carry around of ourselves – your belief of “the kind of person” you are.

It’s something you might not even be consciously aware of, but it directs your every waking thought and action.

Most of these beliefs come from our past experiences. Our successes and failures over time build up a detailed picture of who we think we are, and then, one day, we treat it as fact.

There are two things about your self-image that are important to understand.

First, all of your actions, feelings, and behavior are consistent with your self-image. You will always act like the person you believe yourself to be.

Second, your self-image can be changed. And as soon as you change it, you can have a new life (but it’s a process).

*** Your Creative Mechanism ***

Dr. Maltz suggests that we each have something inside us he calls a Creative Mechanism. It’s a goal-striving machine that works automatically and impersonally to achieve whatever goals you put in front of it.

The most powerful thing it works on, without you even knowing it, are the mental pictures you present it. Which means that the key goal of this mechanism is to fulfill whatever self-image you have of yourself.

Tell yourself you are a failure, and this mechanism will get to work to make sure you are a failure. Tell yourself you are a success, and it will get to work to make sure you are a success.

And here is the key idea from the entire book: your self-image prescribes “the area of the possible.” You can only achieve in your life what you believe you can achieve.

From here, the rest of the book is about how to change your self-image, so you can enlarge your area of possibility, and as a result, change your life.

*** The Success Mechanism ***

The first insight into the “success mechanism” is that it is something that you use, not something that happens to you. You have control over what you direct it to do.

There are 5 basic principles you need to understand about how it works:

#1. It must have a goal or a target. It operates by steering you toward a goal that is already in existence.

#2. It operates on end goals, regardless of whether or not you have the means already figured out (you don’t have to know how to get there, just where you want to go).

#3. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Much like a torpedo finds its target by making hundreds of small adjustments along the way, so will you in the pursuit of your goals.

#4. Success is achieved by keeping what works and getting rid of what doesn’t. Remembering your past successes and forgetting your past errors keeps you pointed in the right direction.

#5. You need to figure out how to let your mechanism do its work and not force it by too much conscious effort.

*** Imagination and Success ***

If you are in control of the thoughts you bring to mind, and the thoughts you bring to mind determine your self-image, and your self-image determines what is possible for you to do, it follows that you are in complete control over your destiny.

Or at least in what is possible for you to accomplish. That’s because you will always act in accordance with what you believe to be true about yourself and your environment (I read that last sentence almost every morning in on my Morning Success Doc)

Science has proven that there is very little difference between an imagined experience and a real experience. To your mind, they are one and the same.

If what we imagine to be true can ultimately drive what believe to be true, why not just imagine yourself being successful?

Multiple studies have shown that people who mentally rehearse themselves successfully completing an action (like free throws in basketball) ultimately end up performing at the same level as people who have actually practiced (you can Google these studies).

We even see it with rap. Many rappers begin by rapping about the material riches they have when they don’t have anything, then eventually they have it because they believe it.

Also, many of them rap about gangster life, going to prison and even being killed and we’ve seen them manifest that also.

Here’s the point – until you can literally see yourself achieving your goal in your mind, you won’t allow yourself to do what is necessary in order to achieve it. You need to see it to believe it.

(you may want to read those two sentences again 🙂 )

This is why visualizing success is so important. You are literally changing your self-image in the process, which changes your behaviors and actions, which ultimately is the only thing that’s going to get you from where you are today to where you want to go.

To help me with this, I read my goals, vision and visualize my Perfect Day, almost every morning.

*** Dehypnotize Yourself from False Beliefs ***

Whether you like it or not, life is full of failures(I like to call them “learning experiences”). How you deal with them makes all the difference.

You can either learn from your failures, or you can let them define you. Along the way, it’s likely that you’ve picked up some negative beliefs about yourself because of your past failures.

That generates, in one way or another, a feeling of inferiority in those areas of your life.

It’s important to note that there’s a distinction between inferiority (which implies a truth about you), and the feeling of inferiority (which does not).

The problem, Maltz suggests, is that we constantly compare ourselves to somebody else’s “norm.” And when we do that, we always come out second best.

Here’s the insight – you are not inferior, any more than you are superior. You are simply you.

There is nobody else on this planet that is in your exact circumstances, in the same stage of life, with the same surroundings, as you.

And as Jordan Peterson suggests in 12 Rules for Living (which I shared last week), the only reasonable bar to hold yourself to account to is the one you set yesterday.

The key to letting go of your negative beliefs about yourself is that you do it without effort.

Any effort you make resisting a negative belief only serves to reinforce it. You simply need to “let it go,” and replace the old belief with a new one.

*** The Power of Rational Thinking ***

Your success mechanism is completely impersonal and has no will of its own. It’s the only task is to work on the things that YOU put in front of it, and you can do this with rational thinking.

In fact, you can think of your conscious thought as the “control knob” of your unconscious mind. Your unconscious mind only works on the data you feed it – the ideas, beliefs, interpretations, and beliefs you consciously give it (which is why it’s so important to be conscious of the voices you expose yourself to).

You’ve likely heard the saying “act as if.” This isn’t the lame “fake it ’til you make it stuff,” because that tells your unconscious that you’re faking it.

Here’s an example to prove the point. Let’s say you are nervous about public speaking, and you are dreading an upcoming presentation you need to make.

It’s within your control to say to yourself, “I’m the kind of person who enjoys public speaking, and those butterflies in my stomach is a sign that I’m excited.

Not only that, but I perform at my best when those butterflies are there.”

Completely reframes it, right? 🙂 When I get those feelings when I’m about to speak or whatever, I call it excitement!

Ideas are changed, Maltz says, not by will, but by other ideas.

If the only mental picture you have to operate on is “I’m a bad public speaker, and I’m nervous and afraid I’m going to lose my ability to speak,” your unconscious mind to get to work making it a reality.

Instead, you can replace that image with a different, better, one.

Sometimes it’s hard to break old habits, and because you are so used to the old mental picture, it will still rear its ugly head from time to time. You can use rational thought to battle these thoughts too.

For instance, let’s say that you still have the belief that you are a bad public speaker. Consider asking yourself the following questions:

– Is there any rational reason for such a belief?

– Could it be that I’m mistaken in this belief?

– Would I come to the same conclusion about some other person in a similar situation?

– Why should I continue to act and feel as if this were true if there is no good reason to believe it?

– Truly wrestle with these questions and you’ll almost always find that you are not dealing with facts, but with some irrational belief, you have about yourself.

*** Freeing Your Creative Machinery ***

One of the things that your mind is great at is generating ideas. It does it by forming connections between previously disconnected ideas in your mind and putting them together in creative ways.

In order to be creative, though, you need to ensure that you produce the right environment. The environment is everything. Hence, the sayings…

“You’re a product of your environment” or, “You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time around!”

It’s no different than how a poet or a musician needs the right environment if they are going to create their best art or music.

Dr. Maltz tells us that there are five rules to ensure that you free up your creative machinery in order to do its work.

Rule #1: Do the worrying before you place your bet, not after the wheel starts turning. Once an event is out of your control, worrying about the outcome is a waste of time. Do your worrying up front instead.

Rule #2: Form the habit of consciously responding to the present moment. Your creative mechanism can only work right now – it doesn’t work in the past or the future. Focus your attention on the information that is in front of you, right now.

Rule #3: Try and do only one thing at a time.

Rule #4: Sleep on it. If you’ve ever woken up with a solution to a problem that seemed impossible the night before, you know why this is important.

Rule #5: Relax while you work.

You’ll notice that all of these rules add up to creating a relaxed and distraction-free environment for your mind (both your conscious and unconscious) to work creatively on whatever it is you want to work on.

*** Ingredients of the Success Type Personality ***

Finally, let’s cover what Maltz calls the ingredients of the “Success-Type,” which, uses an acronym that spells SUCCESS.

These are the things you should consciously try and create in your day to day life to keep your success mechanism working towards your biggest goals.

S: Sense of direction. Your success mechanism needs to be pointed in a direction. Pick one.

U: Understanding. To deal effectively with a problem, you must have an understanding of its true nature. Be willing to see the truth, no matter how good or bad it might be.

You can consciously eliminate bad beliefs, but you can’t eliminate bad facts, no matter how much mental power you think you have.

C: Courage. You need to have the courage to act out on your new beliefs.

C: Charity. Successful people have some regard for other people’s needs and interests.

E: Esteem. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, and get to work building up an adequate self-image.

S: Self-Confidence. Confidence is built on the experience of success. Remember your past successes so that you can create more of them in the future.

S: Self-Acceptance. You are human and will make mistakes. Accept that. You are not your mistakes. You must correct them and learn from them, but you are not them.

Have you read this book yet? Which of these are your favorite and do you have any big “aha moments” or takeaways? Let me know your thoughts below.

What is your #1 goal right now?

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