Psycho-Cybernetics - Maxwell Maltz

Psycho-Cybernetics - Maxwell Maltz

Understand how your brain works and discover, once and for all, how to take control of your life and achieve goals that seem impossible.

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There is a very effective way to improve your self-image: training and using your subconscious as if it were a muscle. This is the premise of “Psycho-Cybernetics”, written by the surgeon Maxwell Maltz.

For him, the key to access the subconscious mechanism is the self-image, a figure formed in our mind that has the power to lead us to success or failure. The good news is that we can consciously change our self-image.

For some people, it may be easier, for others, more challenging. What is certain is that, once you reconfigure the way you see yourself, you will be able to express yourself spontaneously and have a fulfilling life.

Do you want to know more? So, keep reading this summary!

The book “Psycho-Cybernetics”

The 1st edition was first published in 1960 under the original title “Psycho-Cybernetics: A New Way to Get More Living out of Life”, when the author Maxwell Maltz was already a plastic surgeon with decades of experience.

This workbook has become a reference for renowned authors and behavioral coaches, such as Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, and Brian Tracy, and has gained several new editions and reprints over the decades.

Published in 18 languages, it is estimated that the total number of copies sold is around 30 million copies.

The edition “Psycho-Cybernetics: Updated and Expanded” was published in 2015 and has 336 pages.

Who was Maxwell Maltz?

Maxwell Maltz (1899-1975) was an American plastic surgeon and author of several self-help and fiction books. He began his career in the 1920s after completing his doctorate in medicine and studying advanced cosmetic surgery techniques in Germany.

Throughout his life, he wrote plays, novels, technical books in his area of expertise, and even an autobiography. Despite having a brilliant career as both a physician and a writer, it was with “Psycho-Cybernetics” that Maxwell Maltz was immortalized as one of the most influential self-help authors of all time.

Why should I read “Psycho-Cybernetics”?

The book “Psycho-Cybernetics” is for people who suffer and miss great opportunities every day due to insecurity and shyness and want to develop a more proactive personality.

What can I learn from “Psycho-Cybernetics”?

  • Self-image is the key to accessing each individual’s behavior center;
  • Imagination is fundamental to working on a self-image focused on success;
  • The servomechanism works to deliver results guided by self-image, whether positive or negative, without making a judgment of value;
  • If your self-image is failure-oriented, your creative machine will work to replicate failures. If it is oriented towards success and happiness, these are the experiences that it will seek to reproduce;
  • People are not machines, but they have a machine inside that they need to learn how to use. The human being is the operator of the subconscious;
  • Success is an individual creative achievement, not a concept linked to symbols of prestige and power.

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[Book Summary] Psycho-Cybernetics - Maxwell Maltz

Self-image - the key to a better life

The author Maxwell Maltz starts the book “Psycho-Cybernetics” explaining that self-image is our idea of the kind of person we are. It is the foundation of our whole personality, our behaviors, and even the circumstances around us.

The author highlights two important aspects to better understand it:

  • We act on the idea we have of the kind of person we are. Whoever believes to be a born loser will always find a way to fail, even when good opportunities appear;
  • Self-image is not a destiny. It can be changed regardless of the age of the individual.

The way to a fulfilling life is to find a self-image with which it is possible and appropriate to live, trustworthy, shameless, and that can be expressed, rather than hidden.

As an exercise, practice and try new habits of thought, imagination, memorization, and action. All this with two objectives:

  1. Create a proper and realistic self-image;
  2. Use the creative mechanism to be successful and happy in achieving goals.

Discovering the intrinsic mechanism of success

People have an instinct for success that is much more complex than animal instinct. According to the book “Psycho-Cybernetics”, creative imagination allows us to choose our goals and create new things.

There are five basic principles by which the servomechanism operates and that a person must memorize if they want to create a successful self-image:

  1. The mechanism must have an objective or target, which may be something that already exists or the discovery of a new purpose;
  2. The creative machine is focused on goals. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t see the means, keep your focus on the result;
  3. Mistakes can happen and are temporary. Negative feedback to the servomechanism helps correct the course of action;
  4. After the mistakes and corrections, keep the successful path and forget the failures. Just remember the model that has to be replicated;
  5. Trust your creative mechanism to get the job done without being too anxious about the outcome.

Imagination – the first key to the successful mechanism

As explained by the author Maxwell Maltz in the book “Psycho-Cybernetics”, creative imagination permeates every human action. It is imagination that forms the bounding image of the field of action of the creative mechanism.

We don’t act according to what things really are, but according to the images we have of these things.

The author proposes an exercise: for 30 minutes, imagine that your action in a given situation is impeccably appropriate, as close as possible to the ideal, without setting goals.

When you experience the imagined situation, the system will retrieve this data and replicate the response to the context.

Get rid of false beliefs

If we accept an idea from an external source and believe it to be entirely true, that idea has the same effect on us as hypnosis, even though it has no factual basis.

The author Maxwell Maltz recommends daily 30-minute relaxation sessions. You should sit or lie down comfortably, become aware of each body part, and eliminate any effort or resistance.

Then, after five minutes, you should stop paying attention to your muscles and follow the relaxation spiral to complete emptiness.

How to use the power of rational thinking?

For the author Maxwell Maltz, the unconscious is the automatic mechanism itself, an impersonal machine that has no will of its own, only acts according to the information and objectives provided.

Conscious thinking, in turn, is the control button of this machine. Through it, you can change the pattern of automatic replies.

In the book “Psycho-Cybernetics”, it is explained that the duty of rational thought is to:

  • Analyze messages and decide which ones are valid and which are not;
  • Formulate logical and correct conclusions;
  • Decide what you want, set the goals to be achieved, and select where you should focus;
  • Focus on the next task towards the goal, what happens around you, and what you are currently doing;
  • Select the objective, collect information, make conclusions, assessments, and estimates, and put the machine to work.

Fight irrationality with rationality. Confront your remorse with your conscience determined to root them out and reject them completely. Question your beliefs and see if they are based on facts or just misinterpretations of the facts.

You can get in the habit of being happy

Happiness doesn’t require the absence of problems or difficulties. It is an attitude and a mental habit that strengthens with practice.

As an exercise, the author Maxwell Maltz recommends in his book, “Psycho-Cybernetics”, the practice of 8 attitudes every day:

  1. Be cheerful and happy every day;
  2. Try to be more friendly to other people;
  3. Be less critical and more tolerant of the mistakes of others.
  4. Act knowing that success is inevitable;
  5. Don’t allow opinion to cast negative tones on facts;
  6. Smile at least three times a day;
  7. Regardless of what happens, react calmly and intelligently;
  8. Completely ignore pessimistic and negative thoughts about facts that you can do anything to change.

The ingredients of a successful personality and how to get them

Maxwell Maltz believes that one of the most effective ways to help other people succeed is by providing a graphic image of what a successful person looks like. A personality set for success is made up of 7 “ingredients”:

1. Sense of direction

Immediately engage in a new project as soon as you achieve the previous purpose. The idea is always to have a target ahead to maintain motivation.

2. Understanding

Always seek clear and truthful information about yourself, your problems, other people, and the situations you face. It doesn’t matter if that is what you want to hear or not, always look for the truth of the facts and don’t be influenced by your opinion, advises the author Maxwell Maltz.

3. Courage

Mistakes will happen. Be willing to risk committing them and dealing with the consequences. It’s a small price to pay to get what you want. Act with courage and determination even in ordinary situations. This will give you the courage you need to face bigger challenges.

4. Charity

  • Develop a genuine interest in other people without requiring them to be different from what they are;
  • Consider the feelings, points of view, needs, and interests of others;
  • Recognize the importance of others and treat them with consideration.

5. Self-esteem

According to the book “Psycho-Cybernetics”, to overcome low self-esteem, it’s necessary to stop carrying a mental image of a defeated and worthless person. Learn to appreciate your own worth.

6. Self-confidence

The author Maxwell Maltz recommends that the individual use mistakes to learn and then forget about them. It is important to always remember successes to create a new winning streak, especially in the face of new challenges.

7. Self-acceptance

Accept yourself with all your imperfections and mistakes made along the way. Differentiate your essence from your behavior and love yourself without reservation.

How to remove emotional scars?

Emotional scars are a form of defense against people who have hurt us in some way in the past, but they end up “trying” to protect us from everyone, even damaging our relationships.

For Maxwell Maltz, there are three ways to become immune to emotional wounds:

  1. Be superior to any threat - or what can be interpreted as a threat - and have a healthy self-image;
  2. Adopt an attitude of conscious self-confidence;
  3. Understand that you are responsible for your own reactions and control them.

How to unlock your real personality?

An inhibited personality makes the owner unable to fully express it. People with inhibited personalities carry the frustration of being unable to be themselves.

As it is affirmed in the book “Psycho-Cybernetics”, to cure inhibition, it is necessary to immediately change the course and practice disinhibition. This means running away from excessive caution, awareness, and concerns about the judgment of others.

Check the five exercises to remedy this problem suggested by the author Maxwell Maltz:

  1. Don’t think in advance about what you are going to say next. Just say it;
  2. Don’t plan. Act and correct your actions as needed along the way;
  3. Stop criticizing yourself;
  4. Start speaking louder than usual;
  5. Express good feelings.

How to feel like a winner?

We must create situations where we can be successful, even in the smallest things. When success becomes a habit, we will be ready for greater achievements, says the author Maxwell Maltz.

Evoke an event from your past where you have experienced success. Bring that image back in vivid detail, observing everything that accompanied the success.

Imagine the desired result. Start with an assumption and shape that success until you have a mental image.

Feelings will begin to manifest as if the goal has already been reached. It’s like developing fear and anxiety, just the other way around.

Books about self-knowledge

In “The Secret”, Rhonda Byrne argues that everything is energy. Energy vibrates as you think and feel. The tip is to let go of that part of your past that doesn’t suit your present and your future. To be aware of the present is to become aware of the power of your thoughts and the state of your feelings.

Caio Carneiro, author of the book “Seja foda!”, says that success is 99% made of failure. Moreover, if you consider failure as the opposite of success, you won’t build anything productive, since every failure is just a step on the ladder of your success.

Finally, in the book “Geração de Valor”, Flávio Augusto says that winning thoughts are more likely to generate positive results. Whereas, trivial thoughts generate only trivial results.

How can I apply the ideas from “Psycho-Cybernetics”?

  • Practice the exercises proposed in this summary over 21 days and record your progress;
  • Learn, practice, and experience new habits of thought, imagination, memorization, and action;
  • Build a new mental image of yourself. Visualize in detail how you imagine yourself in an ideal situation for 30 minutes acting perfectly appropriately. If the situation is tense, imagine yourself relaxed and uninhibited;
  • Never use other people as a measure of your success;
  • Argue rationally against your negative beliefs and test whether they have a factual basis or whether they are based only on your opinion;
  • Do not “supervise” the work of your creative machine. After thinking, researching, and providing information to your subconscious mind, allow it to work by paying attention to other matters or even resting;
  • Respond only to the present moment, avoiding living in the past or the future;
  • As you change your habits, practice the new habits for 21 days without interruption. This is the deadline for the new habit to take root;
  • When you achieve a purpose, immediately engage in a new goal or project so that your mind has a clear target;
  • Accept your mistakes, use them to correct the path toward the purpose, and then forget them;
  • Act deliberately uninhibited. Use your imagination to practice;
  • Never allow yourself to be without purpose.

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Psycho-Cybernetics - Maxwell Maltz