Psycho-Cybernetics teaches us to view our mind as a machine, which can be programmed for success and happiness. By adopting this mindset, we can significantly enhance our self-image and boost our capacity to achieve our goals.
Part 1: What Is Psycho-Cybernetics?
In the initial section, we delve into why plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz turned to psychology and cybernetic theory to decipher the root causes of success and failure. Subsequently, we elucidate Maltz’s theory on how the human brain functions in achieving goals based on cybernetic principles.
Why a Plastic Surgeon Turned to Psychology
During his stint as a plastic surgeon, Maltz noticed a distinction in how patients reacted to “physical flaws” being corrected. Post-surgery, certain patients experienced an immediate upswing in self-esteem and confidence, leading to increased goal attainment.
Conversely, some patients’ personalities remained unaltered post-surgery; their thoughts, emotions, and actions stayed the same as if the “flaw” was still there. Despite their transformed external appearance, their self-perception and success rate remained unimproved.
Your Physical Appearance Doesn’t Define Your Self-Perception
Maltz’s observation of the variance in patient response to physical correction prompted his pursuit of the mind-body connection and its impact on confidence and success. He ultimately concluded that self-perception holds greater significance than physical appearance.
One’s thoughts about themselves shape their approach to life, success, and happiness, not their physical features. Maltz realized that to achieve self-improvement and success, it was crucial to eliminate negative thought patterns that hindered patients’ self-perception and success.
Cybernetics: Your Mind Works Like a Machine to Reach Goals
To understand why people perceive themselves the way they do, Maltz analyzed the reverse process of successful goal achievement and linked it back to self-perception. This led to his interest in cybernetic theory, which revealed that the human brain operates based on similar principles as machines. Both rely on positive and negative feedback to guide them towards goals.
For example, a missile uses sensors to hit a target, while the brain uses feedback to learn how to eat. Once a successful process is recorded, the brain discards negative feedback, allowing for repeated action without conscious thought.
Part 2: Your Self-Image Defines Your Experience
Maltz believed that our brains work like a cybernetic machine, using feedback to reach goals. However, it’s not always easy to achieve our conscious goals if our internal programming doesn’t align with them. For instance, you may want to make friends but subconsciously push people away. This conflict arises due to a discrepancy between your conscious goals and your self-image, according to Maltz.
What Is Your Self-Image?
Your brain has recorded all your experiences, shaping your self-image which defines who you are, how you express yourself, and how you act. For example, falling over can be perceived as a fact or lead to an identification like “I’m a klutz,” influencing your behavior and self-image.
What Influences Your Self-Image?
Maltz believes your self-image is a product of thoughts you’ve chosen to believe about your past experiences, even if they’re inaccurate. Your nervous system reacts to your thoughts as if they’re true, regardless of their accuracy. Maltz illustrates this by comparing it to being hypnotized into thinking you’re in a snowstorm, causing your body to physically react to the suggestion.
Your self-image is shaped by the opinions and beliefs of those around you and your own imagination. Mental images and strong impressions become beliefs that define your self-image. Your nervous system reacts to these beliefs, creating emotional and physical responses.
Your Self-Image Impacts Your Behavior
Maltz believes humans and machines interpret feedback differently to achieve their goals. Humans rely on their self-image to interpret feedback, which can lead to failure or success. To achieve success, you need to align your self-image with your goals and interpret feedback that moves you towards them.
Part 3: Use Your Imagination to Create Success
Maltz suggests that by using your imagination, you can improve your self-image and reprogram yourself. The first step is to become aware of whether you’re using your imagination positively or negatively.
If you’re using it negatively, you need to make a conscious effort to create a mental picture of yourself as successful and practice feeling successful. By regularly creating positive feelings, you can replace negative beliefs with new successful beliefs and improve your self-image.
Five Self-Image Alignment Methods
Maltz presents five methods for using imagination to improve self-image and achieve success:
- Change a daily habit to prove that change is possible and affirm that you can choose to think differently.
- Practice physical relaxation to make your mind more receptive to positive suggestions and create space for positive thoughts.
- Use imagination to recall successful memories and create successful feelings to imprint on your self-image.
- Focus on a clear goal to find the motivation to change your self-image and develop the habit of success.
- Cultivate happiness to improve overall wellbeing and increase resilience to physical setbacks. Maltz argues that negative attitudes are bad for health and happiness.
Part 4: Release Your Limitations
Maltz suggests that breaking free from negative thoughts and developing a happy, successful mindset is possible by creating positive feedback loops. He recommends three methods to replace negative thoughts with positive ones and redirect yourself towards success.
Method 1: Turn Challenges into Opportunities to Improve Your Self-Image
Maltz believes challenges are opportunities for growth and success, but those with negative self-image often see them as crises. Planning ahead is crucial in overcoming fears and moving past your comfort zone. By identifying fears and using imagination to visualize confident responses, one can better prepare themselves for challenges.
Method 2: Practice Reflecting Only on the Facts
Maltz argues that negative feelings are a result of your habitual thought process, and not an indication of reality. Negative thoughts can lead to false conclusions that keep you stuck in a negative feedback loop. To break this cycle, choose to replace negative thoughts with rational ones that encourage positive beliefs.
Method 3: Forgive and Forget
Maltz argues that holding onto past mistakes and traumas prevents people from experiencing success in their lives. Emotional scars created from these experiences may seem protective, but they actually keep people trapped in a negative state.
Forgiveness, on the other hand, allows individuals to heal emotional scars and move forward. Accepting that everyone makes mistakes and forgiving yourself and others liberates you and enables you to focus on your goals.
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