Psycho-cybernetics has sold over 30 million copies and has been transformative for millions, influencing self-help leaders such as Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins, Brian Tracy, and more. This book deals with the subconscious and shows you ways of effectively reprogramming your subconscious to achieve what you desire in life. I am reading the New Psycho-cybernetics edition updated by Dan S. Kennedy. I love the exercises at the end of each chapter.
Anything you could possibly want to manifest for yourself is basically covered in this book, from self-esteem, to business goals, athletic accomplishments, good health, issues of loneliness, and so on. I’m loving this book so much, I must write about it!! 😄
Who is Maxwell Maltz?
Maxwell Maltz published Psycho-cybernetics in 1960 at age 61. He was a plastic surgeon who had become curious about his patient’s psychological reactions to their surgeries. He noticed how many of them gained new personalities with their new faces, but there were a few that were not effected. There were even some who couldn’t see any change physically, although they appeared completely different than before surgery.
Maltz went on a journey to discover what caused people to remain stuck in patterns of belief, even when their beliefs were entirely erroneous and detrimental. He became interested in helping his patients connect their physical bodies to their mental image of themselves.
Self-image and limitations
Our self-image determines what we think we can achieve and how we believe ourselves to be in every aspect of life. The self-image can be limiting, or it can be expansive. There have been many studies done showing that a person’s belief of themself will determine what they do. If a child is told that they are terrible at math or that other kids are better in school than them, and they believe this, they will do badly in school. But when they are made to believe that they can actually do good in class, improvement is seen.
This is how self-image either liberates or restricts us. Many times we believe what other people tell us about ourselves, and allow those beliefs to direct our lives. Or we think that we don’t have a natural talent for something, so we don’t do it. These are lies, and if believed, will keep us stuck.
“Do not tolerate for a minute the idea that you are prohibited from any achievement by the absence of in-born talent… This is a lie of the grandest order.”
Automatic success mechanism
I think the automatic success mechanism that Maltz writes of, is the subconscious mind. He writes of this mechanism as a “built-in guidance system”, which acts like an instinct, automatically bringing you to the goal that you programmed it to accomplish.
According to Maltz, the success mechanism is like a computer that we all have, only better than any computer invented. We can use this computer to achieve anything we desire in life.
There are 2 general ways to direct and use this mechanism:
- When the target is known, you can direct the mechanism to the end goal, and like a missile it will head toward its target. As it propels forward, you will need to pay attention to the “sense organs”, which will let you know when you are off course and need to correct.
- When the target or answer is unknown, you can use this mechanism to find the answer. He calls this an “internal search engine”, of which you can, with practice, become skilled at asking your computer questions and receiving answers. After all, everything you’ve ever experienced is stored in your subconscious, even if you weren’t paying attention at the time the information was stored.
“Human beings always act and feel and perform in accordance with what they imagine to be true about themselves and their environment.”
How to change your self-image
Maxwell Maltz shows ways to change your self-image including creative imagination, mental images, and rational thinking. How we imagine ourselves and the world is what makes up our self-image. He shares stories to illustrate this, such as the office joke that co-workers play on an unsuspecting victim. They tell a co-worker throughout the day that he/she looks terribly ill, and as this person receives these comments, they start to imagine that they are ill. Then, before you know it, they have to go home early because they are feeling dreadful.
Maltz also shared a study done in a San Francisco psychiatric hospital, which included 45 hospitalized men. These men were encouraged to imagine themselves as sane, well adjusted individuals. The scores on their assessments were improved for three fourths of the men, and for some the improvement was highly pronounced.
We were all born with an imagination. Some, such as Neville Goddard, believed that our imagination is God. Unlike most of the animals, we are able to use our imagination to create something that does not exist right now.
What we think and imagine to be true about ourselves can effect our bodies and our environments. Imagining situations and a world that works for you instead of against you, can be a powerful way to change your self-image.
Examples of positive imagination:
- imagine that every challenge is an opportunity in disguise
- imagine that you will succeed rather than not succeed
- imagine friendly interactions instead of negative ones
- imagine that all your dreams come true
Mental images are used in many of the exercises of this book. Visualizations have been shown to stimulate the brain and effect the body in the same way that the actual physical experience would. This has been used by many to learn skills, habits, and gain a new self-image.
Hypnotism used to be a scary subject. The idea of someone having control over your mind seemed otherworldly and by some, satanic. However, all of us have been hypnotized and many of us live in a hypnotized state much of the time.
As children, our brains are programmed by our parents, teachers, peers, society, and we continue this programming throughout our adulthood. Ultimately, however, the power is not in the “hypnotist”, but in the belief of the hypnotized. We can only be programmed by what we actually accept as true.
Reprogramming the subconscious can be effectively done by inserting mental images that we believe to be true into our minds. A relaxed state is necessary to achieve the brain waves necessary to accomplish this. Maxwell Maltz stresses a daily relaxation practice.
“Physical relaxation, when practiced daily, brings about an accompanying “mental relaxation”… which enables us to better consciously control our automatic mechanism… this is also a powerful influence in de-hypnotizing us from negative attitudes and reaction patterns.”
Mental training exercise (practice at least 30 min daily):
- Sit or lie comfortably on your back.
- Focus on relaxing every muscle in your body, paying attention to each area, such as your forehead, neck, shoulders, and so on. Spend 5 min relaxing every part of your body.
- After the 5 min focused relaxation, you will let your creative mechanism automatically relax you further. You do this by imagining seeing yourself lying stretched on your bed.
- Imagine your legs to be made of concrete, and the way they push down on the bed.
- Then, picture your arms as made of concrete, heavily pushing into the bed.
- Picture a friend coming into the room and attempting to pick up your feet, but they cannot because you are too heavy. See them attempting the same with your hand and your neck, but unable to lift you at all.
There’s another mental exercise that consists of visualizing your body parts being connected by loose string. So, you imagine yourself unable to move because you are connected by string and are sprawled across the bed this way.
In yet another exercise, he directs you to imagine a peaceful place from your memory. Imagine all the details of the place, any sounds, smells, ambience, etc. The more details you can imagine, the more successful this mental exercise will be.
With practice, the mental images will become clearer and the tie between mental image and bodily sensation will increase. This will allow you to impress your subconscious more and more easily with your desired outcomes. Daily practice is essential!
This is a powerful way to influence your subconscious. Sometimes, we just need to talk some sense to ourselves, and rationalize ourselves into believing the way we desire.
“Ideas are changed not by “will”, but by other ideas.”
In order to do this, we must examine our beliefs. If you are displaying a negative behavior that you want to change, trace that behavior to the underlying belief. Maybe you don’t believe you’re good enough, or you believe you live in a hostile world, or you believe that you have to do things you don’t want to do.
Look at these beliefs and rationalize with yourself. Why do you think you’re not good enough? Is it because of what you were told as a child? Is that really true? I’m sure there are alot of things you are good at.
Is the world really a hostile place, or is that what the news tries to make you believe? Are there not good people just like you, wanting to be happy and live a decent life? Maybe having compassion and seeing people for who they really are would make the world seem less hostile.
You can work through each belief you want to change and see things from a different perspective. Don’t focus on the reasons to continue believing that way. You can always find a reason. Instead, choose reasons to believe in a different way, which will ultimately bring you the results you want.
Let your automatic success mechanism do the work
We can “jam” our success mechanism by micromanaging and worrying. If we don’t let this amazing part of our mind work for us, we will be working much more than is necessary, with far more stress, and maybe even defeat the whole process.
Maltz gives 5 “prescriptions” to keep you from jamming up your success mechanism:
- Once a decision is made, focus on supporting it, not second guessing it. In his talks with successful executives, it was relayed to Maltz that few decisions are actually right or wrong decisions. Instead, they make a decision, and then make that decision right. This is the power of confidence, and allowing the subconscious mind to bring about results.
- Focus only on here and now. Planning and thinking about the future needs to happen at the appropriate moments, and then be released. For success, you will need to be able to react in the present moment, and you can’t do that if you’re worrying about the future. Slow down and enjoy the process. Be here now!
- Do only 1 thing at a time. We are not meant to be multitaskers. There are many studies on how multitasking is not as productive as focusing on 1 task at a time. Less mistakes happen when you are focused. No need to be scatter brained.
- Sleep on it. I’ve used this one recently. If you have a problem or a question, after focusing intently on the thing you need solved, either write it on a paper or mentally give it to your subconscious mind to solve. Then go to sleep. When you wake up, you will be amazed to have your answer, either right away or later in the day! Its happened to me multiple times.
- Relax while you work. Stressing while you work is unnecessary and could jam your success mechanism. Why would you want to anyway? Being stressed doesn’t get the job done any better. You can practice to a certain extent, the relax exercise mentioned above while you’re working. Remember how you feel in your practice sessions, and integrate them into your daily life. You don’t have to react to your environment. That is a choice. How do you want to live?
Read this book!
There’s so much more to this book! I hope you decide to read it and/or listen to it on YouTube. The information is transformational, and I intend to practice the exercises until I become a master. 🤩
You have the power to program your subconscious to work for you, not against you. Take the reins!