Book Review: Psycho-Cybernetics
The title sounds weird- but this book was borderline life changing. It was also published in 1960, so there’s no new information here. The book is written by Dr. Maxwell Maltz, a former plastic surgeon, and covers revelations and brain based researched strategies about mindset, achieving goals and de-stressing your life.
I tend to be (I like to say “used to be!”) a worry-wart and a negative nancy so this book had some great advice. If you find yourself miserable, stressed out and not happy with your current state of life you should definitely get this book.
I could go on and on forever about the revelations in this book, but I wanted to share the main ideas I got from it.
1. It doesn’t matter what actually happens.
The first part of the book explains Dr. Maltz’s plastic surgery background and how he noticed that after he changed people’s faces, their self perception changed, therefore they started acting differently and becoming happier. He started to wonder if he could change people’s self perception without even doing actual surgery.
It’s kind of interesting if you think about it, but what happens or the truth of what is actually happening does not matter so much as what your reaction to what is happening matters. Confused yet?
The book used the example of a hiker walking down a trail. He *thinks* he sees a bear so his nervous system reacts. His heart starts beating, he starts sweating and becomes afraid. Your body reacts to what it *thinks* is happening whether or not it is actually happening. If the *bear* actually was a dog, his body would have the same reaction.
“You act, feel, not according to what things are really like, but according to the image your mind holds about what they are like” (pg 34).
You can use this tool in order to become happier. If you lose your job, naturally you will become upset about it. But your life and emotions aren’t affected by the fact that you lost your job, they’re affected by how you react to it. If you choose to feel sorry for yourself and wallow in self pity you will be miserable. If you change your reaction (use it as a chance to try something you’ve always wanted to do, or work at your goals harder), you will change how you feel about it.
The same scenario/mindset can be used for virtually any mundane “problem” or thing that stresses us out on a regular basis, and even large stressors like job loss.
2. Imagine yourself successful
You have probably heard that positive thinking will help you achieve goals. This is only partly true, according to Dr. Maltz. It takes more than just positive thinking to achieve your goals. You can’t sit on the couch eating ho-hos and think “I want to be thin” and have it happen.
Dr. Maltz explains that every human has a built in “success mechanism”. Our brains are hard-wired to achieve goals and we just need to steer them in the right direction. If you picture yourself successful, or achieving the goal you want to achieve, and know all the possible steps that need to happen, your brain will automatically adjust and keep you working towards that goal.
The keyword is working. To achieve your goals you must know the actual steps needed to be taken and be actively working towards them every day. Once you are actively working towards your goals consciously, you will ultimately be successful.
3. Don’t compare yourself to others
Many of us don’t take steps to achieve our goals because of fear of failure. Maybe we see a professional blogger and say “I could never be as good as them because of X, Y and Z.” One thing I’ve learned is to not worry about anyone else when working towards my goals. For instance, I don’t like factors like other blogs or setbacks stop me from achieving my goal of having a bigger blog.
“..because we think, feel and assume we should measure up to some other person’s norm, we feel miserable and second-rate and conclude that there is something wrong with us” (pg. 56).
Fear of not being as good as other people may hold us back from taking steps to achieve our goals. It doesn’t matter what anyone else does because you are you. You are unique, and there’s no reason why you should ever compare yourself to anyone else or try to do things exactly like someone else.
This can also apply to us comparing our food choices with that of other bloggers. You are unique, therefore there is absolutely no reason why you should be comparing what YOU eat to someone else’s plate then feeling guilty/inadequate/not good enough.
My Happy Place
I could go on and on!!! One more quick thing the book talks about is how to use relaxation to lower stress during the day. Maltz recommends picking a “happy place” – maybe a place you’ve been on vacation (I imagine being on my honeymoon), or a special getaway or secluded place that makes you feel happy and comfortable. Maltz recommends trying practice relaxation and meditation for 30 minutes every day (eek, hard to fit in) and then during your day when you’re feeling stressed- simply relax and go to your ‘happy place’. This sounds really corny and stupid but it works!! This is actually proven to work as a natural ‘tranquilizer’ and de-stressor.
What mindset tricks do you use to become a happier/healthier person?