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Book Summary: Psycho-Cybernetics, by Maxwell Maltz

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Summary reading time: 22 minutes (there is an executive summary).

Book reading time: 6h16.

Psycho-cybernetics is one of the best books on psychology I have ever read.

It easily shares the podium with Personality Isn’t Permanent.

It’s the foundational self-help book. Everything else you will read in self-help came from psycho-cybernetics.

I can only recommend it.

It explains how your mind works, what are the capacities of your mind, how to best use it, how to unlock its power, and how to cure it.

Psycho-cybernetics is a book about performance and happiness, the main topics of this blog.

If you like the blog, you will love this book.


Get the book here.

NB: Before we start, you should know that Success Mechanism, Creative Mechanism, Automatic Goal-Striving Mechanism, design all the same thing.

One Idea From Psycho-Cybernetics

The life you have is equal to the self-image of the life you are allowing yourself to have.

Change your self-image, change your life.

Executive Summary of Psycho-Cybernetics

The mind is made out of two parts. The conscious, and the subconscious. The conscious influences the subconscious.

Inside the subconscious, there is an automatic goal-striving mechanism that is constantly achieving a goal. What goal? The goal you give it.

That goal is the overall image you have of yourself and of the world. If your self-image is someone which carrying towards others and loved by others, your goal-striving mechanism will make you do stuff to fit with that image.

As a result, we become what we think. If your self-image is someone that cannot own more than 10 million, you will be a millionaire, but you will never be more than that.

As you expand your self-image and replace the millionaire one with a billionaire, you feed your automatic goal-striving mechanism the goal to become a billionaire. The mechanism then figures out how to become one.

Your responsibility is to feed your mechanism the right data, thoughts, and image, and step back and relax and let your subconscious do the work. Do not force it. Let it be, trust it. When you intervene consciously in a subconscious process, you jam it up and prevent it from working normally.

Summary of Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz

Most discoveries in a field come from outside of that field. The Wright brothers were bicycle repairmen yet made significant discoveries in aeronautical engineering. Einstein was a mathematician which made discoveries in physics, etc.

Psycho-cybernetics follows the same principles. When humans started to build computers, they found theories about these systems worked. They decided to see if they could apply these theories to humans.

The result is psycho-cybernetics.

Psycho-cybernetics asserts that one’s limits are due to how one sees themselves.

You are how you think you are.

If you improve and expand your self-image, your results will improve and expand as well.

You expand only as much as you allow yourself to.

If you can’t improve your results, it is because your self-image is too restrictive.

-> Your self-image dictates the boundaries of your achievements.

Self-image is changed by “experiencing”.

You can change your self-image when you change the experience you have of your past.

Children that experience love grow up healthy and happy.

People that experience confidence and success are confident and successful.

So, what is success?

Success is the satisfactory realization of a goal.

-> Success and happiness go hand in hand, and enhance each other.

Chapter 1: The Self-Image: Your Key to a Better Life.

Self-image is the most important discovery of the 20th century.

The self-image is built consciously or unconsciously out of our past experiences.

Once a belief about ourselves enters our self-image, we enact it, without thinking about whether it was there already.

The self-image is key to changing your life because all of your actions, feelings, behaviors, and abilities are consistent with this self-image.

People that believe they were meant to suffer will invariably suffer. People that believe they are meant to succeed will succeed.

Psycho-cybernetics, in a nutshell.

Second, your self-image can change.

If you want to live well, you must have an adequate and realistic self-image that you can live with.

You must accept yourself.

The good news is that even if you don’t, you have a life force, an instinct, that makes you strive towards happiness.

It is located in the subconscious, and the best explanation we have for it is an automatic goal-striving mechanism called Creative Mechanism (CM).

While most think that the subconscious drives the conscious, the truth is actually the opposite.

If you have a poor image of yourself, this automatic goal-striving mechanism will make you do stuff so your image will be poor. And the other way around.

The Creative Mechanism is constantly at work to realize the picture you have of yourself.

-> your self-image both limit and determine your performances and goals.

The Creative Mechanism (CM) uses whatever information you feed it to.

If you feed it garbage thoughts, it will create garbage results.

The first step is to learn how to use the CM as a success mechanism instead of a failure mechanism.

You need to learn, practice, and experience new habits of thinking, imagining, remembering, and acting in order to:

  1. Develop an adequate and realistic self-image.
  2. Use your Creative Mechanism to bring success and happiness in achieving particular goals.

Chapter 2: Discovering the Success Mechanism Within You

Every living thing has a CM to help it achieve a goal – to live.

Animals feed their CM the need to find food, avoid predators, and reproduce.

To do so, Nature gave them certain instincts – the bird knows how to build a nest and the squirrel, that he needs to hide nuts in autumn.

Basically, a success instinct.

Man also received one. It’s called imagination.

As we said, your brain and nervous system make up an automatic goal-striving mechanism.

You have two types of situations in which the mechanism acts:

  1. Your target/purpose is known and your goal is to hit it.

Eg: picking up the pen. Your brain takes care of contracting the right muscles to achieve the goal.

2. The target is not known and must be found.

Eg: the room is dark. You don’t know where the pen is. You have to search for it.

When you know the purpose (getting the pen), you have already done 50% of the work because you know what you are searching for.

Your CM goes to work and assembles pieces of information you already know to create your desired result.

But that’s not all.

Most great minds believed that as humans, all of our brains are somehow connected together.

Whatever is inside does not exclusively belong to us. That we could have memories we hadn’t “lived” and access information we hadn’t learned.

Today, science has confirmed that everyone has access to a higher power, a higher source of information that sets them out for success automatically: you. You are more than just you.

Exercise: Get a New Mental Image of Yourself.

Whatever beliefs that say that you are meant to fail and be unhappy are false because based on a false self0image.

They are also dangerous. To understand why, you need to understand how your automatic goal-striving mechanism works.

  1. Your Success Mechanism never rests. It is constantly working towards a goal to achieve. If the goal is unknown, it encourages you to find one.
  2. The Success Mechanism does not choose goals. Choosing a goal is your job. What the SM does is achieving the goal. It takes care of the “how”, so don’t worry too much about it. Think about your goal first and only. If you don’t have the goal, the “how” won’t come to you.
  3. Don’t worry if you fail. Failure is the only way to learn. Everything valuable was built on top of negative feedback.
  4. Learning happens by trial and error. Once the correct answer has been found, the errors are forgotten and that answer stays.
  5. TRUST yourself. Don’t jam your CM by interfering. Let your subconscious work. You need to trust it as it works spontaneously, responding to present needs -> you don’t have any guarantees that it will work in the future because it doesn’t solve future problems! Your CM will work as you are taking action. Act now, your CM will come through.

To reach results, you need a happy, positive, and successful image that your CM can work towards.

This image has to be based on truth, and you need to believe in it, otherwise, you won’t be able to get rid of the precedent image.

You and your SM.

Chapter 3: Imagination: The First Key to Your Success Mechanism.

Imagination’s role is vastly underrated.

Just like the automatic mechanism, imagination is a tool. You can use it for creationist purposes, or destructive purposes.

Imagination is also responsible for the goal you give your automatic mechanism -> it’s more important than intelligence because imagination can conceive that which does not yet exist.

Furthermore, we act and think in accordance with what we imagine is true.

Tell a hypnotized person that they are in the North Pole and they will shiver. Tell someone fully awake that their finger is burning and the body temperature will rise.

The nervous system makes little difference between what we imagine, and what really happens.

In both cases, it reacts accordingly.

It’s because it has been trained to do it automatically. If you see a bear, you will not think. You will run.

But what we didn’t know is that the brain and the nervous system that react to the environment are the same that tell us what the environment is.

If you meet a bear, it’s not the emotion that gets you to get the hell out.

It’s the idea of the bear that triggers the emotion.

You react according to the image your mind holds for true.

As long as the image in your mind is true, no problem.

The fact that imagination feels like reality to your nervous system is something you can take advantage of with role-playing (we will speak about shadowboxing later on).

Role-playing is imagining a situation or a problem in your mind and solving it. It has the same impact, the same effect, as actual training.

The author gives several examples of sports players, musicians, salespeople, country leaders, scientists, etc that rehearsed solving a problem or practicing in their mind and got amazing results.

You must have a clear mental picture of something before you can do it successfully.

The idea of the self-image is not to overrepresent yourself. In fact, it wouldn’t be possible.

The majority of people with a superiority complex actually hide an inferiority complex. On top of that, the overwhelming majority of people sell themselves short.

Practical exercise: spend 30 minutes every day closing your eyes and imagining a mental movie of yourself succeeding at something you want to succeed at. Do it every day for 21 days at least, then you will see the results.

Chapter 4: Dehypnotize Yourself from False Beliefs

When people are bad at something, it’s often because they have the beliefs that they are bad at it.

It’s the student that believes he is bad at math; the businessman that believes he sucks at public speaking, etc.

All of these people become extremely good once they changed their beliefs.

Change the beliefs -> change the result.

Ideas you believe have the same power over you as a hypnotist. If you want to improve your results, you need to get rid of the bad ideas.

When a hypnotist tells a bodybuilder he is not strong enough to carry a pencil, the bodybuilder can’t carry it. He has the strength to, but he doesn’t believe.

In order to unlock your potential, you are going to have to change your beliefs of inferiority.

These beliefs are not based on facts, but on conclusions, we make about facts. These beliefs are caused by a feeling.

A self-fulfilling prophecy.

As you see, Nicolas judges himself not against himself but against others. When we do that, we almost always lose.

To quote from the book”

The person with an inferiority complex invariably compounds the error by striving for superiority. His
feelings spring from the false premise that he is inferior. From this false premise, a whole structure of
“logical thought” and feeling is built. If he feels bad because he is inferior, the cure is to make himself as
good as everybody else, and the way to feel really good is to make himself superior. This striving for
superiority gets him into more trouble, causes more frustration, and sometimes brings about a neurosis
where none existed before. He becomes more miserable than ever, and “the harder he tries,” the more
miserable he becomes.

Feelings of superiority and inferiority come from the same root. The truth is that you are neither inferior, nor superior. You are just you.

“You” is not in competition with anyone else simply because there is nobody else like you.

So relax and stop comparing yourself to others, as these are the wrong metrics.

Dr. Norton L. Williams, a psychiatrist, addressing a medical convention, said that modern man’s
anxiety and insecurity stemmed from a lack of self-realization, and that inner security can only be found
“in finding in oneself an individuality, uniqueness, and distinctiveness that is akin to the idea of being
created in the image of God.” He also said that self-realization is gained by “a simple belief in one’s own
uniqueness as a human being, a sense of deep and wide awareness of all people and all things, and a
feeling of constructive influencing of others through one’s own personality.”

The first step in getting rid of your false beliefs is to RELAX.

Your beliefs are made in a relaxed and effortless context. Getting rid of them must follow the pattern.

It has been shown how the more efforts you make to change a belief or cure a bad habit, the more difficult it is to change them. In fact, Dr. Dunlap found that making a strong effort to break a bad habit…reinforced the habit.

Emile Coué said that suggestions must be made without effort if they are to be effective.

It’s the use of force and efforts that prevent people from using their inner strength.

He also said that when imagination and will were in conflict, imagination always won.

Dr. Dunlap found that the best way to break a bad habit is to make a mental image of the desired result and practice with no effort to reach that goal.

The goal is critical. If the individual does not have a goal to tend towards by breaking the bad habit or developing it, he will fail.

Overall, breaking a bad habit is a bit like worrying. The more you make efforts not to be worried, the more you will be worried. The key is to relax.

Practical exercise to abandon false beliefs:

  1. Lie down or sit in a comfy chair.
  2. See yourself from a third point of view lying down or in your chair. Your leg becomes concrete, and super heavy. Then your arms, then your head, your neck etc. A friend comes and tries to move one of your limbs, they are too heavy. Repeat for each limb.
  3. Now, you are a marionette doll. Your hand, head, etc are attached to strings. Your body is super loose and all sprawled across the bed or chair.
  4. Now, your body and limbs are latex balloons. Two valves off your feet open and the air is getting out. Your legs are flattening. Repeat for every other limb and body.
  5. Now go back to a memory where you were super chilled and relaxed, and remember as many details as possible.

Chapter 5: How to Utilize the Power of Rational Thinking

The best way to change bad beliefs is to use reason (people are often disappointed to hear that).

The conscious orientates the subconscious. If you don’t change the conscious, the rest won’t change either.

The way the mind works.

When it comes to mistakes we have made in the past, most of them are best buried in the past.

The notion that they should be dug out is false.

Humans learn through trial and error. Mistakes should be memorized until the right course of action is found.

You can’t be happy if you constantly focus on the bad things you did.

People focused on negative experiences constantly relive the past and blame themselves instead of just letting it go. Such a constantly self-criticizing attitude does not help anyone.

So ignore past failures and focus on the future.

Most feelings can be traced to a belief you have about yourself, hence the need to look at it objectively and with reason.

To quote the book directly.

Does “something always happen” that causes you to miss out just when success seems within your grasp? Perhaps you secretly feel “unworthy” of success, or that you do not deserve it.
Are you ill at ease around other people? Perhaps you believe you are inferior to them, or that other people per se are hostile and unfriendly.
Do you become anxious and fearful for no good reason in a situation that is relatively safe? Perhaps you believe that the world you live in is a hostile, unfriendly, dangerous place, or that you “deserve punishment.”

To find the belief behind a feeling or behavior, ask yourself why you feel this way, or do these things. What is behind there?

Once you got the answer, ask whether this belief is based on a true fact or assumption, or on a false premise.

Then ask yourself the following:

  1. Are there any rational reasons for such beliefs?
  2. Could the belief be wrong?
  3. Would you make the same conclusion about someone else in your exact situation?
  4. Why would you keep on acting as if it was true if it’s not?

Rational thoughts, to be effective, must be accompanied by deep feelings and desire. If you want to get rid of the belief that makes you being mean to people, you need to desire to be nice to people.

Imagine that you have everything you ever wanted to have. Generate enough desire and the old ideas and thoughts will be canceled.

Doing so, you replace “what if it doesn’t work” thoughts with “what if it does?”

Always focus on the possibilities and gains.

Your automatic mechanisms will naturally strive to realize what you think about, hence the need to think about goals.

It’s important you feed it true, actual facts so that you can deal with your environment appropriately.

To quote Coué, “always think of what you have to do as easy and it will become so“.

Decide what you want – not what you don’t want.

You need to keep your eyes on the prize. That’s the job of the conscious.

It’s not your job though, to do the job of the unconscious.

Eg: if you force creativity, it won’t come. Creativity stems out of the subconscious, so trust it and trust yourself with this.

Chapter 6: Relax and Let Your Success Mechanism Work for You

People wouldn’t be so stressed if they knew that the Universe had gifted them with a Creative Mechanism that will ensure they’ll always make it work no matter what.

The issue is that we ignore the mechanism and try to solve everything with our “conscious” brain. Doing so, we prevent our subconscious from doing its job.

The forebrain, the conscious part of our mind, sets the goal and direction, but it cannot “do” the creative work which is left for our subconscious.

The conscious identifies problems. It doesn’t solve them.

The psychologist William James wrote in his essay “The Gospel of Relaxation”:

Unclamp, in a word, your intellectual and practical machinery, and let it run free; and the service it will do you will be twice as good.

James subsequently enumerates a number of people who tried to fix their problems with their conscious mind and failed. They succeed only when they gave up, leaving the unconscious free to do its work.

Under these circumstances, the way to success, as vouched for by innumerable authentic personal narrations, is by surrender, passivity, not activity—relaxation, not intentness, should be now the rule.

Darwin, Ferh, Edison, Newton, Archimedes…all made the most brilliant discoveries while chilling.

One of the best methods to solve problems is to make a request to your subconscious, asking it to solve the problem, and step back until it’s solved.

Trust your subconscious. The pianist is never consciously making his fingers work when playing. He instructs the subconscious to play, and the subconscious does the playing.

Conscious efforts to do something the subconscious should be doing will jam the subconscious.

Warning: when you set a goal, don’t remain obsessively fixed on it as you will jam the CM. Focus on the journey instead. Take care of each step that leads to the goal, give them to your CM. If you continually obsess about where you are and where you want to be, you’ll never get there. Program the goal, then get busy with the process. If you don’t know the process, relax.

Here are five rules to free your CM:

  1. Worry before you start something, not after you started it. If you worry before, you can evaluate whether doing that thing is really worth it or not. Once you made the decision, let it go, and commit to it. It’s stupid to force yourself to go to a meeting you don’t want to go to. You whether go, or you don’t. If you do, let go of the resistance and be fully there.
  2. Consciously respond to the present moment: make plans for tomorrow, but don’t try to live tomorrow. Your CM can only make plans in the present.
    • Live within 24 hours. Don’t go beyond that. Live “today” the best way you can live.
    • Become consciously aware of your present environment. When you do so, you let your creative mechanism have the chance to work, since it can only work in the present.
    • Stop fighting ghosts from your past. The five mean 10-year olds that humiliated you decades ago does not mean that any group of 5 people will do the same to you.
  3. Do one thing at a time. Do one goal first, then move on to the next.
  4. Sleep on it. If you can’t fix a problem, don’t force it, go to sleep and let the subconscious take it from there.
  5. Relax while you work.

Chapter 7: You Can Acquire the Habit of Happiness

Happiness is a state of mind in which our thinking is pleasant a good share of the time.

When we are happy and relaxed, our senses, memory, and organs work better.

By the same token, criminals come from broken homes and most of the cruelty we have towards others stems from our own unhappiness.

Let’s have a look at some common misconceptions about happiness.

Happiness is not something you “deserve” or not.

It’s a natural state. To quote Spinoza, happiness is virtue. You don’t become happy because you “restrain your lust”, but the opposite. You restrain your lust because you are happy.

Some people believe it is selfish to be happy. This is dumb, as this would mean that in order to be happy, you would first have to make yourself miserable.

Unhappiness, on the other hand, is annoying. Being unhappy makes others unhappy. It’s not adding any value. It’s a waste of time.

Happiness lies in the present.

Most people wait until they “get that thing” or “do that thing” to be happy. As a result, they never become happy. Happiness is now. It’s an attitude, it’s a habit.

Lincoln said most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. Happiness is caused not by external things (fame, money), but by ideas, thoughts, and attitudes.

Unfortunately, most let other events (the rain, missing the bus, etc) mess with their happiness. When you let external events mess with your happiness, you are no better than a slave reacting to what his master is telling him to do.

We also often add our opinion to our happiness by labeling the event. “I lost money therefore I am unhappy”.

Happiness is the natural state of someone leading the life he is supposed to.

Since man is a goal-achieving machine, he is naturally happy when working towards a positive meaningful goal.

That is what happiness is.

In a way, we need problems to be happy – because happiness comes from solving them.

We are not unhappy when misfortune hits us. We are unhappy because we lose our goal and label the event negatively.

Practical exercise: react aggressively and positively to threats and problems. Always be goal-oriented. Happiness isn’t something that happens to you. It’s something that you do. You choose happiness when you let negative thoughts go and focus on the positive ones.

Practical exercise: decide that for 21 days, you will:

  1. Be as cheerful as possible.
  2. Feel and act a little more friendly toward other people.
  3. Be less critical and more tolerant of other people, their faults, failings, and mistakes. Always interpret well what they do.
  4. Act as if success was inevitable. Act like the person you want to be.
  5. Not let your opinion render facts pessimistic or negative.
  6. Practice smiling at least three times a day.
  7. React as calmly and as intelligently as possible.
  8. Ignore completely and close your mind to all those pessimistic and negative “facts” that you cannot change.

Chapter 8: Ingredients of the “Success-Type” Personality and How to Acquire Them

Success and failure can be diagnosed as their seeds are in one’s personality. Understand: some personalities are rooted for success, others are rooted for failure.

The first thing about reaching success is that you need a clear-cut goal.

Most people want to “be better” but have no idea how they define “better”.

You need to have a clear picture of the successful person you want to become.

The picture of success works with SUCCESS.

Sense of direction

1. Sense of direction

A man is like a bicycle. It only stands straight as long as it is moving towards a specific place.

If you don’t know where you are going, it’s because you don’t have a clear goal. Get one.

Always have something to look ahead. Look forward, not backward.

2. Understanding

Understanding depends on communication. To react accordingly, you need to get the facts right.

One of the problems is that we confuse facts with opinions. Sort them out.

Another problem is that we are not willing to see the truth. We shield ourselves from the information. We are scared and refuse to learn.

3. Courage

Having a goal is not enough. You must have the courage to act.

Nothing in the world is guaranteed and everything contains a certain amount of risk. The only difference between a success and a failure is often, the willingness to be courageous.

Making mistakes is ok. Not doing anything is not ok. A step in the wrong direction is always better than no step at all.

Have you ever wondered why human beings have this urge to gamble at the casino? According to the author, it’s because we love taking risks. Risk is an integral part of survival, and it seems that we are wired for risk in order to survive.

Similarly, he who will not be courageous will seek courage in alcohol.

4. Compassion

When someone begins to feel more compassionate about others, they also start to be more compassionate towards themselves.

People that feel others are not important also feel that they themselves are not important.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Develop a real appreciation for people. They are unique and important.
  2. Put yourself in people’s shoes. See how they are feeling according to their situation.
  3. Act as if people were important and treat them accordingly.

5. Esteem

Holding a bad opinion of ourselves is a sin. Jealousy, for example, is often a consequence of self-doubt. People adequate with who they are don’t feel envy towards others. They’re just happy to be themselves.

You need to understand that the greatest creation of the universe is not the sunset, the galaxy, or a flower.

It’s mankind.

You are an extraordinary being worthy of all the love and good in the world.

However, the real secret is this: appreciate others. Show respect for anyone simply for the fact that they are a creation of this world.

When you treat others with the utmost respect, your own self-esteem goes up.

6. Self-Confidence

Self-confidence is built on success. And success breeds success. If you have trouble obtaining success, you may as well forget the failures. Just delete them from your memory.

You get better by practicing. Practice is not about mere repetition, but hitting small wins that your brain remembers and uses for the next try.

Forget the errors. Only remember what works and repeat.

Only remember your successes.

7. Self-Acceptance

No real happiness is possible until you fully accept who you are. Success rarely comes to people forcing themselves to be someone they are not. It comes naturally to those who relax and just become who they are.

Changing your mental picture is not about changing yourself, but realizing who your real self is.

You are who you are now, and there is no use pretending the opposite.

Most of us are better and more competent than we think.

Creating a new self-image does not create new skills. It releases them.

The image depicts the mental image you have of yourself and therefore, your actual results, inside a complete picture showing your actual potential. The potential is there, and by broadening your image, you get access to it.

Self-acceptance also means accepting the mistakes you have made, without identifying yourself with them. You are not your mistakes.

Making a mistake is different than being a mistake.

Chapter 9: The Failure Mechanism: How to Make It Work for You Instead of Against You

When your stomach aches, your body is telling you that you are doing something wrong and should adapt to the course.

Negative feedback is the same thing. It’s merely a sign trying to channel you back into the right path.

What is negative feedback? You are experiencing negative feedback when you are feeling:

  • Frustration, hopelessness, futility
  • Aggressiveness
  • Insecurity
  • Loneliness
  • Uncertainty
  • Resentment
  • Emptiness

We don’t cure ourselves of these with mere willpower, but by understanding how useless they are.

1. Frustration

Frustration happens when you can’t do/have what you want.

Chronic frustration usually means that the goals we have set for ourselves are unrealistic, or the image we have of ourselves is inadequate, or both.

Frustration works as a problem-solving method for children, as parents come and solve their problems.

It doesn’t work for adults.

2. Aggressiveness

The next step after frustration.

Aggression is the attempt to hit your target by hitting any other target.

Eg: you’re angry at your boss but don’t dare express it, so you get angry at your spouse instead.

When you are blocked trying to achieve something, you are like a locomotive moving fast with no direction. You need a valve to decrease the pressure.

You get rid of aggressiveness by going for a walk, exercising, or writing. You need to channel the energy into something.

3. Insecurity

You feel insecure when you don’t feel adequate. And it’s a wrong feeling.

We feel inadequate because we compare ourselves to some sort of perfect self that already knows how to do everything.

The insecure person thinks that they should feel happy, should be competent, but they are not. So, they become insecure. This is a dumb way to look at things. Being “happy” and “competent” are not absolute goals. These are goals achieved after a process. And in these cases, they are never really achieved.

Actually, you should never consider a goal fully achieved. Since we need constant goals to go after, once you consider a goal achieved, you lose yourself. Nothing is ever finished, and nothing is ever perfect.

For example, people that believe they made it in boxing will fight less to win than those that don’t. Never consider yourself a champion. Fight for it first.

4. Loneliness

Being lonely happens, it’s ok. But being chronically lonely isn’t.

This type of loneliness is caused by self-alineation. People suffering from it have cut themselves from who they are, and stopped contact with life and society.

It’s bad. Doing stuff with others enables us to lose and forget about ourselves for a while.

Chronic loneliness is a way to protect against humiliation, exposure, etc due to fear of other people.

The only way to fight it back is to immerse yourself with other people. As time goes by, you will learn to appreciate them.

5. Uncertainty

Uncertainty is a way of avoiding mistakes. The person believes that by making no decision, he cannot be wrong.

That person considers himself all perfect, and the thought of being wrong is so scary that he does not do anything.

There are two ways that these people deal with uncertainty:

  1. Never make decisions
  2. Blame someone else

You get rid of this when you realize that mistakes are part of the journey, and that no one is right 100% of the time.

Being wrong is ok. Your self-esteem and self-worth should not depend on being wrong or right. In fact, great people make mistakes and admit them. Bad people don’t.

6. Resentment

Resentment is a way to dissociate ourselves from our own failures. We attempt to blame life, the stock market, politicians, or anyone else for problems that are our own.

In a way, resentment makes us feel good as it makes us feel important. The victim of injustice feels morally higher than the rest.

Resentment cannot make you win, as it victimizes yourself. It becomes a habit, and before you realize it, you look for injustices to become a victim of.

7. Emptiness

These are people that go after success and when they get it, don’t feel anything.

They seek enjoyment through parties, drinking, traveling, but never feel satisfied.

Life can become enjoyable only when you have a worthwhile goal to pursue.

Emptiness is often another way to refuse to go after one goal to avoid effort, responsibility, or a fear of failure.

But it can also be a consequence of a bad self-image. If you feel you don’t deserve anything good, you won’t be able to enjoy it when it heads your way.

Anyone feeling these seven emotions has a failure-type personality. If they don’t change, they won’t succeed.

When you feel these emotions, glance at them, but do not engage. Use these emotions as negative feedback that tells you you need to stray the course.

Never fully embody them.

Chapter 10: How to Remove Emotional Scars, or How to Give Yourself an Emotional Face-Lift

Emotional wounds are the same as physical wounds.

The problem is that emotional scars will drive our behavior and may entice us to retreat entirely.

An emotional scarce is a mechanism that will ensure that you will not be putting yourself in a situation you were injured in previously.

Eg: a woman who has been lied to and cheated on by one man takes the vow never to trust a man again.

The problem is that such action is way too extreme, and will end up doing more harm than good.

People that cannot open themselves up, that reject people, and that claim they hate authority are usually hiding behind these barriers because they were hurt in the past.

Emotional scars prevent you from being a self-fulfilled person.

A self-fulfilled person:

  • See themselves as liked, wanted, acceptable, and able.
  • Accept themselves as they are
  • Feel like one with others
  • Have a lot of knowledge

A person which is not self-fulfilled is the opposite of that. They only receive frustration, aggression, and loneliness.

Three rules to immunize yourself against emotional hurt

1. Be too big to feel threatened.

Some people feel offended by anything. This is because they have the lowest self-esteem ever. People with big self-esteem don’t care. They’re too big to get hurt by the “way she looked at me”, or such small things that mean nothing.

2. Be self-reliant

When you become emotionally and physically dependent on others, you are more likely to be vulnerable to what they do to you.

3. Relax

Scars happen on the skin because of the tension in the skin when it repairs itself.

When a surgeon does a cut, it heals well because he closes it in a way that doesn’t create tensions -> so no scar.

It’s the same for emotional scars. You will be more likely to be thin-skinned when angry, lonely, etc.

How to Remove Old Emotional Scars

The way to do so is with forgiveness.

Forgiveness is burning the act and forgetting about it. It’s acting as if it had never happened.

Forgiveness includes forgiving yourself and others.

Think that you and others make mistakes, but that the mistakes do not make you.

Forgive and forget.

Chapter 11: How to Unlock Your Real Personality

Personality is your creative self. It’s not acquired from the outside, but released from within.

People that cannot express it are restrained and inhibited by their own wish, or not.

They cannot be themselves. Most of the time, this is due to receiving excessive negative feedback.

Negative feedback (criticism) is supposed to correct course, not stop it altogether.

Unfortunately, people that are too sensitive get stopped by negative feedback. They inhibit themselves. Instead of hearing “your action/behavior is wrong”, they hear “you are wrong”.

For example, it was discovered that stutterers stuttered due to paying too much attention to how they spoke.

–> excessive carefulness leads to inhibition and anxiety.

This means that you should always leave room for improvisation, never be too tense, and never prepare yourself too much. Too much preparation will only inhibit your capacities.

People that do stuff they like become very good at it because they enjoy what they do. They are relaxed and cool, the ideal mental state to learn something and progress.

Self-consciousness is in fact others’ consciousness. You are too much aware of what people could think.

In any type of interaction, there is feedback. This feedback is constructive as long as it’s not inhibitive.

It should also be subconscious and creative. Self-conscious people try to consciously give themselves feedback to look good in the eyes of others and as a result, look bad.

“What others think” creates inhibition. The only way to make a good impression on people is not to be concerned with making a good impression on them.

You are doing so by remembering a good memory where you could be just yourself, such as eating in your kitchen, talking to your parents, etc.

To quote Shakespear, conscience makes us coward. Too much of it, or listening to it when you should not, will make you unhappy which is dumb because the conscious is supposed to make you happy.

Problems arise when you take a moral position on stuff that is not moral. Take self-expression.

Humans are supposed to express themselves. But if a child learns that showing bad emotions is bad, or showing good emotions is bad, or if he is told to shut up every time he speaks, then he will learn he should stop speaking, and not have an opinion.

As per the author:

“If every time a child comes up with an opinion, he is squelched and put in his place, he learns that it is “right” for him to be a nobody, and wrong to want to be a somebody.”

A lot of people as a result feel inhibited from expressing themselves. It’s part of stage fright.

If you suffer from inhibition, you need to practice disinhibition. You need to be less careful, speak up more, think less before you speak, etc.

You need to do the opposite of what you are doing now.

Signs you need disinhibition:

  • You are shy around strangers and dread novelty
  • You feel inadequate, anxious, and worried
  • You are self-conscious
  • You hold yourself back constantly

Chapter 12: Do-It-Yourself Tranquilizers That Bring Peace of Mind

When the phone rings, you directly stand up and go get it.

We are triggered the same way by small stuff in our environment that directly makes us angry.

The way to deal with them is not to respond. If the phone rings, don’t stand up. Relax. Count to 10, and let it ring.

By not reacting, you are disinhibiting yourself to the stimuli.

When Harry Truman finished his presidency, he did not seem like he had aged. He said that was because he had in his mind a “foxhole” to go to and rest.

Build an imaginary room in your mind with everything you need, and go there to rest as well. Fill it up with everything you need. See yourself going there, opening the door, and closing it. You are there. Nothing can touch you.

Chapter 13: How to Turn a Crisis into a Creative Opportunity

Some people perform better under pressure and stakes. Some perform worse.

These people learned to react to crises differently.

If you wish to perform well in a crisis, you need to learn a skill in a chill environment, react well in crises, and evaluate the crisis well.

1. Practicing in a Chill Environment

Throw a man in a swimming pool and you will traumatize him for life.

-> the more intense the learning situation is, the less you learn.

This is because over-motivation (due to danger) interferes with the reasoning process.

If you want to become good at something, practice first without pressure.

Athletes, comedians, and other performers practices both in real life and in their mind thousands of times before stepping into the pressure situation.

This is called shadowboxing. The idea is to practice whatever you want to get better at without any pressure.

Most of the time, you can practice directly in your head, or in your house. If you are afraid of public speaking, you can practice in your living room, imagining speaking in front of a huge audience.

2. Reacting Well in Crises

To do so, you need to focus on what you want out of the situation, tell yourself you can handle it, and let your strength expand.

Focusing means fully focusing on the outcome of the situation (fighting, not fleeing). If you focus on running away, you will feel fear. If you focus on fighting, you will feel excitement. Don’t mistake excitement for fear.

Always react in an aggressive manner, with a clear goal in mind, and a self-determined attitude.

3. Evaluate the Crisis Well

The importance of a crisis depends on how bad the “worst that could happen” would be.

To react well to the crisis, you need to release the correct amount of excitement. Too much will jack your Creative Mechanism. Not enough will not enable it to work well. Always react in a proportionate way.

Most of us mistake trivial situations for life or death situations. As a result, we worry and feel excitement way too much, which causes great stress on our body.

Chapter 14: How to Get That Winning Feeling

As we said, your creative mechanism is automatic. You give it a goal, and it supplies the means, it gets you there.

To make it work as well as possible, the goal must be clear and possible.

To increase chances of success, you need to practice seeing yourself achieving what you want to achieve.

You need to see yourself doing it and winning. Since the brain cannot distinguish your imagination from reality, when you portray yourself winning, you feel more confident and happier, which in turn increases your chances to win.

This feeling is the winning feeling. You just know, you feel you are going to win.

If you want to get better, you need to do it gradually. It means that if you feel you plateau at some point, decrease the difficulty and go back to an easier level to practice it again.

This is how you should approach the idea of feeling success. Don’t force yourself. Don’t use willpower. Start by imagining that you get satisfying results. Then better results. Then great results. Etc.

Do not attack fear, just let it be. Don’t take advice from it.

As for negative thoughts, react aggressively towards them. If your mind is saying “you can’t do it”, prove it wrong.

Chapter 15: More Years of Life and More Life in Your Years

The author believes that the human body is a machine made out of thousands of goal-striving mechanisms.

Man, however, is not a machine. Man is what gives these machines a purpose.

He also thinks that there is some sort of energy that animates the universe and us. This energy is what differentiates people that die old from people that die young, or people that heal fast from people that don’t.

All of the people that exhibited this energy were optimistic, cheerful positive thinkers who both expected to get well fast, and had a reason to.

It has further been shown that cells cultivated in an environment where waste was washed daily lived indefinitely. Cells that lived in an environment where waste stayed died within a month.

Exercise is one of the best ways to get rid of waste.

The author further quotes a psychologist that believed that humans have 6 needs.

  1. Love
  2. Security
  3. Creative Expression
  4. Recognition
  5. New Experiences
  6. Self-Esteem

The author would add that we also need more life.

How? By living more and looking forward to things.

The absence of a goal is what kills people. Many people that retire subsequently die as they had nothing else to do anymore.

It has further been shown that someone’s cognitive abilities are as good as 70 as they are at 17. Age does not mean anything.

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