Psycho-Cybernetics Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Psycho-Cybernetics explains how thinking of the human mind as a machine can help improve your self-image, which will dramatically increase your success and happiness.

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How would you describe your personality? Are you frequently angry, well-organized, or do you struggle with math? Do you think this way of believing about yourself came from within, or from a judgemental boss or a group of friends that labeled you? 

No matter who you are, you believe certain things about yourself. Even at this very moment, you are telling yourself a story about your nature. Sometimes that narrative is good, and sometimes it’s bad. Often, we tend to feel that we are the villain of our own story. Unfortunately, this type of automatic thinking can lead to many negative consequences. The way we see ourselves can either pull us down or lift us up; the choice is ours. 

Maxwell Maltz’s 1960 book Psycho-Cybernetics: A New Way to Get More Living Out of Life is a great book to help anyone learn how to pull themselves out of a negative story. Whether you feel that you are always depressed or need to find a way to be more productive at work, this book can pull you out of a slump.

These are the 3 most significant lessons I’ve learned:

  1. The story you tell yourself about your personality affects how you act.
  2. There are seven components necessary for a positive personal image. 
  3. Your highest potential can be unlocked as you learn to take care of your emotions. 

Let’s discover how to make some mental upgrades!

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Lesson 1: The way you act is a result of the mental image you create of yourself.

Whether you like it or not you’ve created your own self-image or a blueprint of who you are. Every success, failure, and experience you’ve had has played a role in the creation of this mental illustration. Life events, whether traumatic or wonderful, lead us to create the mental blueprint of ourselves. This principle is important to know because who you believe yourself to be determines how you act every day.

For example, if you’ve had struggles with math your whole life, you may tell yourself that you’re bad at math, that it’s just who you are. It’s the thought of being awful at arithmetic that makes you continue to struggle. Maybe instead of having a hard time with numbers, you think that people judge you for the way you look or act, which causes you to push people away. Unfortunately, this perception of yourself and how others view you is making you shut down.

This principle is similar to Martin Seligman’s explanatory style described in Learned Optimism. How we explain life events to ourselves determines how they will affect us. Between every situation we experience and how we feel about it is a space. Within that space, we decide what to think the circumstance means, whether good or bad. We have to improve what we think to change how we feel in any situation we encounter. When we upgrade our perception of ourselves and the world around us, we can improve the way we act.

Lesson 2: To create a successful personality, include these seven principles.

Maltz teaches that there are seven elements of a personality that attracts success. The acronym S.U.C.C.E.S.S. summarizes these fundamentals.

  1. The first element is Sense of Direction, or having an objective to pursue. Direct yourself toward success every day by setting goals.
  2. Next comes Understanding to know when your fear or desire is altering the truth. Anxiety, fear, and desire cause us to misunderstand events, which leads to failure.
  3. Then we have Courage, which is taking calculated risks to make your goals happen. Don’t delay action until you are completely confident. Even Imperfect Courage is better than none.
  4. Afterward comes Charity, which consists of putting the problems and needs of people first. Caring for others is a hallmark of outstanding individuals.
  5. Esteem is next and is all about having a positive self-opinion. Tell yourself often that you can do whatever you think you can!
  6. Self-confidence comes after esteem. You can improve this one by remembering your past successes. Learn to accept and love yourself for who you are, and forget your past failures.
  7. And last we have self-acceptance, which is learning to live and be okay with yourself, weaknesses and strengths.

Lesson 3: How you care for your emotional well-being determines whether or not you can become your best self.

As with physical injuries that form physical scars, emotional pain leads to emotional scars. The pain that causes scars is our body’s natural way of protecting itself from more damage in the same place. The purpose of emotional scars is the same-to protect the soul from future damage.

Unfortunately, scars of the heart distance you from people. Think of these scars like emotional walls that keep out even the people that love you the most. So how do we heal this damage to the soul? Like a scalpel can cut away physical scar tissue, forgiveness is the tool that breaks down emotional walls.

Forgiveness comes in two parts–forgetting the feeling of pain and letting go of the act of forgiveness itself. Erase in your mind the feeling of being wronged, then work to forget that process. As you work at this, you will find yourself healing from emotional wounds and letting others in again. By developing a habit of forgiveness, you will pave the way to unleash your true personality. This process will allow you to reach your maximum creative potential for the full expression of who you really are.

Another unlikely but vital key to our emotional well-being is practicing disinhibition. When we focus too much on what others want from us or what they think of us, we hinder our full expression of self. In contrast, disinhibition teaches that we should speak before we think. This is one way to eliminate the self-conscious thoughts that often prevent us from being ourselves.

Psycho-Cybernetics Review

What an interesting read! Psycho-Cybernetics is full of powerful ways to get out of a rut and reach your full mental capacities. The message of hope from this book can uplift many who have struggled for a long time with self-doubt and discouragement. 

Who would I recommend the Psycho-Cybernetics summary to?

The 15-year-old high schooler who struggles with beating themselves up, a 35-year-old mother of three who considers herself a failure, and everyone needing a mental boost.

Last Updated on August 18, 2022

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Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.