Maltz ends this edition of Psycho-Cybernetics recalling the story of Jeanne Sanders, a woman afflicted with muscular dystrophy who for years toiled to try to walk and not be wheelchair bound. She struggled with her progressive disease that ravaged her self identity. Then in 1960 when she was at a book store curious about this new book, Psycho-Cybernetics, she asked the clerk whether it was any good. The store clerk said that she couldn’t keep it on the shelves. Sanders read the book and was mesmerized. She changed her negative self image into that “winning feeling” and began to see herself differently. She used it as an “action manual” rather than a philosophical treatise and with that she became what was known as a “medical phenomenon.” She could walk and drive, two things the medical community had judged to be impossible in her case but wasn’t with Psycho-Cybernetics.
I encourage all to read Psycho-Cybernetics, especially the new edition The New Psycho-Cybernetics by Dan Kennedy, that updates Maltz’s thoughts and uses relevant, contemporary examples to pull his classic text into the 21st century. I have found such a wealth of information in it that it has greatly helped my life as well as my patients’ lives. I have used it not quite daily but several times a week now to help my patients’ overcome their own battles with self image to liberate themselves and achieve a higher consciousness and thereby to affect their own servo-mechanism to flourish and succeed.
I particularly like the image of a man (or woman) that seeks self betterment (as we are all doing with these blogs) as a natural course for a human being to take, i.e., Maltz’s idea that we are like bicycles, moving we are stable and doing well but stopped, we fall over. We need meaning in our lives and we need purpose. I truly like the idea that we can move from struggling to go toward our purpose to just setting our purpose to move in the direction we want and allowing our guided missile of our unconscious mind to do much more powerful things. Playing the mental imagery in our mind (Theatre of the Mind) of what we desire can be as vivid as if we already undertook it making the task or objective more easily realizable. Like Jack Nicklaus selecting his golf clubs using his unconscious servo-mechanism or Greg Louganis playing out his dive 40 times before the jump, we all can control where we are going through this mental exercise that allows our more powerful unconscious mind to do the work.
Many people ask me how do I film all of these videos on facial plastic surgery subjects, doing several back to back with no script and no pre-planning? The answer is that I don’t work on a conscious level. I have a creative idea in my mind and then with only the germ of the idea and with no script and with no prethinking I let the cameras roll. I have never thought of in the past how intuitive I work as a human but I truly work on a deep level of unconscious drive. I don’t force a lot of things (remember the Tao verses on this subject) but allow my intention to carry me forward. As a counterpoint to this, I also work with multiple accountability groups (see my previous blog on this subject too) to keep me directed where I should be. They are my “bunkers”. Remember that Maltz talked about keeping your eye on the green and knowing where the bunkers are. We must all have a positive self image but one that is steeped in reality not a self-deluded lie. We also must know where the bunkers are so that we can avoid these traps and “zig-zag” (as Maltz says) toward our goal through minor corrective maneuvers.
I hope all of you have been using Maltz’s plan as an action manual for your life rather than reading these blogs as merely provocative thinking. If not, we always can start today.
“We age, not by years, but by events and our emotional reaction to them,” says Dr. Arnold Hutschnecker. Maltz curiously looks at how people heal, how people live, and how people age. He looks at an abstract notion called the Life Force. The life force that he talks about allows some people to live vibrantly whereas others to live in a stifled existence. Some are predisposed toward love and happiness, whereas others bring themselves to misery. He looks at the self image obviously as the core element in that those with a positive self image have a tremendously positive outlook on life and thereby create their world accordingly. People that live in the past slowly die and those who live in the present and the future have a reason to flourish.
He sees some as rapid healers from sickness and those who linger in sickness due to an ill psyche. He says those that retire from a job should not retire from life otherwise they will shortly die. Maltz discusses how at the age of 61 he became a writer and lecturer for Psycho-Cybernetics and how others his age were “fossilizing”, he remained vibrant, energetic and youthful. He sees the creative individual with an eager spirit to be the most blessed when it comes to this life force. He says “Michaelangelo did some of his best painting when past 80; Goethe wrote Faust when past 80; Edison was still inventing at 90; Picasso, past 75, dominated the art world; Wright at 90 was still considered the most creative architect; Shaw was still writing plays at 90.” We all can be creative in our own way and we all can live life creatively. This does not necessarily mean that we must pick up a paintbrush but instead view the life force as a way to live life with abundant energy looking forward to create a bright future for ourselves.
Remember that a sense of self must be aimed somehow toward a sense of purpose. We must all be moving toward a brighter future. We have that innately within us. Those who enjoy living and breathing will continue to live very full and long lives. He talks about 2 types of widows. Those who feel that their husband’s death is the beginning of the end for them and they retire from life. Their hair begins to rapidly gray and their faces wither. Then, there are those who begin to feel a sense of renewal either looking for a new husband or a new career or opportunities to explore their life in full. I really think that plastic surgery (done with taste, discretion, and moderation) can bring about the renewed life force when one looks in the mirror and sees the congruity between external manifestation and the inner peace and vibrancy that abounds.
As many of you know, I believe that those individuals who have had less than desirable plastic surgery become obsessed with their past mistakes of having wrongfully picked their surgeon, reliving the experience, and further reinforcing that negative attitude as a present-day problem. Maltz says that we can program our present by how we view and handle the past. We can look at our lives like a tape-recorded show. The more times we replay a certain event or thought, the more it becomes ingrained within our psyche and the harder to let it go. It becomes such a powerful force that we are consumed by the negative energy that emanates from such a thought. Maltz calls these neural recordings “engrams” that we can further etch into our soul with past unpleasantness or rather begin to erase them through disuse and instead focus using repetition on a currently happy situation.
He recalls when he attended this funeral service for his friend and was shocked at the brother who hated his deceased sibling having poured forth a glowing eulogy. When pressed about why he gave such a warm remembrance of his kin, the brother told Maltz, “I’m the kind of person who does not speak ill of the dead.” The sentence that begins, “I’m the kind of person who…” is extremely powerful, notes Maltz. It sets the emotional tone of where someone currently wants to be by self-perception and opens the flood gates for the servo-mechanism to act in a positive way toward the intended goal. This deep level of positive affirmation can be the juice to propel one toward the end goal. Today, try to find one or more sayings of “I’m the kind of person who…” that would help you shape your intention toward the envisioned goal.
The quote ascribed to Fitzgerald albeit dubiously that “there are no second acts in American lives” is oft cited for an exception that proves the rule. However, there are simply too many exceptions. Therefore, there is no rule.
Jimmy Carter finished his presidency and returned to Plains, Georgia with his tail between his legs. But he has achieved remarkable renown for his Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, his worldwide humanitarian efforts, and his ability to draw bipartisan support for his endeavors. He clearly has a had a great second act in his life. Regis Philbin failed in his career for about 20 years until he hit it big again with his morning talk show and his “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” show, drawing a reported $20 million contract with ABC. Who remembers the time when he was a nobody? Both of these men started their second acts much later in life.
Whatever situation you are in life, you can have a second act no matter what age, gender, race, etc. Take a risk today. Live your dream. Get your chance at a second act. Remember when you set your target goal, your servo-mechanism will drive you to it.
Why do some athletes shine when they are put to the test and when the clutch play is all stakes, winner take all? Why do some athletes do well in practice rounds but fold when the pressure is on? Why do we think in our mind, “Oh, there were a thousand things I should have said but didn’t think to say them until afterward.” Or, “I really should have done better in that situation. I don’t know why I did such a poor job.”
We are in many respects like athletes. We have certain clutch plays that we need to perform our best whether professionally or socially. How do we do that well when the time comes? First, a great suggestion is to shadow box. To role play. To go over in your mind’s theatre over and over the scenario so that when it happens it becomes almost second nature. Why is it that when a real fire occurs, that it requires so much more travail to get out of the building whereas for those who practiced it calmly in the setting of a fire drill can walk out the right exit without a problem in the time of crisis because they practiced? When one holds an empty gun, the hand can be raised and shoot at a target effortlessly. But once the gun is full of live ammo, the hand shakes and misfires. But with steady practice over and over, the hand steadies and there is no problem.
Besides shadow boxing, we can also convert our fear and anxiety over to a positive emotion, excitement. Before Johnny Carson went on stage every night for the Tonight Show, he was petrified and “hyper”. He got himself psyched up before going out. Most individuals who are ready to perform on stage need a little butterflies to make the performance better, to make the mind clearer and the tongue sharper. I myself use that trick before I make a public speech. I really don’t get “nervous” anymore even in front of thousands of people but I do start to psych myself up before hitting the stage so that I am fully energized. It brings me clarity of mind and purpose that comes to athletes and performers when the time of crisis hits them. Practice shadow boxing before some major event you will be encountering and convert fear and anxiety into a deep excitement that you can leverage to your advantage.