A classic book on self-improvement was published in 1960 with the title, Psycho-Cybernetics. The author, Maxwell Maltz, was a successful plastic surgeon who noticed a peculiar and discouraging phenomenon with some of his patients. Despite the removal of what they considered physical flaws, many still believed they were unattractive. Maltz realized their distorted perception stemmed from a flawed inner-view.
Bottom-line, self-image is based on inner beliefs, not outer appearance.
"Self-image sets the boundaries of individual accomplishment." ---Maxwell Maltz
This phenomenon also affects our basic interaction with life itself. Our core image determines how we will approach both goals and opportunities that come our way. To put it simply, You Are What You Believe.
"It's not who you are that holds you back, it's who you think you're not." ---Author Unknown
Now this is not new stuff, but the Dr. Maltz's approach may feel fresh, even nearly fifty years after its first publication. He likened the mind to a cybernetic "servo-mechanism". Pretty fancy, huh? The idea though is straightforward: our mind is like a computer-controlled missile heading to a target determined by beliefs. The self-image we possess is the result.
The target is determined by your beliefs. Think about that. Where have you painted your bulls-eye? How many times have you heard (or said) this common phrase: With my luck, THIS will happen…
"You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them." ---Michael Jordan
Since the publication of this classic (and I do recommend it to one and all) the idea of beliefs shaping the reality we encounter has become quite popular. Although, in fairness, the idea has existed for eons.
"The mind is everything. What you think you become." Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.
Yet today we still struggle with beliefs that affect our behavior and our self-perception. Why do some people manage to accomplish so much while others clench their fists in despair? How can we achieve success and happiness in life? Obviously, effort must be made. Goals set and reached. But unless you believe you can and will achieve anything of value, you may unconsciously set yourself up for failure or just languish in procrastination hell.
"Low self esteem is like driving through life with your hand brake on." ---Maxwell Maltz
The good news is we can change our self-image. We can reprogram our brain to believe in success. One very powerful tool is visualization. By placing an image in your mind, you can reprogram your thinking. As children, we learn behavior by imitating others. We put a picture in our mind and strive to faithfully reproduce that image. We Form Habits.
How many here have to think before tying a shoe? Not many, I'm guessing.
Our mental habits are much more powerful than we realize. And those mental habits are part of our neural network. How we respond to a smile from a stranger, for example, is based on a series of beliefs. How we respond to rejection is also based on beliefs.
"It ain't what they call you, it's what you answer to." ---W.C. Fields
So… how do we use the power of visualization to change our self-image, to attract success and to become all that we long to be?
Form a mental image of something concrete. A writer can visualize herself typing The End or signing a contract with a coveted publisher. You can form a picture of yourself paying off bills, marking PAID IN FULL. Perhaps focus on the image of a confident, radiant 'you' giving a lecture or shaking hands with strangers who welcome you warmly. Reinforce your image with an affirmation set in the present moment. Instead of saying you will be (fill in the blank here) say I AM…
The mind will respond As If This Is Happening Now. You are restructuring your beliefs and setting a new target for your mind to lock onto.
Focus on this image for at least five minutes, perferably twice daily. Maybe in your morning shower (or even better, while looking in the mirror!) and once before bed. Suspend all disbelief and let yourself *feel* excited. Woo-hoo! I AM A Success! Tell yourself firmly: This Is My TRUE Reality. Everything else is an illusion I no longer need. Stick to this for at least a month. If negative thoughts pop up during the day, remind yourself that the "illusion" took time to set-up and might take time to fade away. However… This Is My TRUE Reality. Everything else is an illusion I no longer need.
Take action. Every day do at least one thing to reinforce your visualization. If you're trying to finish a book, for example, write at least one page and then repeat your affirmation. I finished that page! I AM a successful writer!
Persevere. Stick to this and you'll be amazed at the results.
Only as high as I reach can I grow,
Only as far as I seek can I go,
Only as deep as I look can I see,
Only as much as I dream can I be.
The exuberant rush of holiday madness has passed. Winter is here, affording us the opportunity to retreat from the frenzy and focus on our craft. Let's utilize this time to pull energies that have been scattered the last few months and refocus on our writing. This will be a productive month. I can feel it. Let's Make It Happen.
Now share with me your tips for reprogramming your mind for success. Any great books or personal stories? Do tell!
Also featured at Pop Culture Divas and Between The Lines.