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Psycho-Cybernetics

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Cybernetics (loosely translated from the Greek): “a helmsman who steers his ship to port.” Psycho-Cybernetics is a term coined by Dr. Maxwell Maltz, which means, “steering your mind to a productive, useful goal so you can reach the greatest port in the world, peace of mind.”

Since its first publication in 1960, Maltz’s landmark bestseller has inspired and enhanced the lives of more than 30 million readers. In this updated edition, with a new introduction and editorial commentary by Matt Furey, president of the Psycho-Cybernetics Foundation, the original text has been annotated and amplified to make Maltz’s message even more relevant for the contemporary reader.

“Before the mind can work efficiently, we must develop our perception of the outcomes we expect to reach. Maxwell Maltz calls this Psycho-Cybernetics; when the mind has a defined target it can focus and direct and refocus and redirect until it reaches its intended goal.” —Tony Robbins (from Unlimited Power)

Maltz was the first researcher and author to explain how the self-image (a term he popularized) has complete control over an individual’s ability to achieve (or fail to achieve) any goal. And he developed techniques for improving and managing self-image—visualization, mental rehearsal, relaxation—which have informed and inspired countless motivational gurus, sports psychologists, and self-help practitioners for more than fifty years.

The teachings of Psycho-Cybernetics are timeless because they are based on solid science and provide a prescription for thinking and acting that lead to quantifiable results.
Year:
2015
Edition:
Updated, Expanded
Publisher:
Tarcher Perigee
Language:
english
Pages:
336
ISBN 10:
0399176136
ISBN 13:
9780399176135
File:
EPUB, 560 KB
Download (epub, 560 KB)

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44 mjeseca u Jasenovcu

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			[image: Cover for Psycho-Cybernetics, Updated and Expanded]
		

	
		Contents
[image: ]

			
				Title Page

				Copyright

				Foreword: How Psycho-Cybernetics Changed. My Life—and Can Do the Same for You, by Matt Furey

				Preface: The Secret of Using This Book to Change Your Life

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

				2.  Discovering the Success Mechanism Within You

				3.  Imagination: The First Key to Your Success Mechanism

				4.  Dehypnotize Yourself from False Beliefs

				5.  How to Utilize the Power of Rational Thinking

				6.  Relax and Let Your Success Mechanism Work for You

				7.  You Can Acquire the Habit of Happiness

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

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

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

				11.  How to Unlock Your Real Personality

				12.  Do-It-Yourself Tranquilizers That Bring Peace of Mind

				13.  How to Turn a Crisis into a Creative Opportunity

				14.  How to Get That Winning Feeling

				15.  More Years of Life and More Life in Your Years

				Afterword

				Index

				About the Authors

			
		

		
		
	
		
			FIVE
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			How to Utilize the Power of Rational Thinking

			Many of my patients are plainly disappointed when I prescribe something as simple as using their God-given power of reason as a method of changing negative beliefs and behavior. To some, it seems incredibly naive and unscientific. Yet it does have one advantage—it works. And as we shall see later, it is based on sound scientific findings.

			There is a widely accepted fallacy that rational, logical, conscious thinking has no power over unconscious processes or mechanisms, and that to change negative beliefs, feelings, or behavior, it is necessary to dig down and dredge up material from the “unconscious.”

			Your automatic mechanism, or what the Freudians call the “unconscious,” is absolutely impersonal.;  It operates as a machine and has no “will” of its own. It always tries to react appropriately to your current beliefs and interpretations concerning environment. It always seeks to give you appropriate feelings, and to accomplish the goals that you consciously determine. It works only on the data that you feed it in the form of ideas, beliefs, interpretations, opinions.

			It is conscious thinking that is the “control knob” of your unconscious machine. It was by conscious thought, though perhaps irrational and unrealistic, that the unconscious machine developed its negative and inappropriate reaction patterns, and it is by conscious rational thought that the automatic reaction patterns can be changed.

			Dr. John A. Schindler, author of How to Live 365 Days a Year and who introduced the concept of Emotionally Induced Illness, won nationwide fame for his outstanding success in helping unhappy, neurotic people regain the joy of living and return to productive, happy lives. His percentage of cures far exceeded that of psychoanalysis. One of the keys to his method of treatment was what he called conscious thought control. “Regardless of the omissions and commissions of the past,” he said, “a person has to start in the present to acquire some maturity so that the future may be better than the past. The present and the future depend on learning new habits and new ways of looking at old problems. There simply isn’t any future in digging continually into the past. . . . The underlying emotional problem has the same common denominator in every patient. This common denominator is that the patient has forgotten how, or probably never learned how, to control his present thinking to produce enjoyment.”

			Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

			The fact that there are, “buried” in the unconscious, memories of past failures, unpleasant and painful experiences, does not mean that these must be “dug out,” exposed or examined, in order to effect personality changes. As we have pointed out earlier, all skill learning is accomplished by trial and error, by making a trial, missing the mark, consciously remembering the degree of error, and making correction on the next trial—until finally a hit, or successful attempt, is accomplished. The successful reaction pattern is then remembered, or recalled, and imitated on future trials. This is true for a man learning to pitch horseshoes, throw darts, sing, drive a car, play golf, get along socially with other human beings, or any other skill. It is also true of a “mechanical rat,” learning its way through a maze. Thus, all servo-mechanisms, by their very nature, contain “memories” of past errors, failures, painful and negative experiences. These negative experiences do not inhibit, but contribute to the learning process, as long as they are used properly as “negative feedback data,” and are seen as deviations from the positive goal that is desired.

			However, as soon as the error has been recognized as such, and correction of course made, it is equally important that the error be consciously forgotten, and the successful attempt remembered and dwelt on.

			These memories of past failures do no harm as long as our conscious thought and attention are focused on the positive goal to be accomplished. Therefore, it is best to let these sleeping dogs lie.

			Our errors, mistakes, failures, and sometimes even our humiliations, were necessary steps in the learning process. However, they were meant to be means to an end—and not an end in themselves. When they have served their purpose, they should be forgotten. If we consciously dwell on the error, or consciously feel guilty about the error and keep berating ourselves because of it, then—unwittingly—the error or failure itself becomes the “goal” that is consciously held in imagination and memory. The unhappiest of mortals is that man who insists on reliving the past, over and over in imagination—continually criticizing himself for past mistakes—continually condemning himself for past sins.

			I shall never forget one of my women patients who tortured herself with her unhappy past, so much so that she destroyed any chance for happiness in the present. She had lived for years in bitterness and resentment, as a direct result of a serious harelip that caused her to shun people, and to develop over the years a personality that was stunted, crabby, and completely tuned against the world and everything in it. She had no friends because she imagined that no one would be friendly with a person who looked so “awful.” She deliberately avoided people or, what’s worse, consistently alienated people with her sour, defensive attitude. Surgery cured her physical problem. She tried to make the adjustment and to begin living with people in harmony and friendliness, but found that her past experiences kept getting in the way. She felt that, despite her new appearance, she could not make friends and be happy because no one would forgive her for what she had been before the operation. She wound up making the same mistakes she had made before and was as unhappy as ever. She did not really begin to live until she learned to stop condemning herself for what she had been in the past and to stop reliving in her imagination all the unhappy events that had brought her to my office for surgery.

			Continually criticizing yourself for past mistakes and errors does not help matters, but on the other hand tends to perpetuate the very behavior you would change. Memories of past failures can adversely affect present performance, if we dwell on them and foolishly conclude, “I failed yesterday; therefore, it follows that I will fail again today.” However, this does not prove that unconscious reaction patterns have any power in themselves to repeat and perpetuate themselves, or that all buried memories of failure must be eradicated before behavior can be changed. If we are victimized, it is by our conscious, thinking mind and not by the “unconscious.” For it is with the thinking part of our personality that we draw conclusions, and select the “goal images” that we shall concentrate upon. The minute that we change our minds and stop giving power to the past, the past with its mistakes loses its power over us.

			Ignore Past Failures and Forge Ahead

			Here again, hypnosis furnishes convincing proof. When a shy, timid, wallflower is told in hypnosis, and believes or thinks, that he is a bold, self-confident orator, his reaction patterns are changed instantly. He currently acts as he currently believes. His attention is given over completely to the positive desired goal—and no thought or consideration whatsoever is given to past failures.

			Dorothea Brande tells in her charming book Wake Up and Live how this one idea enabled her to become more productive and successful as a writer, and to draw on talents and abilities she never knew she had. She had been both curious and amazed after witnessing a demonstration in hypnosis. Then she happened to read one sentence written by psychologist F. M. H. Myers, which she says changed her whole life. The sentence by Myers explained that the talents and abilities displayed by hypnotic subjects were due to a “purgation of memory” of past failures while in the hypnotic state. If this were possible under hypnosis, Miss Brande asked herself—if ordinary people carried around within themselves talents, abilities, powers that were held in and not used merely because of memories of past failures—why couldn’t a person in the wakeful state use these same powers by ignoring past failures and “acting as if it were impossible to fail”? She determined to try it. She would act on the assumption that the powers and abilities were there—and that she could use them—if only she would go ahead and “ACT AS IF,” instead of in a tentative halfhearted way. Within a year her production as a writer had increased many times and so had her sales. A rather surprising result was that she discovered a talent for public speaking, became much in demand as a lecturer—and enjoyed it, whereas previously she had not only shown no talent for lecturing, but disliked it intensely.

			Bertrand Russell’s Method

			In his book The Conquest of Happiness, Bertrand Russell says, “I was not born happy. As a child, my favorite hymn was: ‘Weary of earth and laden with my sin.’ In adolescence, I hated life and was continually on the verge of suicide, from which, however, I was restrained by the desire to know more mathematics. Now, on the contrary, I enjoy life; I might almost say that with every year that passes I enjoy it more. . . . Very largely it is due to a diminishing preoccupation with myself. Like others who had a Puritan education, I had the habit of meditating on my sins, follies, and shortcomings. I seemed to myself—no doubt justly—a miserable specimen. Gradually I learned to be indifferent to myself and my deficiencies; I came to center my attention increasingly upon external objects: the state of the world, various branches of knowledge, individuals for whom I felt affection.”

			In the same book, Russell describes his method for changing automatic reaction patterns based on false beliefs:

			It is quite possible to overcome infantile suggestions of the unconscious, and even to change the contents of the unconscious, by employing the right kind of technique. Whenever you begin to feel remorse for an act which your reason tells you is not wicked, examine the causes of your feeling of remorse, and convince yourself in detail of their absurdity. Let your conscious beliefs be so vivid and emphatic that they make an impression upon your unconscious strong enough to cope with the impressions made by your nurse or your mother when you were an infant. Do not be content with an alternation between moments of rationality and moments of irrationality. Look into the irrationality closely with a determination not to respect it and not to let it dominate you. Whenever it thrusts foolish thoughts or feelings into your consciousness, pull them up by the roots, examine them, and reject them. Do not allow yourself to remain a vacillating creature, swayed half by reason and half by infantile folly. . . .

			But if the rebellion is to be successful in bringing individual happiness and in enabling a man to live consistently by one standard, not to vacillate between two, it is necessary that he should think and feel deeply about what his reason tells him. Most men, when they have thrown off superficially the superstitions of their childhood, think that there is no more to be done. They do not realize that these superstitions are still lurking underground. When a rational conviction has been arrived at, it is necessary to dwell upon it, to follow out its consequences, to search out in oneself whatever beliefs inconsistent with the new conviction might otherwise survive. . . . What I suggest is that a man should make up his mind with emphasis as to what he rationally believes, and should never allow contrary irrational beliefs to pass unchallenged or obtain a hold over him, however brief. This is a question of reasoning with himself in those moments in which he is tempted to become infantile, but the reasoning, if it is sufficiently emphatic, may be very brief.

			Ideas Are Changed, Not by “Will,” but by Other Ideas

			It can be seen that Bertrand Russell’s technique, of searching out ideas that are inconsistent with some deeply felt conviction, is essentially the same as the method tested clinically with such amazing success by Prescott Lecky. Lecky’s method consisted of getting the subject to see that some negative concept of his was inconsistent with some other deeply held belief. Lecky believed that it was inherent in the very nature of “mind” itself that all ideas and concepts that make up the total content of “personality” must seem to be consistent with each other. If the inconsistency of a given idea is consciously recognized, it must be rejected.

			One of my patients was a salesman who was “scared to death” when calling on “big shots.” His fear and nervousness were overcome in just one counseling session, during which I asked him, “Would you physically get down on all fours and crawl into the man’s office, prostrating yourself before a superior personage?”

			“I should say not!” He bristled.

			“Then why do you mentally cringe and crawl?”

			Another question: “Would you go into a man’s office with your hand out like a beggar, and beg for a dime for a cup of coffee?”

			“Certainly not.”

			“Can’t you see that you are doing essentially the same thing, when you go in overly concerned with whether or not he will approve of you? Can’t you see that you have your hand out literally begging for his approval and acceptance of you as a person?”

			Lecky found that there were two powerful “levers” for changing beliefs and concepts. There are “standard” convictions which are strongly held by nearly everyone. These are (1) the feeling or belief that one is capable of doing his share, holding up his end of the log, exerting a certain amount of independence, and (2) the belief that there is “something” inside you which should not be allowed to suffer indignities.

			Examine and Reevaluate Your Beliefs

			One of the reasons that the power of rational thinking goes unrecognized is that it is so seldom used.

			Trace down the belief about yourself, or the belief about the world, or other people, which is behind your negative behavior. Does “something always happen” to cause 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.”

			Remember that both behavior and feeling spring from belief. To root out the belief that is responsible for your feeling and behavior—ask yourself, “Why?” Is there some task that you would like to do, some channel in which you would like to express yourself, but you hang back feeling that “I can’t”? Ask yourself, “Why?”

			“Why do I believe that I can’t?”

			Then ask yourself, “Is this belief based on an actual fact or on an assumption—or a false conclusion?”

			Then ask yourself the questions:

			 1. Is there any rational reason for such a belief?

			 2. Could it be that I am mistaken in this belief?

			 3. Would I come to the same conclusion about some other person in a similar situation?

			 4. Why should I continue to act and feel as if this were true if there is no good reason to believe it?

			Don’t just pass these questions by casually. Wrestle with them. Think hard on them. Get emotional about them. Can you see that you have cheated yourself and sold yourself short—not because of a “fact”—but only because of some stupid belief? If so, try to arouse some indignation, or even anger. Indignation and anger can sometimes act as liberators from false ideas. Alfred Adler “got mad” at himself and at his teacher and was enabled to throw off a negative definition of himself. This experience is not uncommon.

			An old farmer said he quit tobacco for good one day when he discovered he had left his tobacco home and started to walk the two miles for it. On the way, he “saw” that he was being “used” in a humiliating way by a habit. He got mad, turned around, went back to the field, and never smoked again.

			Clarence Darrow, the famous attorney, said his success started the day that he “got mad” when he attempted to secure a mortgage to buy a house. Just as the transaction was about to be completed, the lender’s wife spoke up and said, “Don’t be a fool. He will never make enough money to pay it off.” Darrow himself had had serious doubts about the same thing. But something happened when he heard her remark. He became indignant, both at the woman and at himself, and determined he would be a success.

			A businessman friend of mine had a very similar experience. A failure at 40, he continually worried about “how things would come out,” about his own inadequacies, and whether or not he would be able to complete each business venture. Fearful and anxious, he was attempting to purchase some machinery on credit, when the seller’s wife objected. She did not believe he would ever be able to pay for the machinery. At first his hopes were dashed. But then he became indignant. Who was he to be pushed around like that? Who was he to skulk through the world, continually fearful of failure? The experience awakened “something” within him—some “new self”—and at once he saw that this woman’s remark, as well as his own opinion of himself, was an affront to this “something.” He had no money, no credit, and no way to accomplish what he wanted. But he found a way—and within three years he was more successful than he had ever dreamed of being—not in one business, but in three.

			The Power of Deep Desire

			Rational thought, to be effective in changing belief and behavior, must be accompanied with deep feeling and desire.

			Picture to yourself what you would like to be and have, and assume for the moment that such things might be possible. Arouse a deep desire for these things. Become enthusiastic about them. Dwell on them—and keep going over them in your mind. Your present negative beliefs were formed by thought plus feelings. Generate enough emotion, or deep feeling, and your new thoughts and ideas will cancel them out.

			If you will analyze this, you will see that you are using a process you have often used before—worry! The only difference is you change your goals from negative to positive. When you worry, you first of all picture some undesirable future outcome, or goal, very vividly in your imagination. You use no effort or willpower. But you keep dwelling on the “end result.” You keep thinking about it—dwelling on it—picturing it to yourself as a “possibility.” You play with the idea that it “might happen.”

			This constant repetition, and thinking in terms of “possibilities,” makes the end result appear more and more “real” to you. After time, appropriate emotions are automatically generated—fear, anxiety, discouragement—all these are appropriate to the undesirable end result you are worrying about. Now change the “goal picture”—and you can as easily generate “good emotions.” Constantly picturing to yourself, and dwelling on, a desirable end result will also make the possibility seem more real—and again appropriate emotions of enthusiasm, cheerfulness, encouragement, and happiness will automatically be generated. “In forming good emotional habits, and in breaking bad ones,” said Dr. Knight Dunlap, “we have to deal primarily with thought and thought habits. ‘As a man thinketh in his heart so is he.’”

			What Rational Thought Can and Cannot Do

			Remember that your automatic mechanism can as easily function as a Failure Mechanism as it can as a Success Mechanism, depending on the data you give it to process, and the goals you set for it. It is basically a goal-striving mechanism. The goals it works on are up to you. Many of us unconsciously and unwittingly—by holding negative attitudes and habitually picturing failure to ourselves in our imagination—set up goals of failure.

			Also remember that your automatic mechanism does not reason about, or question, the data you feed it. It merely processes it and reacts appropriately to it.

			It is very important that the automatic mechanism be given true facts concerning the environment. This is the job of conscious rational thought: to know the truth, to form correct evaluations, estimations, and opinions. In this connection most of us are prone to underestimate ourselves and overestimate the nature of the difficulty facing us. “Always think of what you have to do as easy and it will become so,” said Émile Coué, the psychologist and pharmacist who introduced a popular method of psychotherapy and self-improvement based on optimistic autosuggestion.

			In the same vein, psychologist Daniel W. Josselyn wrote in his book Why Be Tired?:

			I have made extensive experiments to discover the common causes of that conscious effort which freezes the thinking mind. Practically always it seems to be due to the tendency to exaggerate the difficulty and importance of your mental labors, to take them too seriously and fear they will find you incapable. People who are eloquent in casual conversation become imbeciles when they mount the speaker’s platform. You simply must learn that if you can interest the neighbor you can interest all the neighbors, or the world, and not be frozen by magnitudes.

			
			A person who fears public speaking usually has no fear of talking openly with trusted friends. The fact that you can speak openly with friends means you have the skill of public speaking. Now all you need to do is bring the same person who speaks easily with friends into the room where you will then speak openly before a large crowd of perceived friends. Picture yourself speaking openly with friends—then amplify the same imagery in your mind to encompass a larger group of friends—and public speaking will become easy for you.

			

			You Never Know Until You Try

			It is the job of rational, conscious thought to examine and analyze incoming messages, to accept those that are true and reject those that are untrue. Many people are bowled over by the chance remark of a friend, such as “You do not look so well this morning.” If they are rejected or snubbed by someone, they blindly swallow the so-called fact that this means they are an inferior person. Most of us are subjected to negative suggestions every day. If our conscious mind is working and on the job, we do not have to accept them blindly. “It ain’t necessarily so” is a good motto.

			It is the job of the conscious rational mind to form logical and correct conclusions. “I failed once in the past, so I will probably fail in the future” is neither logical nor rational. To conclude “I can’t” in advance, without trying, and in the absence of any evidence to support the inevitability of failure, is not rational. We should be more like the man who was asked if he could play the piano. “I don’t know,” he said. “What do you mean you don’t know?” he was asked. “I have never tried,” he replied.

			Decide What You Want—Not What You Don’t Want

			It is the job of conscious rational thought to decide what you want, select the goals you wish to achieve—and concentrate on these rather than on what you do not want. To spend time and effort concentrating on what you do not want is not rational. When President Eisenhower was General Eisenhower in World War II, he was asked what would have been the effect on the Allied cause if the invasion troops had been thrown back into the sea from the beaches of Italy. “It would have been very bad,” he said, “but I never allow my mind to think in that way.”

			Keep Your Eye on the Ball

			It is the job of your conscious mind to pay strict attention to the task at hand, to what you are doing and what is going on around you so that these incoming sensory messages can keep your automatic mechanism currently advised of the environment and allow it to respond spontaneously. In baseball parlance you must “keep your eye on the ball.”

			It is not the job of your conscious rational mind, however, to create or to “do” the job at hand. We get into trouble when we either neglect to use conscious thinking in the way that it is meant to be used, or when we attempt to use it in a way that it was never meant to be used. We cannot squeeze creative thought out of the Creative Mechanism by making conscious effort. We cannot “do” the job to be done by making strained conscious efforts. And because we try and cannot, we become concerned, anxious, frustrated. The automatic mechanism is unconscious. We cannot see the wheels turning. We cannot know what is taking place beneath the surface. And because it works spontaneously in reacting to present and current needs, we can have no intimation or certified guarantee in advance that it will come up with the answer. We are forced into a position of trust. And only by trusting and acting do we receive signs and wonders. In short, conscious, rational thought selects the goal, gathers information, concludes, evaluates, estimates, and starts the wheels in motion. It is not, however, responsible for results. We must learn to do our work, act on the best assumptions available, and leave results to take care of themselves.

			KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER

			(You fill in here.)

			1.

			2.

			3.

			4.

			5.

			YOUR CASE HISTORY

			List here an experience from your past that is explained by the principles given in this chapter:

			

		

	
		
			FOURTEEN
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			How to Get That Winning Feeling

			Your automatic Creative Mechanism is teleological. That is, it operates in terms of goals and end results. Once you give it a definite goal to achieve, you can depend on its automatic guidance system to take you to that goal much better than you ever could by conscious thought. You supply the goal by thinking in terms of end results. Your automatic mechanism then supplies the “means whereby.” If your muscles need to perform some motion to bring about the end result, your automatic mechanism will guide them much more accurately and delicately than you could by “taking thought.” If you need ideas, your automatic mechanism will supply them.

			Think in Terms of Possibilities

			But to accomplish this, you must supply the goal. And to supply a goal capable of activating your Creative Mechanism, you must think of the end result in terms of a present possibility. The possibility of the goal must be seen so clearly that it becomes “real” to your brain and nervous system. So real, in fact, that the same feelings are evoked as would be present if the goal were already achieved.

			This is not so difficult or as mystical as it may first appear. You and I do it every day of our lives. What, for example, is worry about? It’s about possible unfavorable future results, accompanied by feelings of anxiety, inadequacy, or perhaps humiliation. For all practical purposes we experience the very same emotions in advance that would be appropriate if we had already failed. We picture failure to ourselves, not vaguely, or in general terms, but vividly and in great detail. We repeat the failure images over and over again to ourselves. We go back in memory and dredge up memory images of past failures.

			Remember what has been emphasized earlier: Our brain and nervous system cannot tell the difference between a real experience, and one that is vividly imagined. Our automatic Creative Mechanism always acts and reacts appropriately to the environment, circumstance, or situation. The only information concerning the environment, circumstance, or situation available to it is what you believe to be true concerning it.

			Your Nervous System Can’t Tell Real Failure from Imagined Failure

			Thus, if we dwell upon failure, and continually picture failure to ourselves in such vivid detail that it becomes real to our nervous system, we will experience the feelings that go with failure.

			On the other hand, if we keep our positive goal in mind, and picture it to ourselves so vividly as to make it “real,” and think of it in terms of an accomplished fact, we will also experience winning feelings: self-confidence, courage, and faith that the outcome will be desirable.

			We cannot consciously peek into our Creative Mechanism and see whether it is geared for success or failure. But we can determine its present “set” by our feelings. When it is “set for success” we experience that “winning feeling.”

			Setting Your Machinery for Success

			If there is one simple secret to the operation of your unconscious Creative Mechanism, it is this: call up, capture, evoke the feeling of success. When you feel successful and self-confident, you will act successfully. When the feeling is strong, you can literally do no wrong.

			The “winning feeling” itself does not cause you to operate successfully, but is more in the nature of a sign or symptom that you are geared for success. It is more like a thermometer, which does not cause the heat in the room but measures it. However, we can use this thermometer in a very practical way. Remember: When you experience that winning feeling, your internal machinery is set for success.

			Too much effort to consciously bring about spontaneity is likely to destroy spontaneous action. It is much easier and more effective to simply define your goal or end result. Picture it to yourself clearly and vividly. Then simply capture the feeling you would experience if the desirable goal were already an accomplished fact. Then you are acting spontaneously and creatively. Then you are using the powers of your subconscious mind. Then your internal machinery is geared for success: to guide you in making the correct muscular motions and adjustments; to supply you with creative ideas, and to do whatever else is necessary in order to make the goal an accomplished fact.

			How That Winning Feeling Won a Golf Tournament

			Dr. Cary Middlecoff, writing in Esquire magazine, said that the “Winning Feeling” is the real secret of championship golf. “Four days before I hit my first drive in the Masters . . . I had a feeling I was sure to win that tournament,” he said. “I felt that every move I made in getting to the top of my backswing put my muscles in perfect position to hit the ball exactly as I wanted to. And in putting, too, that marvelous feeling came to me. I knew I hadn’t changed my grip any, and my feet were in the usual position. But there was something about the way I felt that gave me a line to the cup just as clearly as if it had been tattooed on my brain. With that feeling all I had to do was swing the clubs and let nature take its course.”

			Middlecoff went on to say that the winning feeling is “everybody’s secret of good golf,” that when you have it, the ball even bounces right for you, and that it seems to control that elusive element called luck.

			Don Larsen, the only man in history to pitch a perfect game in the World Series, said that the night before, he “had the crazy feeling” that he would pitch perfectly the next day.

			In the 1950s, sports pages all over the country headlined the sensational play of Johnny Menger, the diminutive halfback from Georgia Tech, in a postseason bowl game. “I had the feeling when I got up that morning I was going to have a good day,” said Menger.

			
			Getting the “winning feeling” is not just about “winning” a game or an event. It’s also about how you feel when you’re at your best and remembering that feeling so you can repeat it again and again. Whenever you can remember the feeling as well as what you did to create it, you have access to the experience again and again.

			

			“This May Be Tough, but It Can Be Licked”

			There is truly magic in this “winning feeling.” It can seemingly cancel out obstacles and impossibilities. It can use errors and mistakes to accomplish success. J. C. Penney tells how he heard his father say on his deathbed, “I know Jim will make it.” From that time onward, Penney felt that he would succeed somehow, although he had no tangible assets, no money, no education. The chain of J. C. Penney stores was built upon many impossible circumstances and discouraging moments. Whenever Penney would get discouraged, however, he would remember the prediction of his father, and he would “feel” that somehow he could whip the problem facing him.

			After making a fortune, he lost it all at an age when most men have long since been retired. He found himself penniless, past his prime, and with little tangible evidence to furnish reason for hope. But again he remembered the words of his father, and soon recaptured the winning feeling, which had now become habitual with him. He rebuilt his fortune, and in a few years was operating more stores than ever.

			Industrialist Henry J. Kaiser has said, “When a tough, challenging job is to be done, I look for a person who possesses an enthusiasm and optimism for life, who makes a zestful confident attack on his daily problems, one who shows courage and imagination, who pins down his buoyant spirit with careful planning and hard work, but says, ‘This may be tough, but it can be licked.’”

			How That Winning Feeling Made Les Giblin Successful

			Les Giblin, author of How to Have Confidence and Power in Dealing with People, read the first draft of this chapter, then told me how imagination coupled with that winning feeling had worked like magic in his own career.

			Les had been a successful salesman and sales manager for years. He had done some public relations work, and had gained some degree of reputation as an expert in the field of human relations. He liked his work but he wanted to broaden his field. His big interest was people, and after years of study, both theoretical and practical, he thought he had some answers to the problems people often have with other people. He wanted to lecture on human relations. However, his one big obstacle was lack of experience in public speaking. Les told me:

			One night, I was lying in bed thinking of my one big desire. The only experience I had had as a public speaker was addressing small groups of my own salesmen in sales meetings, and a little experience I had had in the Army when I served part-time as an instructor. The very thought of getting up before a big audience scared the wits out of me. I just couldn’t imagine myself doing it successfully. Yet, I could talk to my own salesmen with the greatest of ease. I had been able to talk to groups of soldiers without any trouble. Lying there in bed, I recaptured in memory the feeling of success and confidence I had had in talking to these small groups. I remembered all the little incidental details that had accompanied my feeling of poise. Then, in my imagination I pictured myself standing before a huge audience and making a talk on human relations—and at the same time having the same feeling of poise and self-confidence I had had with smaller groups. I pictured to myself in detail just how I would stand. I could feel the pressure of my feet on the floor, I could see the expressions on the people’s faces, and I could hear their applause. I saw myself making a talk successfully—going over with a bang.

			Something seemed to click in my mind. I felt elated. Right at that moment I felt that I could do it. I had welded the feeling of confidence and success from the past to the picture in my imagination of my career in the future. My feeling of success was so real that I knew right then I could do it. I got what you call ‘that winning feeling’ and it has never deserted me. Although there seemed to be no door open to me at the time, and the dream seemed impossible, in less than three years’ time I saw my dream come true—almost in exact detail as I had imagined it and felt it. Because of the fact that I was relatively unknown and because of my lack of experience, no major booking agency wanted me. This didn’t deter me. I booked myself, and still do. I have more opportunities for speaking engagements than I can fill.

			Today, Les Giblin is remembered as an authority on human relations. His book How to Have Confidence and Power in Dealing with People has become a classic in the field. And it all started with a picture in his imagination and “that winning feeling.”

			How Science Explains That Winning Feeling

			The science of cybernetics throws new light on just how the winning feeling operates. We have previously shown how electronic servo-mechanisms make use of stored data, comparable to human memory, to “remember” successful actions and repeat them.

			Skill learning is largely a matter of trial-and-error practice until a number of “hits,” or successful actions, have registered in memory.

			Cybernetic scientists have built what they call an “electronic mouse” that can learn its way through a maze. The first time through the mouse makes numerous errors. It constantly bumps into walls and obstructions. But each time it bumps into an obstruction, it turns 90 degrees and tries again. If it runs into another wall, it makes another turn, and goes forward again. Eventually, after many, many errors, stops, and turns, the mouse gets through the open space in the maze. The electronic mouse, however, “remembers” the turns that were successful, and the next time through, these successful motions are reproduced or “played back” and the mouse goes through the open space quickly and efficiently.

			The object of practice is to make repeated trials, constantly correcting errors, until a “hit” is scored. When a successful pattern of action is performed, the entire action pattern from beginning to end is not only stored in what we call conscious memory, but in our very nerves and tissues. Folk language can be very intuitive and descriptive. When we say, “I had a feeling in my bones that I could do it,” we are not far from wrong. When Dr. Cary Middlecoff says, “There was something about the way I felt that gave me a line to the cup just as clearly as if it had been tattooed on my brain,” he is, perhaps unknowingly, very aptly describing the latest scientific concept of just what happens in the human mind when we learn, remember, or imagine.

			How Your Brain Records Success and Failure

			Such experts in the field of brain physiology as Dr. John C. Eccles and Sir Charles Sherrington explained that the human cortex is composed of some 10 billion neurons, each with numerous axons (feelers or “extension wires”) that form synapses (electrical connections) between the neurons. When we think, remember, or imagine, these neurons discharge an electrical current that can be measured. When we learn something, or experience something, a pattern of neurons forming a “chain” (or tattooing of a pattern) is set up in brain tissue. This “pattern” is not in the nature of a physical “groove” or “track” but more in the nature of an “electrical track”—the arrangement and electrical connections between various neurons being somewhat similar to a magnetic pattern recorded on tape. The same neuron may thus be a part of any number of separate and distinct patterns, making the human brain’s capacity to learn and remember almost limitless.

			These patterns, or “engrams,” are stored away in brain tissue for future use, and are reactivated, or “replayed” whenever we remember a past experience.

			In an article titled “The Physiology of Imagination,” printed in Scientific American, Dr. Eccles said, “The profusion of interconnections among the cells of the gray matter is beyond all imagination; it is ultimately so comprehensive that the whole cortex can be thought of as one great unit of integrated activity. If we now persist in regarding the brain as a machine, then we must say that it is by far the most complicated machine in existence. We are tempted to say that it is infinitely more complicated than the most complex man-made machines, the electrical computers.”

			In short, science confirms that there is a “tattooing,” or action pattern, of engrams in your brain for every successful action you have ever performed in the past. And if you can somehow furnish the spark to bring that action pattern into life, or “replay” it, it will execute itself, and all you’ll have to do is “swing the clubs” and “let nature take its course.”

			When you reactivate successful action patterns out of the past, you also reactivate the feeling-tone, or “winning feeling,” that accompanied them. By the same token, if you can recapture “that winning feeling,” you also evoke all the “winning actions” that accompanied it.

			Build Success Patterns into Your Gray Matter

			Charles William Eliot, president of Harvard (1869–1909), made a speech on what he called the “Habit of Success.” Many failures in elementary schools, he said, were due to the fact that students were not given, at the very beginning, a sufficient amount of work at which they could succeed, and thus never had an opportunity to develop the “Atmosphere of Success,” or what we call “the winning feeling.” The student, he said, who had never experienced success early in his school life, had no chance to develop the “habit of success”—the habitual feeling of faith and confidence in undertaking new work. He urged that teachers arrange work in the early grades so as to insure that the student experienced success. The work should be well within the ability of the student, yet interesting enough to arouse enthusiasm and motivation. These small successes, said Dr. Eliot, would give the student the “feel of success,” which would be a valuable ally in all future undertakings.

			We can acquire the “habit of success”; we can build into our gray matter patterns and feelings of success at any time and at any age by following Dr. Eliot’s advice to teachers. If we are habitually frustrated by failure, we are very apt to acquire habitual “feelings of failure,” which color all new undertakings. But by arranging things so that we can succeed in little things, we can build an atmosphere of success that will carry over into larger undertakings. We can gradually undertake more difficult tasks and, after succeeding in them, be in a position to undertake something even more challenging. Success is literally built upon success, and there is much truth in the saying “Nothing succeeds like success.”

			Gradualness Is the Secret

			Weight lifters start with weights they can lift and gradually increase the weights over a period of time. Good fight managers start a new boxer off with easy opponents and gradually pit him against more experienced fighters. We can apply the same general principles in almost any field of endeavor. The principle is merely to start with an “opponent” over which you can succeed, and gradually take on more and more difficult tasks.

			Pavlov, on his deathbed, was asked to give one last bit of advice to his students on how to succeed. His answer was “Passion and gradualness.”

			Even in those areas where we have already developed a high degree of skill, it sometimes helps to “drop back,” lower our sights a bit, and practice with a feeling of ease. This is especially true when one reaches a “sticking point” in progress, where effort for additional progress is unavailing. Continually straining to go beyond the “sticking point” is likely to develop undesirable “feeling habits” of strain, difficulty, effort. Under such conditions weight lifters reduce the amount of weight on the bar, and practice “easy lifting” for a while. A boxer, who shows signs of going stale, is pitted against a number of easier opponents. Albert Tangora, for many years the World Champion Speed Typist, used to practice “typing slow”—at half normal speed—whenever he reached a plateau where further increase in speed seemed impossible. I know a prominent salesman who uses the same principle to get himself out of a sales slump. He stops trying to make big sales, stops trying to sell “tough customers,” and concentrates on making small sales to customers he has come to know as “pushovers.”

			How to Play Back Your Own Built-In Success Patterns

			Everyone has at some time or another been successful in the past. It does not have to have been a big success. It might have been something as unimportant as standing up to the school bully and beating him; winning a race in grammar school; winning the sack race at the office picnic; winning out over a teenage rival for the affections of a girlfriend. Or it might be the memory of a successful sale; your most successful business deal; or winning first prize for the best cake at the county fair. What you succeeded in is not as important as the feeling of success that attended it. All that is needed is some experience where you succeeded in doing what you wanted to, in achieving what you set out to achieve, something that brought you some feeling of satisfaction.

			Go back in memory and relive those successful experiences. In your imagination revive the entire picture in as much detail as you can. In your mind’s eye “see” not only the main event, but all the little incidental things that accompanied your success. What sounds were there? What about your environment? What else was happening around you at the time? What objects were present? What time of year was it? Were you cold or hot? And so forth. The more detailed you can make it, the better. If you can remember in sufficient detail just what happened when you were successful at some time in the past, you will find yourself feeling just as you felt then. Try to particularly remember your feelings at the time. If you can remember your feelings from the past, they will be reactivated in the present. You will find yourself feeling self-confident, because self-confidence is built upon memories of past successes.

			Now, after arousing this “general feeling of success,” give your thoughts to the important sale, conference, speech, business deal, golf tournament, or whatever that you wish to succeed in now. Use your Creative Imagination to picture to yourself just how you would act and just how you would feel if you had already succeeded.

			Positive and Constructive Worry

			Mentally, begin to play with the idea of complete and inevitable success. Don’t force yourself. Don’t attempt to coerce your mind. Don’t try to use effort or willpower to bring about the desired conviction. Just do what you do when you worry, only “worry” about a positive goal and a desirable outcome, rather than about a negative goal and an undesirable outcome.

			Don’t begin by trying to force yourself to have absolute faith in the desired success. This is too big a bite for you to mentally digest—at first. Use “gradualness.” Begin to think about the desired end result as you do when you worry about the future. When you worry, you do not attempt to convince yourself that the outcome will be undesirable. Instead, you begin gradually. You usually begin with a “suppose.” “Just suppose such and such a thing happens,” you mentally say to yourself. You repeat this idea over and over to yourself. You “play with it.” Next comes the idea of “possibility.” “Well, after all,” you say, “such a thing is possible.” It could happen. And then comes mental imagery. You begin to picture to yourself all the various negative possibilities. You play these imaginative pictures over and over to yourself—adding small details and refinements. As the pictures become more and more “real” to you, appropriate feelings begin to manifest themselves, just as if the imagined outcome had already happened. And this is the way that fear and anxiety develop.

			How to Cultivate Faith and Courage

			Faith and courage are developed in exactly the same way. Only your goals are different. If you are going to spend time in worry, why not worry constructively? Begin by outlining and defining to yourself the most desirable possible outcome. Begin with your “suppose.” “Suppose the best possible outcome did actually come about?” Next, remind yourself that after all this could happen. Not that it will happen, at this stage, but only that it could. Remind yourself that, after all, such a good and desirable outcome is possible.

			You can mentally accept and digest these gradual doses of optimism and faith. After having thought of the desired end result as a definite “possibility,” begin to imagine what the desirable outcome would be like. Go over these mental pictures and delineate details and refinements. Play them over and over to yourself. As your mental images become more detailed, as they are repeated over and over again—you will find that once more appropriate feelings are beginning to manifest themselves, just as if the favorable outcome had already happened. This time the appropriate feelings will be those of faith, self-confidence, courage—or all wrapped up into one package, “that winning feeling.”

			Don’t Take Counsel of Your Fears

			General George Patton, the hell-for-leather, “Old Blood and Guts” general of World War II fame, was once asked if he ever experienced fear before a battle. Yes, he said, he often experienced fear just before an important engagement and sometimes during a battle, but, he added, “I never take counsel of my fears.”

			If you do experience negative failure feelings—fear and anxiety—before an important undertaking, as everyone does from time to time, it should not be taken as a “sure sign” that you will fail. It all depends on how you react to them, and what attitude you take toward them. If you listen to them, obey them, and “take counsel” of them, you will probably perform badly. But this need not be true.

			First of all, it is important to understand that failure feelings—fear, anxiety, lack of self-confidence—do not spring from some heavenly oracle. They are not written in the stars. They are not holy gospel. Nor are they intimations of a set and decided “fate” that means that failure is decreed and decided. They originate from your own mind. They are indicative only of attitudes of mind within you—not of external facts that are rigged against you. They mean only that you are underestimating your own abilities, overestimating and exaggerating the nature of the difficulty before you, and that you are reactivating memories of past failures rather than memories of past successes. That is all that they mean and all that they signify. They do not pertain to or represent the truth concerning future events, but only your own mental attitude about the future event.

			Knowing this, you are free to accept or reject these negative failure feelings; to obey them and take counsel of them, or to ignore their advice and go ahead. Moreover, you are in a position to use them for your own benefit.

			Accept Negative Feelings as a Challenge

			If we react to negative feelings aggressively and positively, they become challenges, which will automatically arouse more power and more ability within us. The idea of difficulty, threat, menace, arouses additional strength within us if we react to it aggressively rather than passively. In the last chapter, we saw that a certain amount of “excitement”—if interpreted correctly and employed correctly—helps, rather than hinders, performance.

			It all depends on the individual and his attitudes, whether negative feelings are used as assets or liabilities. One striking example of this is the experience of Dr. J. B. Rhine, who founded Duke University’s Parapsychology Laboratory. Dr. Rhine said that ordinarily negative suggestions, distractions, or expressions of disbelief on the part of onlookers will have a decided adverse effect upon a subject’s scoring when he is trying to “guess” the order of cards in a special deck, or is being tested in any other way for telepathic ability. Praise, encouragement, or “pulling for” the subject nearly always causes him to score better. Discouragement and negative suggestions can almost always be counted on to send the test scoring down immediately and dramatically. However, occasionally, a subject will take such negative suggestions as “challenges,” and perform even better. For example, a subject by the name of Pearce consistently scored well above pure chance (five correct “calls” out of a deck of 25 cards). Dr. Rhine decided to try challenging Pearce to do even better. He was challenged before each trial with a wager that he would not get the next card right. “It was evident during the run that Pearce was being stirred up to a high pitch of intensity. The bet was simply a convenient way of leading him on to throw himself into the test with enthusiasm,” said Dr. Rhine. Pearce called all 25 cards correctly!

			Lillian, a nine-year-old, did better than average when nothing was at stake and she had nothing to worry about if she failed. She was then placed in a minor “pressure situation” by being offered 50 cents if she called all cards in the deck correctly. As she went through the test her lips moved constantly as if she was talking to herself. She called all 25 cards correctly. When she was asked what she had been saying to herself, she revealed her aggressive, positive attitude to the threat by saying, “I was wishing all the time that I could get twenty-five.”

			React Aggressively to Your Own Negative “Advice”

			Everyone has known individuals who can be discouraged and defeated by the advice from others that “you can’t do it.” On the other hand there are people who rise to the occasion and become more determined than ever to succeed when given the same advice. An associate of Henry J. Kaiser’s said, “If you don’t want Henry to do a thing, you had better not make the mistake of telling him it can’t be done or that he can’t do it—for he will then do it or bust.”

			It is not only possible, but entirely practicable, to react in the same aggressive, positive manner to the “negative advice” of our own feelings as we can and should when the negative advice comes from others.

			Overcome Evil with Good

			Feelings cannot be directly controlled by willpower. They cannot be voluntarily made to order, or turned on and off like a faucet. If they cannot be commanded, however, they can be wooed. If they cannot be controlled by a direct act of will, they can be controlled indirectly.

			A “bad” feeling is not dispelled by conscious effort or willpower. It can be dispelled, however, by another feeling. If we cannot drive out a negative feeling by making a frontal assault upon it, we can accomplish the same result by substituting a positive feeling. Remember that feeling follows imagery. Feeling coincides with, and is appropriate to, what our nervous system accepts as “real” or the “truth about environment.” Whenever we find ourselves experiencing undesirable feeling-tones, we should not concentrate on the undesirable feeling, even to the extent of driving it out. Instead, we should immediately concentrate on positive imagery—on filling the mind with wholesome, positive, desirable images, imaginations, and memories. If we do this, the negative feelings take care of themselves. They simply evaporate. We develop new feeling-tones appropriate to the new imagery.

			If, on the other hand, we concentrate only on “driving out,” or attacking, worry thoughts, we necessarily must concentrate on negatives. And even if we are successful in driving out one worry thought, one is—or even several new ones are—likely to rush in since the general mental atmosphere is still negative. Jesus warned us about sweeping the mind clean of one demon, only to have seven new ones move in if we left the house empty. He also advised us not to resist evil, but to overcome evil with good.

			The Substitution Method of Curing Worry

			Psychologist Dr. Matthew Chappell recommended exactly the same thing in his book How to Control Worry. We are worriers because we practice worrying until we become adept at it, said Dr. Chappell. We habitually indulge in negative imagery out of the past, and in anticipating the future. This worry creates tension. The worrier then makes an “effort” to stop worrying, and is caught in a vicious cycle. Effort increases tension. Tension provides a “worrying atmosphere.” The only cure for worry, he said, is to make a habit out of immediately substituting pleasant, wholesome, mental images for unpleasant “worry images.” Each time the subject finds himself worrying, he is to use this as a “signal” to immediately fill the mind with pleasant mental pictures out of the past or with anticipating pleasant future experiences. In time worry will defeat itself because it becomes a stimulus for practicing anti-worry. Dr. Chappell continued: The worrier’s job is not to overcome some particular source of worry, but to change mental habits. As long as the mind is “set” or geared in a passive, defeatist, I-hope-nothing-happens sort of attitude, there will always be something to worry about.

			David Seabury, founder of the Centralist School of Psychology, said that the best piece of advice his father ever gave him was to practice positive mental imagery—immediately and “on cue,” so to speak— whenever he became aware of negative feelings. Negative feelings literally defeated themselves by becoming a sort of “bell” that set off a conditioned reflex to arouse positive states of mind.

			When I was a medical student I remember being called upon by the professor to orally answer questions on the subject of pathology. Somehow, I was filled with fear and anxiety when I stood up to face the other students, and I couldn’t answer the questions properly. Yet, on other occasions, when I looked into the microscope at a slide and answered the typewritten questions before me, I was a different person. I was relaxed, confident, and sure of myself because I knew my subject. I had that “winning feeling” and did very well.

			As the semester progressed, I took stock of myself, and when I stood up to answer questions I pretended I didn’t see an audience but was looking through a microscope. I was relaxed, and substituted that “winning feeling” for the negative feeling when quizzed orally. At the end of the semester I did very well in both oral and written examinations.

			The negative feeling had finally become a sort of “bell” that created a conditioned reflex to arouse that “winning feeling.”

			Today, I lecture and speak with ease at any gathering in any part of the world, because I am relaxed and know what I am talking about when I do speak. More than that, I bring others into the conversation and make them feel relaxed, too.

			Throughout 25 years of practice as a plastic surgeon, I operated on soldiers mutilated on the battlefield; children born with disfigurements; men, women, and children injured in accidents at home, on the highway, and in industry. These unfortunate people felt that they could never have that “winning feeling.” Yet, by rehabilitating them and making them look normal, I helped them substitute for their negative feelings one of hope in the future.

			In giving them another chance at capturing that “winning feeling,” I myself became skillful in the art of having that same feeling. In helping them improve their self-image I improved my own. All of us must do the same with our inner scars, our negative feelings, if we want to get more living out of life.

			The Choice Is Up to You

			Within you is a vast mental storehouse of past experiences and feelings—both failures and successes. Like inactive recordings on tape, these experiences and feelings are recorded on the neural engrams of your gray matter. There are recordings of stories with happy endings, and recordings of stories with unhappy endings. One is as true as the other. One is as real as the other. The choice is up to you as to which you select for playback.

			Another interesting scientific finding about these engrams is that they can be changed or modified, somewhat as a tape recording may be changed, by “dubbing in” additional material, or replacing an old recording by recording over it.

			Drs. Eccles and Sherrington tell us that the engrams in the human brain tend to change slightly each time they are “played back.” They take on some of the tone and temper of our present mood, thinking, and attitudes toward them. Also, each individual neuron may become a part of perhaps 100 separate and distinct patterns—much as an individual tree in an orchard may form a part of a square, a rectangle, a triangle, and any number of larger squares, etc. The neuron in the original engram, of which it was a part, takes on some of the characteristics of subsequent engrams of which it becomes a part, and in so doing, changes somewhat the original engram. This is not only very interesting, but encouraging. It gives us reason to believe that adverse and unhappy childhood experiences, “traumas,” etc., are not as permanent and as fatal as some earlier psychologists would have had us believe. We now know that not only does the past influence the present, but that the present clearly influences the past. In other words, we are not doomed or damned by the past. Because we did have unhappy childhood experiences and traumas that left engrams behind does not mean that we are at the mercy of these engrams, or that our patterns of behavior are “set,” predetermined and unchangeable. Our present thinking, our present mental habits, our attitudes toward past experiences, and our attitudes toward the future—all have an influence upon old recorded engrams. The old can be changed, modified, replaced, by our present thinking.

			Old Recordings Can Be Changed

			Another interesting finding is that the more a given engram is activated, or “replayed,” the more potent it becomes. Eccles and Sherrington tell us that the permanence of engrams is derived from synaptic efficacy (the efficiency and ease of connections between the individual neurons that make up the chain) and, further, that synaptic efficiency improves with use and diminishes with disuse. Here again, we have good scientific ground for forgetting and ignoring those unhappy experiences from the past and concentrating on the happy and pleasant. By so doing we strengthen those engrams having to do with success and happiness and weaken those having to do with failure and unhappiness.

			These concepts have developed not from wild speculation, a weird mumbo-jumbo about mentally constructed straw men such as the “id,” “superego,” and the like, but from sound scientific research into brain physiology. They are based on observable facts and phenomena, not fanciful theories. They go a long way toward restoring the dignity of man as a responsible child of God, able to cope with his past and plan his future, as opposed to the image of man as helpless victim of his past experiences.

			The new concept does carry a responsibility, however. No longer can you derive sickly comfort from blaming your parents, society, your early experiences, or the injustices of “others” for your present troubles. These things may and should help you understand how you got where you are. Blaming them, or even yourself, for the past mistakes, however, will not solve your problem, or improve your present or your future. There is no merit in blaming yourself. The past explains how you got here. But where you go from here is your responsibility. The choice is yours. Like a broken phonograph, you can keep on playing the same old “broken record” of the past; reliving past injustices; pitying yourself for past mistakes—all of which reactivates failure patterns and failure feelings that color your present and your future.

			Or, if you choose, you can put on a new record, and reactivate success patterns and “that winning feeling,” which help you do better in the present and promise a more enjoyable future.

			When your phonograph is playing music you don’t like, you do not try to force it to do better. You do not use effort or willpower. You do not bang the phonograph around. You do not try to change the music itself. You merely change the record being played and the music takes care of itself. Use the same technique on the “music” that comes out of your own internal machine. Don’t pit your will directly against the music. As long as the same mental imagery (the cause) occupies your attention, no amount of effort will change the music (the result). Instead, try putting a new record on. Change your mental imagery, and the feelings will take care of themselves.

			KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER

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			YOUR CASE HISTORY

			List here an experience from your past that is explained by the principles given in this chapter:

			

		

	
		
			AFTERWORD
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			What You Can Expect with Psycho-Cybernetics

			Congratulations, you’ve reached a new beginning. No, not the beginning of this book—but rather, the beginning of a new you, an ever-evolving you. Just think, this book was first published more than a half century ago—yet the principles and techniques are just as valid today as they’ve ever been. And they continue to inspire people and change lives all over the planet. Each day, people from all over the world come to psycho-cybernetics.com, subscribe to our list, and/or send me emails telling about their positive experiences. It’s truly awesome to be part of this journey with you.

			To close out this book, I’d like to cover a couple important “signs” that you may, over time, begin to notice in your life when you regularly implement the daily practice of Psycho-Cybernetics—in particular, using mental imagery in a relaxed state.

			First, you will begin to notice that the calm, relaxed state you put yourself into before using mental imagery will grow stronger and you’ll carry this calmness with you throughout the day. If you ever miss a day, you’ll definitely notice a difference and will want to immediately get back on track.

			With each consecutive day of practice, your ability to picture and feel positive will also increase. Over time, this leads to a feeling of being in flow. Yet this flow doesn’t come if you only read the book or practice once in a while. It’s the “daily bath” you take in the principles of Psycho-Cybernetics that makes the difference.

			Second, you’ll note that Psycho-Cybernetics, unlike other self-help systems, does not tell you to set a deadline for the goals you want to achieve. This does not mean that having an end date attached to your goal is wrong—but it may be wrong for the goal. There are goals that are helped with timelines and goals that are hindered.

			The purpose of mental imagery is to give your Creative Mechanism a goal to move toward without inhibition or tension. You feed this goal to your brain and nervous system with imagery and emotion. If you attach a definite date to the goal, you may actually clog the mechanism and cause a jam. You’ll know if you’ve done such a thing if you begin to feel tense or nervous about whether or not you can achieve the goal by the date you’ve set for yourself. Some people who have set financial goals and put dates of accomplishment by them can’t figure out why they’ve gone into a negative mental state. Oftentimes it’s because they have trouble believing they can achieve the financial goal by the date they’ve set.

			Based on my own experience in this matter, as well as all the people I’ve coached over the years, I believe anyone would be better served without the rigid time frame. You could just begin to imagine the goal—and feel good about having it. You could imagine what you want, and when the action steps come to you, you follow through. Once you’ve taken these actions, you make progress. You may be surprised that you feel better and achieve your goal sooner than you’d expected. Why? Because you never had to fight a belief about when you were going to achieve your goal. You only had to convince yourself that you could and would achieve the goal. Your automatic guidance system never got jammed.

			Third, in the beginning you’re better off picturing a short-term goal or project—as well as something that tends to be emotionally charged. Picturing something you’d like to create in a day or a week is better than having a goal that is a year or further in the distance. Play around with this process and have fun with it. Start with small stuff before tackling the big stuff. In this way you’ll build confidence in the process—and in yourself.

			Fourth, over time, as you use mental imagery on a daily, consistent basis, other mental skills may begin showing up in your life. What type of skills? In Psycho-Cybernetics, you will see how many times Dr. Maltz referred to parapsychology and the work of Dr. Rhine of Duke University on skills like ESP, clairvoyance, telepathy, and so on. Based on the number of times he mentioned it, as well as the fact that he mentioned it at all, I’m willing to bet that the topic was of deep interest to him. I’m also willing to bet that Dr. Maltz wrote about these topics (albeit briefly) because, with the daily practice of mental imagery and feeling, his sixth sense, and all that goes with it, improved dramatically.

			Why do I say this? How can I make such a bold statement? Because it happened to me. I began having intuitive flashes, sensing things at levels I didn’t believe were possible for me, doing healing work on others, and so on. And this happened of its own accord. I did nothing in the beginning to make it happen or even to learn more about it. In fact, I was actually a bit frightened by the reality of these seemingly unreal experiences.

			As Dr. Maltz said in the beginning of this book, he was reluctant to discuss or talk about many of these experiences because “if I presented some of the case histories and described the rather amazing and spectacular improvements in personality, I would be accused of exaggerating, or trying to start a cult, or both.”

			Even so, I believe now is the time to open these other abilities to those who’d like to pursue them under the umbrella and direction of the Psycho-Cybernetics Foundation Inc.

			If you’ll recall from an earlier mention, Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Stan “the Man” Musial openly declared that he had the gift of ESP—he’d hear a voice telling him what pitch was coming when he was at the plate—and the voice was never wrong. Makes me wonder how many Hall of Fame athletes have a sixth sense for what is going on in the game that they don’t dare talk about.

			It’s a fascinating topic of conversation at the very least. The way I see it, if the intuitive skills are showing up of their own accord, without your even asking for them or wanting them, then why not recognize this as a sign to learn more about these “gifts” so you can use them to help others and make your life better?

			I’d like to close this afterword with a personal story you may find helpful in recognizing the freeing and healing power of forgiveness about which Dr. Maltz wrote.

			In the summer of 1982, I was having the time of my life. I was happy. I was smiling. I was truly enjoying life. Yet, unbeknownst to me, I was only a few hours away from having a dramatic and traumatic experience; something that would scar me for life and change my face forever.

			Along with a group of wrestlers and coaches, I had just returned to the University of Iowa after working a 14-day camp in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. The following day a new camp would begin. This one would be 28 days long. I was excited to be working it—so excited, in fact, that in the early evening I went for a five-mile run with several of my teammates.

			Afterward we sat in the sauna for 20 minutes, showered, and went out for pasta. Then we hit the bar for a few drinks. Back then the legal drinking age in Iowa was 19—and boy did I feel privileged. I felt on top of the world. After several drinks my good mood was further elevated. No one could touch me. No one could hurt me. I was invincible.

			Next thing you know I’m involved in a fight and the guy I’m fighting doesn’t believe in rules. And so, after he tossed his beer on my shirt, I pushed him backward. He came back toward me and instead of trying to punch me with his bare fists, he grabbed an empty glass beer pitcher and threw a left hook. I did my best imitation of Muhammad Ali. I leaned backward to avoid the impact—but my agility fell short. He stepped through and whacked me across the right side of my face.

			Glass shattered. Blood sprayed from my head as if it were shot from a fire hose.

			I was laid open. The skin from my eyebrow, eyelid, and cheek hung down the side of my face. I lifted my long-sleeved T-shirt to my face, cushioned the dangling skin in my hand, and pressed it against my head to control the bleeding. My eyelid was shredded to ribbons. My cheek, upper lip, and neck were bleeding—and fragments of glass were nestled deep inside my eye and cheek.

			I can still hear the horrifying screams of those who saw the blood gushing from me. I can still see myself being escorted outdoors.

			An ambulance arrived within what seemed like seconds. The paramedics wrapped my head and rushed me to Emergency at the University Hospital in Iowa City.

			In the ER, the doctors informed me that my face looked like a “jigsaw puzzle,” that I had glass fragments in my face and eye—and when they took a closer look, one doctor said, “My friend, somebody upstairs must have been looking out for you. You’re lucky you didn’t lose your eye.” Later on I was informed that I was lucky I wasn’t dead.

			When I was lying on the table waiting to be stitched back together—a man showed up and called me by name.

			I instantly recognized his voice. He was my coach, Dan Gable, an Olympic gold medalist, considered by many to be the greatest American wrestler and coach who ever lived. He was my childhood idol and role model—and now he stood next to me looking at my shattered face.

			I was embarrassed and humiliated and could not hold back the shame I felt.

			What an idiot I was.

			As I broke down, Coach Gable looked at me and said, “What’s wrong?”

			I was trying to formulate an answer—then the surgeon saved me by saying, “Coach, I think this is a traumatic experience he’s going through.”

			“Oh,” Coach Gable said. “I understand.”

			That he did. When he was 15, he was in Wisconsin with his mother and father on a fishing trip. His older sister, Diane, was due to arrive the next day. She never made it because the night previous, a man had broken into the Gable home, where he raped and murdered her.

			The agony from this experience crushed the Gable family. The mother and father didn’t want to live in the home any longer. A horrible crime took place there and the place, to them, was haunted.

			Diane’s room was empty—and the pain of knowing this caused turmoil and fighting. Finally, sensing the family wasn’t going to survive if the fighting continued, young Dan stepped up and made an announcement.

			“I’m moving into Diane’s room,” he said with his hands on his hips and his elbows flared like Superman.

			Dan’s move saved the Gable family.

			Now this same brave person was standing before me. He was a man, now with many championships and champions to his credit. He represented all the qualities I admired in a human being. I wanted to be like him. That was my goal all throughout high school—to be coached by Gable one day. And now, after one season on his team, I faced him with gaping wounds.

			• • •

			Seven hours later, when I was finally able to look at myself in the mirror, I was scarred and swollen. My head itched badly—yet when I tried to relieve it with a scratch, I didn’t feel anything. This lack of feeling lasted six months.

			After the stitches were removed, I knew I had to put what happened behind me and get busy training. I had a national title to win and there was no time to sit around wallowing in self-pity. So I poured my heart and soul into training and school and ignored what had happened to me. I never spoke about it. I completely blocked it out of my mind.

			A lawsuit was filed on my behalf. I didn’t really want anything to do with it at first. I felt guilty about what had happened. I knew I had played a part in causing it. But my mother and father pushed forward with it because, as they told me, although I did some inappropriate things, nothing I did equaled the need for someone to split my face open with a glass beer pitcher.

			Five years later, when the settlement check was cut, I received a whopping $16,000—one-third of which went to the lawyer. When the check arrived, I really needed it. I was fresh out of college, had a national collegiate wrestling title under my belt, had opened a business as a personal fitness trainer—and needed to get equipment to train my clients, not to mention money to advertise.

			Fast-forward to the summer of 2007. Twenty-five years had passed since the bar fight—and yet, until that day, I was not fully aware that I still needed to turn this memory loose with forgiveness.

			That morning, when I went into my mental movie house and got into a relaxed state of mind, I realized something strange. I could not visualize my goals. I could not look at past successes or moments of happiness. There was a hidden movie in my mind that was begging for my attention and it wouldn’t go away. It was a dreadful ghost from the past. It was the memory of me at 19 years of age, getting into a bar fight in Iowa City.

			Twenty-one years after the fight happened I began to write and talk about the incident for the first time. I told people who attended my seminars about it in order to help them rise above their own internal scars. I wanted them to see that despite being “scarred for life” I was able to turn what happened to me into a positive. Yet each time I told the story I was unable to do so without tears of grief pouring out of me. There was still incredible pain locked inside my mind about the fracas—pain I had never acknowledged—pain that was begging to be transformed.

			And so, on that morning when I was unable to visualize my goals, I decided to do something I had never done before. I would not just talk about being scarred for life, I would not just write about it. With my eyes closed I would go back in time and see everything. I would relive the event. I would sit on the floor in the bar and watch as the beer pitcher cracked against my skin. I would hang from the lights to get a different view. I would sit on a bar stool for another perspective.

			At first I was amazed at all the things I could do with the experience. Then, when I saw blood spurting from my head and witnessed how I lifted my shirt to my face, I asked myself, “What are you feeling right now?”

			This question prompted an avalanche of sadness. With my eyes closed, still reliving the trauma and sobbing uncontrollably, I mouthed the words, “I CAN’T FIGHT BACK.”

			For the first time in my young adult life, I was put into a situation where I couldn’t do anything except wait to get medical attention. For a competitive wrestler and athlete, not being able to fight back was utterly humiliating. This reality stung more than getting hit. And at that moment, without realizing it, I began to create an internal scar. The one on my face paled in comparison to the one locked inside of me.

			In the midst of deep anguish, as I sat on the floor continuing to relive what I believed to be a horrible experience that I thought I deserved, a voice of compassion and love came through the clouds. I’ve never written about it this way until now, but I believe the “voice” was guidance from Dr. Maltz, telling me, “Matt, you were 19. You made a mistake. Both of you made mistakes. Forgive yourself. Let it go. Forgive him, too. Stop carrying this pain around with you. You don’t need it anymore. Let it go. Bless yourself and bless the man who did this to you.”

			I began to follow the guidance I was being given. I pictured the man who hit me standing before me with the shattered remains of the pitcher in his hands. I saw and heard him letting out a loud shriek, apparently happy with what he had done. I looked at him and waved my hand at him in the shape of a smile. A big smile. I blessed him with a smile that I painted into the air between us.

			Then the voice of guidance said, “Now look at the pitcher he’s holding . . . and turn it into a feather. A feather with ink on it. This feather is writing your ticket through life.”

			Then, just before I opened my eyes, I heard the voice again. “Matt, think how many people in the world have been put into a situation where they believed they couldn’t fight back. With the power of mental pictures and the feelings they create, you will show them how they can forgive themselves and others and greatly improve their lives as a result of doing so. Everything in life is a mental picture. Every goal you have begins as a picture in your mind. And anything you don’t like about yourself or your life can be changed by changing your mental pictures. Never forget: Even forgiveness is a mental picture.”

		

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

			Steam boilers have pressure gauges that show when the pressure is reaching the danger point. By recognizing the potential danger, corrective action can be taken—and safety assured. Dead-end streets, blind alleys, and impassable roads can cause you inconvenience and delay your arrival at your destination if they are not clearly marked and recognized for what they are. However, if you can read the signposts, and take proper corrective action, detour signs, dead-end street signs, and the like can help you reach your destination easier and more efficiently.

			The human body has its own “red light” signals and “danger signs,” which doctors refer to as symptoms or syndromes. Patients are prone to regard symptoms as malevolent; a fever, a pain, etc., is “bad.” Actually, these negative signals function for the patient, and for his benefit, if he recognizes them for what they are, and takes corrective action. They are the pressure gauges and red lights that help maintain the body in health. The pain of appendicitis may seem bad to the patient, but actually it operates for the patient’s survival. If he felt no pain he would take no action toward having the appendix removed.

			The failure-type personality also has its symptoms. We need to be able to recognize these failure symptoms in ourselves so that we can do something about them. When we learn to recognize certain personality traits as signposts to failure, these symptoms then act automatically as negative feedback. However, we not only need to become “aware” of them, but we also need to recognize them as “undesirables,” as things that we do not want, and most important of all convince ourselves deeply and sincerely that these things do not bring happiness.

			No one is immune to these negative feelings and attitudes. Even the most successful personalities experience them at times. The important thing is to recognize them for what they are, and take positive action to correct course.

			The Picture of Failure

			Again, I have found that patients can remember these negative feedback signals, or what I call the “Failure Mechanism,” when they associate them with the letters that make up the word “failure.” They are:

			Frustration, hopelessness, futility

			Aggressiveness (misdirected)

			Insecurity

			Loneliness (lack of “oneness”)

			Uncertainty

			Resentment

			Emptiness

			Understanding Brings Cure

			No one sits down and deliberately, with malice aforethought, decides to develop these negative traits just to be perverse. They do not “just happen.” Nor are they an indication of the imperfection of human nature. Each of these negatives was originally adopted as a way to solve a difficulty or a problem. We adopt them because we mistakenly see them as a way out of some difficulty. They have meaning and purpose, although based on a mistaken premise. They constitute a way of life for us. Remember, one of the strongest urges in human nature is to react appropriately. We can cure these failure symptoms, not by willpower, but by understanding—by being able to see that they do not work and that they are inappropriate.

			The truth can set us free from them. And when we can see the truth, then the same instinctive forces that caused us to adopt them in the first place, will work in our behalf in eradicating them.

			Frustration

			Frustration is an emotional feeling that develops whenever some important goal cannot be realized or when some strong desire is thwarted. All of us must necessarily suffer some frustration by the very fact of being human and therefore imperfect, incomplete, unfinished. As we grow older we should learn that all desires cannot be satisfied immediately. We also learn that our “doing” can never be as good as our intentions. We also learn to accept the fact that perfection is neither necessary nor required, and that approximations are good enough for all practical purposes. We learn to tolerate a certain amount of frustration without becoming upset about it.

			It is only when a frustrating experience brings excessive emotional feelings of deep dissatisfaction and futility that it becomes a symptom of failure.

			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.

			PRACTICAL GOALS VS. PERFECTIONISTIC GOALS

			To his friends, Jim S. was a successful man. He had risen from stock clerk to vice president of his company. His golf score was in the low 80s. He had a beautiful wife and two children who loved him. But, nevertheless, he felt chronically frustrated because none of these measured up to his unrealistic goals. He himself was not perfect in every particular, but he should be. He should be chairman of the board by now. He should be shooting in the low seventies. He should be such a perfect husband and father that his wife would never find cause to disagree with him, and his children never misbehave. Hitting the bull’s-eye was not good enough. He had to hit the infinitesimal speck in the center of the bull’s-eye. “You should use the same technique in all your affairs that Jackie Burke recommends in putting,” I told him. “That is not to feel that you have to pinpoint the ball right to the cup itself on a long putt, but to aim at an area the size of a washtub. This takes off the strain, relaxes you, enables you to perform better. If it’s good enough for the professionals, it should be good enough for you.”

			HIS SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY MADE FAILURE CERTAIN

			Harry N. was somewhat different. He had won none of the external symbols of success. Yet he had had many opportunities, all of which he muffed. Three times he had been on the verge of landing the job he wanted and each time “something happened”—something was always defeating him just when success seemed within his grasp. Twice he had been disappointed in love affairs.

			His self-image was that of an unworthy, incompetent, inferior person who had no right to succeed, or to enjoy the better things in life, and unwittingly he tried to be true to that role. He felt he was not the sort of person to be successful and always managed to do something to make this self-fulfilling prophecy come true.

			FRUSTRATION AS A WAY OF SOLVING PROBLEMS DOES NOT WORK

			Expressing frustration, discontent, or dissatisfaction is a way of responding to problems that we all “learned” as infants. If an infant is hungry he expresses discontent by crying. A warm, tender hand then appears magically out of nowhere and brings milk. If he is uncomfortable, he again expresses his dissatisfaction with the status quo, and the same warm hands appear magically again and solve his problem by making him comfortable. Many children continue to get their way, and have their problems solved by overindulgent parents, by merely expressing their feelings of frustration. All they have to do is feel frustrated and dissatisfied and the problem is solved. This way of life “works” for the infant and for some small children. It does not work in adult life. Yet many of us continue to try it, by feeling discontented and expressing our grievances against life, apparently in the hope that life itself will take pity—rush in and solve our problem for us—if only we feel badly enough. Jim S. was unconsciously using this childish technique in the hope that some magic would bring him the perfection he craved. Harry N. had practiced feeling frustrated and defeated so much that feelings of defeat became habitual with him. He projected them into the future and expected to fail. His habitual defeatist feelings helped create a picture of himself as a defeated person. Thoughts and feelings go together. Feelings are the soil that thoughts and ideas grow in. This is the reason that you have been advised throughout this book to imagine how you would feel if you succeeded—and then feel that way now.

			Aggressiveness

			Excessive and misdirected aggressiveness follows frustration as night follows day. This was proved conclusively by a group of Yale scientists many years ago in their book Frustration and Aggressiveness.

			Aggressiveness itself is not an abnormal behavior pattern as some psychiatrists once believed. Aggressiveness—along with emotional steam—is very necessary in reaching a goal. We must go out after what we want in an aggressive rather than in a defensive or tentative manner. We must grapple with problems aggressively. The mere fact of having an important goal is enough to create emotional steam in our boiler and bring aggressive tendencies into play. However, trouble ensues when we are blocked or frustrated in achieving our goal. The emotional steam is then dammed up, seeking an outlet. Misdirected, or unused, it becomes a destructive force. The worker who wants to punch his boss in the nose, but doesn’t dare, goes home and snaps at his wife and kids or kicks the cat. Or he may turn his aggressiveness upon himself in much the same way that a certain scorpion in South America will sting itself and die of its own poison when angered.

			DON’T LASH OUT BLINDLY: CONCENTRATE YOUR FIRE

			The failure-type personality does not direct his aggressiveness toward the accomplishment of a worthwhile goal. Instead it is used in such self-destructive channels as ulcers, high blood pressure, worry, excessive smoking, and compulsive overwork; or it may be turned on other persons in the form of irritability, rudeness, gossip, nagging, fault-finding.

			Or, if his goals are unrealistic and impossible, the solution of this type person, when he meets defeats, is to “try harder than ever.” When he finds that he is butting his head up against a stone wall, he unconsciously figures that the solution to his problem is to butt his head even harder.

			The answer to aggression is not to eradicate it, but to understand it, and provide proper and appropriate channels for its expression. Dr. Konrad Lorenz, the famous Viennese doctor and animal sociologist, told psychiatrists at the Postgraduate Center for Psychotherapy (now the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health), in New York City, that the study of animal behavior for many years has shown that aggressive behavior is basic and fundamental, and that an animal cannot feel or express affection until channels have been provided for the expression of aggression. Dr. Emanuel K. Schwartz, then assistant dean of the center, said that Dr. Lorenz’s discoveries have tremendous implications for man and may require us to reevaluate our total view of human relations. They indicate, he said, that providing a proper outlet for aggression is as important, if not more so, than providing for love and tenderness.

			KNOWLEDGE GIVES YOU POWER

			Merely understanding the mechanism involved helps a person handle the frustration-aggression cycle. Misdirected aggression is an attempt to hit one target (the original goal) by lashing out at any target. It doesn’t work. You don’t solve one problem by creating another. If you feel like snapping at someone, stop and ask yourself—“Is this merely my own frustration at work? What has frustrated me?” When you see that your response is inappropriate, you have gone a long way toward controlling it. It also takes much of the sting away, when someone is rude to you, if you realize that it is probably not a willful act, but an automatic mechanism at work. The other fellow is letting off steam that he could not use in achieving some goal. Many automobile accidents are caused by the frustration-aggression mechanism. The next time someone is rude to you in traffic, try this: Instead of becoming aggressive and thus a menace yourself, say to yourself: “The poor fellow has nothing against me personally. Maybe he burned the toast this morning, he can’t pay the rent, or his boss chewed him out.”

			SAFETY VALVES FOR EMOTIONAL STEAM

			When you are blocked in achieving some important goal, you are somewhat like a steam locomotive with a full head of steam with nowhere to go. You need a safety valve for your excess of emotional steam. All types of physical exercise are excellent for draining off aggression. Long brisk walks, push-ups, and dumbbell exercises are good. Especially good are those games where you hit or smash something—golf, tennis, bowling, punching the bag. Many frustrated people intuitively recognize the value of heavy muscular exercise in draining off aggressiveness when they feel an urge to rearrange all the furniture in the house after becoming upset. Another good device is to vent your spleen in writing. Write a letter to the person who has frustrated or angered you. Pull out all the stops. Leave nothing to the imagination. Then burn the letter.

			The best channel of all for aggression is to use it up as it was intended to be used—in working toward some goal. Work remains one of the best therapies, and one of the best tranquilizers for a troubled spirit.

			
			Opening up the valves and letting off steam is also done through such practices as the martial arts—but in much greater detail with the so-called internal martial arts, such as Tai Chi, Aikido, and Systema. In these practices you not only consciously engage the body, you also tune in to your breathing and learn to relax the tension from your muscles. Most physical activities, even though they help by being a positive outlet for aggression, do not cover how to relax and breathe, skills that you can bring with you throughout the day into everything you do.

			

			Insecurity

			The feeling of insecurity is based on a concept or belief of inner inadequacy. If you feel that you do not “measure up” to what is required, you feel insecure. A great deal of insecurity is not due to the fact that our inner resources are actually inadequate, but due to the fact that we use a false measuring stick. We compare our actual abilities to an imagined “ideal,” perfect, or absolute self. Thinking of yourself in terms of absolutes induces insecurity.

			The insecure person feels that he should be good—period. He should be successful—period. He should be happy, competent, poised—period. These are all worthy goals. But they should be thought of, at least in their absolute sense, as goals to be achieved, as something to reach for, rather than as shoulds.

			Since man is a goal-striving mechanism, the self realizes itself fully only when man is moving forward toward something. Remember our comparison with the bicycle in a previous chapter? Man maintains his balance, poise, and sense of security only as he is moving forward—or seeking. When you think of yourself as having attained the goal, you become static, and you lose the security and equilibrium you had when you were moving toward something. The man who is convinced that he is “good” in the absolute sense, not only has no incentive to do better, but he feels insecure because he must defend the sham and pretense. “The man who thinks that he has ‘arrived’ has about used up his usefulness to us,” the president of a large business said to me recently. When someone called Jesus “good,” he admonished him, “Why callest thou me good? There is but one good and that is the Father.” St. Paul is generally regarded as a “good” man, yet his own attitude was “I count myself not to have achieved . . . but I press on toward the goal.”

			KEEP YOUR FEET ON SOLID GROUND

			Trying to stand on the top of a pinnacle is insecure. Mentally, get down off your high horse and you will feel more secure.

			This has very practical applications. It explains the underdog psychology in sports. When a championship team begins to think of itself as “the champions,” they no longer have something to fight for, but a status to defend. The champions are defending something, trying to prove something. The underdogs are fighting to do something and often bring about an upset.

			I used to know a boxer who fought well until he won the championship. In his next fight he lost the championship and looked bad doing so. After losing the title, he fought well again and regained the championship. A wise manager said to him, “You can fight as well as champion as when you’re the contender if you’ll remember one thing. When you step into that ring you aren’t defending the championship—you’re fighting for it. You haven’t got it—you’ve laid it on the line when you crawl through the ropes.”

			The mental attitude that engenders insecurity is a “way.” It is a way of substituting sham and pretense for reality. It is a way of proving to yourself and others your superiority. But it is self-defeating. If you are perfect and superior now—then there is no need to fight, grapple, and try. In fact, if you are caught trying real hard, it may be considered evidence that you are not superior—so you don’t try. You lose your fight—your will to win.

			Loneliness

			All of us are lonely at times. Again, it is a natural penalty we pay for being human and individual. But it is the extreme and chronic feeling of loneliness—of being cut off and alienated from other people—that is a symptom of the failure mechanism.

			This type of loneliness is caused by an alienation from life. It is a loneliness from your real self. The person who is alienated from his real self has cut himself off from the basic and fundamental “contact” with life. The lonely person often sets up a vicious cycle. Because of his feeling of alienation from self, human contacts are not very satisfying, and he becomes a social recluse. In doing so, he cuts himself off from one of the pathways to finding himself, which is to lose oneself in social activities with other people. Doing things with other people, and enjoying things with other people, helps us to forget ourselves. In stimulating conversation, dancing, playing together, or working together for a common goal, we become interested in something other than maintaining our own shams and pretenses. As we get to know the other fellow, we feel less need for pretense. We “unthaw” and become more natural. The more we do this the more we feel we can afford to dispense with the sham and pretense and feel more comfortable just being ourselves.

			LONELINESS IS A “WAY” THAT DOESN’T WORK

			Loneliness is a way of self-protection. Lines of communication with other people—and especially any emotional ties—are cut down. It is a way to protect our idealized self against exposure, hurt, humiliation. The lonely personality is afraid of other people. The lonely person often complains that he has no friends, and there are no people to mix with. In most cases, he unwittingly arranges things in this manner because of his passive attitude, that it is up to other people to come to him, to make the first move, to see that he is entertained. It never occurs to him that he should contribute something to any social situation.

			Regardless of your feelings, force yourself to mix and mingle with other people. After the first cold plunge, you will find yourself warming up and enjoying it if you persist. Develop some social skill that will add to the happiness of other people: dancing, bridge, playing the piano, tennis, conversation. It is an old psychological axiom that constant exposure to the object of fear immunizes against the fear. As the lonely person continues to force himself into social relations with other human beings—not in a passive way, but as an active contributor—he will gradually find that most people are friendly, and that he is accepted. His shyness and timidity begin to disappear. He feels more comf