Surgeon Maxwell Maltz proposed that we are powerfully motivated to—actually must—produce in reality our self-image. If one wants to improve his life, he must improve his self-image. Maltz elaborates this theory, along with advice on improving self-image, in The Magic Power of Self-Image Psychology.
In an early chapter, Maltz introduces a though experiment. He encourages you to imagine yourself in a theater. You’ll find that you are also the primary actor in the show. In addition you are the writer and director. This is your self-image and you are in control—if you want to be.
Maltz returns to this concept of watching a film or play throughout the book. You can recall previous successes and bring that sense of confidence and accomplishment into the present moment to help you act with boldness. You can imagine yourself taking on challenges and overcoming them before it happens. You can use your imagination to anticipate problems. People often do this to stir up their fear and talk themselves into withdrawing, but you can also do it to invent solutions and find answers to objections so that you can proceed with reasonable confidence.
After introducing the idea of self-image, Maltz uses the remaining chapters to discuss building a healthy self-image to help you be happier and more successful in various situations or aspects of life. This covers a lot of ground, which is not easily summarized. Some of the advice seemed useful and interesting to me.
For instance, he discusses goals. Goals should be your own (not someone else’s). They should be realistic. Visualize your success (in that theater in your mind).
It’s important to be yourself. Don’t be afraid of being different. Don’t be afraid of seemingly perfect people. Accept yourself as a human being with strength and weaknesses; don’t beat yourself up. Express yourself in positive ways.
It’s natural to experience fear. Be open about it; fears seem less bad when they are brought out into the light. Solve problems as well as you can—imperfect solutions can still make things better. Once you’ve done what you can, think about something else.
Throughout the book, Maltz reiterates the basic theme. Your unconscious mind is working to produce what you want. Give it good and clear instructions by having a good, positive, realistic self-image. Your imagination, Maltz refers to it as your “success mechanism,” will guide you.
Maxwell Maltz also wrote Creative Living for Today.
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