Psycho Cybernetics Book Summary

One Paragraph Book Summary How we build our self-perception and how to correct a false self-image. Find out the stories you tell yourself and how those narratives are shaping your life.

Psycho Cybernetics Book Summary

Psycho-Cybernetics, A New Technique for Using Your Subconscious Power
a book by Maxwell Maltz

We have a specific image of ourselves. But where is this model coming from? And even more importantly, does this believe support us on our journey?

Some beliefs you have about yourself are detrimental to the long-term goals you have. You need to be aware of the stories you tell yourself.

In Psycho-Cybernetics, you will learn to change the false stories you tell yourself. You will see how to change the beliefs about yourself and improve your self-image.

These are the things I learned by reading the Blinks:

  • We form our self-image based on feedback we receive from people around us
  • We act upon the stories we tell ourselves
  • We can rewrite our system of beliefs

This post is based on the book Psycho-Cybernetics and the Blinks I listened to while walking to work. I learn from Blinkist's content each day. So if you enjoy this post, you will like their content even more.

Key Ideas

Feedback loops are building your self-image

Friends, family members, and teachers, all those people around us give us constant feedback. We use this feedback and our past successes and failures to form our beliefs about ourselves.

The stories we tell ourselves are significant because they will decide over our future successes and failures.

You will act like the sort of person you conceive yourself to be.—Maxwell Maltz

When a teacher, for example, tells you that you are not good at math, the probability is high that you will believe him. He is the authority; he studied math and knows so much more than you do about this subject. When this teacher tells you that you are not good at math, you will take his feedback and form your self-image based on it. And because you tell yourself this story, it will make it even more probable that you will not be good at math. It is hard to break this feedback loop, especially when you are not aware that this loop exists.

Overwrite negative stories you have about yourself

Beliefs are powerful; they can decide over success and failure in your life.

If these beliefs are so powerful, we need to find a way to change the preconceptions that let us fail in a particular area. All you need to do is to become aware and use your ability of rational thinking.

Rational thinking is a conscious process and, therefore, has the power to overwrite the stories you tell yourself.

It would be best if you become aware of the stories you tell yourself. If you fail, ask yourself, is there a story I'm telling myself? And then overwrite that story. Each new day is a unique opportunity to do just this.

The success mechanism

Cybernetics is the study of machines and mechanics. Maxwell Maltz compares the human brain with a device that gives automatic responses by processing feedback.

We can collect new insights by applying what Maltz calls psycho-cybernetics.

For example, Maltz discovered that there is a success mechanism at work when we try something new. We must tell ourselves that we will be successful.

That is because we cannot tell the difference between experiences we imagined and experiences that actually occurred. We all know about this phenomenon. You might have asked yourself in the past: did I just say this, or is it something I wanted to say?

Do you think this is mumbo jumbo? Did you know that professional skiers use this technique to improve their abilities?

Tell yourself positive stories

It would help if you practiced happiness in the current moment. Happiness is a feeling we carry in us. Therefore we are the master of our joy. We can decide over the response we give to certain stimuli.

If a driver honks at you, you are the person who can decide whether you want to be upset or happy. You can tell yourself that the driver was angry, or you can say to yourself that it might have been a friend greeting. Or, you can ignore it.

You are the master of your stories. Try to tell yourself positive stories by concentrating on the positive things.

The seven traits of SUCCESS

Your personality decides whether you will have favorable results or not. There are seven constituents of a successful nature.

To make these seven traits more memorable, Maltz came up with the acronym SUCCESS:

Sense of direction

To be successful, you need a sense of direction. It would be best if you had a goal that guides you in the desired direction.

Failures are often just the result of not understanding the material or situation. Understanding is essential to reach your goal.

It needs courage to take action and move toward your aim.

If you have Charity, you will be more likely to be successful because you understand the needs of other people.

Without Esteem it will be much harder for you to find your way.

Having self-confidence is crucial. Successes build your confidence. If you had successes in the past, it would be easier to be successful in the future. And, if you are self-confident, you will be able to forget previous failures.

You need to have the ability to accept your weaknesses. Weakness is not a hindrance if you allow yourself to concentrate on your strength. This ability is called self-acceptence.

The seven elements of FAILURE

If you find a way to avoid failure, you will find success. You need to know what causes an inability to prevent it.

Maxwell Maltz came up with the acronym FAILURE to make it easier to remember the fundamental factors of not succeeding.


You are more likely to fail when you allow yourself to feel frustrated; therefore, avoid Frustration.

Aggressiveness is often the trait of a failure-type personality. Aggression is self-destructive.

Never compare yourself to an imaginary ideal. It will produce insecurity and diminishes the possibility of success.

Loneliness is the feeling of being alienated from others. You need a strong network of people who you support and who will support you.

Uncertainty is yet another trait that might lower the chances of reaching your long-term goals. You need to make decisions, and you need to act.

You need to avoid resentment. There is no need to be resentful. Even a setback is just information you collect along your way.

Emptiness is another symptom of failure. If you are feeling empty, you will not strive.

Avoid any of the above elements, and you will significantly enhance the chances to be successful.

Forgiveness will keep you in good emotional health

You need to take care of your emotional scars. For physical injuries, your body builds scars to protect you from further damage. This protection also happens for your psychological injuries to protect your feelings in the future.

When this happens, you begin to isolate yourself from the people who caused you the harm. But at the same time, you may isolate yourself from the world.

This isolation can stand in your way. You need to tear down the walls you built to protect yourself from emotional damage—practice forgiveness to do just this.

Learn to ignore disruptive stimuli

We all have habits that are detrimental to our goals. For example, if the phone rings, we usually drop everything we just do at that moment to answer the phone. Answering the phone is seldom an action you are fully aware of; you do it on autopilot.

To get more freedom, we need to become more aware of disruptive stimuli in your environment and learn to respond to them with awareness. Becoming aware will leave you with greater peace of mind.

There are lots of bells and whistles in your environment. Learn to let the bell ring.


First Insight: We form our self-image based on feedback we receive

Our self-image, strongly held, essentially determines what we become.—Maxwell Maltz

Whatever we do, we receive feedback from the world around us. Some feedback will be positive; other will be negative. Some feedback will be correct, and some will be wrong.

When we do not already have a self-image in a specific domain, we cannot fully judge whether the input we receive is correct, partly correct, or total nonsense.

Therefore we may start to believe things that are not true. The false information will become part of our belief system.

Now, most of the time, we act upon our system of beliefs. We do not think through every decision we make. Therefore it is quite possible that we do not act according to our abilities but only upon what we believe we can do.

Second Insight: We act upon the stories we tell ourselves

Your nervous system cannot tell the difference between an imagined experience and a real experience.—Maxwell Maltz

We tell ourselves stories. We do this all day long. For example: when two colleagues whisper when you are near, you start to tell yourself the story that they are talking about you. And you suspect because they speak in a way that you should not be able to listen, that it is something terrible.

This story is just one example, you do not have enough information, but you already start to add the missing parts and even make up some parts of the story.

Another typical example of a negative story people are telling themselves might be familiar. A girl tells herself she cannot be good at math because she heard that boys are good with math, and girls are not. This false claim spreads like a virus and becomes part of the identity of so many people.

Third Insight: We can rewrite our system of beliefs

Our self-image and our habits tend to go together. Change one, and you will automatically change the other.—Maxwell Maltz 

I told myself the story of not being good at public speaking because I had a hard time speaking in front of my class back in the school days. I told myself this story for many years until I joined Toastmasters.

There I got the feedback that my public speaking ability is not below average. It was just normal.

With the feedback from fellow Toastmasters, I was able to rewrite the story I told myself for so many years. With the right coaching and practice, I was able to hoist my abilities to a level above average, well hopefully even better :)


Sometimes we act like machines. We respond to specific inputs automatically without awareness. When we learn about our mechanics, we can learn to give better responses. This is what Maltz calls psycho-cybernetics. You can use his ideas to edit your self-image and rid yourself of negative traits. The teaching in this book will help you to live an enhanced, fulfilling life.


  • Exercise awareness
  • Focus, learn to let the bell ring
  • Become aware of the stories you tell yourself
  • Keep the stories that support your long-term goals
  • Overwrite negative stories you tell yourself
  • Edit your self-image
  • Practice forgiveness
  • Avoid the elements of failure: frustration, aggressiveness, insecurity, loneliness, uncertainty, resentment, and emptiness
  • Accept yourself, focus on your strength
  • Build small successes to edit your self-image and foster your self-confidence
  • Use the success mechanism

  Read more about Maxwell Maltz on Wikipedia.

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Maltz also wrote the play Unseen Scar and the novel The Time is Now.

Posted on CuteMachine in happiness, health, mindfulness, mindset, personal growth, psychology and self-improvement.

Jo's Profile ImageWritten by Jo who lives and works in Frankfurt building digital doodah. Stalk him on Twitter.

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