1 of the 50 Success Classics: Psycho Cybernetics (2000)

Posted by on Oct 9, 2009 in Blog, Psychology, Review, Success | 1 comment

Psycho cybernetics is an amazing book. The book is about having a good self-image. I think introspection is the mother of self-improvement. I first read an old hardcover edition that I got through the FIU interlibrary program called ILLiad. I’ve heard from a few people that it was a good book to read. So, I at the time, I had finally got my hands on an old/original version, and so I was kind of happy. I didn’t finish the book; in fact, the book was so powerful that I couldn’t deal with it at the moment. I was challenging limiting beliefs that I had, and the ego always tries to sabotage constructive eye-opening situations like that.

Not too long ago, I went to the Miami Beach Public Library and got myself a copy of the newer editions entitled Psycho Cybernetics 2000 by Dr Bobbe Sommer. This is very similar to the original by Dr Maxwell Maltz, but not quite similar. It’s very comprehensive. I finished it a few days ago and will post a review on here. I don’t know what to make of it until I read the original. I just borrow the original again through the ILLiad program. It looks like the original is more to the point, less repetitive, and more concise. I must say that Psycho Cybernetics has this acronym called C.R.A.F.T. which is very helpful. I know of someone that emphasized on reframing limiting beliefs, but what this book does is helps you to recognize a limiting belief and to INSTANTLY reframe it. Whether it works or not is irrelevant. The more you focus on the reframed beliefs the more you come into alignment with that. I’m going to post nearly word for word the points that I really enjoyed from this book, but as I finish the original version of the book, I’ll post other ideas here and I’ll fix the errors in the formatting when I have more time. I really hope you get this book or borrow it from the library. I have to say this book is in my top 5 books of all time; and that says a lot!

Experience Your Self-Confidence Growing

Remember John, the shy and inhibited young man you met in the last chapter? The guy who was certain no woman would ever find him attractive or interesting? Through a conscious reprogram­ming of his internal guidance system via the CRAFT process, he was able to change this image of himself and place himself on the road to the success he wanted.

John recognized that he had programmed himself with “sense and nonsense.” Yes, it made sense that a pretty woman at a singles event was going to have a choice of partners and might reject him. But to be convinced that she was certain to reject him was nonsense—bad data programmed by his self-image.

John started with Step 1. Each time he found himself think­ing, “No woman would want me,” or, of a specific woman, “She’s going to reject me,” he said “cancel.” Then he followed immedi­ately with Step 2. He replaced the negative statement with, “She may or may not reject me; I’ll never know unless I try. Everyone gets rejected sometimes.” For the first few weeks John didn’t approach anyone at singles events. He just sat there, aware of what his mind was telling him, while he practiced steps 1 and 2. He told himself, “She may like me; she may not. I really don’t know until I’ve tried, but I don’t have to try today.” Meanwhile, John moved ahead with steps 3 and 4: He affirmed to himself daily with written statements that he was not automatically going to be rejected, and he created mental images of successful encounters.

John moved on to step 5 only after he had practiced the first four steps for several weeks. He went up to a woman, introduced himself, said, “I just wanted you to know I think you’re very attractive”—and went back and sat down. In this way, he began training himself to approach a situation that scared him while he reprogrammed his servomechanism. Meanwhile he practiced the four steps every day. Only after he had followed this procedure four or five times did he take the big fifth step: to make contact; to ask a woman to dance, to buy her a drink, to initiate a conversa­tion. The positive feedback he received from these encounters indicated to John that the process was working. He soon was dating again after having been alone for six years.

By selecting an image of himself that said, “No woman would ever find me interesting,” John’s conscious mind had eliminated the possibility of any woman finding him interesting. His subconscious mind could move only in the direction his conscious mind dictated—toward rejection. But once he began consciously to choose a new image of himself every time he was presented with the option, his subconscious mind began to move toward that image. His rider retrained his horse to follow a new path. He reprogrammed his servomechanism.

Of course it’s simple for the rider to teach the horse a new route. Once again: it’s simple—but it isn’t easy. It takes care and repeated application. If the horse is used to turning left, it isn’t going to turn right unless you pull the reins hard at the proper place and do it the same way day after day. Anything the horse perceives as different it automatically treats as wrong. The rider (your conscious mind) is a slave to the horse (your subconscious mind) until you provide a new route for it to follow.

And that brings us back to the CRAFT process. Once again the steps are:

1. Cancel old, negative data

2. Replace it with new, positive data

3. Affirm your new self-image

4. Focus on an image of success

5. Train yourself in your new attitudes and behavior

Each time you say “cancel” and replace your old negative data with new positive data, your rider makes a firm tug on your horse’s reins: “Not that way, this way.” Your conscious mind makes a selection (“I’m very good at my job and the numbers are just part of my job”). By doing so, it eliminates the old, negative option (“I can’t do math”) that you’ve always chosen to make. Your subconscious mind—the horse—automatically agrees with what your conscious mind tells it. By repeated affirmation, the horse complies with the new path. It moves in the direction defined by your new program. By visualizing yourself as successful, you direct your horse toward something positive and rewarding. By “acting as if” the skill were already incorporated into your concept of yourself, you train the horse to recognize the new path as the only path.

What path would you like your horse to follow? You may not have any problem accepting yourself as intelligent, graceful on the dance floor, “good with people” or capable of learning new job skills. But you can use CRAFT to challenge any negative habits and replace them with new, positive habits.

As you become aware of your own automatic creative mechanism, try the following exercises:

1. Make a list. Make two lists. Jot down aspects of yourself that you see as positive and aspects that you see as negative. Be aware of your negative programming that keeps you “watching the curb” instead of focusing on a destination. Be aware of positive aspects of your self-image that can serve as a foundation for reprogramming your servomechanism.

2. Every time you find yourself saying or thinking something negative about yourself, write down the thought. Become aware of the “bad data” you’d like to cancel. For each item that comes to you, write down an item of positive data you’d like to replace it with.

3. Visualize your horse and rider. Be aware of the path your horse follows and of how it developed the habit of following that path. Think about the new path you’d like to train your horse to follow.

4. Instead of viewing a mistake or setback as evidence of personal inadequacy, consider it as an event—one of many events, positive and negative, that make up your life. Be as aware of the positive events as you are of the negative ones. Each time you find yourself dwelling on a negative event, visualize yourself keeping calm and staying on top of the situation—acting on, not reacting to the event. Keep it in perspective. Think of how unimportant the event is in the “big picture.” Don’t let your concern over the event become anxiety about your life. Do what you can to deal with it effectively while remembering that not every event in life will be positive.

Remember, a servomechanism works by making errors and responding to them. Any path to success is defined by mistakes and corrections. Don’t dwell on your mistakes—but don’t be afraid of them either. Trust your own servomechanism to do its job. After a time, your subconscious mind will forget the errors of the past and learn to follow the new path you have created for it.

Your imagination makes your subconscious mind see what your conscious mind believes. Imagine that a friend who’s just moved to a newly fashionable part of town has invited you to dinner. When you arrived the closest parking space you could find was on a side street four blocks away. Now it’s late, and you’re remembering that there are worse horrors in the big city than parking. The lighting is poor, the streets are empty, and the ware­houses-turned-artists’-lofts on either side are like the towers of the villain’s castle in an old Vincent Price movie. Suddenly you think you hear footsteps. You turn quickly and look. There’s nobody there. It was only your imagination, you tell yourself. You con­tinue walking. There they are again—footsteps right behind you.

What’s happening to your body—your heart, your hands, your blood pressure, your breathing? Does it matter whether there’s really someone following you? Of course not; these phys­iological preparations for fight or flight are entirely a product of your subconscious mind. They were programmed into the species before we were human. They’re going to happen whether you’re being stalked by a saber-toothed cat, a mugger, or the echo of your own footsteps.

You break into a run. The footsteps stay right with you. Adrenalin surges through your body. You run as though your life depended on it—maybe it does! You’re only a block from your car; you can make it.

“Hey, will you slow down?” a familiar voice calls. With relief you turn and see your friend panting toward you, waving your favorite hat. “You forgot this. I had no idea you were in such good shape. Hey, who did you think I was, the Boston Strangler?”

What happens to your pounding heart, sweating palms, and Olympic speed? Everything quickly returns to equilibrium. By the time you get to your car, your behavior has made a complete U-turn. It was your beliefs, not reality, that triggered your body’s responses. Your feelings, actions and behavior responded to what you believed to be true.

Now, how do suppose this fact applies to your success mech­anism? Right: if your self-image leads your rider to believe that you’re incapable of success, then regardless of reality, your horse can only respond as though the image were true. But if your self-image tells you that you are capable of success—if your rider vividly imagines that you’ve already achieved success—then your horse will respond with the self-confidence that comes from actual success.

Three Guidelines for Creating New Images

1. Choose the same time each day for your mental picturing.

2. Make sure there will be no interruptions.

3. Accept all positive images as valid and helpful.

Turn Your Mistakes into Steps on the Road to Success

Then there are the times you do make mistakes—and make no mistake about it, you will. The important thing is to regard your mistakes not as indications of failure but as steps on the road to success.

Imagine for a moment that you’re a visitor to Earth fresh off a flying saucer. On your planet there are no walls. The first day on Earth you walk right into one. Does it make you feel stupid? Of course not. You’ve never met a wall before. “Ah,” you tell yourself, gingerly rubbing your antennae, “that must be why they have these things called doors. Next time I’ll know better.”

Most of us Earthlings don’t operate that way. Instead of learning from our mistakes, we tend to let them intimidate us. Instead of looking for the door, we remember the times we walked into the wall. Indeed, we’re constantly replaying the old mental tapes that show us walking into walls. In psychology we call these tape loops ruminations. “That was dumb,” we tell ourselves. “I can’t believe I did that. I walk into that same wall every time. Oh, brother, am I stupid!”

Now, if your subconscious mind is forever telling you, “Last time you hit the WALL; watch out for the WALL; don’t be stupid and run into that WALL again,” where is your internal guidance system going to direct you? Correct—smack into the wall. Re­member, a servomechanism works by responding to feedback and making course changes. Instead of punishing yourself for your mistakes, acknowledge them as guideposts toward growth and change. Follow this procedure:

•   Listen for your ruminations.

•   Say “CANCEL!” and stop the tape when you find yourself replaying your past mistakes.

•   Tell yourself, “Okay, I made a mistake. It’s no big deal. Everyone makes mistakes.”

•   Consider how you would handle the situation differently if you had it to do over again.

•   Visualize yourself handling the situation as you would have liked to.

•   Remember to change “What if…?” into “So, what if…? and add “Next time…”

How to Identify Your False Beliefs

To get an idea of what your false beliefs might be, get a pencil and paper. Read the following questions and jot down your answers.

1. Do you become anxious or fearful in situations that pose no actual threat? What are the situations? Calling strangers on the phone? Confronting a mechanic who overcharged you for fixing your car? Why do you feel that such situations are likely to cause you physical or emotional harm?

2. Do you feel that “things just happen” that prevent you from achieving success? What were you striving for? What were the specific circumstances that thwarted you? Express your an­swers this way: “I would have _______________ if _______________ hadn’t prevented me.”

3. In pursuing goals, do you ever find yourself blocked by such thoughts as “I can’t,” “I’m no good,” or “I don’t deserve to…”? In what circumstances has this happened? What were your goals? What, specifically, did you tell yourself? Express your answers this way: “I felt that I couldn’t _______________ because _______________.”

4. Do you sometimes feel that you’re moving toward some desired outcome only to find yourself stymied by procrastination, leading to blame-casting and a sense of hopelessness? What de­sired outcome—a career move, a relationship, a personal project? What, exactly, were your feelings that led you to give it up? What were the circumstances? Be specific.

Finished? Take a look at the reasons you gave for your non-success. The fears, doubts and self-punishment you ex­pressed are the results of self-hypnotism. They are like old tapes that were recorded long ago and are replayed over and over in your subconscious mind. They are clues to your false beliefs—the dead-end paths your horse has been conditioned to follow.

Not convinced? Perhaps you’re telling yourself, “But they’re not false. Confronting Ernie is scary—I’ll be humiliated”; “I’m not organized enough to get that office manager’s job”; “lam too dull to attract an interesting mate.”

Well, don’t put away your pencil just yet. You’re about to find out how to recognize the falseness of your beliefs so that your rider can blaze a new path. The following questionnaire will help you identify and understand the source of your belief system. Think hard and answer as honestly as you can.

Exploring Where Your Beliefs Come From: A Questionnaire

  1. What is your first memory of being alive?
  • What was the event?
  • How old were you?
  • Who was with you?
  • What emotions do you remember feeling?
  1. What were you like as a small child?
  • What family stories were told about you?
    What memories support this feeling?
  • What nicknames did your family give you?
  • Did you fit” in your family? (Some examples of “nonfits”: the only girl in a family of five boys; the “dreamer” in a household of “practical” people)
    If “no,” what memories support this feeling?
  • How would you evaluate your overall “success” in the years before you
    started school?
  1. What were your elementary-school years like?
  • What memories do you have of kindergarten?
  • What do you remember your teachers saying about you?
  • What was the general “message” of your grade-school report cards?
  • How easily did you form friendships? (very easily, had a few close friends, did not have many friends)
  • How well do you feel you “measured up” to your peers? (very well, moderately well, poorly)

Now compare these answers with the ones you wrote to the four questions on the How To Identify Your False Beliefs section. Do you see any correlations? Did your answers trigger memories of other experiences that connect with your beliefs about yourself?

A child whose earliest memory is one of security and joy will tend to have a more positive self-image than one who remembers uncertainty and fear.

How to Tune Out Negative Beliefs with Rational Thinking

Maltz saw rational thinking as the “control knob” by which you can “tune out” negative and inappropriate beliefs. He sug­gested that you ask yourself the following questions each time you catch yourself saying “I can’t,” “I’m not worthy,” or “I’m afraid”:

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

2. Could I be 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?

Ask yourself each of these questions out loud and answer it out loud every time you catch yourself indulging in a negative belief about yourself. As your conscious mind actively imple­ments your answers, your subconscious mind will come to agree with them. By using rational thinking to challenge your false beliefs, you pull your automatic mechanism back on course.

Losing Your False Beliefs: A Worksheet

Consider the false beliefs that have impacted your self-image and how you could use reflective relearning to replace them with new, positive memories. Plan your own program by filling in the questionnaire below.

A false belief I’d like to dehypnotize myself from is:

A positive memory I’d like to replace it with is:

What negative self-thoughts will I CANCEL?

What positive statements will I REPLACE them with?

What will my AFFIRMATIONS be?

What images will I FOCUS on to create my new memory?

What attitudes and actions will I assume in TRAINING myself?

Determine What Your Goals Need to Be

Too many people try to set goals backwards.

Be first, then do, then have.

What does this mean? You have to have a burning passion, a conviction that [whatever you want to become] is what you are.

It’s time for you to determine what you want to be. Take a pencil and complete the sentence below. Write down the goal you’d most like to achieve, even if it seems no more than a dream. What is your burning passion, the goal that would be so fulfilling you’d pay someone for the privilege of doing it?

The thing I most want to do with my life is _______________

Now, don’t write, “I want to be happy.” That’s not a goal any more than “I want to get out of this rut” is. Be specific about what’s going to make you happy. Do you want to find the person of your dreams and get married? Write it down. Do you want to leave a relationship that’s gone stale? Write it down. Do you want to go back to school and get your degree? What school? In what field? Write it down. Do you want a new job? A different career? Write it down, but be sure you’re specific about the job or career you want. Do you want to chuck the job thing altogether and go off and be a beachcomber in Tahiti? Write down what you want, whatever it may happen to be.

At a loss for words? I’m sympathetic. For me it took Maxwell Maltz pointing his finger in my face—but I’ll get back to that story later. What do you want? Put your right brain in charge. Don’t watch the curbs. Don’t be thinking, “This is only a fantasy,” or “I can’t have my cake and eat it too.” If your left brain must get its two cents in, let it consider that whatever it is you want, there’s someone, somewhere in this world who’s doing it and probably making a lot of money at it. Why shouldn’t that be you? Let your right brain determine what that all-consuming passion of yours is and write it down.

Learn to Trust Your Intuition

A recent study at UCLA determined that 93 percent of all communication is nonverbal. And a great deal of this non-verbal communication is subconsciously sent and subconsciously received.

That’s why it’s important to trust your intuition when you’re taking new steps toward personal growth. It may be trying to tell you something, no matter how strongly your left brain may be resisting the message. “That which we resist will persist,” says an old Chinese proverb.

Here’s a formula I follow. Pay attention to your intuition whenever:

•   The intensity of the feeling is strong (your body is telling you, “Go for it!”).

•   The impression is persistent (occurs more than three times).

•   You feel an intense intellectual urge to ignore it.

Taking Stock of Your Set Point: A Questionnaire

Thank you very much, right brain. Now, if you would please sit down, it’s time to let the left brain have its turn. The next step is a series of questions that will help you get an idea of your current state of success. After you’ve answered the questions, evaluate your answers to help you determine what your set point ought to be.

  1. 1. How do you define success in each of these areas?
    1. Personal _____________________________________________
    2. Financial _____________________________________________
    3. Career _____________________________________________
    4. Social _____________________________________________
    5. Physical _____________________________________________
    6. Spiritual _____________________________________________
    7. How would you rate your success in each of these areas?
Highest 5 4 3 2 1 Lowest
  1. Personal
ÿ ÿ ÿ ÿ ÿ
  1. Financial
ÿ ÿ ÿ ÿ ÿ
  1. Career
ÿ ÿ ÿ ÿ ÿ
  1. Social
ÿ ÿ ÿ ÿ ÿ
  1. Physical
ÿ ÿ ÿ ÿ ÿ
  1. Spiritual
ÿ ÿ ÿ ÿ ÿ
  1. Evaluate the quality of your present relationships with:
Highest 5 4 3 2 1 Lowest
  1. Spouse
ÿ ÿ ÿ ÿ ÿ
  1. Co-workers
ÿ ÿ ÿ ÿ ÿ
  1. Friends
ÿ ÿ ÿ ÿ ÿ
  1. Other _____
ÿ ÿ ÿ ÿ ÿ
  1. Other _____
ÿ ÿ ÿ ÿ ÿ
  1. Your current values:
    1. Name the five people you most admire today.
    2. With whom would you most want to trade places?
    3. How do you spend your leisure time?
    4. Rate your productivity:
      1. Are you more or less productive than you were 10 years ago?
      2. How do you produce in relation to your co-workers? (highest to lowest; 5-1)
      3. How do you produce in relation to what you consider your potential? (highest to lowest; 5-1)
      4. Which of these approaches best describes the way you handle change? (Check one.)

ð       The fearful stance (Chicken Little): “The sky is falling; the sky is falling!”

ð       The courageous stance (The little engine that could): “I think I can, I think I can!”

ð       The waiting stance (Snow White): “Someday my prince/ss will come.”

ð       The prepared stance (the third little pig): “I’ve built my house with bricks. Huff and puff all you want.”

  1. How do you confront your obstacles?
    1. Do you justify to yourself why you should settle for less than your ideal?
    2. What is your greatest fear about making changes and taking risks?
    3. In what circumstances do you allow your “shoulds” to take preference over your “wants”?
    4. In what areas do you avoid taking risks because you’ve “always done it this way”?
    5. Which of the following best describes the feedback you get from others with regard to how successful you are? (check one)

ð       Clarifies your values

ð       Allows you to be objective

ð       Permits a shift of focus

ð       Facilitates change

Once you’ve identified your areas for goal setting, write down a long-term, five-year goal in each category. Then break it down into shorter-term, one-year goals. As you write them, test each one against five criteria. Setting goals that are fulfilling and achievable requires a SMART approach—SMART in this case being an acronym:






Surround yourself with people who want you to succeed.

Continually update your inventory of skills.

Follow your plan of action.

We fear that our limitations will cause us to fail, and procrastination lets us avoid the humiliation of failure.

How to Discover Why You Procrastinate: A Questionnaire

Here’s a questionnaire I developed years ago when I was going for my Ph.D. and found myself playing the tomorrow-is-another-day game. Write your goal, then answer the questions as honestly as you can. Check all boxes that apply. Evaluate your answers to determine your own reasons for procrastination.

My Goal: _____________________________________________

  1. Why do I really want to achieve this goal?

ð       Prestige

ð       Credibility

ð       more money

ð       personal growth

ð       self-esteem; self-satisfaction

ð       future advantages

ð                 to prove to _______________(fill name)_______________ that I can do it

ð                 other: _____________________________________________

  1. How might achieving this goal affect me adversely?

ð       might go to my head

ð       might threaten my spouse

ð       might upset status quo of my family

ð       might alienate my friends or co-workers

ð       might compromise my privacy

ð       might require a greater commitment of time and energy

ð       _________________________ (fill in your own reasons)

  1. How might not achieving this goal affect me adversely?

ð       might leave me without money or resources

ð       might “set me back to square one”

ð       might make _______________(fill name)_______________ ridicule me

ð       might make me “feel like a failure”

ð       _________________________ (fill in your own reasons)

  1. What am I unwilling to do to achieve this goal or as a result of achieving it?

ð        unwilling to discipline myself to follow through

ð        unwilling to move to a new home

ð        unwilling to accept added responsibilities

ð        unwilling to change ______________________________(fill in specifics)______________________________

  1. How could I make myself more open to risk-taking in pursuit of this goal?

ð        openly discuss my fears of success/failure with family and friends

ð        consider my action plan as an investment of time, just as I might invest money in stocks or real estate

ð        Consider how would I be spending my time if I were not pursuing this goal (how?) ______________________________

ð        Consider that change is inevitable over the next five years (how?) ______________________________

ð        Consider what is the worst possible result of my pursuing this goal (what?) ______________________________

Find Your Own Best Self

When you choose to become the master planner of your life, you create what psychologist Charles Garfield calls vertical longevity:

“the art of living as fully as possible during each moment of chronological life.” It’s important to find the things that are most meaningful to you—to create your ideal job, to immerse yourself in a creative project, to find an emotionally fulfilling way to improve your finances, to live in a way that is spiritually satisfying to you; to take command, to grow, to express. You may be thinking that you don’t have Arthur’s options, but you don’t need them. It wasn’t his options that were crucial to his success, it was his passion. Explore your own options. Investigate your own passion. Brainstorm, identify your transferable skills, join interest groups to find informal avenues of entry, uncover ways that you can take control of your life. Start by considering these questions and exercises:

1. What is the most exciting thing I have ever done in my life?

2. What experiences of the past five years have I found emotionally stimulating?

3. What were the common elements in these experiences (e.g.: change, physical challenge, creative thinking, working with people)?

4. Pinpoint why these events were exciting for you (e.g.: allowed you freedom, gave you spiritual fulfillment, gave you the opportunity to travel). Make a list of your reasons.

5. Use your list as a starting point to brainstorm with selected friends, colleagues and loved ones. Identify ways in which you create similar experiences and challenges in a different arena.

6. Brainstorm these ideas with yourself. Let your right brain make its contribution. Use a large sheet of butcher paper and let any ideas emerge—no matter how strange or impractical they may seem.

7. Make a point of going over each day’s activities and asking yourself, “What was the best part of my day? What made it so?” Circle these key events.

8. After seven days, make a list of the events you circled. Choose the one that was the best part of your week. Note any recurring themes. This becomes your treasure map for finding more of what you really like to do.

9. Once you’ve identified your focal points for taking control of your life, translate them into goals. Review the SMART plan and begin the process of establishing your “best self” as a set point.

One Response to “1 of the 50 Success Classics: Psycho Cybernetics (2000)”

  1. Thank you for this summary.

    It’s very through and “active”/actionable. I really appreciate it and will use these strategies. Thanks, Thomas


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