I have been talking about pursuing personal depth beyond what is topical. I know this is a considerable need because of my personal experience and professionally as a manager and then a coach.
I see the gap in how people behave while maneuvering everyday challenges. Reactivity, outbursts, or melancholy are on the surface suffering that originates from a deeper place.
You can see it too collectively in society and on mainstream and social media. Many are worried that our mass culture has regressed.
But this is not new.
Maxwell Maltz, a well-known plastic surgeon, found that after he improved his patience’s appearance, they would still feel bad about their appearance. The plastic surgeon’s scalpel didn’t go deep enough to improve the perception or belief of being unworthy, burdened, or damaged.
Maltz discovered that all his training wasn’t enough to help people the way they really needed to be helped. He learned that a well-trained plastic surgeon must also work at a deeper, more profound level.
In 1960 Maltz published Psycho-Cybernetics, where he introduced his analogy of the brain as a cybernetic ‘servomechanism.’ This is an automatic device used to correct performance. It uses error-sensing feedback, like a computer on a guided missile designed to automatically find a path to the target it is programmed with.
The target that guides (the brain) in this analogy is self-image. You can see that if your self-image is off, programming will be off. And as challenges escalate, we get distracted and further and further off target.
The point is if you want to improve, you have to work at the level of cause. You must go deeper than the veneer.
Maltz deduced that your self-image provides your brain with direction. If it is based on the past, others’ opinions, or what you are trying to get away from, your direction won’t match your inner desires. You want one thing, but you do something totally different.
A practical way of reducing stress and staying the course, Maltz wrote, is to become more aware of what is happening now and respond only to that. This has a magical way of bringing you back to your rational self.
The key points Maltz makes in his book are things he worked on himself so he could be of more value to his patients.
- Understand the fundamentals of how mental imagery directs you.
- You can make the mind give you anything. But it can only give back what it is first given. Don’t be a dabble or dip your toe. Jump in! Put your heart into what you picture and work systematically and with self-discipline and focus.
- Work on your self-image as often as you can; ideally, at least 10 min—per day for two weeks.
- Verbalization enhances visualization. Watch your self-talk. You talk to yourself more than anyone. Discuss your image aloud and with others, write down the details each day in a journal, mentally describe it as you meditate on the details.
- Anyone can do it. Fear disintegrates self-image. Reframe the problem-focus (worry) into solution-focus, the negative into a positive.
- If you are a beginner, persevere. It takes time. Stay focused. Without consciously conceived goals, desires will wither into the shadows of the unconscious mind.
“Your nervous system cannot tell the difference between an imagined experience and a ‘real experience.” Maxwell Maltz