New Psycho-Cybernetics - by Maxwell Maltz

The Self-Image: Your Key to Living Without Limits

All your actions, feelings, behavior, even your abilities, are always consistent with this self-image. Note the word: always. In short, you will "act like" the sort of person you conceive yourself to be. More important, you literally cannot act otherwise, in spite of all your conscious efforts or willpower. The self-image is a "premise," a base, or a foundation upon which your entire personality, your behavior, and even your circumstances are built. As a result, our experiences seem to verify and thereby strengthen our self-images, and either a vicious or a beneficent cycle, as the case may be, is set up.

The Creative Mechanism within you is impersonal. It will work automatically and impersonally to achieve goals of success and happiness, or unhappiness and failure, depending upon the goals you set for it. Present it with "success goals" and it functions as a "Success Mechanism." Present it with negative goals, and it operates just as impersonally and just as faithfully as a "Failure Mechanism." Like any other servo-mechanism, it must have a clear-cut target, objective, or problem to work upon. In short, the goals you attempt to convey to this mechanism are filtered through the self-image, and if they are inconsistent with the self-image, they are rejected or modified. By discovering how to alter your self-image, you end its conflict with your goals. Then if you can communicate your goals directly to your Creative Mechanism, it will do what is necessary for you to achieve them.

Do not tolerate for a minute the idea that you are prohibited from any achievement by the absence of in-born talent or ability. This is a lie of the grandest order, an excuse of the saddest kind.

"Watch" the people who best exemplify the characteristics you wish to strengthen and who are living as you aspire to live by studying them through every media and source available.


Pick someone to thoroughly study for a month, to get so intimately familiar with the way he or she thinks that you can sit down and have a conversation with the person and solicit advice and coaching in your imagination.

How to Awaken the Automatic Success Mechanism Within You

The sun's light, diffused, is gentle warmth; directed through a magnifying glass in a certain way, it is incendiary. The imagination, aimless, may provide pleasant entertainment. Applied purposefully, it can effectively program your self-image and, in turn, your Automatic Success Mechanism to realize whatever goals you choose.

You can give problem-solving or idea-getting tasks to your servo-mechanism, send it off on a search while you do other things, even while you sleep, and have it return with useful material you didn't know you knew and might never have obtained through conscious thought or worry.

In a way, Psycho-Cybernetics is a communication system, for effectively communicating with yourself.

You accelerate personal development and goal achievement by providing your Automatic Success Mechanism with a clear, precisely detailed, vividly imagined, and perfectly communicated "target." As the target gets clearer, the ASM responds by doing its job more efficiently.


Memorize the following basic principles by which your Success Mechanism operates:

  1. AIM. Your built-in success mechanism must have a goal or "target." This goal, or target, must be conceived of as "already in existence now," either in actual or potential form. It operates either (1) by steering you to a goal already in existence or (2) by "discovering" something already in existence.

  2. TRUST. The automatic mechanism is tele-logical; that is, it operates on, or must be oriented to, "end results," goals. Do not be discouraged because the means may not be apparent. It is the function of the automatic mechanism to supply the means when you supply the goal. Think in terms of the end result, and the means will often take care of themselves.

  3. RELAX. Do not be afraid of making mistakes or of temporary failures. All servo-mechanisms achieve a goal by negative feedback, or by going forward, making mistakes, and immediately correcting course. Automatic course correction is one of the many benefits of Psycho-Cybernetics.

  4. LEARN. Skill learning of any kind is accomplished by trial and error, mentally correcting your aim after an error, until you achieve a "successful" motion, movement, or performance. After that, further learning and continued success are accomplished by forgetting the past errors, and remembering the successful response, so that it can be "imitated."

  5. DO. You must learn to trust your creative mechanism to do its work and not "jam it" by becoming too concerned or too anxious as to whether it will work or not, or by attempting to force it by too much conscious effort. You must let it work, rather than make it work. This trust is necessary because your creative mechanism operates below the level of consciousness, and you cannot "know" what is going on beneath the surface. Moreover, its nature is to operate spontaneously according to the present need. Therefore, you have no guarantees in advance. It comes into operation as you act and as you place a demand on it by your actions. You must not wait to act until you have proof. You must act as if it is there, and it will come through. "Do the thing and you will have the power," said Emerson.

With all this in mind, select a "target"--whether that is a thinner, healthier you; a more confident, persuasive you; a you free of constant worry; a sales professional free of procrastination who begins each day with an organized to-do list and ends each day with it completed; or a golfer who hits perfectly straight drives. Devote just ten or fifteen minutes every day to taking that mental picture from a vague idea to a good sketch to a finely detailed, fully fleshed out and colored vision that occurs to you exactly the same way whenever called upon. If it helps to write out descriptions, or to draw illustrations on paper, or to collect relevant pictures from magazines, do so. Just stick to ten- or fifteen-minute sessions, when you close your eyes to the outer world and open them only to this picture's continuing development. Try this little experiment for 21 days, and see what happens.

Imagination: The Ignition Key to Your Automatic Success Mechanism

You act and feel not according to what things are really like, but according to the image your mind holds of what they are like. You have certain mental images of yourself, your world, and the people around you, and you behave as though these images were the truth, the reality, rather than the things they represent.


Your present self-image was built on your own imagination pictures of yourself in the past, which grew out of interpretations and evaluations you placed on experience. Now you are to use the same method to build an adequate self-image that you previously used to build an inadequate one. Set aside a period of 30 minutes each day where you can be alone and undisturbed. Relax and make yourself as comfortable as possible. Now close your eyes and exercise your imagination. Many people find they get better results if they imagine themselves sitting before a large motion picture screen and imagine that they are seeing a motion picture of themselves. The important thing is to make these pictures as vivid and as detailed as possible. You want your mental pictures to approximate actual experience as much as possible. The way to do this is to pay attention to small details, sights, sounds, objects, in your imagined environment. Details of the imagined environment are all-important in this exercise because, for all practical purposes, you are creating a practice experience. And if the imagination is vivid enough and detailed enough, your imagination practice is equivalent to an actual experience, insofar as your nervous system is concerned.

The next important thing to remember is that during these 30 minutes you see yourself acting and reacting appropriately, successfully, ideally. It doesn't matter how you acted yesterday. You do not need to try to have faith you will act in the ideal way tomorrow. Your nervous system will take care of that in time--if you continue to practice. See yourself acting, feeling, being as you want to be. Do not say to yourself, "I am going to act this way tomorrow." Just say to yourself, "I am going to imagine myself acting this way now--for 30 minutes today." Imagine how you would feel if you were already the sort of personality you want to be. If you have been shy and timid, see yourself moving among people with ease and poise and feeling good because of it. If you have been fearful and anxious in certain situations, see yourself acting calmly and deliberately, acting with confidence and courage, and feeling expansive and confident because you are.

This exercise builds new "memories" or stored data into your midbrain and central nervous system. It builds a new image of self. After practicing it for a time, you will be surprised to find yourself "acting differently," more or less automatically and spontaneously, without trying. This is as it should be. You do not need to take thought, or try, or make an effort now in order to feel ineffective and act inadequately. Your present inadequate feeling and doing are automatic and spontaneous, because of the memories, real and imagined you have built into your automatic mechanism. You will find it will work just as automatically upon positive thoughts and experiences as upon negative ones.

  1. Step One: Take pad and pen and write out a brief outline or description of the mental movie you intend to construct, experiment with, develop, and view in the Theater in the Mind.

  2. Step Two: Set aside 30 minutes a day, preferably at the same time each day, to find a quiet, private place, relax, close your eyes, enter your Theater, and begin playing, editing, replaying your movie.

  3. Step Three: Gradually "massage" your movie so that its "star" (you) performs exactly as you desire, and achieves the experience and results you desire. Strive to arrive at this point within the first 10 days.

  4. Step Four: For the remaining 11 days, play and enjoy that movie repeatedly without change.

Examine and Reevaluate Your Beliefs

As you utilize Psycho-Cybernetics to communicate with your self-image, your objective should not be to feel superior to others, nor should you continue permitting feelings of inferiority to others. Your objective is to develop your own unique personality and accomplishments.

Remember that both behavior and feeling spring from belief. To root out the belief responsible for your feeling and behavior, ask yourself why? Is there some task 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 these four questions: Is there any rational reason for such a belief? Could it be that I am mistaken in this belief? Would I come to the same conclusion about some other person in a similar situation? 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 an irrational and erroneous belief? If so, try to arouse some indignation or even anger. Indignation and anger can sometimes act as liberators from false ideas.

Rational thought expressed as willpower--I will not lose my cool, I will not overreact--is a losing proposition. Rational thought used creatively to develop entirely new mental pictures in the imagination, feeding the self-image dynamic new evidence, transmitting a new target to the servo-mechanism is a winning process.

Taking time out for a "rational thought coaching session" with yourself can be effective, and is a precursor to installing rational thought-based mental pictures that can be recalled at a moment's notice, to accomplish the same interruption of overreaction.

How to Relax and Let Your Automatic Success Mechanism Work for You

In sports, it's said, "You can't win by playing not to lose." In life, even in everyday situations, we might say the same. In fact, playing not to lose only serves to manufacture and magnify stress, thus increasing the likelihood of making mistakes, not vice versa.

  1. Once a decision is made, focus on supporting it, not second-guessing it. Strive for greater decisiveness and finality in small matters, to build the evidence shown to your self-image that you are the kind of person who makes a firm decision, then ceases to worry over it.

  2. Focus only on the here and now.

  3. Try to do only one thing at a time.

  4. Sleep on it.

  5. Relax while you work. Stop occasionally during the day--it need only take a moment--and remember in detail the sensations of relaxation. Remember how your arms felt, your legs, back, neck, face. By relaxing and maintaining a relaxed attitude, you remove those excessive states of concern, tension, and anxiety, which interfere with the efficient operation of your creative mechanism. In time, your relaxed attitude will become a habit, and you will no longer need to consciously practice it.

You Can Acquire the Habit of Happiness

Happiness is a mental habit, a mental attitude, and if it is not learned and practiced in the present it is never experienced. It cannot be made contingent on solving some external problem. When one problem is solved, another appears to take its place. Life is a series of problems. If you are to be happy at all, you must be happy--period!--not happy "because of."


Form the habit of reacting aggressively and positively toward threats and problems. Form the habit of keeping goal-oriented all the time, regardless of what happens. Do this by practicing a positive aggressive attitude, both in actual everyday situations and in your imagination. See yourself in your imagination taking positive, intelligent action toward solving a problem or reaching a goal. See yourself reacting to threats not by running away or evading them, but by meeting them, dealing with them, grappling with them in an aggressive and intelligent manner. "Most people are brave only in the dangers to which they accustom themselves, either in imagination or practice," said Bulwer-Lytton, the English novelist.

Pattern Interrupt

We are always engaged in an undercurrent of running dialogue with our self-image. Through the use of the pattern-interrupt technique and emphatic, positive affirmation repeated each time, you become your own authoritative source repetitively programming the self-image. (Remember: Authoritative source, repetition, and intensity are the keys to this programming.)


Habitually, you put on either your right shoe first or your left shoe. Habitually, you tie your shoes by either passing the right-hand lace around the left-hand lace, or vice versa. Tomorrow morning determine which shoe you put on first and how you tie your shoes. Now, consciously decide that for the next thirty days you are going to form a new habit by putting on the other shoe first and tying your laces in a different way. Now, each morning as you decide to put on your shoes in a certain manner, let this simple act serve as a reminder to change other habitual ways of thinking, acting, and feeling throughout that one day. Say to yourself as you tie your shoes, "I am beginning the day in a new and better way." Then consciously decide that throughout the day:

  1. I will be as cheerful as possible.

  2. I will act a little more friendly toward other people.

  3. I am going to be a little less critical and a little more tolerant of other people, their faults, failings, and mistakes. I will place the best possible interpretation on their actions.

  4. Insofar as possible, I am going to act as if success were inevitable, and I already am the sort of personality I want to be. I will practice acting like and feeling like this new personality.

  5. I will not let my own opinion color facts in a pessimistic or negative way.

  6. I will practice smiling at least three times during the day.

  7. Regardless of what happens, I will react as calmly and as intelligently as possible.

  8. I will ignore completely and close my mind to all those pessimistic and negative "facts" that I can do nothing to change.

Simple? Yes. But each of these habitual ways of acting, feeling, and thinking has beneficial and constructive influence on your self-image. Act them out for thirty days. Experience them, and see if worry, guilt, hostility have not been diminished and if confidence has not been increased.

Ingredients of the "Success-Type" Personality and How to Acquire Them

  • Sense of direction. Get yourself a goal worth working for. Better still, get yourself a project. Decide what you want out of a situation. Always have something ahead of you to look forward to--to work for and hope for. Look forward, not backward. Develop a "nostalgia for the future" instead of for the past. The nostalgia for the future can keep you youthful. Even your body doesn't function well when you stop being a goal striver and have nothing to look forward to. This is the reason that very often a person dies shortly after retirement. When you're not goal-striving, not looking forward, you're not really living. In addition to your purely personal goals, have at least one impersonal goal or cause, which you can identify yourself with. Get interested in some project to help your fellow man, not out of a sense of duty, but because you want to.

  • Understanding. Look for and seek out true information concerning yourself, your problems, other people, or the situation, whether it is good news or bad news. Adopt the motto, "It doesn't matter who's right, but what's right." An automatic guidance system corrects its course from negative feedback data. It acknowledges errors in order to correct them and stay on course. So must you. Admit your mistakes and errors but don't cry over them. Correct them and go forward. In dealing with other people, try to see the situation from their point of view as well as your own.

  • Courage. Be willing to make a few mistakes, to suffer a little pain to get what you want. Don't sell yourself short. You've got the resources. But you never know you've got them until you act--and give them a chance to work for you.

  • Charity (compassion). (1) Try to develop a genuine appreciation for people by realizing the truth about them; they are children of God, unique personalities, creative beings. (2) Take the trouble to stop and think of the other person's feelings, viewpoints, desires, and needs. Think more of what the other fellow wants, and how he must feel. A friend of mine kids his wife by telling her, whenever she asks him, "Do you love me?" "Yes, whenever I stop and think about it." There is a lot of truth in this. We cannot feel anything about other people unless we "stop and think" about them. (3) Act as if other people are important and treat them accordingly.

  • Esteem. Stop carrying around a mental picture of yourself as a person less capable than others, by making unfair apples-to-oranges comparisons. Celebrate your victories small or large, recognize and build on your strengths, and continually remind yourself that you are not your mistakes.

  • Self-confidence. Use errors and mistakes as a way to learning; then dismiss them from your mind. Deliberately remember and picture to yourself past successes. Especially when beginning a new task, call up the feelings you experienced in some past success, however small it might have been.

  • Self-acceptance. Accept yourself as you are and start from there. Learn to emotionally tolerate imperfection in yourself. It is necessary to intellectually recognize our shortcomings, but disastrous to hate ourselves because of them. Differentiate between your self and your behavior. You are not ruined or worthless because you made a mistake or got off course, anymore than a computer is worthless because it makes an error, or a violin because it sounds a sour note. Don't hate yourself because you're not perfect. You have a lots of company in imperfection. No one else is perfect and those who try to pretend they are become imprisoned in misery.

How to Avoid Accidentally Activating Your Automatic Failure Mechanism

Negative emotions are alarms. Frustration, rage, overwhelming anxiety, unshakable depression, jealousy and resentment, sloth and the demanding of something for nothing, intolerance and disrespect, and, of course, self-rejection are all signs that the servo-mechanism's gauge is in the red zone.


Glance at Negatives, But Focus on Positives.

Automobiles come equipped with "negative indicators" placed directly in front of the driver, to tell you when the battery is not charging, when the engine is becoming too hot, when the oil pressure is becoming too low, etc. To ignore these negatives might ruin your car. However, there is no need to become unduly upset if a negative signal flashes. You merely stop at a service station or a garage, and take positive action to correct the problem. A negative signal does not mean the car is no good. All cars overheat at times. However, the driver of the automobile does not look at the control panel exclusively and continuously. To do so might be disastrous. She must focus her gaze through the windshield, look where she is going, and keep her primary attention on her goal--where she wants to go. She merely glances at the negative indicators from time to time. When she does, she does not fix on them or dwell on them. She quickly focuses her sight ahead again and concentrates on the positive goal of where she wants to go.

Take a few minutes toward the conclusion of each day, or midday and at day's end if you can. Find a quiet place, close your eyes, enter your imagination so as to revisit the day's events and your behavior. Congratulate yourself on all your Automatic Success Mechanism reflective actions but take note of Automatic Failure Mechanism warning lights quietly flashing on the dashboard! Tell yourself that Automatic Failure Mechanism behavior is "not you" and is not to be tolerated. If corrections can be made for any that occurred, by all means make them. Be the bigger person by calling or going to see anyone who may deserve your apology, your gratitude, or your congratulations. Analyze your thoughts and actions of the day in terms of contributing toward achieving your goals, even measure your ratio of Automatic Success Mechanism-versus Automatic Failure Mechanism-driven activity; then resolve to improve that ratio. Do not fear self-analysis. Stick with self-coaching, avoid self-loathing. Conclude your private critique of the day by identifying positives you can build on and the recommitment to your goals and ideals.

How to Remove Emotional Scars

Carefully consider all your own habitual or repetitive behaviors and life experiences. Do you suffer through one disappointing intimate relationship after another? Do you find one group of co-workers after another disagreeable? Are all your clients cheapskates or "difficult"? And so on. Whether avoidance or aggression, self-image scarring is involved.

Scientific experiments have shown that it is absolutely impossible to feel fear, anger, anxiety, or negative emotions of any kind while the muscles of the body are kept perfectly relaxed. We have to do something to feel fear, anger, anxiety. "No man is hurt but by himself," said Diogenes.

How to Unlock Your Real Personality

The best way to make a good impression on other people is: Never consciously try to make a good impression on them. Never act, or fail to act, purely for consciously contrived effect. Never wonder consciously what the others are thinking of you, how they are judging you.

Poise is the deliberate shunting aside of all fears arising from new and uncontrollable circumstances.

Self-expression is not a moral issue. Much mischief results from our taking a "moral" position on matters that are not basically moral matters at all. If you are among the millions who suffer unhappiness and failure because of inhibition, you need to deliberately practice disinhibition. You need to practice being less careful, less concerned, less conscientious. You need to practice speaking before you think instead of thinking before you speak, acting without thinking, instead of thinking or considering carefully before you act. Our goal is an adequate, self-fulfilling, creative personality. The path to the goal is a course between too much inhibition and too little. When there is too much, we correct course by ignoring inhibition and practicing more disinhibition.


  1. Don't wonder in advance what you are going to say. Just open your mouth and say it. Improvise as you go along. (Jesus advises us to give no thought as to what we would say if delivered up to councils, but that the spirit would advise us what to say at the time.)

  2. Don't plan (take no thought for tomorrow). Don't think before you act. Act and correct your actions as you go along. This advice may seem radical, yet it is actually the way all servo-mechanisms must work. A torpedo does not "think out" all its errors in advance, and attempt to correct them in advance. It must act first--start moving toward the goal--then correct any errors that may occur.

  3. Stop criticizing yourself. The inhibited person indulges in self-critical analysis continually. After each action, however simple, she says to herself, "I wonder if I should have done that." After she has gotten up courage enough to say something, she immediately says to herself, "Maybe I shouldn't have said that. Maybe the other person will take it the wrong way." Stop tearing yourself apart. Useful and beneficial feedback works subconsciously, spontaneously, and automatically. Conscious self-criticism, self-analysis, and introspection is good and useful if undertaken perhaps once a year. But the continual, moment-by-moment, day-by-day, sort of second-guessing yourself--or playing Monday-morning quarterback to your past actions--is defeating. Watch for this self-criticism; pull yourself up short and stop it.

  4. Make a habit of speaking louder than usual. Inhibited people are notoriously soft-spoken. Raise the volume of your voice. You don't have to shout at people and use an angry tone; just consciously practice speaking louder than usual. Loud talk in itself is a powerful disinhibitor. Experiments have shown that you can exert up to 15% more strength and lift more weight, if you shout, grunt, or groan loudly as you make the lift. The explanation of this is that loud shouting disinhibits and allows you to exert all your strength, including what has been blocked off and tied up by inhibition.

  5. Let people know when you like them. The inhibited personality is as afraid of expressing "good" feelings as "bad" ones. If he expresses love, he is afraid it will be judged sentimentality; if he expresses friendship, he is afraid it will be considered fawning or apple polishing. If he compliments someone, he is afraid the other will think him superficial or suspect an ulterior motive. Totally ignore all these negative feedback signals. Compliment at least three people every day. If you like what people are doing, or wearing, or saying, let them know it. Be direct. "I like that, Joe." "Mary, that is a very pretty hat." "Jim, that proves to me you are a smart person." And if you're married, just say to your spouse, "I love you" at least twice a day.

Do-lt-Yourself Tranquilizers that Bring Peace of Mind

Inner disturbance, or the opposite of tranquillity, is nearly always caused by overresponse, a too-sensitive alarm reaction. You create a built-in tranquilizer, or psychic screen between yourself and the disturbing stimulus, when you practice "not responding," letting the telephone ring. You cure old habits of overresponse, you extinguish old conditioned reflexes, when you practice delaying the habitual, automatic, and unthinking response. Relaxation is nature's own tranquilizer. Relaxation is nonresponse. Learn physical relaxation by daily practice. Then, when you need to practice nonresponse in daily activities, just do what you're doing when you relax. Use the quiet room in your mind, both as a daily tranquilizer to tone down nervous response and as a way to clear your emotional mechanism of carry-over emotions that would be inappropriate in a new situation. Stop scaring yourself to death with your own mental pictures. Stop fighting straw men. Emotionally, respond only to what is--here and now--and ignore the rest.

We have a saying in Psycho-Cybernetics training: "Calm mind, calm body; calm body, calm mind." It doesn't matter which end of the thread you start with, physical or mental relaxation, the result is the same. The trick is to develop a "preshot routine" for whatever you do that calms and relaxes, not heightens anxiety.


Create in your imagination a vivid mental picture of yourself sitting quietly, composed, unmoved, letting your telephone ring, as outlined earlier in this chapter. Then, in your daily activities carry over the same peaceful, composed, unmoved attitude by remembering this mental picture. Say to yourself, "I am letting the telephone ring" whenever you are tempted to "obey" or respond to a fear-bell or anxiety-bell. Next, use your imagination to practice nonresponse in various sorts of situations: See yourself sitting quietly and unmoved while an associate rants and raves. See yourself going through your daily tasks one by one, calmly, composed, unhurried, in spite of the pressures of a busy day. See yourself maintaining the same constant, stable course, in spite of the various hurry-bells and pressure-bells in your environment. See yourself in various situations that have in the past upset you; only now you remain "set," settled, poised by not responding.

How to Turn a Crisis into a Creative Opportunity

To perform well in a crisis, we need to (1) learn certain skills under conditions where we will not be overmotivated; we need to practice without pressure. (2) We need to learn to react to crisis with an aggressive, rather than a defensive, attitude, to respond to the challenge in the situation rather than to the menace, to keep our positive goal in mind. (3) We need to learn to evaluate so-called "crisis" situations in their true perspective, to avoid making mountains out of molehills or reacting as if every small challenge were a matter of life or death.

Lecky has said that the purpose of emotion is "re-enforcement," or additional strength, rather than to serve as a sign of weakness. He believed that there was only one basic emotion--excitement--and that excitement manifests itself as fear, anger, courage, etc. depending on our own inner goals at the time, whether we are inwardly organized to conquer a problem, run away from it, or destroy it. "The real problem is not to control emotion, but to control the choice of which tendency shall receive emotional reinforcement." If your intention or your attitude-goal is to go forward, if it is to make the most of the crisis situation and win out in spite of it, then the excitement of the occasion will reinforce this tendency. It will give you more courage, more strength to go forward. If you lose sight of your original goal, and your attitude-goal becomes one of running away from the crisis, of seeking to somehow get past it by evading it, this running-away tendency will also be reinforced, and you will experience fear and anxiety.


Stop thinking in terms of fear, anxiety or nervousness, and think only in terms of excitement. It is fine to be a bit excited before you step into the spotlight in whatever you do.

Rather than responding automatically, blindly, and irrationally, ask yourself, "What is the worst that can possibly happen if I fail?" Remind yourself that "Life is long" and seek the perspective of 20/20 hindsight in advance. For the most part, today's crisis winds up being but one little "blip" on a long life history. For today, there's an immediate second act tomorrow. For this week, there's a second act beginning next Monday. For even the authentic tragedy, there's a second act waiting to be scripted and played out over time.


Creating 20/20 hindsight as foresight is yet another immensely valuable and creative use of your imagination. Stop and recall a few situations from your past that seemed of dire, earth-shaking consequence at the time but have proven inconsequential over time. Then project yourself three, four, or five years into the future, looking back on today's event, and consider how you will feel about it and how much impact it will have had on your life.

How to Get and Keep "That Winning Feeling"

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.

Everyone has at some time or another been successful in the past. It does not have to have been a big success. What you succeeded in is not so important as the feeling of success that attended it. All you need is an experience where you succeeded in doing what you wanted to, in achieving what you set out to achieve, and 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 particularly to 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 on memories of past successes.

Now, after arousing this general feeling of success, apply it in your thoughts to the important sale, conference, speech, business, golf tournament, rodeo competition, whatever you are engaged 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. 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.

Whenever we find ourselves experiencing undesirable feelings, 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. Each time you find yourself worrying, use this as a signal to immediately fill the mind with pleasant mental pictures out of the past or in anticipating pleasant future experiences. In time worry will defeat itself because it becomes a stimulus for practicing antiworrying.