The author is a plastic surgeon turned psychologist. He was interested that many patients did not experience more confidence or happiness after their surgeries.
Physical appearance doesn't define self-image.
Self-image is far more important to happiness than physical appearance. Your thoughts impact your quality of life, not your looks. The key to happiness is to remove negative thought patterns.
Your self-image dictates your life. You act in alignment with the self-image you hold. Your self-image is a mental blueprint that shapes your beliefs about yourself.
Your self-image suffers from bias. You may develop a negative self-image that does not match reality.
If you see yourself as a failure, you will likely fail. If you see yourself as successful, you will find ways to succeed.
“You will act like the sort of person you conceive yourself to be.”
Your self-image sometimes forms because of life events that might be outside of your control. For example, a divorce may cause a child to see themselves as a failure if her grades suffer temporarily. Her self-image can persist and determine future behaviors and outcomes.
The author gives the example of a man who thought he was ugly when in fact others did not think of him that way. His own negative self-image made him insecure and miserable, and he kept people at a distance. He perceives this distance as further proof that others were judging him, thus creating a negative loop.
Use rational thinking to question your negative beliefs, because they're mostly irrational. Would you judge another person in this situation as harshly as you are judging yourself?
Your self-image is formed by the conclusions you draw from experiences. They're not facts or the experiences themselves.
Many people grow up incorrectly believing they're bad at math simply because they did poorly in math in one grade, or even on one test.
Just because you failed today does not mean you'll fail tomorrow.
Low self-image leads to low self-esteem.
“Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your handbrake on.”
Psycho-cybernetics refers to how your brain and nervous system work together as an automatic system to achieve success through positive and negative feedback, similar to a machine. It explains that you learn by remembering previous successes and using your imagination. It states that you can program your mind to achieve happiness.
The nervous system can't distinguish between real and imagined experiences. It reacts according to what we believe or imagine. This is why your self-image, no matter how inaccurate it is, feels true.
“It is no exaggeration to say that every human being is hypnotized to some extent either by ideas he has uncritically accepted from others or ideas he has repeated to himself or convinced himself are true. These negative ideas have exactly the same effect upon our behavior as the negative ideas implanted into the mind of a hypnotized subject by a professional hypnotist.”
Many of the most successful musicians and athletes regularly practice mentally.
Create successful feedback loops by habitually making a conscious effort to replace negative thought patterns with positive ones. When positive beliefs outweigh negative ones regularly, your self-image will improve.
Recall feelings of success often. Your subconscious is always imprinting your thoughts and feelings (positive and negative) onto your self-image.
Find a purpose/goal to focus on. It'll provide motivation for improvement. Detail small and realistic incremental steps to take.
“You must have a clear mental picture of the correct thing before you can do it successfully.”
Happiness is an internal feeling.
“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 upon 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'.”
Do not think of happiness and success in terms of the future (e.g., I'll be happy when I'm married or rich) or external circumstances (e.g., I'm unhappy because I'm stuck in traffic or don't own a house).
When we're unhappy it's because it's the response we chose for the given circumstances.
Studies show that happy people are generally physically healthier.
Focus on the positives, not the negatives. See difficulties as opportunities to improve.
Acronym of factors that make you SUCCESSful:
Sense of direction: always have goals and objectives
Understanding: avoid distorted perceptions arising from anxiety, fear or desire
Courage: take calculated risks to achieve your dreams
Charity: caring for others
Esteem: believe in yourself rather than thinking "I can't"
Self-confidence: remember your successes and don't stress over failures
Self-acceptance: coming to terms with your strengths and weaknesses
Acronym of factors that contribute to FAILURE:
Frustration: arises when encountering difficulties; often breeds a self-fulfilling prophecy, i.e., believing you're a failure will result in failure
Aggressiveness: energy directed towards self-destruction will result in failure
Insecurity: feeling inadequate, often due to unrealistic ideals of measurement
Loneliness: isolation from healthy social connections
Uncertainty: indecision stemming from fear of mistakes and failure
Resentment: blaming failure on perceived unfairness
Emptiness: a sense of boredom and meaninglessness in life
Don't fixate on others' perception of you, it can be inhibiting and suffocating. Practice disinhibition and speak freely before you overthink to unleash your true self.
Your mind is more receptive to positive thoughts when it's relaxed.
Your peace of mind is easily disrupted by conditioned responses to stimuli -- "bells" we've learned to obey. Delay responding to bells, gradually increasing the time until you can ignore them (e.g., phone notifications, fear of strangers).
Achieve peace of mind by constructing a mental scenic and calming room for serene retreats.
Emotional scars form to protect hurt feelings but they can isolate you from others by constructing walls. Genuine forgiveness is the key to removing them to start real healing. It's best to forget that you were wronged and the act of forgiveness itself.