There’s a range of theories on why people suffer from social anxiety. This includes an unhappy childhood, genetics, a chemical imbalance or a particularly traumatic experience.
Whatever the cause, my belief is that social anxiety is best overcome through changing the negative thoughts that are driving it. This can be done through cognitive behavioral therapy.
Initially, you have to MANUALLY address negative thoughts through writing them down, considering if they’re realistic or helpful and then writing down what a more accurate or objective response should be. Then over time, this process becomes automatic. And as you train your brain to think in a more accurate, objective and positive way, your body’s anxiety response declines.
Anxious thoughts may not disappear altogether. But you can reduce them to a point where you can recognize them as being in accurate and choose to ignore them.
I think daily exercise, eating a healthy diet (in fact, studies on the gut are fast revealing how integral our diet is to our thoughts and emotions) and pursuing rewarding activities and hobbies are also vital to reducing negative thoughts and emotions. These lifestyle changes will all help improve your self esteem, boost your endorphin levels and give you a more positive outlook on life.
Well, turns out that this view is nothing new…
Psycho-Cybernetics is a self help book by Maxwell Maltz. It’s nearly 60 years old and it’s insights are as powerful and life changing today as they were back then.
Maltz was a plastic surgeon by trade. His profession gave him a deep understanding into the human psyche and how our minds drive our sense of self, how we react to the world and the common thinking errors that cause some people to struggle while others seemingly glide through life without a care in the world.
In essence, his book explains how our brains are like machines. They respond to the thoughts we feed it. And so by correcting negative thoughts, we can train our bodies and brains to behave in a more positive way.
These are my key takeaways:
Stop Being a Victim
Dwelling on unhappy childhood experiences, blaming your parents or feeling sorry for yourself will NEVER improve your situation. In fact, it will only make it worse. Yet, the good news is that whatever has happened in the past doesn’t have to define your future.
Nostalgia for the Future
Imagining and looking forward to what your life will be like in a few months or years after you put into action what Maltz teaches will increase the chances of it coming true.
Replace Every Negative Thought with a Positive One
Henry Ford once said “whether you think you can or can’t you’re right”. This is 100% true. Replacing unhappy thoughts with happier ones isn’t just a “woo woo” idea. It actually changes the way you perceive the world and leads to better outcomes.
Feeling anxious? Imagine you’re ignoring a ringing telephone
Our bodies are like machines. They respond to the way we think. If we think a situation is threatening, we go into fight or flight mode.
This doesnt have to happen.
We can choose not to be afraid. Maltz suggests that in situations that make you feel uncomfortable, imagine you’re sat at home and a telephone is ringing. But instead of jumping up to answer it you choose to sit and ignore it.
This will help place you in a more relaxed state of mind and stop negative thoughts and feelings from being activated.
Your body cant tell the difference between real and imagined memories
This is my biggest takeaway.
Maltz explains that you can TRAIN your body to respond to situations in a happier and more relaxed state. The best part is you can do it at home without leaving your seat. Simply spend 30 minutes a day imaging everyday challenges, like meeting strangers or giving a speech, and overcoming them.
“Shadowboxing” is a a tactic that elite sports stars use to stay relaxed in high pressure situations. They simply imagine hitting a tennis ball or teeing off at golf over and over again in their mind until they’re trained their body to do it in a relaxed state in real life.
Conclusion – Essential Reading for Boosting Self Esteem, Confidence and Joy in Life
I think this book is vital reading for anyone struggling with low self esteem, anxiety or any other negative thought pattern.
Psycho-Cyberyics gives you a complete system to follow for recognizing the thought patterns that are holding back your happiness in life and how to change them.
I’ve been implementing Maltz’s system for the last couple of weeks and I’m already noticing an improvement in my outlook, how I’m behaving and just my general enthusiasm for life.
It’s remarkable that something as simple as reading a book can change your outlook and success. Yet this is what’s happened for lots of people after reading Maxwell Maltz’s Psycho-Cybertics.
Perhaps it can do the same for you?