Aleksandr Polyakov

Overcoming AFM: Maltz’s Blueprint for Mental Success

Table of Contents

“You can do only what you think you can do. You can be only what you think you can be. You can have only what you think you can have. What you do, what you are, what you have, all depend upon what you think.” – Dr. Maxwell Maltz, “Psycho-Cybernetics”

Our minds are like busy streets, full of different thoughts and feelings. Dr. Maxwell Maltz tells us about the Automatic Failure Mechanism (AFM). It’s like a mental trap, sometimes making us think less of ourselves.

Maltz suggests a rational thinking process to combat the AFM. By following these steps, mistakes can turn into lessons for doing better next time:

  1. Realize that Negative Beliefs are Generalizations: Mistakes are specific events. Just because you failed at something once doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It’s essential to separate one-off incidents from your overall self-worth.
  2. Question the Belief: Is it based on factual, objective evidence, or is it just a subjective interpretation? Often, we find that our beliefs about our own incompetence are not based on fact but on feelings.
  3. Practice Self-acceptance: Maltz posits that everyone is inherently valuable. Mistakes don’t diminish that worth. By accepting ourselves, flaws and all, we can focus on growth rather than dwelling on the past.
  4. See Mistakes as Feedback: Instead of viewing mistakes as personal flaws, see them as feedback. They offer valuable information on where and how to improve.
  5. Mental Rehearsal: Just as one can visualize success, they can also replay past mistakes in their “Theater of the Mind.” However, instead of dwelling on the error, they should visualize a successful outcome. This process reconditions the mind to associate the once “failed” scenario with success.

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