A friend of mine recently sent me a book by Maxwell Maltz MD, FICS, called Psycho Cybernetics. You probably haven’t heard of the man or the book – I certainly hadn’t. The paperback was first published in USA in 1969: the copy I was sent was the 33rd printing and was priced at $1.95!
Maxwell Maltz was an internationally-renowned plastic surgeon. He noticed that, while some of his patients made huge changes to their lives when they had had cosmetic surgery, others didn’t. This led him into what he called Psycho-Cybernetics which, in very simple terms, can be described as “self image psychology”.
Right there in the preface to his book, Maltz says, “When you change a man’s face you almost invariably change his future. Change his physical image and nearly always change the man – his personality, his behavior – and sometimes even his basic talents and abilities.” He realised that if people’s mental and emotional image of themselves did not change in line with their new physical appearance, then there would not be that enormous positive change. However handsome a man may be after plastic surgery to remove a physical defect or serious scars or whatever – if he still thinks of himself as ugly, that is how he will see himself, and his world (and behaviour) will be shaped accordingly
I find exactly the same thing with the work I do with my clients, in fact I expect and encourage positive changes. For instance, I work with people who are seriously obese. Many of them have endured years of being told that they’re fat, lazy, good for nothing, ugly and so on. All of those negatives have a very powerful impact on that individual’s self-esteem, on their very soul.
I work from the inside out. One client of mine was almost in tears when we had our first chat because I focused on the emotional reasons why she was holding on to excess weight rather than telling her to eat less and do more exercise. Several sessions on, this lady understands why she is holding onto her excess weight – and that she no longer needs it. She has dealt with issues of anger and frustration to do with work and family. She has re-discovered her true self, regained her inner confidence and power, and has re-joined her local slimming club knowing she is in absolutely the right frame of mind to make it work. And, of course, it is! She is back in control of her life, her body knows what is expected of it and is responding accordingly.
Maxwell Maltz was absolutely right – the inside has to match the outside. The only difference is, he worked from the outside in, and I work from the inside out!