Wed January 3

The Snap-Back Effect

According to popular statistics, only 8% of New Year’s Resolutions are successfully kept. This means that 92% of us that are brave enough to set out for self-improvement will fail. Those aren’t very good odds. Thankfully there is science that explains this curious “Snap-Back Effect” and offers us tools to make the effect work in our favor.

The term was coined by Dr. Maxwell Maltz, the author of Psycho-Cybernetics to describe the rampant self-sabotage of personal improvement goals. Maltz noted that you can stretch a rubber band only to a certain length and hold it only for a certain time until you get weak or get distracted and the rubber band will then snap back to its true shape.

This is essentially what happens when you attempt to achieve a new level of self-improvement. Sooner or later you sabotage yourself and get back to your normal level of achievement.

What sort of person do you believe yourself to be? This mental image of yourself is your self-image. All of your actions, feelings, habits, and even your abilities, will always be consistent with your self-image. Always. You will “act like” the sort of person that you believe yourself to be. This means that you literally will not be able to act against your self-image for any length of time, despite making a New Year’s Resolution about it, and despite deploying grit, conscious effort and willpower.

Sooner or later you will snap-back to the sort of person that you believe yourself to be. 

Self-Image Management

If you have a “fat” self-image, if you believe that you are the sort of person who “can’t resist sweets,” if you “are unable to enjoy exercise,” then you will not be able to reduce your body fat and keep it off no matter how many times you attempt to turn over a new leaf. Maltz proved that we can’t escape our self-image. You may be able to do so in the short term, but sooner than later you’ll be “snapped-back,” like a rubber band. 


 According to Maltz, your self-image is a “premise,” or a foundation upon which your entire personality, behavior, and even your circumstances are built. As such, your experiences will verify and strengthen your self-image, and either a destructive or beneficial cycle is set up.

In other words, you will seek out evidence that supports your opinion about yourself, even going so far as to create the circumstances for proof to be had.

For example, as a dieter who sees herself as a “failure”-type dieter, or one who is “thick in the waist,” will invariably find that the number on her scale continues to go up. She then has “proof.”

Whatever seems just out of your reach, whatever frustrations you have in your life, are likely reinforcing something ingrained in your self-image like a groove in a record.

Maltz goes on to say, “Obviously it’s not enough to say, “it’s all in your head.” In fact, that’s insulting. It is more productive to explain that “it” is based on certain ingrained and possibly hidden patterns of thought that, if altered, will free you to tap more of your potential and experience vastly difference results.

This brings me to the most important truth about the self-image: it can be changed.” 


 I’ve always been a student of self-improvement, dabbling in everything from seminars, to therapy, to stacks of books. Getting my hands on a copy of Psycho-Cybernetics was like finding the holy grail. Having worn out the pages of my copy of the ground breaking book, I have moved on to the audio version, which I listen to several times each year, gleaning new insights and deeper understanding with each listen.

Cybernetics (loosely translated from the Greek): “a helmsman who steers his ship to port.” Psycho-Cybernetics is a term coined by Dr. Maxwell Maltz, which means, “steering your mind to a productive, useful goal so you can reach the greatest port in the world, peace of mind.”

Since its first publication in 1960, Maltz’s landmark bestseller has inspired and enhanced the lives of more than 30 million readers.

“Before the mind can work efficiently, we must develop our perception of the outcomes we expect to reach. Maxwell Maltz calls this Psycho- Cybernetics; when the mind has a defined target it can focus and direct and refocus and redirect until it reaches its intended goal.” —Tony Robbins (from Unlimited Power)

Maltz was the first researcher and author to explain how the self-image (a term he popularized) has complete control over an individual’s ability to achieve (or fail to achieve) any goal. And he developed techniques for improving and managing self-image—visualization, mental rehearsal, relaxation—which have informed and inspired countless motivational gurus, sports psychologists, and self-help practitioners for more than fifty years.

The teachings of Psycho-Cybernetics are timeless because they are based on solid science and provide a prescription for thinking and acting that lead to quantifiable results.

If you have self-improvement goals then I highly recommend that you read Pyscho-Cybernetics. Become an expert in managing your self image, and enjoy the limitless possibilities that open up in front of you. 

You’ve got this! 

​xoxo Diana 

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