Phil Stutz (The Psychiatrist) and Barry Michels (The Therapist) have teamed up to write one of the most amazing self-help books out there, titled ‘The Tools‘. I downloaded the book after reading John Cusack’s interview with the writers on Huffington Post (as mentioned in a previous blog post). With years of experience dealing with the wacky Hollywood folk, Phil and Barry are able to use creative case studies and provide solutions for a variety of human issues such as anxiety, low self-confidence, anger management, depression, discipline etc. The best thing about this book is its simplicity and non-repetitiveness of words. I don’t enjoy reading self-help books unless they follow a creative fiction pattern that Paulo Coelho’s work embraces but ‘The Tools‘ is an exception.They use these amazing little cartoon depictions to explain how one can tackle their problems, so even if I forget the concepts, one look at these images can brush up my memory.
The Tools uses a mixture of psychological approaches and spiritual thinking to create five powerful concepts. This book is definitely therapeutic for the soul.
The five tools featured in this book are,
GET UNSTUCK: The Reversal of Desire teaches you how to master the things you are avoiding and live in forward motion.
CONTROL ANGER: Active Love frees you from being ruled by rage and grudges.
EXPRESS YOURSELF: Inner Authority puts you in touch with your Shadow and helps you find your voice.
COMBAT ANXIETY: Grateful Flow stops obsessive worrying and negative thinking.
FIND DISCIPLINE: Jeopardy reminds you to make the most of every minute.
I suppose most of us have one or two life issues to deal with, in my case negative thinking, obsessive worrying but reading about the rest of tools gave me an insight into complex behavior of other people that has always left me confused.
Tool 1: A long while ago I figured out that the best way to move forward is to acknowledge pain and be ready to face it. Life gets a lot simpler when you address the fact that pain is inevitable. Even if I get the best job, the best lover, the best life my imagination could spin out for me, the pain won’t end. This concept is put in better words (Reversal Of Desire) by Phil and Barry. Avoidance only leads to issues getting piled up until that dark cloud becomes unbearable and one loses grip on reality. More options come your way when you openly state the desire to experience pain. This one is very interesting and at the end of all the five sections, the authors answer the most commonly asked questions such as ‘Won’t reversal of desire bring negative events in my life?”, a question I had on my mind too. From what I gather, the writers explain that one should change the way they view outcomes. Rather than avoiding or thinking one will fail, one can openly express the painful fear of failure, address it and know that life will still continue on. For most people, it is easier to stay stuck in the ‘Comfort Zone’ but to get to a ‘Fulfilling Life’ one must encounter pain.
Tool 2: Over the past couple of years I have learnt to forgive and forget. Sort of along the lines of Guns N’ Roses’ Live and Let Die. Active love is a brilliant method to harness into your inner love and use it to propel you forward. Seeking revenge leaves you stuck in a maze. As a negative thinker, I find comfort in replaying situations and thinking the worst, being absolutely unkind to myself. One negative thought can create a pool of negativity for you to drown in. According to the tool, the love within you can get so big that it will cancel out all the negative energy this other person has created in your life. I imagine it to be a battle between positivity and negativity. Active Love is used to send love to this negative person with the intention that love will make you one with them, a statement I would like to argue. Personally, I don’t want to be one with people who have done hurtful, unthinkable things to other people especially rapists, murderers and pedos. I prefer using this tool on my terms. I rather use the love within me to cancel out the mean energy in other people. The moment I acknowledge this deep source of love inside me, I understand that I’m powerful and I can move on, unbothered by the negativity people throw my way.
Tool 3: Inner Authority is my favorite tool. Even though I have read a lot of Jungian work about shadow personality, I never knew how to access mine until I read The Tools. For a while I believed my shadow was that of a mean, violent person but the truth was something else. This is a great exercise for everyone, especially people like me who just can’t put their finger on what their shadow is like. I’ve never struggled with talking to strangers, public speaking or felt any significant insecurities so I couldn’t relate to the case study. But, it turns out that I have struggled with emotional expression, more importantly the expression of my inner child. This tool explains an effective method to integrate your inner shadow to become a happier, free person.
Tool 4: Everyone who knows me, understands my life long struggle with negative thinking or unnecessary worry. With my vivid imagination, I can visualise the worst things and make myself sick. To combat those negative thoughts, I might over exert myself, ensure I have sealed all the gaps even if I’ve to over-work. This attitude isn’t healthy. The fourth tool of Grateful Flow is a great reminder to smack myself and take a seat back. For the past few months, every-time I find myself getting anxious or sickly worried, I open the diary on my phone and write down one thing I’m honestly grateful about. This same practice is recommended by Phil and Barry. It doesn’t end my misery right away but it does bring me back ‘into the moment’ before I get too ahead of myself.
Tool 5: Jeopardy as a tool isn’t a concept thats new to me. As previously stated, I am excellent at vividly picturing future scenarios. This tool ensures that you don’t quit using The Tools! How often do we read something, keep it in mind for a week, may be a month and then quit following up on it. Jeopardy is the tool which will remind you to go back and practice, practice, practice. The writers say, imagining oneself on their death bed has a profound effect on the actions taken in present. Would you want to die with regrets, unhappy that you failed to conquer your fears or acknowledge failures? What would you have to do in order to die satisfied?
I ended up reading this book on my phone over 3 nights to only start reading again. Here is a quick insight into Phil & Barry’s drawings from a little pdf file I found online. You can buy the book at Amazon or download it from iTunes.
Also pretty chuffed that my post received a shout out from The Tools authors, over twitter. You too can follow them for inspirational tweets at www.twitter.com/thetoolsbook