A groundbreaking book about personal growth that presents a uniquely effective set of five tools that bring about dynamic change.
The Tools offers a solution to the biggest complaint patients have about therapy: the interminable wait for change to begin. The traditional therapeutic model sets its sights on the past, but Phil Stutz and Barry Michels employ an arsenal of techniques - "the tools" - that allow patients to use their problems as levers that access the power of the unconscious and propel them into action. Suddenly, through this transformative approach, obstacles become opportunities - to find courage, embrace discipline, develop self-expression, deepen creativity.
For years, Stutz and Michels taught these techniques to an exclusive patient base, but with The Tools, their revolutionary, empowering practice becomes available to every reader interested in realizing the full range of their potential. The authors' goal is nothing less than for your life to become exceptional - exceptional in its resiliency, in its experience of real happiness, and in its understanding of the human spirit.
"With deceptively potent visualization exercises, psychiatrist Stutz and psychotherapist Michels promote a rapid and streamlined method of self-improvement. . . . The clear, user-friendly approach plus a belief that "the power of higher forces is absolutely real" is a winning combination. Here is the rare self-help book that doesntt end with the self" (Publishers Weekly)
"Barry Michels and Phil Stutz are profoundly talented guides to the inner workings of the psyche. The Tools is breakthrough material that ignites your own capacity to transform your life" (Marianne Williamson)
"These tools are emotional game changers; they can help you work through conflicts, get happier, and feel a deep sense of purpose. As simple and practical as they are, they do nothing less than deliver you to your best and most powerful self" Kathy Freston, author of Quantum Wellness: A Spiritual Guide to Health and Happiness)
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You Owe It to Yourself to Try
It's the most important audiobook I've ever read, hands down. This may ultimately be the most life-changing book I'll ever read. If it doesn't change my life, it will be because I didn't work hard enough with the tools every day. This is not so much a self-help book as it is an existential guidebook to the universe.
Barry tells about how he discovered, while talking to his very skeptical friend, that all the adversity we face in life is meant to get us to access the Higher Forces. It helped me to answer the question of suffering very clearly. Earlier in the book, Barry refers to Victor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning," in which Frankl recounts how he persevered in the Nazi death camps by holding onto the fact that the Nazi's could not take away his right to determine his response to his suffering. In my case, most of my suffering is not a result of human evil. I was born with a genetic progressive neuro-muscular disability, and now I am fighting day by day to survive. When I read Frankl years ago, I was very moved, but I didn't get satisfaction from the answer that I am in control of my response to my circumstances. I had nobody to point to as the cause of my circumstances but God, yet I couldn't bring myself to be angry at God the way Frankl was angry will the Nazi's. The standard Christian answer is that God let suffering into the world in response to the sins of the first humans, or that satan is the cause of suffering, not God. C.S. Lewis said that suffering in life was to prepare us to spend eternity with God, and we would become better people through our suffering. I now think Barry's definitely on the right track. The adversity is not to make us better people or to punish us for the sins of the first humans. For us to access the Divine, to get to know God, and to have compassionate, meaningful lives, we need to access the Higher Forces. To access the Higher Forces, we have to have problems, pain, and emptiness, or else we will not understand courage, love, inclusiveness, compassion, or creativity. These gifts are available to us all, but in first world countries, we are all tempted to either believe that humans can solve their own problems, or that there is a "treatment" for all suffering, whether mental, physical, or spiritual. The Tools are not cures, but they help you to access Higher Forces, which I call God, which makes life a powerful, divine undertaking.
If Barry wanted another career as a reader for Audible, he could easily do so. He's in the top ten percent of readers. Phil's New York accent and soft tone make me feel like he's talking to me about the tools, and his life, in a restaurant over dinner.
This Tools are not going to be easy to use daily, but I know I must use them. The methods in the book will be used side-by-side with my prayers, in my case. The tools will enable me to love my enemy, to walk with Jesus on the Jordan in a storm, and to break bread with my inner leper, unclean woman, and tax collector. I just hope the jeopardy tool will give me enough will power to become disciplined, because I have already died, and I am already in real jeopardy. I will have to be like Vinny and "just think about death all day."
If you have clinical depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, schizophrenia, addiction, or any other major psychiatric disorder, do not kid yourself into thinking that the tools are going to be all you need. You do need professional help and quite possibly medication. Consider going to a support group such as the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance or Alcoholics Anonymous (or other Anonymous programs.) The Tools will help you, but you must get your brain chemistry under control to actually use the tools effectively. Trust me, I've been there.
Real Tools to deal with Real Situations
Be sure to download the PDF. The illustrations really help make the points. I have to say that this is one of the few books where I felt that the author understood what I'm going through. YES! I've been "in the maze" and I need a way out. YES! I've felt like I had a black cloud over my head and I need a way to break through and YES! I've felt that I resisted things because of "pain" and needed to break through that barrier too.
Honestly...I borrowed a bunch of audiobooks from the library and with nothing invested, I was ready to let this one go back to the "shelves". But I tried it, having nothing better to listen to and this book (not the others I was so eager to listen to) is the one that had really helped. I came back and bought it from Audible because I know that I'll need to play it back and remember the tool/lessons.
I will say that I felt that there were some phrases that I might have changed to reach a larger audience. The religious undertones...I didn't like it. They tried to stay very neutral and I appreciate that. But how about thinking of it as an "inner self confidence" or "a stronger self coming out" Some people may want to believe it's a force outside of themselves...cool! If that works for you, that's great. I'd like to believe that it's more like the illustrations - there's me, there's a barrier and I have broken through the barrier that *I* self imposed upon myself.
The concept of "pain". The word 'pain' implies a physical sensation. Admittedly, some people work themselves up to a point of physical pain. But really, what they mean is that you're facing a "discomfort" or a "wall". I don't want to call people to ask for a job. Ok, I need to psych myself up, work through that level of discomfort or "don't wanna". Now use the tool..."I wanna do it, I welcome the challenge of doing it". Blah blah. See? Same tool, different words, now I can "swallow" it better than "I welcome pain in my life". No...I don't welcome "pain"
I know it's a semantic game but if I want the tool to work for me...I have to "wanna" and I don't "wanna" invite pain. I'll invite gratitude in my life...ok, got it. I will eagerly exit the maze. No thanks on the pain thing. :)