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The Tools: Transform Your Problems into…

The Tools: Transform Your Problems into Courage, Confidence, and… (edition 2012)

by Phil Stutz, Barry Michels

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154477,562 (3.88)3
Title:The Tools: Transform Your Problems into Courage, Confidence, and Creativity
Authors:Phil Stutz
Other authors:Barry Michels
Info:Spiegel & Grau (2012), Hardcover, 288 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Tools: Transform Your Problems into Courage, Confidence, and Creativity by Phil Stutz



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I learned of this book when Marc Maron interviewed Barry Michels on the WTF podcast. From this interview I also heard about Denial of Death by Ernest Becker. These two books, and this The Tools books in particular, have changed my life. The Tools contains certain emotional practices that will change your approach to fear. The one tool I've used fairly consistently since learning about it is the one where you practice compassion for people who bother or annoy you. I'm far from perfect, I still get irritable and angry at "annoying" people, but I'm at least now aware of the fact that I have a choice in the matter. ( )
  evamat72 | Mar 31, 2016 |
I just skimmed it but the lessons are provocative. How to face fear, how to express your inner authority, bringing love into your life. As the authors point out, it is difficult to keep practicing the exercises. Perhaps I'll pick up the book again for refreshing. ( )
  joeydag | Jul 23, 2015 |
I was going to give this book 5 or 4 stars, because first 4 techniques are elegant, enjoyable, easy to use and do seem to make a real difference in one's daily life. I encourage everyone to familiarise themselves with the presented techniques.

However, in order to fully enjoy this book, I highly recommend to read chapters 2-5 and stop there. Chapter 6 (the one that presents so called 5th tool) is quite offensive and depressing, and is really more a quintessence of the darkest side of organised religion ("you, miserable animals, are going to be miserable forever. Unless you use the tools 24/7. Then you are going to be slightly less miserable. Maybe. If you are persistent and loyal to The Tools(tm)" rather than an inspiring read. And remaining (redundant) part of the book is filled with authors' attempts to write a "Higher force for dummies" manual (they fail, by the way).

So, in my highly subjective opinion:
1. Part of the book is really worth reading
2. However, even the readable part should be read selectively. Get the techniques, skip the rest. Keep your critical thinking on.
3. If someone could rewrite the book with a positive outlook, it would have been the best book of a decade. But here we see a number of brilliant and working ideas surrounded by author's inner demons (which are presented as absolute and final truth).
( )
  NatalieAsIs | Oct 23, 2014 |
What's really great about this book is the detail provided in using and applying 'the tools'. I'd describe this book a practical - not beautifully written, but very useful. ( )
  tandah | Oct 14, 2014 |
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Phil Stutzprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Michels, Barrymain authorall editionsconfirmed
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To Lucy Quvus, who never let me give up.
-Phil Stutz
To my suster Debra, a spiritual warrior of the highest order, who taught me to live with grace, courage, and love.
-Barry Michels
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Roberta was a new psychotherapy patient who made me feel completely ineffective within fifteen minutes of meeting her.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 067964444X, Hardcover)

A Letter from the Authors: What Is a Tool?
In conventional psychotherapy, we talk about “insights” or “causation” and we tend to believe that if we can uncover the deep-seated reasons behind someone’s problems, then the person will change automatically. This implies that awareness alone creates the forces that cause change. But real change, the kind of change patients in therapy cry out for, means changing your behavior, not just your attitude.

That requires much stronger forces. A tool is a technique or procedure that can generate a force that allows you to do the work of change. It is work that must be done in real time. When do we use a tool? In the present.

Conventional therapy tends to be passive and focuses on the past. It excavates a patient’s history, usually from childhood, brings it into the light of day and interprets it so as to strip it of its unconscious power. I have the greatest respect for the past. Memories, emotions, insights can all be very valuable. But my patients needed help and relief in the present and all the insights in the world weren’t going to be powerful enough to deliver that.

To control your actions you need something else: a specific procedure you can use systematically to combat a specific problem -- you need a tool.

There’s an obvious objection that arises here: Isn’t what you’re doing superficial? Sure, these tools of yours may help a patient change his or her behavior but you haven’t addressed the underlying reasons. Unless you do that they’re bound to go back to their (self-) destructive ways sooner or later.

There are two answers to this objection. The first involves a misunderstanding of how people change. Insight into the “reasons” for a problem isn’t the cause of change – it’s the result. Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous have always known this. You don’t join AA and then sit around discussing why you drink too much over a few beers or vodka martinis. You join to stop drinking one day at a time. Only after that can you look into the roots of your addiction by “taking inventory.”

The second answer goes back to our original question about what a tool is. There has been a bias in psychotherapy implying that anything that is active and involves your will is superficial; as if the deepest part of human experience can only occur inside your head. The truth is the opposite; the deepest part of human experience happens when you interact with the world outside yourself. That means you need to go beyond thinking and into “doing”—and this is exactly what a tool makes possible.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:02 -0400)

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Presents a new outlook on therapy that utilizes a new set of "tools" that allow patients to use their problems as levers to access the power of the unconscious, allowing for personal growth much faster than traditional therapy.

(summary from another edition)

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