Book Review –
The Tools: Transform Your Problems into Courage, Confidence, and Creativity
by Phil Stutz, Barry Michels
I picked up The Tools mostly to help me with my counseling work at Epiphany. After reading the book though, I came to feel that this book could be helpful to almost anyone. Not only a person that would seek out a pastor, counselor, or therapist, but people with more everyday problems.
Stutz and Michels lay out four tools to help people tackle:
- Avoidance because of fear of rejection, failure, or any negative consequences.
- Anger from a sense that you have been wronged.
- Performance anxiety or a sense that you are being judged.
- Worry or when negative thinking creeps in.
When people seek out counselors, there biggest complaint usually is that their counselor has identified the problem, but solutions are slim, and progress is slow. Since Stutz and Michels have been using these tools, they say that their clients feel they have so much more to work with, and they make so much more progress, faster.
Tool # 1 – The Reversal of Desire
The next time you feel yourself avoiding something, or dreading something, try this exercise.
See the pain appear in front of you as a cloud. Scream silently at the cloud, “BRING IT ON!” Feel an intense desire for the pain to move you into the cloud.
Scream silently, “I LOVE PAIN!” as you keep moving forward. Go so deeply into the pain you’re at one with it. You will feel the cloud spit you out and close behind you.
Say inwardly with conviction, “PAIN SETS ME FREE!” As you leave the cloud, feel yourself propelled forward into a realm of pure light. (location 527 of Kindle version)
Tool #2 – Active Love
The next time you feel anger welling up in you, consider trying to:
Concentration: Feel your heart expand to encompass the world of infinite love surrounding you. When your heart contracts back to normal size, it concentrates all this love inside your chest.
Transmission: Send all the love from your chest to the other person, holding nothing back.
Penetration: When the love enters the other person, don’t just watch, feel it enter; sense a oneness with him or her. Then relax, and you’ll feel all the energy you gave away returned to you. (location 1724 of Kindle version)
Tool #3 – Inner Authority
When you are experience performance anxiety, or anytime you are feeling anxious about how someone might react to something you are going to do, picture the worst version of yourself you could imagine—call it your Shadow:
Standing in front of any kind of audience, see your Shadow off to one side, facing you. (It works just as well with an imaginary audience or an audience composed of only one person.) Ignore the audience completely and focus all of your attention on the Shadow. Feel an unbreakable bond between the two of you—as a unit you’re fearless.
Together, you and the Shadow forcefully turn toward the audience and silently command them to “LISTEN!” Feel the authority that comes when you and your Shadow speak with one voice. (location 1726 of Kindle version)
Tool # 4 – The Grateful Flow
If you find yourself worrying about something, or you are thinking negatively about yourself, or someone else:
Start by silently stating to yourself specific things in your life you’re grateful for, particularly items you’d normally take for granted. You can also include bad things that aren’t happening. Go slowly so you really feel the gratefulness for each item. Don’t use the same items each time you use the tool. You should feel a slight strain from having to come up with new ideas.
After about thirty seconds, stop thinking and focus on the physical sensation of gratefulness. You’ll feel it coming directly from your heart. This energy you are giving out is the Grateful Flow.
As this energy emanates from your heart, your chest will soften and open. In this state you will feel an overwhelming presence approach you, filled with the power of infinite giving. You’ve made a connection to the Source. (location 2204 of Kindle version)
I realize that these recommendations may seem to trivialize some problems that we may encounter in life, but would encourage you to give them a try anyway. I also realize that these tools may not be for everyone. If you’d like to read the book, we have two copies in our new arrivals to our church library.