Monday, October 15, 2012

The Tools by Phil Stutz & Barry Michels

The Tools : Transform Your Problems into Courage Confidence and Creativity is the full name of this self-help book. It is rather interesting to read and can take the place of wisdom handed down through generations. Phil Stutz is a psychiatrist and Barry Michels is a psychotherapist and together they have created what they call 'the tools'. Reading through it, I felt like I was reading sound advice to handle any situation in life without the usual American indifference. Many times I have felt that when the doctors treat a patient here they only treat the body and leave the heart/soul out of it. If x equals y then z must be true is how it works here for patient treatment. Probably due to limitations imposed by the powerful Insurance companies and the fear of being sued. I can continue like this for a while but that will be forgetting all about the book. This book is for those suffering from depression or similar ailments as it describes how the two authors always wondered about helping the people who came to see them. I think it can be used by any one. What they speak are universal truths that can be applied in any situation. Essentially the authors dispense age-old wisdom through the use of new-age terms. Old wine in new bottle is still as good!

Here are the tools:
1. Reversal Of Desire : To avoid pain we don't do a lot things that could end up helping us or change our life. This tool is asking us to develop a healthy threshold for pain so we can face a problem full on. A mild example is gathering up the courage to ask for that long overdue raise to your manager.
2. Active Love : If we think that our problems are always due to something or someone, you know how that ends up just making us unhappy and does not change the situation in any way. We will will stuck in a maze of hatred and won't be able to come out. This tool asks you to focus and project a whole lot of love onto that person. Be mindful not to use this in abusive situations. That needs the other tools.
3. Inner Authority : Overcome insecurity. Didn't quite get how they described using the tool on this.
4.  The Grateful Flow : To overcome negative thinking.
5. Jeopardy : A way to come back to keep using the tools as needed even if you stopped them once you got some results and then things went down south.

Seems like generic self help gibberish? Not so fast! What differentiates this book from a myriad of others is the apparent genuine desire of the authors to help their patients outside of the usual steps of finding a clue in the past, writing prescriptions etc. They wanted to empower their patients to get over the difficulties they were facing. They advocate a belief in a higher force that needs to be brought out through the effective use of the tools. Read this book even if you don't need it. You will feel like you are listening to two grandfathers dispensing advise based on lives lived well. I am not sure if I fully get all the 'tools' but I liked reading many things in the book that appeared quite sensible. So if you sometimes want a reaffirmation for some of the things you think is right to do, this can help. I leave you with a passage from the book that gives an idea of what I am trying to say here: "We have been preconditioned to associate greatness with people who've achieved power or fame in the outside world, such as a Napoleon or a Thomas Edison. We place little value on an inner greatness that can be developed by anyone, regardless of his station in life (me - the boatman in Hesse's Sidhartha comes to mind here). But it is only this inner greatness that gives meaning to our lives, without it, our society becomes a meaningless shell."