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

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  2,931 ratings  ·  361 reviews
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 29th 2012 by Random House Canada
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Average rating 3.68  · 
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 ·  2,931 ratings  ·  361 reviews

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Loy Machedo
Oct 15, 2012 rated it did not like it
Let me break down the analysis of this book into 3 parts.
Part 1 – What is this book about.
Part 2 - Outline of the Tools
Part 3 – What I really think about this book.

Part 1 – What is this book about?
By combining 60 years of hands-on working experience using the elements of Jungian psychology with the kind of practical approach found in Ellis' Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy, Psychiatrist Phil Stutz and Psychotherapist Barry Michels have designed an innovative approach to help clients sufferi
Morgan Blackledge
Jun 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Guilty (but delicious) pleasure. I have to admit I loved it. I'm a huge Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) fan. And much of the ideas in the book were very inline with the ACT model. But (importantly) delivered in a much more user friendly (quasi new age) package. I'm a stalwart atheist/materialist. Not because I am certain about such things (how can anyone be certain about such things). But because it's the world view that seems to be the least far-fetched and most effective for me.

That b
Aug 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
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 re
Laura Jordan
Some interesting ideas, but I found the emphasis on the "higher powers" pretty off-putting, particularly during the second half of the book, where the authors seem to go out of their way to denigrate skepticism, the scientific method, and science in general. For those of us who don't buy the idea that the universe has an intelligent consciousness, much of what they have to say is hard to swallow. Some of the techniques they offer seem promising, though, so there must be a way to incorporate the ...more
Jun 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I thought it was outstanding! Two psychiatrists accepted that "this just really isn't working" when they realised that encouraging their patients to talk endlessly about their past wasn't giving them any relief in the present day. They found they hadn't been trained to do anything else and so were forced to devise 5 visualisation exercises of their own that anyone can apply and practice for lasting inner change. The tools are simple and they worked for me - and they also have their own philosoph ...more
Feb 23, 2013 rated it liked it
**There’s a tool for that**


It’s one of those inconvenient givens of life. Although we spend so much energy trying to avoid it, it makes a regular appearance in our daily lives: in our constantly playing thoughts of “things shouldn’t be this way; ” in the insecurities that hold us back from doing what we want to do and being who we want to be; and in the negative thought clouds that can easily black out the bright spots in our lives.

What a pain.

In their book _The Tools_, Phil Stutz and Bar
Nov 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this, more than I thought I would. Partially I think I liked it because I'd read the New Yorker piece, so I was primed to be open to these guys.

Plus I've used and am still using the tools, although not as often as I did. They do work - especially in my case, because I have a big bugaboo with shrinking in the face of disapproval. I step back from the hard stuff, in other words. So when I can really do the first tool on avoidance - step INTO the pain of what it is - I really find my
Sep 30, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
Wishy washy nonsense. I am not going to visualize a beam of all my love penetrating some one whom I'm angry at's solar plexus. This is ridiculous. Maybe I'm not an extreme enough situation for me to find any of these "tools" necessary or relevant, but it's all wispy washy nonsense. This book belongs in a class with 6 Weeks to OMG and The Secret. If you are spineless and gullible, then awesome - you'll love these! Have a functioning brain? Not so much.
Jul 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
I saw a review for this book, I think in Time Magazine, and thought it would be a great self help book. The authors are both psychologist that provide tools to deal with life problems in there psychotherapy approach with there patients. This book provides many of those examples.

The tools are
1. The Reversal of Desire - When you need to take action that you have been avoiding. This says we need to welcome trips outside of our Comfort Zone when actions need to be taken. I can say there have been th
Sep 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book has been flying off our shelves at work, so I'm going to see what it's all about!
Now that I'm finished, I feel that my rating (5/5) requires a nuanced review...especially given how split the readership seems to be in regards to the ratings. Whether or not I'll achieve the nuance and success in explaining...we'll see.

So, overall this is an excellent book for people who want a real way to take control of the psychological issues that they face in their lives. Out of control emotions,
Melissa Ennis
May 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ordinarily, I avoid self-help books the way I avoid DIY root canals.

This one is different. Specific. Practical. Actually helpful. For example, here's a nugget that got me through a recent festering tangle of procrastination/anxiety: "Pain is not absloute. When you move toward it, pain shrinks...the more intense the pain-- the more you move into it-- the more energy you create."

OK-- that sounds like masochism. It's more like muscle-building.

It's cognitive. It's less therapy and more coaching.
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Make that leap, use this book to exponentially improve your life. This book gives you practical ways to conquer some of life's biggest issues! I LOVED this book. In fact, this is one of the most important books I have ever read!

*view problems as "portals to enter the world of untapped potential" and see problems' purpose as primary avenues to growth
* simple--but not necessarily easy--techniques called tools which change not only attitudes, but behaviors as well.

for those--
-If you ever find yours
Colleen Wainwright
First of all, if you are not a Believer, you're going to have difficulties with this book and the tools found within. The authors do a kind of sneaky-Pete maneuver, sucking you in via the secular self-help standpoint, shifting into a hard-core spiritual stance about 3/4 of the way in. I wasn't surprised; all five of the tools are variations on principles arrived at by various spiritual traditions for the pursuit of a happy, meaningful, fulfilled life, i.e. one of service and gratitude.

Oct 30, 2018 rated it did not like it
Minimalistic rebranding of psychological interventions (reframing, visualization, meditation, self-talk). This in and of itself is not enough for a poor review. However as a mental health professional, their misrepresentation of the science of psychology as well as forcing a spiritual world view make this book both frustrating and frightening.

I first became confused and frustrated with the authors seemingly limited knowledge of psychological theories and interventions. As they both claim to be i
Nov 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
I was really interested by the ideas is this book, mostly because they are extensions of a lot of things I've been thinking about lately. The section about consumers vs creators particularly hit home, as lately I've felt especially beat down by the barrage of ads every single place I turn in life and the realization that their sole purpose is to create dissatisfaction.

To be honest, part of me feels stupid revealing that I've read a "self help" book. Mostly, they are just another thing to market
Jun 17, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Very hard to read.

I got a copy through the "Giveaway" section of this site some months ago.

And It's been sitting on my desk with the book mark on page 56 for a month now. I can usually work through books that are dry and highly technical, but this is in a different league, The writing style feels like it's been auto-dictated from a classroom lecture or even a pulpit.

Their is no sole or life in the words, which is strange since that's all the book seems to be about, living a full life. The writer
James Rye
Jan 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
At the core of this book are some good ideas that most cognitive therapists would be familiar with. The authors have drawn from their many years of therapeutic practice to identify key areas of human difficulty and suggest ways of facing those problems.

The reasons for the low rating are:
1) I felt there was a lot of "padding" in the book to give it more length than it merited. There was a good core, but to me it didn't seem to justify the length.
2) Anybody who seriously expects me to embrace "hig
Witold Smieszek
All anecdotal. Reads too much like a compilation of blog posts. Not much in way of sources or depth on subject matter.
Might be helpful to some, but it really isn't much more than a basic self-help listicle in the end.
Jun 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great book! I could not speak highly enough for this one. Gives a lot of insight into why we do the things we do AND how to actually stop doing those things! This book goes further than most other books with giving you a plan not just the insight. I found out about this book from a podcast and thought it sounded like a good read, I am certainly glad I did. I will be reading the next book Coming Alive by the same two authors!
Aug 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Typically I would turn away from self-help books, especially one like this. However, I found the points, perspective, and practice to align strongly with my personal beliefs & will likely incorporate these tools in my own life and therapy practice! ...more
Jennifer Fong
Jun 27, 2020 rated it did not like it
I loved everything but the tools itself. I expected this book to be practical but it rests heavily in spirituality as the authors couldn’t stop talking about “the higher force” and “the source.”
Jul 12, 2017 added it
An interesting book. Many have spoke of the simplicity of the answers to issues, but to me, that is the appealing part. I will definitely incorporate these techniques to my practice
John Martindale
I didn't expect to find Yoda sharing the secrets for how to tap into the Force. Books like this bring out the skeptic in me, it was hard to get through it. I wonder if how I felt is similar to how the likes of Michael Shermer and Richard Dawkins feel when they read works by Christians--If so I pity them as they research. Phil Stuzz does share some decent "tools" like gratefulness and some other psychological tricks, and I have little doubt that some people trying these tools "feel" something tha ...more
Lorena Shele
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
To live out of "the box", that's what this book teaches.
Paula Hrbacek
Jun 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Tools is a self-help book that offers mental methods that can be used to change your attitudes and reactions. It’s not the type of book you read. You read, think about it, let it sink in, and then read some more. As such, it’s a good book to read before bed when you have time to relax and let your mind wander. It will take some time to digest, but offers plenty of food for thought.
Phil Stutz is an atheist who came to believe in higher powers that direct our lives. He insists that the tools u
Jun 11, 2012 rated it liked it
If you've read self-help or metaphysical stuff before, this is not new. Calling them "tools" may be, and they are presented in a way that's unique to these authors. But imagining myself at the end of my life when considering doing something -- well, I've been doing that for years, especially for big decisions. And pushing through pain by saying I accept it, well, Alanis Morissette told me in song years ago what I already knew, too -- the only way out is through.

If, however, you are new to this t
May 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
An excellent self-help book that addresses the main problem of changing your life, either in therapy or with the use of a book, or both: it's not hard to change thinking and behavior at first, but it is hard to stick with it, and most of us give up, forget, or find temporary relief and then think we can stop being "different". This book advises that the tools within are to be used for the rest of your life, similar to the difference between going on a diet (and then gaining weight back after) an ...more
Daniel Selders
Aug 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
In the series of self help books that I have read over the years, this is a great book. The tools are things that we have always been doing in different cultures and religions, and there are recognizable equivalents in Christianity and Buddhism among others.

The thing that really hits home with me is the discussion of consumerism and the false belief that we are or can be exonerated from doing the hard work, and doing it over and over again. One needs to clean the house, do the dishes, balance th
Kate LaChapelle
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Where do I even begin with this book. It's psychology and vastly fascinating. The Tools puts forth four, technically five, Tools to use to solve the problems in your life and to connect you to the Source and Higher Powers. I'm naturally pretty skeptical of anything of that nature, but this book lays it out in a way that is really interesting to consider.

Ultimately a lot of the tools come down to a shift in paradigm, which is no simple task, but the tools certainly help you get on that path. I ap
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was ok
If you've done any real work on yourself either through CBT or 12 Step or really any program for improvement, I don't think any of this is going to be any major revelation for you. That said,I got enough real actionable tools and frank honesty about what it takes to really make progress in life to make it worth the $8 download.

I heard Dr. Stutz on Marc Maron's show and really liked his frankness and tough love attitude, unfortunately I think this is a book mostly by Dr. Michels with Dr. Stutz so
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Phil Stutz graduated from City College in New York and received his MD from New York University. He worked as a prison psychiatrist on Rikers Island and then in private practice in New York before moving his practice to Los Angeles in 1982.

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“Real change requires you to change your behavior-not just your attitude.” 12 likes
“We’re trained as a society to expect, even demand, immediate gratification. And we have an extraordinary ability to rationalize this weakness. Instead of admitting we’re avoiding pain, we tell ourselves we’re being virtuous; Vinny had convinced himself he was refusing to “sell out.” We end up with a distorted worldview that makes avoidance seem right, even brave and idealistic. This is the worst sin of all—lying to ourselves. It makes change impossible.” 1 likes
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