The Tools: A different kind of self help book. (Or, isn’t that what they all say?)

If I was going to write a book about procrastination or how to deal with writer’s block it would be very short and it would include only one rule.

When stuck, write a list blog.

So this is what I am doing today,  because sometimes you’ve just got to get some words down.

Actually! Better still, I’m going to make this a new blog series, which means I don’t have to think of any new ideas for at least a few weeks.

Bingo!

So, let’s get started! 

This is all about the Tools. The Tools, you say? Yes, the Tools. Mmm tell me more. Tell who more? Who are you talking to?

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I was recommended the book, “The Tools” from a writer who I love who had been sharing in an interview, some of the books that he had been reading recently. I’ll have to be honest, if I didn’t respect the author, I’m not sure I would have picked up this book in the first place. I mean with a sub title of “5 Tools to Help You Find Courage, Creativity, and Willpower–and Inspire You to Live Life in Forward Motion” it was hard for me to not visualize this as something that would be comfortable sitting alongside a Joel Osteen book in a bookstore.

But I knew that if this writer thought it was worth reading there had to be something more to it. So I picked up a copy and honestly, the title didn’t do justice to what I found hiding within the pages.

One of my deepest frustrations in my life has been the importance that has been placed on understanding and believing in lots of truths, but these truths then not having any real impact on my life. That has been because I often thought that if I believed the right things, then everything else will fall into place. But I don’t know anyone who has had this experience.

I certainly didn’t.

As Psychiatrists, Phil and Barry, the authors of this book also had similar frustrations. They discovered that the traditional understanding of Psychiatry where we figure out where our pain comes from, as important as that may be, doesn’t always result in change.

We also need to do something.

Phil and Barry aren’t hacks. They have decades of Psychiatric experience between them and they’ve tested these tools. More accurately, their patients have. Mixing real life case examples with their own journeys, and applying tools that contain elements of imagination, behavioral modification and honestly, spirituality, Phil and Barry give us 5 practical tools that can be used in pretty much any situation.

That’s why the Tools has been so influential to me. Giving me practical, almost spiritual disciplines to practice and use in most of the situations that I find myself in on a daily basis. Like being afraid of what people think of me, doing something I don’t want to but know I need to, confronted by people it’s hard to love and overcoming anxiety and worry.

These aren’t tools that affect how you think, they affect how you feel. And I’m discovering more than ever before, that’s where change happens. If you’re like me and are tired of understanding why you do certain things and equally tired of not being able to do change, this book could prove to be very helpful.

Now this may just sound like a hyped up self help book and I understand skepticism around anything like this. Hey, my initial Joel Osteen reaction to it proves this. But if you are anyway Spiritual, a lot of the concepts in here won’t be completely unfamiliar (even if, you’ve called them something different).

There are elements of all the major Spiritual disciplines found here but rather than just a hodge lodge of mixed ideas without any real direction, Phil and Barry have also helped me to see how we’re all so similar when everything else is stripped away. Regardless of what we believe or what we call it, these are ideas that all of us will recognize.

And that’s the beauty of what Phil and Barry have created. These are universal ideas steeped in our very human nature but like Phil and Barry continually remind us in the book, these tools take work and practice. They aren’t a magic formula. You will feel like giving up, you will give up, but if you keep going the results are life changing.

This is the reason this book is one of the most influential books for me recently. It’s not because these are brand new ideas, they’re not. But rather, they work. It’s that simple.

And I’m so much happier because of it.

So over the next few weeks I’ll explore each tool a little and share some stories and experiences that I’ve had by applying each one in my life. I hope you’ll join me.

Next week: Why I hate writing, but why I need to do it and how the first tool helped me do the work.

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