|The Mental and Emotional
Tool Kit for Life
To fix anything that's broken, and build something better
|Tool #4: Recognize Irrational Thinking
Why? Because thoughts cause feelings, and attitude is always the
father of behavior.
Dr. Ellis identified a pattern to the way people think when they generate a
dysfunctional amount of emotion, and then behave irrationally. He said
people engage in four basic types of irrational thinking. He called them:
3) Can't Stand It-itis
4) Label and Damning
We all have the right to want whatever we want. The mistakes people
make according to Dr. Ellis are:
1) They start to think they need things they simply want
2) They start to treat their simple preferences as necessities
3) They start to demand what they simply desire
There are many things in life that are unpleasant, inconvenient or
uncomfortable. The mistake people make is to start telling themselves
that what is happening, or might, is AWFUL.
We have the right to like or dislike whatever we want to. The mistake
people make is to start to tell themselves they CAN'T STAND something
that is happening.
We have the right to like or dislike what we or others say and do. The
mistake we make is to LABEL and DAMN others and ourselves.
It's easy to teach this pattern and help people learn to recognize when
they and others are thinking irrationally, and then teach them how to
correct such thinking when it is there. (MORE)
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At times, we all have more emotion than we'd like to have. It often causes us to
make mistakes with other people. For some, it gives purpose to unhealthy,
self-defeating behavior that they struggle to stop engaging in. Generating emotion
is part of being human, but it's not some inevitable product of what happens to us.
We can learn to generate less emotion. This book will show you how to.
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No one can hurt our feelings. That's semantic and scientific nonsense. The truth
is that it's what we choose to think about others and what they say or do that
really determines how we feel, be it hurt or anything else. I will teach you how to
use the power of choice to earn the equivalent of a black belt in Mental and
Emotional Karate and stop being a victim of others comments or actions.
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Parenting and teaching can be tough. It's easy to generate more emotion than is
helpful and make mistakes, especially with the most troubled and troublesome
young people. This book was written by a health education teacher who became
certified in cognitive behavioral therapy to better understand and help students,
and ended up helping himself in the process. He can help you do all three things.
|Tool #5: Correcting Irrational Thinking (Disputing)
How? Correcting irrational thinking basically involves applying the
scientific method to everyday life. Every thought someone has, or
comment they make is basically their theory or hypothesis about the
way life is or should be. The question then becomes, "Does the
evidence of everyday life support your theory or hypothesis? Or does it
perhaps refute it, and suggest a better one?" We teach the scientific
method to young people in science classes all across the country, but
neglect to teach them how to apply it to their everyday life. It would be a
simply matter to do so.
Another simple way is to ask, "Is that a fact or just an opinion". When
people disturb themselves needlessly it's typically because of opinions
they have, which they treat as facts.
There are also some simple and direct questions that can be asked. For
Belief: "They can't tell me what to do"
Dispute: " Why can't they tell you what to do?"
"They can't, or you just don't want them to?"
"They can't, or you just don't like when they do?"
The goal, through practice and rehearsal, is to make this type of
questioning and disputing so automatic that it becomes analogous to
spell or grammar check on a computer. (MORE)
|This approach is largely based on an evidenced-based form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
developed by the late Dr. Albert Ellis called Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT). This "TOOL
KIT" approach to prevention and wellness was developed by a health education teacher who was
certified in REBT. It's an educational self-help approach to the many problems in the lives of
individuals, families, schools and businesses. Education can be very therapeutic.
|The "TOOLS" are ten life skills, and a variety of formulas, sayings, diagrams, strategies and new
ways of looking at things that allow someone to develop these life skills. The goal of teaching these
"TOOLS" is truly effective emotional management, which will allow people to make the best
behavioral and lifestyle choices for themselves and others
|This is a highly effective approach to preventing all those problems and issues that young people so
often struggle with, in and outside the classroom, now and later in life. The "TOOL KIT" can be a
major ounce of prevention worth many pounds of cure. It can also be a "shot in the arm" for people
of any age already struggling with such issues. It's the basis of the "TOOL TIME" groups I run. The
"TOOL KIT" can also help teachers be more effective and make less mistakes with students,
especially the most troubled and troublesome ones we can least afford to make mistakes with. The
"TOOL KIT can do the same for parents. The "TOOLS" are often missing from most wellness
programs. To read more about the "TOOLS", scroll to the bottom of this page
|Tool #6: A step-by-step approach to troublesome events
Why? In math, students are taught that if they approach new problems
in the same step-by-step fashion, they will more often than not get the
right answer. So it is with approaching everyday problems.
Most people automatically approach new, potentially troublesome life
situations in the same way they have before. It's because they've
created cognitive, emotional and behavioral "ruts" in their brain
pathways from prior practice and rehearsal. That could be good or bad.
When it's works against them, Dr. Ellis developed a simple 5 step
approach to life events that helps someone get into the best cognitive
and emotional place to make the best behavioral or lifestyle choice for
themselves and others
A = Activating Event (real and imagined)
B = Beliefs (about event, self, others, life)
C = Consequences (what we feel and do as a consequence of what we
believe about the event, ourselves, others and life)
D = Disputing (questioning and challenging automatic irrational beliefs)
E = Effective Coping Statement (what we could think or say to
ourselves or out loud to generate a more functional amount of
People have to be able to get into the right emotional place to respond
instead of react to life, to make the best possible behavioral or lifestyle
choices for themselves and others. These steps help them get there.
| Presentations, Workshops
(50 Minute, 2-3 hour, half or full day)
A Mental and Emotional Tool Kit Troubleshooting with Troubled Students
For teachers, student teachers, students to make less mistakes, have more success
A Mental and Emotional Vaccination "Tool Time" Workshops / Groups
against mental health, health and social problems for troubled and troublesome students
Mental and Emotional Karate A Mental and Emotional Tune-up
against bullying and other social problems for people of all ages
Mental and Emotional Fitness
to achieve more academically and athletically
|So much that goes wrong in the lives of individuals, families, schools
and society is caused by people generating more emotion than is
necessary or helpful in response to their life events, and what they do
because of it, or to deal with it. That is why emotional management is
the most important life skill. Many self-help books give wonderful
advice and information and even teach helpful skills. However,
someone has to be in the right cognitive and emotional place to
access and act on that advice, and to perform such skills. Most
self-help books neglect to teach people how to get there. This book
teaches truly effective emotional management by teaching people
how to develop an internal locus of control, to recognize and correct
irrational thinking, and to have unconditional self and other
acceptance. It also teaches a step-by-step approach that can be taken
to any troublesome life situations.
|Tool #7: Asserting Yourself with I Messages
Why? When people get angry, they typically use YOU messages, i.e.
orders, threats, putdowns, name calling. They point their finger at
others. No one like that. YOU messages are also called "solution"
messages because they try to tell others what to do about a problem
we have. No one like that either, and it usually provokes futile power
struggles. People end up being, and being perceived as being
aggressive instead of assertive with YOU messages.
I messages simply give people information about us, and leave the
decision at to what to do about it up to them, i.e. what we like or don't
like, how we feel, what we want or don't want. If there's any finger
pointing, it's usually at ourselves. My simple rule is that whenever
you're going to say something others might not like, always start with
either "Please" or "I". (MORE)
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| Ray Mathis Contact Information
B.S. Health Education M.A. Education email@example.com
Taught health education for 33 years firstname.lastname@example.org
30 post graduate hours in REBT 815-344-6115
Primary certification in REBT and REBE 815-353-5312 cell
75 hours past Masters
Represents the Chicago Institute for REBT
"Tool Time" group facilitator
Adjunct Professor - International Renewal Institute
|Tool #8: Recognize when people have Mistaken Goals?
Why? We all want to live as long as possible, be healthy instead of sick,
be successful instead of fail, have good relations with others, have as
much freedom as possible, and as much control over our destiny as
Ideally, all our energy and effort would go toward reaching these goals.
But no one does that perfectly, or all the time. People often have
"mistaken" goals that get them off course. They get some immediate
gratification, but make getting what they really want less likely in the
long run. For example, they get the sense of getting even with
someone, but doing so makes it less likely that they'll get along and
have the kind of relationship / closeness they'd really like to. (MORE)
|Tool #1: Understanding and appreciating the role of emotion in everyday life
Why? Emotion can be helpful energy to move. However, too often, people generate a dysfunctional amount of emotion.
That means more than they want to have, more than is helpful or necessary, more than is healthy for them, more than they
know what to do with, and a type and amount that works against them instead of for them.
The main way it works against them is that it causes them to react to life events instead of respond in the best possible way.
People make mistakes when they react instead of respond. They don't have response-ability, or the ability to respond
instead of react to their life events. (MORE)
|Tool #2: Having Unconditional Self-Acceptance (USA) and Other Acceptance (UOA)
Why? Shame is a the feeling people experience when they believe they don't live up to expectations. Life is full of
expectations, and therefore opportunities to feel shame. Many of our most troubled and troublesome young people have
been told much of their lives that "You should be ashamed of yourself".
Shame can be the primary disturbance people seek relief from by using and abusing alcohol and drug, attempting suicide,
or a host of other such behaviors.
It can also be a secondary disturbance. It can make them keep what they think and feel a secret, and make them less like to
seek or accept help that is available to them. People do a lot of unhealthy, self-defeating things because they keep secrets.
Dr. Ellis used to say, "Shame blocks change".
Shame about the past and present can lead to crippling anxiety about the future. People often use anger to protect
themselves from feeling ashamed when confronted by others. Others often then react to that anger with more anger, and
things go downhill from there.
Encouraging people to have USA and UOA is part of the solution. You do that by trying to get them to see that anything
they think, feel, say or do is perfectly understandable. That doesn't mean it's healthy or acceptable to others. It just means
that if you put others through exactly what they've been through, they'd probably end up thinking, feeling, saying and
doing much the same, and maybe even worse. It also means they'll never be the first or last person to think, feel, say or do
something. They'll always have a lot of company. It means we all do the best we can at the time given what we've been
through. It means no one is perfect and we all make mistakes. We're all what Dr. Ellis called FHBs, or Fallible Human
Beings who at times think, feel, say and do things that make our lives worse instead of better. Therefore, it's nothing to be
ashamed of. And beating up on ourselves just makes it harder to fix what's broken.
For the most troubled and troublesome of our young people, and even adults, it is often the first and only time they've ever
had someone say something like that to them, and it can have an instantaneous and very positive effect, and make them
much more receptive to interventions on their behalf. (MORE)
|Tool #9: Evaluate thoughts, feelings and actions
Why? Because people don't always do what is best for them, even
when they know better.. Because they often have "mistaken" goals.
Because they often have dysfunctional cognitive, emotional and
behavioral "ruts" that cause them to recreate their past, and for their
history to become their destinies. That could be good or bad, but too
often it's bad. That's called being "Unconsciously Incompetent".
It's been said that progress in science often doesn't occur until
someone learns to ask the right questions. That's true in everyday life
as well. The answers to the question are usually obvious. They just
need to be asked. For example:
1) What do you really want? How do you want to feel?
2) How's it working for you to think, feel, say and do what you do
now? Does it make it easier or harder to get what you want, and to
feel the way you want to?
3) If you keep thinking, feeling, saying and doing what you do now,
will it be easier or harder to get what you want, and feel the way you
want to in the future?
4) If someone else thinks, feels, says or does that, are you likely to get
what you really want from them or with them, and to feel the way
you really want to feel? (MORE)
|Tool #10: Understand why change is hard, and what it
takes to make changes
Why? Everything we think, feel, say and do is a product of connection
in our brains. If we use a connection repeatedly, it becomes well worn
just like walking the same way across a lawn or field. Eventually, we
develop a "rut". Once we do, it becomes automatic to think, feel, say
or do something. Ruts can be good or bad things to have. If we have a
good golf swing, we don't want to have to learn it all over again each
time we hit the links. But have a dysfunctional thought, feeling or
action and they can be a curse when we try to change because once
they are made, we can't get rid of them. We can only make new ones
through the same practice and rehearsal it took to create the old ones.
Ruts are why people recreate their past, and why their history often
becomes their destiny. When people enter into any kind of
relationship, they often invite the other to recreate their past because
of their "ruts". For example, students often invite teachers to treat
them the way their parents and others have.. That can be a good or
bad thing as well. When relationships don't work, it's often because
peoples' "ruts" bump headsRuts are why people are said to be
"unconsciously incompetent". They can become "unconsciously
competent" by creating new ruts for thinking, feeling, saying and
doing things differently. (MORE)
|Tool #3: Developing an Internal Locus of Control
Why? If you analyze all the things that go wrong in the live of individuals, in schools and families, and society as a whole,
you find they are either defined by, or caused by people generating a dysfunctional amount of emotion, and what they do
because of it, or to get relief from it.
Most people have an external locus of control. They believe that what others say and do, and what happens, makes them
feel the way they do. This puts them at the mercy of their life events, often leaves them feeling like a victim, causes them to
feel worse than necessary for longer than they need to, and most importantly, causes them to miss many opportunities to
However, it's really the thoughts we have about our life events that cause how we feel, not the events themselves.
Thoughts cause feelings not events.
We all have a host of cognitive choices we make all the time, usually without realizing that we do, that really determine how
we feel. For example, how we choose to look at what happens, what meaning we attach to what does, what we remember
about the past, what we imagine will happen in the future, what we focus on or compare things to, what we expect of
ourselves, others and life in the first place, and how much importance we attach to what does happen, or that might.
Choices give us both freedom and power.
Developing an internal locus of control involves learning and reminding ourselves of what the real cause of feelings is, and
what our cognitive choices are, and learning to use that knowledge to our advantage. It also involves learning and
reminding ourselves what we do and don't control, and focusing on and working with what we do control instead of what
we don't. We don't control what others think, feel, say or do. We only control what we do. Developing an internal locus of
control also means learning to not take unnecessary responsibility for how others make themselves feel. We are
responsible for what we say and do, but not necessarily for how others make themselves feel. They can upset themselves
as little or as much as they want to.
Doing these things can be very empowering, and can help us reduce the frequency, intensity and duration of troublesome
emotions we generate that might give purpose to unhealthy, self-defeating or even destructive behavior. (MORE)
| Scroll to the right and up for the other tools