The Mental and Emotional
Tool Kit for Life
A FREE resource for teachers, students, parents
and professionals of all kinds
from the
Chicago Institute for Rational Emotive Behavioral Education
The promises I make those I work with
The "tools" are ten life skills.  There are a variety of formulas,
sayings, diagrams, strategies and new ways of
looking at things that help to develop these skills.  The "tools"
help people get into the best cognitive and emotional place to
make the best behavioral and lifestyle choices for themselves
and others.  

The key to how people feel and what they do is what they
choose to think about themselves, others, life, and what
happens to them.  Thoughts cause feelings, not events, and
attitude is always the father of behavior. The "tools" can help
The Ten Tools
E-books about the "Tool Kit"
available at and other online book outlets
The Mental and Emotional Tool Kit  $3.99  
(click on image to link to
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.
Mental and Emotional Karate  $3.99  
(click on image to link to                             
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.
The Mental and Emotional Tool Kit for Teachers and Parents  $3.99   
(click on image to link to
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.
A Quick Emotional Tune Up $1.99  
(click on image to link to Smashwords. com)
Most people don't really understand exactly why they feel bad, and because of that, don't realize just
how easy it can be to feel better. This book is intended to do exactly what it says, give you a quick
way to tune yourself up emotionally so that your life can run smoother. There are 8 simple steps you
can take to start feeling a whole lot better quickly.  They are steps anyone can take.
Most people live their lives based on a big lie, and don't realize it. That lie is that what other people
say and do, and what happens makes them feel the way they do. Believing that lie causes people to
feel worse than they need to, and to miss many opportunities to feel better. Learn the truth about
how feelings come about, the choices you really have, and how to use those to feel better.
Stress and Anxiety - How to permanently reduce them in your life       
 (click on image to link to
There are a lot of books about how to manage stress better. The strategies other books give do
help lower stress. However, they are often what therapists call "band aids" that only give temporary
relief, and only while you're doing them. There's a difference between temporarily feeling better, and
getting better. Getting better means permanently reducing stress. This book shows you how.
It's Just an Event
It's your choice how you want to feel
Click on image to link to
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.
                                                   (50 Minute, 2-3 hour, half or full day)

The Mental and Emotional Tool Kit    
                                                    Troubleshooting with Troubled Students
   For teachers, student teachers, students                                                    For teachers and parents
Mentally and Emotionally Vaccinating Students                                  "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 for Students
   to achieve more academically and athletically                        
Anger Prevention (instead of Anger Management)                         
an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of management
Violence Prevention
Suicide Prevention
Preventing Alcohol and Drug Use and Abuse
Helping Young People Make Better Choices                                                        
Wellness - The tools you really need to achieve it

(LinkedIn profile)                                                                                        Contact Information

B.S. Health Education  M.A. Education                                                            
Taught health education for 33 years                                                                     
30 post graduate hours in REBT                                                                    
Primary certification in REBT and REBE                                                                                  815-353-5312 cell
75 hours past Masters                                                                                                              815-344-6115
Represents the Chicago Institute for REBT                                                     
Motivational-Educational Speaker                                         
"Tool Time" group leader                                                                                
I would appreciate any feedback you could give
Adjunct Professor - International Renewal Institute                                               me regarding this site. Was it helpful?

            State and National Award Winning Nature Photographer  (
No One Upsets You, You Upset Yourself.  It's Your Choice How You  
Want to Feel  $1.99
 (click on image to link to
Whenever I speak, or run workshops or groups, I always make a few simple but important promises to those in attendance.  I promise to
teach them:

1)  How to have REAL POWER and CONTROL l in and over their lives
                                a)  How to choose whether they are going to get upset or not
                                b)  How to feel the way they've always wanted to about themselves
                                c)  How to feel as good as possible regardless of what happens
                                d)  How to keep other people out of their heads
                                e)  How to defend themselves against anyone who's been living there for too long
                                f )  How to stop behaving in unhealthy, self-defeating ways
                                g)  How to have their best shot at having the life they've always wanted
                        2)  To be
SMARTER THAN OTHERS in some very important ways

The "tools" I give people can do these things.  However, they have to practice using them to realize their full potential.  It's just like
becoming a good carpenter, plumber, mechanic, doctor or anything else.  It takes practice.  
I believe we should teach these "tools" to all our young
people as they go through school.  These "tools" would be a
major ounce of prevention worth many pounds of cure for all
mental health, health, social, behavioral and academic
problems and issues that student so often struggle with. That
includes anger problems, anxiety disorders, depression,
substance use and abuse, suicide, bullying, school
shootings, and low achievement and dropping out.

I believe these "tools" should first be given to every new and
current teacher for their sake, and the sake of their  
Presentations and Workshops
Ray Mathis
The further into discipline we get, the more positive it should
become.  The exact opposite usually occurs in most families,
schools, and society.  Teaching the "tools" could be a way to
make discipline positive.  They should be taught to all
troubled and troublesome young people, especially those in
alternative schools or who are incarcerated.  They just want
In Our Schools
The "Tool Time" Approach to Discipline Problems
students. You can read about the application of these tools to the
job of teaching at: They can help parents
in the very same ways.

Once teachers see the value of these"tools" in their own lives, it
will be much easier to enlist their expertise and help in teaching
the "tools" to students in age appropriate ways.  Teaching these
"tools" to students should be approached in the same way we
approach teaching reading and writing across the curriculum.  
They are as, if not more important to success in school and in life
as reading and writing.
the same kind of life they've always seen others have.  They've
just never known how to get that for themselves.  Many lose
hope.  The "tools" can help them have the life they've always
wanted.  To read more about what this approach entails, click
here >
TOOL TIME for troubled and troublesome students
Why a Tool Kit is a good idea
Imagine someone who day after day uses furniture or
equipment that has loose screws, and therefore is not as
stable as he would like. And this person does not own a
screwdriver, and is not all that familiar with tools of any kind.
There’s also some piece of furniture he has always wanted to
build for himself, but it uses a lot of screws to hold it together.
Suppose you gave him a screwdriver. My guess is that he
would tighten all those loose screws he comes across day
after day, and finally build that piece of furniture he has always

A lot of people have things in their lives that are broken and
need fixing. By broken I mean they have thoughts and feelings
they don’t like having and their life is not what they would like it
to be. Others might even jokingly say they have some "loose
screws" that need tightening.

When you fix anything, or build anything, there are only so
many tools you can use. There’s an old saying in the building
trades that “Any job is easy if you use the right tool”. The same
is true when people have something broken in their lives, and
struggle with thoughts and feelings they don’t like having. Or,
want to have a better life.  There are only so many “tools”
available, and if you use the right ones, it’s fairly easy to fix
what’s broken, and build something better.
When I took 30 hours of grad classes in Rational Emotive
Behavioral Therapy (REBT), my instructor for all of those classes
was a practicing REBT therapist in the Chicago area named Terry
London.  Terry used to always say his classes were “cheap
therapy”. He was right. He gave me “tools” from REBT, and I was
able to tighten all those proverbial “loose screws” in my life, and
build a better life for myself.  I believe other people can do the
same if they are given the same “tools”.

I gave those same “tools” to my students for much of my 33 year
career as a health education teacher, and for seven years since
as a speaker. The "tools" worked for them as well as they did for
me. Teaching the "tools" to them helped me a lot. Over the years, I
started calling the ten "tools" the “Mental and Emotional Tool Kit
for Life”. Each "tool" in the "tool kit" plays an important role, and
compliments the others. You can read about each on this site.

I can’t fix what might be broken in your life, or build some-thing
better for you. Only you can do that. But I can give you the “tools".  
I’m betting it will be like giving that person above a screwdriver.
Just like it was for me.  With practice, you could get pretty good at
using these “tools”, just like carpenters, plumbers and electricians
do with their tools.  You could even pass them on to others.
Make a list of all the things people of all ages struggle with.  
Many of those things are literally defined by them generating
what I call a dysfunctional amount of emotion. By that I mean
more than is necessary or helpful for the situation they find
themselves in, more than they want to have, more than they
know what to do with, and more than is healthy for them.

Emotion can be nice to have. For example, joy, happiness and
pride. It can also be helpful energy to move to motivate us and
help us act to make our lives better. Frustration will make us
try harder, and concern will make us take helpful precautions.
Anger and anxiety, which are part of our "fight or flight"
response, can protect us from threats. The problem is that
people can imagine or manufacture threats that don't exist, or
needlessly magnify ones that do by the way they think. Then
the emotion works against them instead of for them.  

Many people are said to have anger problems, and overreact
emotionally to too much in their lives. Others have anxiety
disorders and are needlessly stressed out. Still others are guilt
or shame ridden, and/or depressed.

These folks often say and do things that make their lives
worse, including seeking relief from how they feel through
A Dysfunctional Amount of Emotion
all manner of unhealthy ways. They engage in violence, abuse, or
bullying, or tolerate others doing such things to them. They might
smoke, drink, use drugs, overeat or have eating disorders,
self-harm or even attempt to take their own lives to get relief from
their feelings, and the thoughts that cause them. They often ruin
career opportunities and relationships they care about, and destroy
their own lives and those of others. Some end up incarcerated
because of what they do. All these things happen because they
have a dysfunctional amount of emotion, and don't know what to
do about it. Shame can even get in the way of them seeking or
accepting help that is available to them.

Most people think such emotion is caused by the events of
peoples' lives. If people generate a dysfunctional amount of
emotion in response to, or in reaction to their life events, that's
perfectly understandable and part of being human. However, as
you'll learn if you read on, it's really what we all choose to think
about what happens to us that really causes how we feel.

The "tools" in the "toolkit" are all necessary and sufficient to help
anyone, of any age, get control over their emotional thermostat. If
people practice using them, they'll get good at keeping their
thermostats turned down, and turning them down quickly should
they suddenly get turned up.
Most people know when they have a dysfunctional amount of
emotion in their lives. However, they don't always fully
appreciate how it can negatively impact their lives. That's
especially true when they are angry. Anger gives people a
false sense of power, righteousness, permission and
protection that can preclude them from seeing how their
emotion works against them. The main way too much emotion
works against people is that it
makes them react to life events rather than response to them.
They become less response-able, or able to respond to life events
in the best possible way. I like to give people a THINK-FEEL-DO
thermostat model to help them better see the important role
emotion plays in their everyday lives. It helps them see where they
are emotionally, why they're there, where they want to be instead,
and what they need to do cognitively to get there.  
Read more.....
Shame comes from believing (being told) you don't live up to
expectations. We all have plenty of expectations place on us
by others, and often place more on ourselves. That means
plenty of opportunities to feel shame. Shame is often the
primary feeling people seek relief from through alcohol, drugs,
or even suicide. Shame can play out as anxiety and anger. It's
why kids shut down and eventually drop out of school. Shame
also make people keep what they think and feel a secret, and
make them less likely to seek or accept help that's available to
them. That's common in "bullicides" and school shootings. The
solution is to teach and encourage people of all ages to have what
Dr. Albert Ellis called Unconditional Self-Acceptance (USA) and
Unconditional Other Acceptance.  
Read more....
Most people have an external locus of control. They wrongly
believe that what others say and do and what happens
actually makes them feel the way they do. That puts them at
the mercy of others, and their life events. It needlessly puts
others and life events in control of their emotional thermostats.
That often causes them to feel worse than they need to, for
longer than necessary. It's actually what we think about what
others say and do and
what happens that really causes how we feel. We all have a host
of cognitive choices we make all the time, usually without being
aware that we do, that really determine how we feel. Learning
how feelings really come about, what those choices are, and to
use this knowledge to our advantage is called developing an
internal locus of control. Doing so can be extremely empowering.
It's the main way to gain control over our own emotional
Read more
get to a better place cognitively, which will help them get to a
better place emotionally, and even behaviorally.

The "tools" are mainly from
Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy
.  REBT was developed by the late Dr. Albert Ellis.  REBT
is a highly educational and self-help approach to therapy.  Dr.
Ellis always said therapy should be educational, and education
can be very therapeutic.  (

To learn about why each "tool" is important, what each entails,
and how to teach it, click on the hyperlinks below.
Thoughts cause feelings, not events. Attitude is always the
father of behavior. That's why recognizing irrational thinking is
so important. By irrational, I mean that the way people think
causes them to generate more emotion than is helpful or
necessary, and to say and do things that make their lives
worse instead of better. Dr. Albert Ellis identified a pattern to
such thinking. He called the four
basic types of irrational thinking Demandiness, Awfulizing, Can't
Stand It-itis, and Label and Damning. These types of thoughts
are usually well rehearsed and practiced, and therefore
automatic. It's why people so often engage in them and don't
realize it. Teaching them to recognize when they do is a big step
toward getting better.
Read more....
There are some simple ways to correct irrational thinking.
Every thought we have, or comment we make is basically our
personal theory or hypothesis about the way we, others and
life is, or should be. We need to apply the scientific method to
these personal theories and hypotheses the same way
scientists do with theirs. Does the evidence of our past and
everyday life support our
theories and hypotheses, or does it perhaps refute them and
suggest better ones? We want to practice disputing, challenging
and questioning our irrational thoughts so that doing so becomes
automatic. We want this process to become like spell check or
grammar check on a computer. To read about more specific ways
to dispute, question and challenge irrational thinking, click here.

Read more
Most peoples' thoughts and actions are well practice and
rehearsed. That makes them very automatic. Their thoughts
often cause them to generate a dysfunctional amount of
emotion, which makes them more likely to react to their life
events, and less response-able, or able to respond to life in
the best possible ways. That's why they often keep making
the same mistakes. It's why they often recreate their pasts,
and why their histories become their destinies. That could be
good, but often isn't. Dr. Ellis
developed a five step process by which to approach any
potentially troublesome life events. If followed, it helps people get
into a much better cognitive and emotional place. It helps them
generate a more functional amount of emotion. That allows them
to respond to life rather than react to it. It frees them to access
and act on helpful advice and information they have, and to make
better behavioral and lifestyle choices.
Read more....
Most people use YOU Messages when talking to others.
That's especially true when they are angry. YOU Messages
include threats, orders, demands, criticism, ridicule, and
name-calling. They are also called solution messages
because they try to tell others what to do, and take away from
them their right to choose. They usually involved pointing a
finger at others. No one likes either of
these things. Therefore, YOU Messages are usually very
ineffective ways of communicating. They usually cause conflicts
to escalate. People are usually less likely to get what they really
want in the long run when they use YOU Messages. I Messages
are much more effective ways to communicate. They simply give
others information and leave it up to them what they want to do
about it.
Behavior is always goal-orientated. It always starts and
continues because it serves a purpose of some kind. Ideally,
everything we do would take us closer to getting those things
we really want in life. Like living as long as possible, being
healthy instead of sick, being happy instead of unhappy,
being successful instead of failing, having good relations with
others, and as much freedom to do as we please, and control
over our own destinies as possible.
Unfortunately, human beings often have what Rudolph Dreikurs
called "mistake" goals. These get people off course from getting
what they really want. They get some satisfaction from what they
do, but make it less likely they'll get what they really want in the
long run. It can be very helpful to learn to recognize when we and
others have "mistaken" goals that get us off course.
People don't like others telling them they're doing something
"wrong". That's true regardless of whether it's something
they're thinking, feeling, saying or doing. It always feels critical
and judgmental. That's because it often is. However, if people
keep thinking, feeling, saying and doing what they
always have, they'll keep getting what they've always have
gotten. That could be good or bad. When it's bad, it would help to
have a simple but non-judgmental way for the to evaluate their
own thoughts, feelings and actions.
Read more....
People often want to change the way they think, feel, say and
do things, but struggle to do so. They often give up after
repeated attempts that fail. Brain physiology is a
double-edged sword. It can work for us, or against us. If we
get off to a good start in life, and think, feel, say and do things
that make our lives better, brain physiology is a blessing.
Many people seem to be on automatic pilot for a great life.
However, if we get off to a rough start, and think, feel, say
and do things that make our lives worse, brain
physiology can be a curse. We all create cognitive, emotional
and behavioral RUTS from practicing and rehearsing thinking,
feelings and behaving in certain ways. RUTS can be good or bad
things to have. It depends on what thoughts, feelings and
behaviors they lead to. Knowing about RUTS can help us see
what we're up against if and when we want to change the way we
think, feel, say and do things.
Read more....
There are "tools" we should be giving to every young person as
they move through our schools. We don't. They would act like a
mental and emotional vaccination against all mental health,
health, social, behavioral and academic problems and issues,
and be a major ounce of prevention worth many pounds of cure.
Giving these tools to young people would be like teaching them
mental and emotional karate to defend against bullying and
other adversity. It would give  them the
mental and emotional
fitness to function at levels they are capable of, and that they
and we would like them to. They can be a much needed
shot in
the arm for those students who are troubled and troublesome.
For Students
For Teachers and Parents
Every teacher should be given these tools as part of their
professional preparation in college. It would make them more
effective and help them make less mistakes with their students,
especially the most troubled and troublesome ones. It would help
them eliminate much of the stress they so often produce needlessly,
and which can undermine their health and job satisfaction. It would
put them in a much better position to teach these tools to their
students. Doing so would make their jobs easier and more
rewarding in the long run. For the same reasons, it would also be
helpful for parents to acquire these "tools". Please visit:
ESP - Effectiveness and Stress Prevention for more details.
For Police Officers
Finally, in light of all the stories in the media, these "tools" could be
very helpful to police officers. We've seen many examples of
apparent overreactions by police. Overreacting cognitively,
emotionally or behaviorally can have dire consequences for both
police officers and those they deal with. These "tools" can help
prevent such overreactions and help police officers preserve and
protect their own mental health. Police obviously can find
themselves in life threatening situations that teachers and parents
probably never will, but there are many ways that the jobs of
teaching, parenting and policing are much the same. The "tools"
can help police just like they can parents and teachers. Read more
about this approach:
C.O.P. or Cognitive Overreaction Prevention.
For Business Professionals
We hear all the time about the value and importance in
managing stress in our lives. When people are stressed, it's
really anxiety that they are struggling with. Sometimes, people
are required to take anger
management classes. Anger and
anxiety are the two halves of our fight or flight response. Anger
is like emotional nitroglycerin. In truly life threatening situations,
anger and anxiety can be life-saving. The problem is that
people can manufacture threats, and magnify ones that do exist
by the way they choose to look at things before, during and
after events in their lives. This causes them to needlessly
generate both anger and anxiety.  These "tools" can help
PREVENT both anger and anxiety.