How to Use Self-Help Principles So They Make a Difference in Your Life

This web site is like a box full of tools. As you browse, you'll find out what tools are available in your box. You'll see tools you will want to use. But please do not make the mistake of thinking you should be using all these tools. It's an easy mistake to make because it is obvious that simply knowing about the tools doesn't lower your anxiety level very much or make you feel better or reduce your stress. It is using the tools that makes the difference.

But listen to me. If you had a large, well-stocked toolbox down in the basement, but at the moment you're sitting on the porch drinking lemonade, you wouldn't think you should be using those tools. You don't need any of those tools to sip lemonade.

Use the tools when you need them or when you really want to use them. Read these articles to become familiar with what's here. Then when you come to an stress-producing situation, you will know you have a tool that can handle the job.

Or you could wait until you need a tool and browse through the site until you find one that will work.

Also realize that you might use a particular tool only once every other year. In a regular toolbox, you'll have a few tools that you use only rarely — for very specific jobs that don't come up very often — but when you're doing one of those tasks, that tool is just the thing.

Some other tools are used often, like a screwdriver.

Same for the tools on this site. Some tools, like focusing on a purpose, will be in almost constant use. Others have only a specific application that may not come up very often.

Another way the toolbox analogy fits is that you usually only use one tool at a time. You don't use a saw and a hammer simultaneously. When you're hammering, that's the only tool you're using at the moment. The tools in this book are much the same. When you're relaxing tense muscles, just relax tense muscles. Don't try to simultaneously remind yourself of a slogan and alter the way you're interpreting the situation. Choose a good tool and apply it. And only it.


If you want to remove a bolt, do not use a screwdriver. Use a wrench. In the same way, each of the tools on this site is good for certain circumstances and not very good for others. For example, I had something troubling on my mind and I felt agitated. So I meditated. It didn't work at all. I was more agitated afterwards than before.

I needed to think things through, which is difficult to do while meditating. So I tried a different tool: I argued with myself on paper and that brought me complete relief.

If you want less reactivity in general, by all means meditate. If you have a problem getting rid of a thought about something that does not require any thought on your part — because you are just obsessing about something and no longer have any good reason to think about it — meditation will probably do the trick. Focusing on a challenging purpose would work also.

If you have several different things on your mind and need to sort things out, making a list will probably help you.

If you're upset by a specific incident and it keeps coming up in your thoughts, arguing with yourself on paper is a good one.

If you feel somewhat alienated from people, work on developing your charisma or the bond of friendship.

If you feel physically tense, soak in a hot tub or listen to a relaxation tape or get a massage. Or exercise.

If you've been guzzling coffee or not getting enough sleep, you know what to do.

You get the idea. Use the right tool for the right job. As you can see, when you look at what your situation is, it's pretty easy to see what would be a good tool for the job. All you need to do is avoid saying "this is the best tool" and try to use it on everything. You wouldn't do that with a regular toolbox, would you? "I think this hammer is the best tool. So whatever I want to do, I'll use the hammer to accomplish it." You want to saw some wood, so you hammer and hammer, and eventually, get the plank into two pieces. Two ugly pieces. Then you need to make the boards level before you hammer them into place. How can you do that with a hammer?

Become familiar with the contents of your toolbox. Learn what each tool can do. And then when you want to manage some aspect of your life, deftly reach into your toolbox and apply the tool that will accomplish your purpose with the greatest effectiveness.

Adam Khan is the author of Principles For Personal Growth, Slotralogy, Antivirus For Your Mind, and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.

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