Ten Real Tools For Real Life

by Susan Hansen, M.S.

Were you taught the basic tools
for emotional health?

Most of us weren't. We learned about language and math, science and social studies, but not about ourselves, our emotions, or how to communicate clearly, be true to ourselves, and have healthy relationships with others.

Ten Real Tools For Real Life: Essential Skills for Emotional Health is a practical, hands-on, personal growth workbook for teens and adults. You can use it to learn and practice ten essential skills for self-awareness, managing feelings and stress, improving communication, and creating healthier relationships.

The workbook can be used by individuals or families, as well as in the classroom, in support groups, in counseling sessions, in treatment centers, or in detention facilities. Anyone who has an interest in personal growth can benefit from this workbook and these ten tools.

My name is Susan Hansen, and I'm a life coach and university instructor in Phoenix, Arizona. I've worked in counseling, intervention, and education in the Phoenix area since 1986, and I currently teach several graduate classes in Ottawa University's school counseling program.

I wrote this workbook because I wanted to offer some practical, step-by-step tools that would help teens and adults learn the skills they need to understand themselves and interact with others in the healthiest and most effective ways possible.

I also wrote it because I remember being 13 and in 8th grade, needing these skills desperately, and not having the first clue about how to get them. I think it was my 8th grade misery that compelled me first to become a teacher, and then a counselor. I wanted to offer the support to teenagers that I didn't have when I needed it.

Reader Response:

I use this book so much in my life and my work. I am a school counselor and work with students in grades K-8th. I have found that the lessons work great in a classroom setting, group setting, individual counseling, and working with parents.

In the classroom, I teach students how to use I statements, how to check in and understand emotions, and how to express their stress in a healthy way that does not hurt anyone. These are skills that every student can benefit from learning. Those students who are struggling also benefit from more intimate work with the book and it provides a clear way to communicate and cope with stresses and problems.

Because the ten tools address skill development in communication, emotional regulation, and stress management, I also did the Ten Real Tools with my own family. My husband and my kids found it helpful and it has improved the way my family communicates. In my opinion, it is a must have for any counselor.

~ Melanie Fortino, MC/MFT, School Counselor, Goodyear, AZ

Reader Response:

From using "I" Statements and understanding how to deal with anger, to learning the difference between communication styles and how to set healthy boundaries, this book is an excellent resource for teenagers and/or adults to use with family members, friends, and/or counselors as a way of interactively and successfully dealing with various aspects of every day life.

~ Joe Small, Phoenix, AZ

How do I know these tools work?

I've been teaching this set of ten tools and skills since the late 1980s, first in an in-patient psychiatric hospital, then in the K-12 public schools, in Ottawa University's school counseling program, and in my own counseling and coaching practices. I've gotten great feedback over the years about how effective these tools are, both from teens and adults who have used them in their own lives, and from counselors and support group facilitators who have used them with their students and clients.

I believe that the bottom line reason these ten tools work is their practicality. The workbook offers just enough background information, step-by-step instructions, and examples of how each tool can be used in different situations. Because it's a workbook, there's room in each section for you to write in your own examples, so you're practicing the skills, rather than just reading about them.

Reader Response:

Ten Real Tools for Real Life: Essential Skills for Emotional Health is a book that needs to be placed front and center on your book shelf. Indeed, the content of this book is the cream of the crop for skills that will enhance your own life and well as enrich the work you do in your roles as teachers, counselors, and parents. Simple but not always easy, the more you use the ten tools in this book, the more significant the benefits. Susan Hansen has compiled best practices that work!

~ Nancy Ronan, Counselor and Teacher, Phoenix, AZ

The ten tools include:

1. I Statements:

Learn this simple tool and begin to express yourself more clearly, reduce arguing, blaming, and defensiveness, keep tempers from flaring, focus on solutions rather than problems, and save time and energy.

2. Daily Check-In:

Do this brief daily check-in on your own and/or with others to practice using “I” statements, identify and express your experiences, thoughts, and feelings, and form real connections with other people, and with yourself.

3. Defenses:

Learn how you usually defend yourself against stress, fear, and pain. Identify which specific defenses you use, and learn how they affect you and your relationships. Decide which defenses are no longer useful to you, and learn how to let them go and what to do instead.

4. What's Under Anger:

Learn how anger, hurt, fear, and other feelings go together, and how to sort out all your feelings about a situation, identify your needs, take steps toward resolving the situation, and take care of yourself no matter what.

5. Supportive Feedback:

Learn to offer support to someone else without giving advice or trying to fix the situation. Practice your listening skills, use your “I” statements again, and learn to validate what the other person is feeling -- a far more useful and helpful skill than having all the answers.

6. The Rage Bomb:

Learn how anger and rage are different, and what all the components of rage are. Identify your own rage triggers and behaviors, and learn how to diffuse the bomb before it explodes.

7. Communication Styles:

Learn the difference between aggressive, passive, passive-aggressive and assertive behaviors and communication styles. Identify which styles you typically use, the pros and cons of each style, the benefits for you of becoming more assertive, and how to get there.

8. Boundaries:

Learn what healthy boundaries are, why we need them, and how to clearly set and maintain them. Use the step-by-step process to stand up for yourself and keep your power, even if the other person doesn’t cooperate.

9. The Drama Triangle:

Learn the unproductive roles people play in most conflicts, how to identify which roles you and others are playing, and how to get out of the triangle and stay balanced, no matter what anyone else is doing.

10: Healthy Outlets for Anger and Stress:

Learn what separates healthy venting from being destructive or harmful, and identify dozens of healthy outlets (in several different categories) that you can use when you’re angry or stressed.

Learned and practiced in order, these ten tools build on each other, and you can see the connection between all the tools and how they work together. There are many personal growth tools available, but this combination is brief enough to be learned in a fairly short period of time, and comprehensive enough to apply to a wide variety of situations that teens and adults may face.

Reader Response:

I had the opportunity to complete the Ten Real Tools workbook in my masters program for guidance counseling. Not only was it a true eye opening experience for me as an individual, but it has given me the basic tools that I need to work with students individually and in support groups.

Going through this book and completing the individual assignments and handouts provides a foundation on which most counseling can build. It provides a spiraled approach that allows the individual to build on one skill at a time and then incorporate those that have already been taught. I have had the opportunity to work with these ten tools in the high school setting with individual students and also with support groups. The students appreciate the candid examples and clear directions on what they are supposed to do. The format is simple and easy to follow and provides very real results from the participants. I would highly recommend this book as a personal self-awareness tool and also to use with individuals or in group settings.

~ Donna Lundberg, Guidance Counselor, Peoria Unified School District, Peoria, AZ

When you order the e-book, you'll also receive these two activities:

1. Supportive Feedback Practice:

Once you've learned the process of offering supportive feedback to someone in your life, it's a great idea to practice it. This practice sheet allows you to write out the feedback you'd like to give, step by step.

2. Staying Out of the Drama Triangle:

Once you've become familiar with the roles people play in conflict, you can use this worksheet to clarify what's happening in a difficult situation, and to help yourself stay in balance, and out of the drama.

For your convenience, both of these bonus activities are included at the end of the e-book, in the section titled "Blank Copies of Worksheets For Your Continued Use."

Choose e-book or printed book:

1. Downloadable e-book (PDF File) -- 99 pages -- $14.95 (US)

I really like the e-book option. You get it immediately, and you can always have clean copies to use with your students or clients. The e-book is in Adobe PDF file format. If your computer doesn't have the Adobe Reader software, you can easily install it for free. Your e-book purchase is 100% safe and secure.

Click the button below to buy the e-book now.

Buy Now

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2. Printed, bound book -- $16.95 (US) (plus shipping) from Amazon.com.

In the continental U.S., you'll receive your printed book from Amazon in 3-5 weeks. The book is printed on demand through Trafford Publishing in Indiana. It takes longer this way, but some people prefer printed and bound copy, and I understand that. You can have it in whichever form you prefer. Click the link below to buy the printed book now.

Buy Ten Reall Tools For Real Life on Amazon.com

Reader Response:

I love the Ten Real Tools book! I have used this book myself in class when we were learning how to use these tools. I find these ten tools extremely useful in solving problems in my life and in supporting helping me make work through issues.

I have practiced using “I” statements myself and am now better at it! I have taught my two sons how to use “I” statements and have had both of them, ages 17 and 9, complete Tool #1. I have taught my boys how to use Tool #2. We do Daily Check In now and this has helped open up the communication between my sons and me.

I teach first grade and taught my class how to do a Daily Check In (Tool #2). I was amazed at how quickly they caught on! I didn’t think they would want to do this, because I was afraid they wouldn’t want to share. I didn’t make them share, but each time we used this tool (almost on a daily basis) I went first with my Daily Check In. Sometimes students chose not to take a turn. However, those students who didn’t want to speak one day chose to speak another day.

This also opened up communication between students and helped them realize that their feelings and home situations (and life situations) are similar in a lot of ways. Sometimes I feel that students feel they are all alone in this world when going through a family crisis or situation. Using these ten tools (and adapting them to any age) helps kids become more aware of their own feelings and of others’ feelings as well.

I talked to my 17 year old son about Tool #10. I helped him (by talking to him) fill out this tool and we discussed the many healthy ways he vents stress. We also talked about negative consequences of holding stress inside or venting it in an unhealthy way. I feel this helped him because he didn’t realize he was actually venting his stress when doing healthy things like playing basketball.

He was proud of himself that he has dealt with stress in his life in positive ways thus far and knows that it is ok to feel stressed. This tool helped open up communication between my son and me because he is now aware of how to write things down (to vent) and/or discuss them with me more easily.

Veronica Morales-Corona,
Parent to two boys, ages 17 and 9,
First Grade Teacher (9 + years)

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