Who Is Phil Stutz?

Phil Stutz is a therapist, author, and psychiatrist from Manhattan. He worked as a prison therapist at Rikers Island for a few years, helping criminals with their problems.

Stutz was frustrated with psychotherapy in the late 1970s and early 1980s because it only dealt with the causes of people’s problems. It didn’t help them change things in their lives. He felt like he hit a blank spot where he would take a person to a certain level of self-understanding, but then they needed to do something to actively change things, and he didn’t have anything to help them.

Stutz began to make up solutions on the spot. After doing this many times, and working with hundreds of clients, he found about 20 or 25 tools that really work for people.

Aspects Of Reality

Before delving into the tools, Stutz emphasizes the need to understand the three aspects of reality that are unavoidable for everyone: pain, uncertainty, and constant work.

Life Force

Along with the Aspects of Reality, Stutz says it’s fundamental that everyone knows what makes people feel more alive. In Stutz’s Life Force model, there are three levels to what make you - you.

  1. The bottom, most primal level is your relationship with your physical body.
    1. Exercise
    2. Diet
    3. Sleep
  2. The second level is your relationship with other people and
  3. The top of the pyramid is your relationship with yourself.

Stutz says that if you’re lost, depressed or feeling stuck, it’s important to work on your Life Force first — take care of your body, take care of your people, take care of yourself. Once you do, figuring out how to move forward becomes much, much easier.

Your life force is the only part of you to guide you when you are lost.

Part X

Part X is the aspect of yourself that emerges in moments of judgement, adversity, and punishing circumstances. It is the part of you that wants to prevent change or growth. Steven Pressfield calls this part of you The Resistance.

The Resistance/Part X tells me to do what I want to do, instead of what I should do. That it’s okay to put off work and just relax for a while. It tells me that I can catch up on everything tomorrow or even later in the day, so why not take a break? Even at times when I’m being as productive as possible.

The Tools

The tools that Stutz developed are designed to help people take action and make positive changes in their lives. They are practical and can be used in everyday situations.

String of Pearls

Each circle, or “pearl,” represents an action. Every pearl has the same size, so you can consider each action to have the same value, regardless of what it is.

This means that every action in your life, whether large or small (from brushing your teeth to deciding to end a relationship), is simply a task to be completed. You are the only one who can add the next pearl to the string.

However, each pearl has a dark spot (referred to by Stutz as a “turd”), which serves as a reminder that no effort can be perfect. The key is to acknowledge this imperfection and keep adding to the string nevertheless.

The Shadow

The Shadow is the part of yourself that you’re ashamed of - the part of you that you wish didn’t exist. To work with your Shadow, Stutz suggests talking to it and asking how it feels about you and how it feels to be denied or avoided. Visualization, honoring, and engagement are also necessary in order to address and integrate the Shadow.

Think of Part X as your doubts and deepest fears, and the Shadow as the by-product of believing whatever Part X tells you.

The Snapshot / The Realm of Illusion

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Many people want everything to be perfect: the perfect relationship, the perfect amount of money, and the perfect level of success. Stutz argues that thinking of life this way is like taking a snapshot, which is a moment frozen in time without any movement, dynamism, or depth. Although people believe that the perfect life exists within that snapshot. But remember three aspects of reality that are unavoidable for everyone: pain, uncertainty, and constant work. No matter how perfect your snapshot is.

The Maze

Stutz believes that the Maze is a result of Part X’s bad actions. It represents a useless search for fairness and logic that prevents you from moving on and holds you back with negative feelings. The Maze keeps you stuck in complex emotions and thoughts.

The Work

Active Love

Imagine a universe full of love and picture yourself absorbing that love into your heart. Then, visualize sending that love to someone who hurt you or to a negative experience you can’t let go of. This helps you become more connected to the person or experience. Remember, it’s better to focus on creating something new than being right.

If i can become one with this bastard i can become one with anyone

Radical Acceptance

Stutz believes that Radical Acceptance can help you overcome judgment of yourself, others, and the future. It doesn’t mean you have to approve of everything, but rather accepting and allowing all parts of yourself to exist.

Radical Acceptance and Stoicism share many similarities in their approach to managing emotions and developing a rational perspective. Both philosophies emphasize the importance of accepting what cannot be controlled and focusing on what can be controlled. This involves letting go of attachment to external outcomes and instead focusing on one’s internal state of mind.

The Grateful Flow

Stutz suggests that when you feel unhappy, it’s like a dark cloud blocking the sun. To break through that negativity, you can focus on gratitude. Gratitude helps you see the positive in any situation and allows you to create a concentrated feeling of appreciation in your mind. This is known as the Grateful Flow.

Loss Processing

Stutz believes that many people struggle with processing grief and loss, even before the loss occurs. He suggests that non-attachment can be powerful. This means pursuing what you want without fear, but also being unafraid to let go. Stutz uses a visualization technique to help process loss, where you imagine yourself hanging from a branch and then letting go. In this visualization, you gently fall onto the surface of the sun and disappear, transformed into light. Instead of clinging to possessions, you focus on giving and expanding.