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Summary: Coming Alive: 4 Tools to Defeat Your Inner Enemy, Ignite Creative Expression & Unleash Your Soul’s Potential by Barry Michels and Phil Stutz

  • The book introduces four new psychological tools that help readers connect to their Life Force, a source of positive energy that fuels creativity, renewal, confidence, and engagement.
  • The book also identifies a common enemy that blocks the Life Force and prevents readers from reaching their full potential. The enemy is called Part X, a shape-shifting force that can manifest as self-doubt, procrastination, addiction, victimization, or any other form of resistance.
  • The book explains how to recognize and defeat Part X using the four tools, which are: The Reversal of Desire, Active Love, Inner Authority, and The Grateful Flow. The book provides many examples and stories to illustrate how the tools work in different situations.

In this book summary, you’ll learn two psychological “tools” to increase self-discipline and personal energy.

“Deprivation is a portal into more life. Not only can you tolerate it, it’s the pathway to living more fully than you ever thought possible. Once you can live through it, deprivation frees you from being enslaved to your impulses.” – Coming Alive

Look around, and you’ll see many people living limited, joyless lives. You may attribute the daily grind to their gloomy demeanor, but that’s not the reason they are going through the motions – Part X is.

Part X lives in each of us. It’s a voice that tells us we’re not good enough or that life is meaningless. It’s our worst critic, our source of pessimism, our enabler of indulgences, and the amplifier of emotional hurt. This destructive force inside of us feeds on our lethargy and fuels our anger. When we have an aspiration, it gradually erects a huge psychological wall in front of it and spray paints “IMPOSSIBLE” on the wall in graffiti-style letters.

Part X’s primary goal is to keep you and me down and prevent us from growing. In a sense, it’s the self-improvement villain who wants to exert dominance over our lives. But here’s the twist – we need Part X. Without Part X, we would not grow. Just as a hero in a story needs a worthy villain to rise up, dig deep, and bring forth their best self to defeat that villain, Part X ensures we keep fighting and growing. Each time we defeat Part X, we grow stronger. But we can’t kill Part X – we can only temporarily defeat it.

Use two “Tools” created by psychotherapist and author Phil Stutz to awaken a force inside and temporarily defeat Part X.

Book Summary: Coming Alive - 4 Tools to Defeat Your Inner Enemy, Ignite Creative Expression & Unleash Your Soul's Potential

The Black Sun Tool

Imagine the thing you crave has created a void inside of you can only fill by giving in to the craving. Then, imagine the thing you crave is simply unavailable – it completely vanishes from existence. You will feel deprived by having no way to fill the void inside of you. But if you look into the void with curiosity, you’ll feel something warm and satisfying emerge from within. Imagine this thing emerging from the void is a black sun resembling a complete solar eclipse.

The sun is a universal symbol of unlimited energy, and it represents your life force. The sun is black because Part X is trying to hide that life force from you. As you focus on this black sun object in the void, feel it expand until it fills the void. Now, feel it expand outside your body as it turns into a bright white light of infinite giving that radiates out in all directions.

The “Black Sun” psychological tool is powerful for two reasons:

  1. The Black Sun tool sparks a realization that you can self-generate a sense of satisfaction, and you don’t need anything from the outside world to feel whole, eliminating any leverage Part X has over you.
  2. The Black Sun tool creates a sense of abundance and a strong desire to give to others. The more you give, the more you activate your life force and have the energy to defeat Part X.

It seems paradoxical, but the more energy you put into giving, the more energy you receive. Just think back to when you gave yourself entirely to a project – it strengthened your commitment to the project team and heightened your engagement, allowing you to work long hours.

When you find ways to be generous in your relationships, work, and all aspects of life, your problems shrink and Part X fades into the background. However, at the first sign of fatigue, Part X will return and convince you to check out and be lazy. When this happens, bring out the second tool, “The Vortex.”

The Vortex Tool

One of part X’s dirtiest tricks is repeating the perfectly rational idea that the only way to regain energy is to sit around and do nothing. But recall a time you’ve felt depleted – did you regain energy by being lazy or by getting engaged in a conversation, a workout, or interesting project?

Human beings gain energy by being plugged in and fully engaged in the world around them, not by withdrawing from it. However, you need a short energy burst to achieve full engagement and tap into a huge energy source. Think of it like waking up in the morning, groggy and tired, and needing just enough energy to plug a bright light into the wall. If you manage to get the light plugged in, your eyes will be flooded with light, creating a neurochemical reaction in your brain that provides the motivation you need to get moving. The vortex is a tool that will give you just enough energy to get curious and engaged in a conversation, a workout, or interesting project, and plug into a huge energy source. Here’s how it works:

Imagine 12 tiny suns forming a circle above your head and spinning rapidly. Hear the hum of the spinning suns getting louder and louder. As they spin, they create a powerful vortex that slowly lifts you off the ground. Feel yourself relax and allow your body to be pulled up through the circle of suns. As you move through the circle of suns, imagine absorbing the energy from the rotating suns and expanding into a giant.

Repeat this vortex tool visualization at least three times to shed the heaviness that comes from feeling lethargic and fatigued, to get a surge of energy to fully engage in a conversation, workout, or interesting activity.

“People who accept that life is made up pain, uncertainty, and constant work are better equipped and essentially happier than those who are constantly trying to avoid these things.” – Phil Stutz

About the author

Barry Michels and Phil Stutz are the New York Times bestselling authors of The Tools and the resident therapists on Goop. They have appeared on Nightline, Charlie Rose, and The Dr. Oz Show and have been featured in such print and online publications as The New Yorker, Time, Psychology Today, and Vanity Fair. Michels, a psychotherapist, has a BA from Harvard, a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MSW from the University of Southern California. Stutz, a psychiatrist, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from City College in New York and received his MD from New York University.


Self Help, Psychology, Nonfiction, Health, Counselling, Mental Health, Fitness, Dieting, Personal Development, Business, Motivation, Self-Esteem, Relationships, Personal Growth, Mental Illness, Self-Improvement, Personal Transformation

Table of Contents

Introduction 3
Chapter 1 Reclaiming Your Life 7
Chapter 2 Fighting for the Life Force 34
A User’s Guide to the Tools 61
Chapter 3 The Tool: The Black Sun 63
Chapter 4 The Tool: The Vortex 108
Chapter 5 The Tool: The Mother 144
Chapter 6 The Tool: The Tower 188
Chapter 7 Truth, Beauty, and Goodness 227
Chapter 8 The New World 274
Appendix: The Tools 295
Acknowledgments 301
Stay in Touch 305


The book is a sequel to the authors’ previous bestseller, The Tools, which introduced five psychological techniques to help people overcome their fears, insecurities, and negative emotions. In this book, the authors present four new tools that are designed to help readers connect to their Life Force, a source of positive energy that fuels creativity, renewal, confidence, and engagement.

The authors also identify a common enemy that blocks the Life Force and prevents people from reaching their full potential. They call this enemy Part X, a shape-shifting force that can manifest as self-doubt, procrastination, addiction, victimization, or any other form of resistance. The book explains how to recognize and defeat Part X using the four tools, which are:

  • The Reversal of Desire: This tool helps readers face their fears and challenges head-on, instead of avoiding or escaping them. By doing so, they can transform their negative emotions into positive ones and access their Life Force.
  • Active Love: This tool helps readers overcome their anger and resentment toward others, especially those who have hurt or wronged them. By sending love and forgiveness to their enemies, they can free themselves from the grip of Part X and increase their Life Force.
  • Inner Authority: This tool helps readers develop a sense of self-worth and confidence that is independent of external validation or approval. By affirming their true identity and purpose, they can resist the influence of Part X and express their authentic selves.
  • The Grateful Flow: This tool helps readers cultivate a state of gratitude and appreciation for everything in their lives, even the problems and difficulties. By seeing every situation as a gift and an opportunity for growth, they can enhance their Life Force and attract more abundance.

The book is a practical and inspiring guide for anyone who wants to overcome their inner obstacles and unleash their creative potential. The authors draw from their decades of experience as psychotherapists and spiritual teachers to explain the concepts and techniques in a clear and engaging way. They also provide many examples and stories from their own lives and those of their clients to illustrate how the tools work in different situations.

The book is not only informative but also transformative, as it challenges readers to apply the tools in their daily lives and experience the results for themselves. The book is suitable for anyone who is interested in personal growth, psychology, spirituality, or creativity. It is also a valuable resource for anyone who has read The Tools and wants to learn more advanced methods to access their Life Force. The book is well-written, well-structured, and well-researched. It is a worthy addition to the self-help genre and a powerful tool for coming alive.

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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