STUTZ | a guide + journal prompts

By now, you’ve probably heard about Jonah Hill’s documentary on Netflix featuring his therapist Phil Stutz. Stutz tells the story of their relationship and the tools Stutz uses for life. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s definitely helpful to watch especially if you are in a creative rut. I thought it would be helpful to create a guide if you would like to have some of Stutz’s tools handy or would like some journal prompt ideas based on the film.

In the film, Stutz talks about how the highest form of creative expression is when we create something new right in the face of adversity — the worse the adversity, the greater the opportunity.

Part X is what Stutz defines as our judgemental side: our antisocial side, the voice of impossibility that blocks our potential.

So to overcome Part X, we first need to lay a good foundation — our Life Force. This sounds intimidating, but our Life Force can be broken down into 3 categories: our body, our relationships, and ourselves. How do we nurture these 3 vital components?

For your journal:

Write freeform for 5 minutes. Write whatever comes to mind.

Name 3 relationships you would like to nurture. What are small actions you can take that will nourish each relationship?

How can you incorporate exercise regularly? What are some nutritious recipes you would like to make this week?

If we eat nutritiously and get our body moving, if we take the initiative in our relationships and work hard to maintain them, and if we take the time to journal as a tool for self-reflection, everything will fall into place.

But there are 3 aspects of reality that are inevitable for every single one of us: pain, uncertainty, and constant work. But we need to learn to love the process of dealing with these 3 aspects in order to move forward in life. True confidence is living in uncertainty and moving forward. Every action we take to move forward has the same value — even the act of getting out of bed every morning.

For your journal:

What have you accomplished today so far? (e.g. made the bed)

What would you like to get done by the end of the week? (e.g. answer that email)

Sometimes we are afraid to do something because we’re afraid of its consequences — good or bad. But no matter what, there will always be something we regret or think we could’ve done better in every action we take, even in every action we don’t take. And sometimes we choose not to do something because we’re afraid of what others might think. But if we are content with our true selves, then the opinions of others won’t matter. Stutz calls this “true self” The Shadow. Our shadow is something about ourselves that we are ashamed of — a part of us we wish we weren’t or wish wasn’t a part of us but is.

For your journal:

Talk to your shadow. What is your shadow saying? How does your shadow feel?

Something that can make us more ashamed of our shadow is what Stutz calls The Snapshot, or the realm of illusion. This “perfect” snapshot of our life is created by Part X. We are constantly striving for that “perfect” life that is realistically unattainable because of the 3 aspects discussed earlier.

For your journal:

What is something you constantly strive for to achieve your “perfect” life? Is it a place, a relationship, a job, an object, an aesthetic, etc.?

Another product of Part X is being caught in what Stutz calls The Maze — being trapped in the past. Our inability to forgive someone or something because we want “fairness” puts our life on hold. So instead of moving forward, we become trapped in The Maze at a standstill.

Active love is the only thing that can free us from The Maze. We must hold nothing back, give all the love we have, and feel our love enter into that person’s heart. This is what will help us move forward in our life.

For your journal:

Is there a past experience that has led you to hold a grudge against someone? If so, why?

What are some ways you can show love to this person, whether directly or indirectly?

Every event in our life has value — whether good or bad. We just have to find something meaningful in it. Stutz calls this Radical Acceptance. Every thought we have is going. to affect our mood. Part X will make you feel that a bad day is a reflection of a “bad life”. But the sun is always there behind that dark cloud trying to break through.

For your journal:

Name an event where there was a negative outcome. How did you deal with it?

What is something positive that came out of that experience?

Another way to penetrate “the cloud” is with The Grateful Flow. Gratefulness is the state that breaks through the clouds. The process of creating the things you’re grateful for or the feeling you get when you’re looking for/finding the things you’re grateful for is what you want to embrace.

For your journal:

List 5 things you’re grateful for. Hold onto that feeling you have when you’re writing these things down.

Maybe it’s difficult to find things you’re grateful for. Maybe you’re in a challenging period in your life that makes it difficult to feel grateful. Sometimes we can get attached to someone or something so much that the loss of it makes us lose ourselves completely and feel as if there’s nothing in our life to be grateful for. But the idea isn’t to not become attached to anything. But the loss of someone or something shouldn’t make us find no value in our life once we lose it. Stutz describes Loss Processing as the rebirth after the worst experience — our ability to make something cyclically come alive again.

For your journal:

Name someone or something you lost that caused you to become disconnected from yourself. What are some steps you can take to restore that relationship with yourself?

We may look around at the lives other people live and think they have it all figured out. But then people may think the same about us. But no one has it all worked out or ever will. We all have to deal with the 3 aspects of reality regardless of what it may look like on the outside. Happiness is how you accept that you won’t ever have it all figured out because life isn’t about wasting time but about moving forward.

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