The 12 Tools
Tools for Learning — Tools for Life
• Download a printable 12 Tools poster.
1. Breathing Tool: I can take a breath; I calm myself – Calming ourselves—checking in. When we breathe deliberately, it calms and slows us down, and brings our attention inward. We become more self–aware and reflective about our bodies, minds, emotions, and reactions. We are more likely to have the insight and time to act in our own best interests and in the best interests of others.
2. Quiet/Safe Place Tool: I remember my quiet/safe place – There is always my quiet/safe place. It is there for me. This is a place of rest and peace where we can gather ourselves together and feel safe and comforted. It can be an actual place, or a place that exists in our imaginations. In quietness, we can hear the soft, small voice in our hearts and minds, and allow creativity, imagination, and self–expression to emerge naturally.
3. Listening Tool: I listen with my ears, eyes and heart – When I listen as well as hear, I can really understand. When we listen with our ears, our eyes, and our hearts, we become deep listeners who can “hear between the lines.” Our ears bring us the words and intonation; our eyes bring us body language, gestures, and facial expressions; and our hearts bring us empathy—allowing us to walk in someone else’s shoes.
4. Empathy Tool: I care for others, I care for myself – When I walk in someone else’s shoes, it opens my heart. Empathy is the root of understanding, kindness, and forgiveness—both for others and for ourselves. When we empathize, we let go of our own perspective long enough to acknowledge the feelings, situation, and motives of others. Through this, we develop compassion, and learn to care.
5. Personal Space Tool: I have a right to my space and so do you – Whether we feel safe or threatened, secure or on our guard depends on how we experience others in relation to our personal boundaries. Every day, we experience the joy of sharing our personal space, as well as hurt or anger when that space is violated by unkind words or hurtful actions. By using this Tool, we come to appreciate the importance of respecting each other’s physical, emotional, and social boundaries.
6. Using Our Words Tool: I ask for what I want and need – The right words, at the right time, for the right reasons. Careful words encourage understanding, connection, and closeness. Careless words divide and offend. Once we understand and can name our own and others’ feelings, our words can resolve conflicts and mend relationships. Using the best words, in the best way, at the best time, for the best reasons, requires practice, practice, and more practice.
7. Garbage Can Tool: I let the little things go – Put it in the garbage can and walk on by. By discarding unkind words and actions instead of taking them into our personal spaces, we free ourselves to be actors—not re–actors—in our own lives. We take responsibility for our own well–being and what we do with other people’s words and actions.
8. Taking Time Tool: I use time wisely – Time-in and time-away. Understanding that we can make choices about how we use time is empowering. Pushing the pause button and taking time–away to breath renews our strength and resolve. Taking time–in to reflect leads to better self–understanding and more empathy for others.
9. Please and Thank You Tool: I treat others with kindness and appreciation – Words that Open. These “magic words” work to appreciate, invite, and include others. Saying “Please” shows respect, and encourages others to want to be helpful and kind. “Thank you” lets people know we value them and their actions, and reminds us that we need each other.
10. Apology and Forgiveness Tool: I admit my mistakes and work to forgive yours – Words that transform and repair. Apology can restore trust. The act of sincere apology can resolve problems in relation- ships. This takes self–reflection and emotional strength. Forgiveness takes a willingness to let go of blame or resentment and move forward.
11. Patience Tool: I am strong enough to wait – Quiet waiting. With patience, we allow existing conditions to unfold as they will—physically, mentally and emotionally. Patience is the ability to let go of our need to control how and when things happen. This brings us peace, and reminds us that things usually work themselves out in their own time.
12. Courage Tool: I have the courage to do the right thing – Using your Tools when others are not using theirs. Courage from the Latin “cor” means heart, inner strength, bravery, and confidence. When we use courage, it empowers us to stand up for what we believe in. Courage is being willing to do the right thing even when it is difficult.
• Download a printable 12 Tools poster.