PALO ALTO COMMUNITY
MEETING NOTES ON
BUILDING POSITIVE LIFE ASSETS
The following are notes from a meeting that took place in Palo
Alto, 2004. It took place following the suicide of a young student in one of our local
schools, but the wisdom here, applies to everyone's life, nomatter what age you are.
You can find more about Positive Life Assets by doing a Search On the Web. In attendance were
therapists, teachers,parents, teens, community leaders, neighbors, researchers, nurses, and
Life Assets are what you rely on when you are in trouble...
Emotionally, Physically, Mentally, Spiritually. They
are Life Skills. No one teaches us these things but we seem to
need them. Its what keeps us resilent when things go wrong.
Its what increases our chances of making it, when life throws us
a left curve. It happens.
Schools have violence, bullies, suicides, exclusion, abuse.
Families, communities and churches have similar problems. Violence
is not just about physical violence. It also comes in subtler ways,
put downs, indifference, slurs, demeaning tones of voice. Following the
violent incidents in schools,such as columbine, students recall verbal
and emotional bullying that went on long before physical violence.
Keeping busy is not what helps. Building relations, having a meaningful
conversation and meaning what you say, keeping your word.
Positive Family Communications (Family is not just biological)
Community Based Groups
Speak. What is going on in your life.
Become active about what is going on in your life.
Identify 3 people/kids to become closer to, stop and speak to them.
You can change your family, your community by building these assets.
Today's society: We are Depressed, Hostile, Tough, High Expectations
What is happening?
From biology we know that if you gradually heat up water,
you can stay in water until you die. But if there is a sudden
temperature change, then you notice it and can get out right
away. We are coming to a slow boil, but the pressure is building.
We look at our nation, and see the pressure here, and the lack
of time to spend with one another. We seem to lack time to
be human beings. Europe, Asia, Canada, Mexico, are all doing
better jobs. How do we do a better job?
High expectations, when there's a b+ or an a- and its not
good enough, something is wrong.
Change the atmosphere and you change the community.
Dedicated people, It can happen within each one of us.
Emphasis on building healthy communication patterns.
Making a difference in people's lives
The power of being nice (for real)
Engage more, do better.
Assertiveness prevents anger from building up
Anger dissipates when feelings are expressed
Don't swallow stuff and keep it down
If you aren't sure how to express the anger in a
non-destructive way, say I'm a little upset and I'd like
to take a walk.
When you change your behavior towards a family memeber they change
the way they behave, too. Its like you are following a script.
60% of parents/teens get in a serious argument 1/week.
Doing it Right...
People present themselves in psychological charms, wanting interactions
to be positive and look at daily improvements
Negative Family Interactions
NOT: who ruined the rug, but character assasination, refusal to
acknowledge or respect, marginalizing... leads to abuse
From FAMILY SYSTEMS THEORY, Developmental Research Institute
Non-violence begins in the family
Abused Children grow up to be abusive adults
Each person is affected in a positive and a negative way
Take care of your peers, your friends
Confidentiality should be respected
Schedules can interfere with heart to heart, which leads to more
barriers. When there is a reluctance to seek out individuals
that can help due to pain, fear, depression, inaccessibility can
reduce the ability to reach out.
Doing better with communication can make a difference
Raise supportiveness and responsiveness
Awareness of signs and feelings of potential suicide...
Rage, aggression, withdrawl... losing interest in hobbies, school.
Making notes or arrangements, giving away possessions
Males typically refuse support or sympathetic behavior
Ostracized and cruelly treated
Alcohol and drugs
Dreams lost. Loss of loved ones... seem an unrecoverable
There is a high risk period when news of suicides are published. Those
who have known someone who tried or committed suicide often grieve again.
Protective factors include: family, parents, connection to communication,
To Reduce Risk: improve communication, as if like diet and exercise
for the heart.. 2) Talk openly and matter of factly 3) Be
nonjudgmental whether feelings are good or bad -- being judgmental
increases feelings of disconnectedness 4) If you feel socially
isolated, become involved socially
Some communication are more supportive in families, and some
communication in families are toxic. Know the positives.
Pressures that pull us apart as a family
A Report Card On Adults - Healthy Adult Behavior
The 40 Developmental Assets
POSITIVE CULTURAL IDENTITY
Being Proud of Who You Are
Neighbors, Schools, YMCA, YWCA, kids
Internal: Honest, Care, Respect, Good Decisions
My Family Loves Me
I have a positive view of my life
Community Values You
Need 5 Positive Adults Around You That You Can Turn To
If You Run Into Trouble
Do Things That Are Wonderful For You
The Better Off You Are, and the Family Is...
The MORE positive adults are around you, the more you thrive.
Want GOOD things to happen to you, Want to Protect You.
On-going POSITIVE LONG RELATIONS
Some people are cruel to each other
Everyone deals with this
To cope: Be willing to help, not be cruel, nor be passive if you witness cruelty.
Appreciation not Criticism.
Burning down the barn is easy. Building it is not.
Easy to take a cheap shot at someone.
Give each other the confidence we all need, it is contagious.
Stress Problems: Help Each other, Relate. You haven't been
through it but empathize.
Behavior, Attitude toward others...
Communication Skills, Dialogue. See things, as they happen.
If misunderstand and no communication, it breeds distrust.
Have as many conversations as you can. You don't lose
anything by erring on the side of caution.
Consult with people. Put more people in support of that