Talking about strengths is a method of approaching youth and adults who are struggling with the effects of hardship. Since we believe that all people have dignity and the potential for resilience, the method is not restricted or useful only to a special group of superkids who have fully mastered their troubles. It is also effective with people who are faltering in their struggle and who come to see you when their trouble is at its height.
Of all our core concepts, talking about strengths requires the least explanation. Its meaning is on the surface. Be respectful. Do not dwell on problems, symptoms, and deficiencies. Do not establish an "I'm-the-authority-you're-the-sick-one" relationship. Do your best to meet others who are asking for your help on their own terms by finding and talking about the positives, no matter how small. You can understand the method best by listening to some examples from our "Survivor's Pride" video.
Practical Applications of Talking About Strengths
Talking to youths or adults about their strenghts can foster a powerful bond. To understand why, think of the difference in your own reaction when someone tells you about your deficiencies in contrast to your accomplishments.
In the safety of a relationship where they know they are respected for their achievements, people can come around to recognizing the areas of their lives that need work and find the motivation to do that work. They can change a victim image of the themselves to a picture of someone who is resilient, who can and will prevail. While clinicians, teachers, preventionists, and interested citizens usually can do little to change the overwhelming circumstances that burden so many youth and adults today, talking about strengths is something you can do that matters.
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