What does living above the influence mean?
Do you know who you are? Are you happy with the person you are? Are you being “real”? Are you the kid your parents think you are? Do you act a different way depending on who you are spending time with? You do not have to be what others think you are. You can be Above the Influence. You can be your own person, you can be someone people look up to and depend on.
What kinds of influences are we talking about?
- Your friends or peers. You have to recognize good and bad influences and choose to be yourself. Instead of going along with what other people may be doing, make a choice for yourself and go that path. You can’t control what others do or how they feel about you, but you can control what you do. Your way of doing things, your point of view, and your style.
- Stress. Stress is a normal part of life, you must learn how to deal with it in a positive way. Learning how to stay above stress and learning to deal with it is another way to live above the influence.
1. Know yourself and know your limits so you can prepare in advance.
2. Find activities that help you diffuse stress, like exercise or meditation. Physical activity helps by physically reducing the levels of stress hormones in the body, and meditative activities (which could be formal meditation or simply letting your mind clear by going for a walk) help by slowing breathing and lowering the heart rate, essentially counteracting the stress.
3. Take breaks — they let you reset and recharge, plus you’ll be more productive when you get back to work. In fact, study breaks are proven to improve your focus and ability to actually learn and retain new information!
4. Treat yourself right — eat healthy and get plenty of sleep.
5. Keep friends close by. Socializing is a natural form of stress relief.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We’ve all been there, and that’s what why we’re here.
- Self Image. No one is perfect, but knowing who you are and what you believe in will help you live above the influence. Be yourself and find friends that will encourage you to be who you are. Don’t push yourself too hard. It is true what they say, you are your toughest critic.
- Relationships. Pressures to “hook up”. Sometimes teens may feel they have to “hook up” to stay in a relationship or be accepted. It is ok to wait and it is your choice when you do get sexually active.
- Drugs and Alcohol. The pressure to use could be strong. You may feel like “everyone” is doing it and you have to do what others do to fit in or be accepted, but this is far from the truth. It is ok to wait and studies have shown a majority of youth are NOT using. No one plans to become an addict, but the younger you start using the more chance you have at becoming addicted. Know the facts and decide for yourself.
- Pop Culture. Know who is sending messages. Pay attention to what you see and hear throughout your day. Who is sending these messages? Are they positive? What do they want you to do? Is there research behind their messages?
- Bullying. Why put others down? Bullying can come in many forms. Don’t be pressured to partake in such actions. Stand your ground and stand up for those being bullied. When a bully quits having an audience or does not have “followers” to back him up they will most likely stop bullying.
What is Youth Services Alliance doing to promote Living Above the Influence?
Toolkits & Activities for Clubs and Schools-
New! Above the Influence Toolkit: Boost Confidence & Reduce Risk-Taking(PDF)
Designed for 12-17 year olds to boost confidence and prevent risk-taking behaviors, including alcohol and drug abuse. Includes the Not Prescribed (based on four real-life stories, with video available via YouTube) and Pass It activities.
ATI Toolkit: Self Awareness & Healthy Decision Making Activities (PDF)
Activities designed to encourage a positive identity and healthy decision making skills. Includes Tag It, Be It, Express It, Picture It, Bring It, D. Driver, Influence Discussion and Teen Expressions Art Project. Supporting materials are below.