peer pressure
Encouragement/Self-Help

Peer Pressure

Recently, I was having a conversation with my son about peer pressure. At the end of the conversation, I thought it would be a good topic to discuss here because peer pressure occurs at all life stages. As a teenager, I asked my father why people drink alcohol. He told me that alcohol doesn’t necessarily taste good, but people drink because of “the company”. That is a good example of peer pressure.

As I told my son, I think that the key to handling peer pressure is to know who you are. He didn’t quite understand what I meant, so I told him to ask himself these questions. What are my values? What is important to me? Does this action align with my values? Will I regret this in the future? Once you are able to answer these questions, you can assess every situation that you are faced with through this lens. So, if the current situation is contrary to who you are and your values, then you should reject it.

I know that one reason people find it hard to resist peer pressure is because they don’t want to be excluded. However, I would counter that if you are in a situation where you are feeling pressure to do something that makes you uncomfortable, perhaps exclusion is a blessing in disguise. It may just be the time to prune any bad influences from your circle.

Another reason people succumb to peer pressure is because they want to be liked. In my opinion, if people dislike you that is ok. It is not your job to make people like you. You are who you are and not everyone will like you, much in the same way that you don’t like everyone either. So, if you feel pressured to change who you are so that others will like you, don’t do it. Isn’t it much better for you to like you? Rest assured, if you change who you are to please others, you won’t like yourself and you will be miserable. Change the people instead.

When faced with peer pressure, I would encourage you to consider the consequences of the action you are feeling pressured to take. Are the consequences going to negatively impact your life? Could the action cause you or someone else harm? If so, the answer is easy, don’t do it. My mother taught me, “when in doubt, don’t”. It is a good mantra to use. It will help you to make the right decisions.

One important point about consequences is that you face them alone. Even if you do something as part of a group, when it is time to face the music, you have to do that all by yourself. So don’t allow others to put you in a position where you make poor choices and suffer negative consequences as a result.

The key to minimizing peer pressure is to surround yourself with like-minded people. People who know who you are and respect who you are. People who will not try to pressure you to do things you don’t want to do because they wouldn’t want to do them either. It is much easier to navigate life when you have a like-minded circle that shares similar values and goals.

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