Happiness, Relationships

Beating Down Adult Peer Pressure

“Only surround yourself with people who will lift you higher.” – Oprah Winfrey

Three women in a cafe smoking cigarettes and pouring liquor into coffee, peer pressure

What is Peer Pressure?

Peer pressure.  Unfortunately, we will all deal with peer pressure at some point in our life. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, peer pressure is defined as “the pressure that you feel to behave in a certain way because your friends or people in your group expect it.”  While peer pressure is something that most of us deal with as children and teens, peer pressure is most definitely present in adults as well.  

Even though peer pressure during adulthood may not be as direct or intentional, it can be just as harmful.  It is important to know and understand what peer pressure is, the potential damage it can do to you, and how to deal with peer pressure when you are faced with it.

The Influence of Others

As humans, we all want to feel like we belong.  There are many ways that you can be influenced and become a victim of peer pressure.  Family, friends, coworkers, and social media or other forms of media are ways that we can be influenced to change your core values.  If you have picked up values, beliefs, goals, or hobbies because that is what the group of people around you believe in then you have experienced peer pressure.  

Positive vs. Negative Peer Pressure

Peer pressure can be positive or negative…

Positive Peer Pressure

Having good mental health requires you to make decisions for yourself based on your core values.  While positive peer pressure is what you would hope for when you are faced with peer pressure because it is the least harmful, you will be faced with negative peer pressure.  

Positive peer pressure would be something that leads you to make choices that better yourself and do not undermine your core values.  An example of positive peer pressure would be quitting smoking or doing something that has a positive outcome.

Negative Peer Pressure

Negative peer pressure can take a toll on your mental health.  When you start behaving in ways that undermine your core values, your self-esteem suffers, and you may start feeling like you are losing control over yourself and your life.  When this happens, when you fall into negative peer pressure, you can easily start making more poor choices that will further negatively affect you – physically and mentally.  Spend time with people who lift you up, not those who bring you down.

Examples of negative peer pressure would be drinking excessively despite not enjoying it, or maybe you are trying to live a life that someone who makes way more money than you lives even though working for all the extra money is not at the top of your list of what makes you happy.  

Ways to Cope With Negative Peer Pressure

Handling negative peer pressure can be a struggle.  However, there are multiple ways to resist it so that you can enjoy your life.  

Remember to stay true to yourself and your core values.  You may feel guilt or shame at the beginning of resisting negative peer pressure but stay strong through it all and remember your core values.  

You do not need to change just to fit in with the group of people you are hanging out with.  It is important to have a wide range of friends.  Develop relationships with others from different backgrounds and are outside of your main friend group.  

Disregard what the critics say when you are acting in a way that represents your true self.  

Make a plan ahead of time if you know you will be in a situation where peer pressure can be anticipated and make sure you have an exit strategy if the peer pressure becomes too much for you to handle.  

Make sure you find people who support your values; let go of the relationships that negatively affect you and make you feel like you must change your core values.  

Be assertive, be mindful, and surround yourself with positive, uplifting people who appreciate you, your idea, your lifestyle, and your choices.

Resist the Negativity!

While surrounding yourself with the people who lift you up, you will be faced with times where you have to interact with people who have different values than you.  When you are in this situation remind yourself of what your values are and how you are going to stick to you plan.  

If you have fallen for negative peer pressure in the past, you can learn from it.  We all make mistakes and wrong choices, but what is important is what you learn from your past choices and how you overcome those mistakes and wrong choices.  Resisting negative peer pressure will help improve your self-esteem, your physical health, and your mental health.  

There will always be someone questioning your decisions, but in the end, what matters the most is finding the strength to make the right decisions – decisions that reflect you and your core values.  In the end, making decisions that are good for your overall health and reflect who you are as a person is the most important thing you can do for you.

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