Most of us believe that only children and especially, adolescents deal with peer pressure. But, that is far from the truth. In the words of Philip J. Lanzisera, PhD, a psychology at Henry Ford Health System, “Just like kids, adults might be pressured to have a drink, engage in an unhealthy behaviour or purchase a product they don’t need”. I wonder how else you define peer pressure.
There are some speculations that only those who didn’t deal with peer pressure as adolescents, struggle with peer pressure till adulthood. I wouldn’t want to believe so. Come on, we don’t stop having the desire to be accepted just because we are adults. And most times, we yield to peer pressure in a bid to be accepted by our peers – friends, colleagues, neighbours, and relatives.
Yielding to peer pressure can have obvious physical consequences – when a diabetic person gets coerced to order ice cream when he or she matter of factly doesn’t need it. It can also have emotional consequences – when a recovering alcoholic drinks excessively during the weekend just to please friends. It can also exhaust one mentally – when someone works extra jobs or have a side hustle to be able to spend on things that don’t matter to him or her, just to match up with the lifestyle of peers.
Peer pressure can, however, be positive. Take for instance, when you quit smoking because your non-smoking friends are supportive. Back in my university days, my first year precisely, I took to the habit of reading daily because my close friends then did. I always felt dumb when they discuss what they have read and I have nothing to say. And my year one result was my best result for the four years I spent in the university. I even performed better than they all did.
The point here is that you should always check out for yourself. Ensure that you live life on your own terms, making decisions that align with your values, beliefs, goals and your personality. You have to make sure that you aren’t pressured (directly or indirectly) to make decisions. Especially, if you may end up regretting the decisions.
How Do You Deal With Peer Pressure
“Pressure from peers might cause us to feel like we have to keep up with the ‘Jones,’ pressured into a lifestyle that isn’t authentically ours, or leading us to strive for ‘success’ that is someone else’s definition” Shilagh Mirgain
When faced with decisions on how to succeed Shilagh Mirgain advised that you ask yourself the following questions: What feels right for you? What activities make you feel good about yourself? Can you make a daily choice to invest in your health, your wealth, your well being? Where do you want your life to lead? Are you more susceptive to negative peer influence when in a particular mood? To apply this to your life as an adult, you have to understand what you want. And not buy that cloth because every of your friend has it. You can’t buy the pair of shoes because everyone on social media seems to have one. Don’t take the new job because it would afford you the money to live the lifestyle your neighbours or siblings live. What do you want for yourself? While you ponder the questions above, pay attention to how you feel, write the answers down if you must.
Say No, assertively!
When you are being pressured to do things that don’t align with who you are, say no! And be assertive. If you aren’t assertive, whoever is trying to pressure you may try to convince you some more. It could be considered as a mere excuse that mustn’t hold water. But, if you can say no assertively in the face of peer pressure, you’d be taken seriously. Don’t always give an excuse, your friends, family, colleagues may try to find faults in the excuses too. No should be no. Have this in mind, peer pressure often stems from a lack of confidence from the one doing the pressuring. The person(s) is seeking validation for their reckless or unhealthy lifestyle from others. If you can be convincing and own your objection, they’d back down!
We won’t forget the fact that there will always be people who would question your choices. You don’t owe anyone the explanation. But you owe yourself that. It’s fair to remind yourself that you didn’t attend the weekend party because you have to work on your Monday presentation over the weekend. That would make you not feel as bad for turning your friends down. Always remind yourself of why you make your choices. Write down these reasons if you must. The need to validate yourself comes in handy if you are trying to quit a habit and your friends aren’t being supportive. Or when you are trying to pick up some habits your peers aren’t in support of. Commit your “whys” to memory, it would help you fight peer pressure.
Evaluate Your Relationship
Being an adult means you have friends outside of school. Before you commit to any form of friendship or relationship, you have to be sure the person(s) have goals that align with yours. If you meet anyone who pressures you into making decisions that make you uncomfortable, that’s a red flag. Though peer pressure is harder to deal with if the pressure is coming from a long time friend. But, your umbilical cords aren’t tied together. You may have to walk out of the friendship. Friends are meant to support you in whatsoever great decisions you make. If you want to stop a habit, they should be your backbones and not be there to drag you back to where you started.
Don’t allow yourself hold on to the misconception that only teenagers deal with peer pressure. Take some time and evaluate your life, you may have even made a lot of choices in recent times because of peer pressure. Have you been dealing with peer pressure recently? How have you coped? Do share!