From childhood to adulthood, people are constantly faced with peer pressure. According to Dictionary.com, peer pressure is social pressure – the push for someone to conform to a group’s accepted behaviors and beliefs. With children, it starts in play groups and at school; facing the choice of which group of friends to hang out with and what clubs and activities they will fit into best. Adults are no different; they battle similar situations every day as they try to fit in with business associates, friends, neighbors, other family members, and social networks.
Everyone is raised with a particular set of morals, but when it comes to peer pressure, those morals are sometimes thrown out the window. The fear of criticism or rejection captures the mind, takes over, and causes people to get caught up in making bad choices just to please others.
Some people start using drugs and alcohol to fit in with a group of friends that disappear within a few days. They find themselves hooked and alone, looking for the next group of so-called friends capable of enabling their need for a fix.
People make other bad decisions to fit in, like going into debt to keep up with the Joneses. Later, they find themselves once again without friends and stuck with something they probably never wanted in the first place.
You don’t have to keep up with the Joneses just to fit in. If you find yourself as one of these people, it’s time to quit drowning in a pool of negative adult peer pressure and start floating with the power of positive.
Swimming on the Positive Side
If you feel a compelling need to fit in, and most people do, then it’s time to find a positive group of friends that will keep you on track and lead you back to the morals your mom once taught you.
First thing’s first, you need to figure out what you enjoy for entertainment. Think about it and ask yourself if the things you do for fun are things you really enjoy, or do you just do them to make someone else happy? If your answer is the latter, then it’s a negative. You may be smart to get away from that person or group and focus on you. What do you like to do?
Keep in mind that negativity can drag you down to the bottom of the pool. If the group you are with is causing you to sink, then it’s time to put on your adult floaties. If you’ve started smoking or doing drugs because of those bottom floaters, then it’s time to find a group of non-smokers who will help and support you in the journey to becoming a non-smoker. You could join an AA group in your area for support, and there are even nicotine anonymous groups that can help you kick the habit.
Let’s focus on religion and politics for a minute. Maybe you try to stay out of both, maybe you don’t. Regardless, suppose you believe one way, but the people you are with have convinced you to believe another. Does that sound positive? Maybe they are “non-believers,” but you were raised in the church — are you going to stop believing in something that’s important to you just to gain friends?
Maybe you’ve always been on one side of the political fence, but the group you’re in has convinced you to go against your beliefs just so you can be a part of their group. How does any of that sound positive? More likely than not, the people that have taken you to the bottom of the pool will not be in your life for a long time, and they are certainly not good friends if they are drowning you.
Pull yourself away from that sinking group and you will see that the people floating on the top of the pool are the positive ones; the ones who will support your beliefs and decisions with the positive peer pressure to be who you are versus conforming. So go ahead and swim over there, it’s not too late.
Positive peer pressure has positive results. For example, you might find yourself wanting to work harder for that promotion or maybe joining a new circle in college so that you can further your education. Perhaps you will find someone on the positive side of the pool who is swimming toward the church you really want to attend, or maybe someone over there will lead you to a political group on your side of the fence.
The point is, positive peer pressure pushes us to take positive action. It changes us for the good, encouraging us to become better versions of ourselves. It can be a powerful ally in the fight to ditch bad habits and make better decisions. For those battling substance abuse and addiction habits, positive peer pressure is invaluable. It fuels recovery, giving recoverees reserves to tap into when the going gets tough and the want to use again kicks in.
No matter what you are facing, the right group of friends can make all the difference. Just remember that not everyone in a positive group will have the same beliefs as you, and that’s okay as long as your differences make you stronger.
…when practicing the power of positive adult peer pressure:
- Negative peer groups almost always spells danger.
- Stay true to your morals; making bad choices just to fit in can lead to negative long-term effects in the future.
- Never feel obligated to do something that makes you uncomfortable just so you can fit in; it’s not worth it.
- Don’t spend money foolishly just to be accepted.
- Find support groups that will help you to swim on the positive side of the pool again.
- Stay true to yourself and to your beliefs.
If you feel like you’re going to lose friends just because you don’t want to do what they expect, then you’re swimming on the wrong side of the pool. Get swimming.