Whether it is pressure to conform to a group norm or pressure to act a certain way peer pressure is something everybody has to deal with at some time in their life. How successfully you handle peer pressure depends a great deal on how you feel about yourself and your place in the world.
Peer Pressure Risk Factors
There are certain risk factors for peer pressure, personality traits that make you more prone to give in to pressure. The traits that put you at higher risk for falling in to the peer pressure trap include:
- low self esteem
- lack of confidence
- uncertainty about ones place within a given peer group
- no personal interests exclusive of one's peer group
- feeling isolated from peers and/or family
- poor academic abilities or performance
- fear of one's peers
- lack of strong ties to friends
- feeling that friends could turn on you
- close bond with a bully
Handling Peer PressureHow do you prepare to face peer pressure and win? There are many things you can do. Prepare a mental script of how you would like to deal with uncomfortable situations. Script out the reaction you want to have in a given situation and play that script out in your head over and over again.
Know where you stand on key issues like sex, drugs and alcohol and do not allow anybody to make you deviate from your position. Never be afraid to speak up and let others know your boundaries. You may get a bit of teasing at first but most people respect the boundaries of others when they know what they are.
Never take part in any bullying. Making other people feel bad or sad is a terrible way to try to fit in. Flatly refuse to take part in anything designed to cause harm or distress to another person and speak up if such a situation arises. You do not have to be angry or confrontational but one person standing up for what is right is usually enough to inspire others to follow.
Think of yourself as a leader and act accordingly. The more you see yourself in a leadership role the more comfortable you will feel asserting your own opinions and feelings.
Always Be Comfortable With Your ChoicesWhen ugly situations arise and peer pressure kicks in to high gear it is very easy to get caught up in the moment and forget that you will have to live with the choices you make. If you give in and do something that is contrary to your character or core value system it will cause you distress later and you will feel regret.
When peer pressure rears its ugly head try to focus on how you feel about what is happening rather than getting caught up in the crowd. Always stand up for what you think is right.
Some people may not like it when you go against the group but doing the right thing is rewarding. Peer pressure only works if you let it, if you refuse to let it intimidate you it loses its power. The secret is to be assertive without becoming preachy or self-righteous. Stand your ground but refrain from standing on a soap box. Remember, peer pressure can only win if you let it.