Peer pressure is defined as “social pressure by members of one’s peer group to take a certain action, adopt certain values, or otherwise conform in order to be accepted.” As kids, our parents tried to stop us from succumbing to the bad peer pressure; whether that was drugs, alcohol, hanging out with the “bad” kids, or something that could physically hurt us. As adults, we have a different kind of peer pressure and sometimes the adult peer pressure can be just as bad, if not worse, for us than following the wrong crowd as kids. (source: Dictionary.com)
According to this article on peer pressure, how much a person is influenced by peer pressure depends on many factors. People are less likely to be heavily influenced by their friends and more likely to make their own decisions if they have:
- high self-esteem
- goals and a positive outlook on the future
- good social skills
- the ability to interact with people from many different backgrounds
- strong connections to family and community
People are more likely to be heavily influenced by their peers and less likely to make decisions for themselves if they:
- have low self-esteem
- are experiencing problems in their family, such as divorce, alcoholism, drug addiction, or unemployment
- come from families where there is little support or communication
- strongly identify with only one ethnic group
- feel distant from school and community activities
- are afraid of not belonging or fitting in
I’ve been thinking about peer pressure a lot lately because of my 11-year-old son. He’s one of the youngest in his core group of friends and sometimes that really sucks! I know this because of his constant complaints about it and because I was often the youngest in my group of friends. He’s one of the few that doesn’t yet have a cell phone. He doesn’t have an email account yet either (although that is happening soon). He has only had X-Box Live for a couple of months (the travesty!), and he still has to go to bed in the 9 o’clock hour! (I’m such a mean mom!!)
But, he’s not the only one of us dealing with peer pressure. I’ve been experiencing my own peer pressure lately. As an adult though, I have found that there are some good types of peer pressure because the connections we make influence us to do things that will improve ourselves. The key to “succumbing” to this good peer pressure is that we have to truly want it. It can’t just be something that sounds really good at the moment! It has to be something that resonates in our heart or it will just be another thing on the list of things to do.
Some examples of good of peer pressure that could turn into bad of peer pressure:
- Your friends are losing weight, so you say you are going to lose weight, too. The only problem is you don’t know what to do to actually lose weight for you, so you just “grasp at straws” trying to find whatever will work. In turn, your friends lose weight but you don’t. If you don’t research the “right” way to lose weight for your lifestyle and for your body, this can become very discouraging and send you on a yo-yo pattern of dieting. If your friends are losing weight and you want to join them on the journey, find a plan that works for YOU. You are NOT your friend and what works for them may not work for you!
- Your friends work out in a gym but that won’t work for you right now. Working out at a gym with your friends can be fun, but it is certainly not the ONLY way for you to get a good workout. There are so many workouts that you can do from your own home, using your own body weight, using dumbbells or kettle balls, that it simply isn’t necessary to go to a gym. There are DVDs, online workouts, YouTube videos, OnDemand workouts, Amazon Prime workouts, Shrinking Jeans monthly challenge workouts. We even have a great Bootcamp workout that is guaranteed to get your heart pumping! There really isn’t a need to go to a gym to get a good workout. Sometimes it’s just an excuse!
- Your friends are runners but you are not a runner! SO WHAT? Running is not the only form of cardio! Running is not best for everyone. You have many, many different options available for cardio besides running. I am a walker, so much so that I am preparing to walk 60 miles soon. I never thought of myself as an athlete because I am “just a walker” (oh the guilt of “just” being a walker) but about a year ago, a young man told me that anyone that can walk 20+ miles in one day is definitely an athlete. I have finally started believing that I am indeed an athlete. You don’t have to be a runner to be able to handle an endurance event. You could do cross-fit. You could do yoga. You could bike. You could be a weightlifter. You can do whatever type of exercise that makes you happy, and it will still count as you being active and healthy (and an athlete)!
- Your friends are all traveling together for an event but you are unable to attend! It’s not the end of the world, ya’ know? Yes, they will be having fun but you don’t have to sulk like a little kid! When they post pictures, pretend that you are right there with them enjoying all the fun. Think about how much money you are saving because you are home. There will be other trips and some of those will include you and not one of them. There is always something that sounds like more fun than what you have to do, but as adults we have to accept that we can’t do everything we want. It’s one of the things in life we have to accept.
- Your FitBit (or insert any other fitness tracker here) friends have over 100,000 steps for the week, but you only have 50,000 steps. Get off your booty and get some more steps for next week. Maybe your friend is training for an event that requires a lot of walking/running. Instead of being discouraged cheer them on and encourage them to continue their training. (Trust me it feels great to be encouraged like this.) Offer to do some training with them, if you can. This could help you “up your steps” and be an encouragement to your friend at the same time.
These are just a few examples of turning a bad situation into something good for you. Not all peer pressure is a bad thing, but if we allow a situation to bring us down, it can be just as bad as when we were kids. Have you been peer-pressured into doing something that wasn’t right for you? I would love to hear about your experiences!
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Ann is a wife, mom to 2 sons; a 24 year old Marine and a 10 year old who home schools. Ann has been “working” at losing her baby fat for 20+ years and is beginning to find success in that journey. Ann is a huge walker, and walks the Susan G. Komen 3-Day every year to help fight against breast cancer, a disease that killed her grandmother long before she should have died! She’s excited to be a writer on the best support group online, The Sisterhood of Shrinking Jeans.