At some point in our life, we have been tempted to try or say something we shouldn’t do or say because it didn’t feel right. It could have come from people we don’t or even our friends and family. We’ve seen people fall victim to peer pressure for reasons like not wanting to be a loner or following the herd since everyone else is. Unfortunately, when we did give in to peer pressure, we felt guilty, sad, regretful, remorseful, and ashamed that we did. Fighting off peer pressure can be challenging for some, but it’s not impossible.

Peer pressure is something we have heard of and probably experienced at some point in our life or even exerted to other people. Our self-esteem is a determining factor on whether or not we succumb to peer pressure. If we have high self-esteem, we feel better about ourselves and we have more confidence in what we do and who we are as a person. With this, we can better fight off peer pressure. If our self-esteem is low, then we’re more susceptible to peer pressure. We’re more likely to give in to something that we don’t like or wouldn’t do. We may get told things like ‘Hey everyone is doing it, you should as well’, ‘You want to be cool, then do it’, ‘You don’t want to be an outcast do you?’ ‘If you don’t say or do this, then your out of the club, or the group’, ‘Well if you don’t go through with this, then were not your friends anymore’, you get the idea. Some of these statements have ultimatums that can be damaging to us as well as threats. If we give in to the peer pressure of doing things we know is wrong and not right for our own well-being, then we feel down and disappointed about ourselves. This can lead to a cycle where we can punish and put ourselves down because we are filled with regret and shame.

Peer pressure has another kind of influence on us. We may feel inclined to change our attitudes, beliefs, values, and the way we act just to fit in somewhere. We have a need for a sense of belonging in the world. When that need is neglected or not met, we can get desperate to fill it. We don’t necessarily need someone to push us to do something we shouldn’t do, we may do that to ourselves. We give in to the pressure and give up something even our morals and values, just to fill that need. For example, in our minds, we think ‘hey those people over there smoking are happy and having a good time. If I smoke or even join them, I’ll be happy as well’. Remember, what works for some people may not work for you and could be harmful to you.

Our physical health is something to take into account when dealing with peer pressure, not just our mental and emotional health. In the scenario mentioned above, smoking can cause damage to our bodies. Say we want to get in shape or lose weight, well exercise and dieting is the way to go. Exercising is also great way to get rid of stress, but we have to be smart about it. For example, we we walk into a gym and we see some people who lift a lot of weight and are in great shape. We see some people on the treadmill who run 2 miles. We may feel inclined to want to do what they do so that we don’t stand out in a way that makes us looks foolish or weak. You may have a friend who drinks a kale shake every morning, eats a lot of veggies and fruits, and rarely eats meat as part of their diet to stay healthy. You think well if that works for them, then it will work for me. If your eating habits aren’t like that and you try to match it, chances are you won’t stick with it. Figure out what works for you even if it takes awhile.

Here are some ideas to help you handle peer pressure and not fall victim to it:

1. Recognize the Feeling of Peer Pressure

In order to deal with peer pressure, you first have to recognize when it’s present. You could feel uncomfortable with a high level of stress, really anxious, questioning yourself over and over, nervous, sweating, or scared. Figuring this out allows you to be honest with yourself and when your honest that peer pressure is present, you can begin to fight it.

2. Stay True to Your Morals and Values

You may wind up in a situation where you are tempted to do something you don’t want to do because it goes against the morals and values that define who you are.  Don’t throw away your morals and values just for a one time thing or something that will harm you.  Staying true to them can give you strength and you use that strength to stand up for yourself and eliminate the peer pressure situation.

3. Make Something Up

You know that peer pressure can lead to something that you may regret later, so you could make something up. If someone is bullying you to do something, make up an excuse to get yourself out of the situation. If your at school, say that you need to go to the office to pick something up. It helps to have a ready reason so that you can sound convincing. You could say that you have to be somewhere and your running late. Say you’ll have an allergic reaction if you take a pill, cigarette, or some kind of drug.

4. Talk to the Individual who is Causing the Peer Pressure

When it comes to peer pressure, you do what you can to get away from it.  If possible, approach the individual or people who are causing it.  Confront them and let them know that the way they are treating you is causing you stress.  Be honest with them especially if the other party is a friend or family member.  This helps you to be assertive which is a good trait to have in life.  As I mentioned, talk things out IF you can, but if the other party is a stranger, reasoning may not be the best solution.  It could be best to walk away and avoid them.

5.  Surround Yourself with Positive People who You can Turn to for Help and Support

If you are still struggling with peer pressure, ask for help.  A trusted friend, family member, guidance counselor, your teacher, someone who can help you deal with and resist it.  These people don’t want to see you struggling, so that means that they would be more inclined to help you.

I have fallen victim to peer pressure before.  Now you someone else who has as well once again restating the fact that your not the only one who has dealt or is dealing with peer pressure.  Recognizing if peer pressure is present is the first step.  After that, it’s just resisting it and staying true to who we are.  Peer pressure is something we deal with throughout our lives.  It doesn’t end after getting out of school, moving away, or starting a new job.  So it’s best we equip ourselves with various techniques the sooner the better to resist it.