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How To Overcome Peer Pressure The Easy Way?

Those fluctuating hormones, changes in the thought process, and the emergence of new perspectives and identities make the start of adolescence a particularly vulnerable time, wherein the youth get easily influenced by their peers. This is also a stage in life where fellow groups are of utmost importance and the need to fit in is a primary factor in decision making. The need to fit in generally makes a person give in to peer pressure.

What is peer pressure?

Peers are the people who belong to the same social group, so the word peer pressure refers to the influence of peers on each other. Although peer pressure may not always be harmful, the term "pressure" itself suggests that the process influences people to do things that they may be resistant to, or might not otherwise choose to do. It is the internal or external pressure felt by the youth mostly to behave in certain ways which could be both good and bad. It is considered as a feeling when one has to do something to fit in, feel accepted and respected. 

Peer pressure begins as early as age 10 with the forming of social groups in school and increases during adolescence, throughout high school. We all have been a victim of peer pressure, the need to blend into and feel like we are a part of a group.

Types of peer pressure:

Peer pressure can be overt wherein your friends or peers are telling you to do something (e.g., friends making fun of you for not doing what they are doing and calling you by names that have a significant impact on your self-esteem).

Peer pressure could be less direct too wherein you get to know that a friend tried a drug last night and you feel very curious about it and get constant thoughts about trying it. Implicit form of peer pressure includes doing things for fitting in, for making new friends, and getting accepted in a particular group. For example, a girl who thinks getting her hair colour would serve as a status symbol gets it done to be accepted in that ‘cool’ group.

A survey conducted by Parent Further on Peer Pressure stated that-

  • Only 10% of the surveyed teenagers had said no when they were faced with peer pressure
  • 28% of the teens said that agreeing to peer pressure helped with their social standing
  • Half of the surveyed teens also said that they would pick on someone only after a friend picked on that person

When it comes to alcohol pressure and other drug use, the other thing to consider is that often students overestimate how many of their peers are drinking or using drugs. Knowing the facts will help you beat the pressure that "everyone is doing it" and you don't have to do it to fit in that particular social group.

Effects of peer pressure

The effects of peer pressure can manifest differently in each person. Peer pressure can play on some of the strengths or challenges already faced by a teenager. For example, a teen with low confidence and few close friends may be more susceptible to the effects of negative peer pressure, while a confident, extroverted teen may be more likely to give and receive positive peer pressure. 

Negative peer pressure can encourage teenagers to engage in negative behaviours and habits, such as not attending classes, stealing or cheating, bullying, using drugs or alcohol and defying orders.

Negative peer pressure can also affect mental health. It can decrease self-confidence and lead to poor academic performance, distancing from family members and friends, or an increase in depression and anxiety.

On the other hand, social pressure can affect you in positive ways too. It helps to excel or improve academically, develop leadership qualities, increase self-confidence, promote active participation in extracurricular activities or volunteer for a good cause. Positive peer pressure can foster a sense of belonging, self-confidence, and a solidified sense of self.

Managing peer pressure is usually not a matter of concern if you are surrounded by individuals who share similar beliefs and preferences. However, you will most likely find individuals with different personalities in a college setting. Most of the time you can quickly know where you are and behave appropriately, but sometimes you may feel confused, compelled to do something against your will. Moreover, college may be a time when you are away from your family and your home, with greater independence than you had before to make your own decisions.

Few tips to overcome peer pressure

Nearly everybody has been subject to peer pressure and the most important thing is how you cope with it. There are numerous ways to overcome overt or indirect peer pressure.

  • If there is pressure put on you to try smoking, act chill and don't just lash out at them. For example, Jenny was at a birthday party and she was forced to smoke by one of her friends. She politely denied it 2 to 3 times, but she had to adopt a countermeasure. She helped herself out of this by asking 101 questions to that person which included, how often do you smoke? What made you smoke in the first place? And if she minds having an ashtray breath? This helped in descanting the pressure and also she didn't sound rude.
  • Backing up a no with a positive statement. For example, if you’re turning down an offer to smoke, say something like, “I like to stay without any substance or I don’t want to feel groggy!
  • There will be times when you have to be repetitive in your approach. In such a situation don’t hesitate to state your position over and over again.
  • When you feel awkward in certain situations and can't cope with the people around you, encourage yourself to escape from situations or circumstances that don't feel right. Work on boundary description. It's alright for you to do things in your interest. Check-in and ask yourself, "How am I feeling about this?", "Does this seem right to me?", "What are the pros and cons of making this decision?”
  • Choosing your social circle wisely is an essential step in your teenage years. Your time and effort should be spent on those who respect your decisions and your individuality and also with those who won’t put undue pressure on you to confirm. It is important to realize that it is not always possible to please everyone or be liked by everyone. One must recognize unhealthy dynamics.
  • Still, there will be situations wherein people or even circumstances will try to put you under pressure and may seem unavoidable. One can always deal with this by using the delay tactic. Give yourself some time to think about your decision instead of giving an immediate answer. Use phrases like: "Let me think about that." or "Can I get back to you?". This would help you in processing and also help in making wise decisions.
  • It is often helpful to go along with a friend who supports you, the one who will guide you with the best of intentions. For example, there would be times when you can't resist drinking but would like to refuse. Your friend can help you in such times. He/she can always remind you of why you had made that decision of not drinking.
  • It is very important that you also stand up for others when you see them being pressured. "Bystander intervention" is stepping in to help out when you see someone in trouble. This is an effective way to support others and send a message. If it is not appropriate to directly confront the person, try distraction or inviting the person being pressured to do something else and helping them escape the situation (e.g. "Hey, would you mind coming to the washroom with me?”).
  • Self-realization is very important and if you realize that your friends don’t have your best interests at heart, walk out of the situation and find people who share similar values and interests.

Remember that you are important and taking good care of your emotional well-being will enhance your overall well-being. There is no harm in taking help and advice to know more about your personality and the shortcomings. You can attain that happiness and holistic wellness you always longed for, by gaining an in-depth screening for your mental health to know more about the areas to work on. Getting help for effective understanding about yourself through screening summary, using self-help tools, and also availing the option of talking to our experts for more support without compromising on your confidentiality is always available.