One of the common causes of depression in adults is peer pressure. How to deal with it is another challenge for most
Peer pressure is the influence that your peers may have on you to act, think, or believe in a certain way.
It refers to how people’s beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours are impacted by those around them, particularly those in their social group.
In real life, peer pressure can be seen when a group of friends is hanging out and one of them suggests trying alcohol.
The pressure to conform to the norms of the group and fit in can get so intense, forcing you to engage in certain actions even if you do not want to or believe it is a good idea.
This is an example of negative peer pressure; nevertheless, positive peer pressure can occur when a group encourages someone to study for an exam or join a club.
To further buttress the effect of negative peer pressure, it is that impact that individuals or groups have on one another to engage in detrimental or contrary to their personal values and views.
Apart from testing out alcohol as mentioned earlier, a negative peer pressure could also lead to cheating, skipping school, or engaging in harmful activities. Negative peer pressure can be especially powerful during the adolescent years when people are still building their identities and attempting to fit in with their peers.
On the other hand, positive peer pressure is simply when you and your friends engage in actions that are good or in accord with your personal values and views. Academic performance, healthy habits, and positive social actions are examples of this.
Positive peer pressure, as opposed to negative peer pressure, promotes people to make good decisions and reach their full potential.
Throughout adolescence, Positive peer pressure can do so much as to encourage personal and social growth. Individuals might feel inspired and motivated to make positive choices and achieve their goals by surrounding themselves with positive and supportive peers. It can also serve to foster a sense of belonging and a positive social environment.
Individuals must seek out constructive peer pressure and surround themselves with peers who support their personal and academic objectives.
Furthermore, fostering a pleasant and supportive social environment might motivate people to make positive decisions and avoid negative peer pressure.
Some of the consequences of negative peer pressure include:
- Engaging in harmful behaviours: Negative peer pressure can lead individuals to engage in behaviours that are harmful to their health and well-being, such as substance abuse, risky sexual behaviours, and criminal activities.
- Damaging self-esteem and confidence: Negative peer pressure can also lead to feelings of shame and low self-esteem, as individuals may feel pressured to conform to behaviours that go against their personal values and beliefs.
- Losing individuality: Engaging in behaviours that are not in line with your personal values and beliefs can lead to a loss of individuality and a sense of disconnection from one’s own identity.
- Strained relationships: Negative peer pressure can also strain relationships and lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, as individuals may feel like they cannot be themselves around their peers.
On the other hand, positive peer pressure can have positive consequences, including:
- Encouraging positive behaviours: Positive peer pressure can encourage individuals to engage in behaviours that are beneficial to their health and well-being, such as academic achievement, healthy habits, and positive social behaviours.
- Improving self-esteem and confidence: Positive peer pressure can also help improve self-esteem and confidence, as individuals feel supported and encouraged in their personal and academic goals.
- Promoting a sense of belonging: Positive peer pressure can also promote a sense of belonging and create a positive social environment, where individuals feel accepted and valued.
- Fostering personal and social development: Positive peer pressure can play a significant role in promoting personal and social development, particularly during the adolescent years.
It is important to develop a strong sense of personal values and convictions, as well as surrounding oneself with good and supportive friends and family members. Seeking adult assistance and guidance can also be beneficial in controlling and overcoming negative peer pressure.
How to deal with peer pressure
Dealing with peer pressure can be challenging, but it’s important to make decisions that align with your personal values and beliefs. Here are some strategies for handling peer pressure:
- Build self-esteem: A strong sense of self-worth and self-esteem can make it easier to resist peer pressure and make decisions that align with your personal values. You can build self-esteem by focusing on your strengths and accomplishments, setting achievable goals, and engaging in activities that make you feel good about yourself.
- Identify personal values and beliefs: Understanding what is important to you and what you stand for can help you make decisions that align with your values. Take some time to reflect on your personal values, such as honesty, respect, and responsibility, and consider how they influence your actions and decisions.
- Surround yourself with positive and supportive friends: Having a strong support system of friends and family members who encourage positive behaviours can help counteract the effects of peer pressure. Seek out friends who share similar interests and values and who support your personal and academic goals.
- Seek out adult support and guidance: Talking to a trusted adult, such as a teacher, coach, or counsellor, can provide guidance and support in dealing with peer pressure. They can help you understand and navigate difficult situations, and provide a different perspective on the situation.
- Practice assertiveness: Assertiveness is the ability to stand up for yourself and express your opinions and feelings in a confident and respectful manner. Practice assertiveness by learning to say “no” when faced with peer pressure and by speaking up for yourself in appropriate situations.
- Find alternative activities: Engaging in alternative activities and hobbies that align with your personal interests can help you find fulfilment and reduce the influence of peer pressure. Whether it’s playing a sport, joining a club, or volunteering, finding activities that you enjoy can help you feel more confident and less susceptible to peer pressure.
- Seek out positive peer pressure: Surrounding yourself with peers who support your personal and academic goals can help encourage positive behaviours and counteract the effects of negative peer pressure. Seek out peers who share similar interests and values and who encourage and support you in reaching your goals.
It’s important to remember that everyone faces peer pressure at some point, and it’s normal to feel unsure or conflicted at times.
By using these strategies, you can build the skills and confidence to make decisions that align with your personal values and beliefs and resist the negative effects of peer pressure.