How to Handle Peer Pressure
One of the major struggles of being a teenager is learning how to handle peer pressure. It is easy to roll your eyes when someone asks, “If all your friends were going to jump off a bridge, would you jump too?” However, the fact is that when one is actually faced with such a situation, there is usually a great temptation to jump due to the peer pressure, rather than act smartly and face possible ridicule or alienation.
If you think about it, Cady’s entire journey in Mean Girls was based around her being submissive to peer pressure. Not just from The Plastics, but even her friends. So what made a smart girl like Cady Heron not act like it?
The fact is that it can be very difficult to cope with peer pressure; especially as a teen or young adult. Here are some tips to help you handle those difficult moments:
∙ Embrace Yourself:
This is one of the most important things you can do to help you deal with peer pressure. The reason you are influenced by peers even when you know you shouldn’t be is because it targets your need for approval. If you learn to embrace and love yourself the way you are, you won’t be easily affected by other people’s opinions, or feel the need to succumb to peer pressure. This may be difficult to achieve. However, with consistent effort, you can make it happen.
∙ Choose Your Friends Wisely:
The people you surround yourself with make all the difference. Surround yourself with friends who see the good in you, inspire you and make you happy. Your friends should be able to hold you accountable to your values and tell you ways you can grow, but, they shouldn’t be people who constantly criticize you. A motivational speaker named Jim Rohn wrote that we are the average of the five people who we spend most of our time with. This is why you must surround yourself with a circle of responsible friends who share your values.
∙ Learn to Say No:
Another thing that sounds easy in theory but is difficult in practice is saying “no.” Learning to say this simple two-letter word can change your life for the better. Give yourself permission to say no to being in situations you feel uncomfortable in. Work on your boundaries, and do not let anyone break them. Politely saying ‘no’ may feels too harsh at first, but with practice, you will become more comfortable with refusing to follow the crowd. Do not enter into negotiations or listen to reasons why you should participate in behavior that you know you shouldn’t engage in. Although it may not appear so at first, over time people will respect you for staying true to yourself.
∙ Excuse Yourself:
If you are struggling with politely saying no, you should learn to remove yourself from uncomfortable situations. Agree with your parents on an “S.O.S message” that you would send if you are ever uncomfortable and need to be picked up. You should let your friends know that you feel and tell them clearly that you are uncomfortable. Again, don’t try to negotiate. Give an excuse and leave or ask someone you trust to pick you up.
∙ Stand Up for Others:
Sometimes, it is easier to stand up for others than it is for yourself. If you notice that someone is getting peer pressured into something they don’t want to do, try to take a stand for them. Not only will you end up helping that person, but it will also help you build confidence to resist peer pressure for yourself.
Handling peer pressure can be tricky. What you need to do is to learn to be confident in your own skin, and soon you’ll start to feel more comfortable saying no, standing up for others, and leaving uncomfortable situations.
Thanks for reading!
Until next week,