Everyone deals with it. Everyone hates it, but not everyone overcomes it. It’s the compression of “peer pressure.” Both young and old deal with it.
From the media all the way to elementary school, peer pressure suffocates the decisions people make and most people don’t know how to deal with it. The pressure is too much.
More often than not, many people, especially young people, make their daily decisions based on their peers’ expectations or what they think their peers expectations are. From the latest fads to the badest attitudes, peer pressure molds people’s lives.
The problem with peer pressure is that if you give in to your friends (“peers”), you may feel guilty or even get into trouble. But you are afraid that if you refuse to give in, you will lose their friendship or respect. Peer pressure is when you feel compelled to act a certain way because you want to fit in and be accepted by certain people. This is crazy pressure. So what are we to do about this?
I want to give you some steps on how to deal with this monster. But first, let me give you a little bit of my background.
I am very familiar with peer pressure. I was born in Puerto Rico where styles, fashions and fads are off the chain and surely off the chart. Back in the 70s and 80s (yikes I’m about to date myself now), we lived, thrived and committed ourselves to the latest peer pressure around us.
You see, back in those days (I can’t speak about the last few years, though I’m sure not too much have changed in that area), everyone seemed to look, dress and act based on the lasted fashions and brands of the day.
Before any brand names, fashions, and styles hit the major cities of the Mid-West in the USA, Puerto Rico was already looking at the next fad coming down the pipeline. It was crazy! I remember driving my parents crazy because as soon as a new pair of gym shoes came out, or new designer jeans came out, I was all over it. Of course, I had to depend on my parent’s generous administration since I had no form of income.
Believe it or not, the feeling that came with it was on demand. Truth was, if you didn’t wear the latest, looked the “coolest”, smelled the best, etc., you were going to stick out like a sore thumb in school, at work, and at the mall. Crazy isn’t it.
Once you start to grow up a little, you realize that those things are not that important and totally unnecessary. Better yet, you realized how stupid that was. Your interests begin to shift somewhere else. You may go to college, or you may get a job or join the military. Whatever the case may be, you’re starting to find yourself, and leave that peer pressure behind, breathing a new wind of life.
Your new interest will take you to a different dimension. You start building your life around new people, new friends, new cars, new home, and different jobs.
Somehow, life takes another toll and your new friends (peers) and new communities, new commercials, etc., tend to create yet another peer pressure.
Don’t think so? Check out the clothes your wear, the cars you drive, and the rims on your car (some people can’t hardly pay the car payment, but they sure have to have the latest and coolest rims that cost theme an arm and a leg.).
Your personal branding reveals what you are, what you believe and what you have to offer. Click to Tweet
Tell me that you don’t keep up with the “Jones’ at church – with the latest phones, tablets, new cars, or new hairdo. I mean, it’s everywhere. The problem is not having these things, but the problem comes when the only way you identify with others is WITH these things. When those “things” are the vehicle you identify, feel comfortable and fit in with your core group of friends, then the problem is rather serious. You are being misled.
Sure, some of you may not relate to this post, but you would agree with me, that most people deal with this in a serous way – and most of them can’t see it for what it is, while others just don’t know what to do about it. Truth is, everyone wants to fit in and experience some sort of power.
So why is it so important for us to fit in and be accepted? I think it is because we all want to belong to something. The fact is, peer pressure is a tool used to brand your life a certain way to provide the illusion of “fitting in”. Your personal branding reveals what you are, what you believe and what you have to offer.
The reality of it is that there are all sorts of peer pressure – not just one. There is the negative, the positive peer pressure. Both good and (mostly) bad peer pressure is often subtle and yes, sometimes, right up on your face.
Let me give you some points on how I dealt with peer pressure. I believe that I have some points that are not very popular in dealing with this issue, yet very effective and very biblical in nature.
Truth is for the last 20 plus years, peer pressure has not been part of my life – at all!
Here they are:
7 steps on how to overcome peer pressure:
1. Have a meeting with God.
Sound crazy, right?! Well it’s not! During my early years in Puerto Rico I knew nothing about prayer. By the time I was 14 years old, we moved to the Chicago Land Area. It was then when I met God personally for the first time.
I established a relationship with him that allowed me to pray and share with him my pain, my arrogance, my “intelligence” and my fears. All of it. I prayed. I wanted to fit in and “be cool” but the pressure was on. If you make it a point to have a meeting with God through prayer He will meet you right where you’re at.
2. Seek Council.
I made it a point to read the book of Proverbs and Psalms every day during my Teenage years. This gave me a tremendous amount of council, knowledge and wisdom. This spiked my confidence in who I was becoming and developing.
I also spoke about many subjects with guys older than me that were going somewhere in life. This also gave me hope and encouraged me to move forward in my calling in life.
I made it a point to observe people and learn from them. One thing I discovered was that those who were going somewhere in life successfully were not so preoccupied with their peers. Their greatest concern was in doing what they were called to do regardless of what others thought about it. So I learned to keep my calling in life, and God’s will for my life a priority.
4. Know who you are.
This is probably one of the most crucial points in dealing with most everything in life. If you don’t know who you are, you definitely don’t know where you’re going. (you can tweet that). I made it a point to discover and know who I was, and why.
As I followed the above steps I discovered my true identity, developed it and was confident in whom I was and in whom I had believed. Regardless of who you think you are, meeting with God, seeking council, and learning from others is a vital process of becoming more of the real you.
5. Remove the pressure.
I learned that if I was going to develop myself and my calling I had to separate myself from the peers that were trying to (subconsciously) brand me according to their system. I distant myself from certain friends, relatives, movies, music, etc. Not all of it. Just the ones that were shaping my thinking into something unhealthy.
I didn’t want to “be like Mike,” I wanted to be like me, and if I was going to model my life after somebody else like a sports figure or an actor, was not going to be it. Jesus was my hero, still is and always will be. So Jesus is my measuring stick that I measure my life after.
6. Choose the right friends.
I made a decision to hang out with the right kind of people that respected me for who I was and the decisions I was making. If this was not good enough for others, then they didn’t deserve my friendship. Simple as that!
That may sound arrogant, but it wasn’t. It was my way of preserving my heart, my life and my future. I had to place boundaries to protect me from the negative peers that were able to influence me the wrong way.
I recognized that I was not strong enough to hang out with those who drank, smoked, did drugs, stole from others, and killed their “friends” playing Russian roulette, etc. I knew my potential and I had to gear it in a direction where it complimented my values and my calling in life.
7. Be patient.
It takes time to develop the right kind of relationships. Looking for those who have similar values as you do often takes time. It’s not an overnight project, but well worth it.
Let me conclude by saying that choosing to understand the nature of peer pressure and overcoming it is no easy task. To be reBranded and becoming the person you were designed to be takes work. It takes hard work because there are so many voices out there telling you what you need to do and who you need to become.
I had to make sure that my desires were not matching the desires of others. My desires had to come from my heart and from my relationship with God – first and foremost. That is where my belief system is and that is what I am willing to die for. Therefore, that was going to be my value system to overcome the peer pressure around me.
By the time we got married, my wife and I began to build a life based on what we believed we were designed for. Has it been a cakewalk in the park? Of course not! But it has been a great walk.
One thing you will notice, when you stand on what you believe is true, right and pure, you will often stand alone. But standing on what you believe God has called you, and allow yourself to be reBranded according to your designed given by God, you will enjoy your progress and you will soon be leading others in the right direction towards their own destiny.
There is no greater feeling than to feel right about what is right because it’s right! Wow, what was that! That’s a cool statement. Go ahead and tweet that.
I know there are more ways to deal with peer pressure but I wonder, how have you dealt with your own peer pressure? Share some thoughts below and add to the list to make this post better.