Whenever we hear the phrase “peer pressure” our minds go to children or teenagers. We think that its only teenagers that experience peer pressure. But can I announce to you that peer pressure is a lifelong phenomenon?
Before we go on, let me give us a formal definition of peer pressure: –
“Peer pressure is the direct influence on people by peers, or the effect on an individual who gets encouraged to follow their peers by changing their attitudes, values or behaviors to conform to those of the influencing group or individual. This can result in either a positive or negative effect or both”
The above definition confirms my earlier assertion that we are never free from peer pressure as long as we live.
That being said, it is pertinent that we understand the characteristics of peer pressure. For only then would we be able to combat or withstand negative peer pressure. And then we can go on to help our kids, mentees or people in our sphere of influence deal with it too!
7 Telltale Signs of Peer Pressure
Sometimes people wake up and decide to do something and they feel that the decision is solely theirs. Not so! There are subtle influences that informed that decision. So whether you are a teenager or midlifer, these telltale signs would alert you to peer pressure.
This is not totally negative; sometimes these adjustments may be for the better. There are people who make you want to be a better person. Some others influence/inspire you to seek God more; others challenge you to be a better spouse and/or parent… the list goes on
But how do you determine when these adjustments are negative? Here are some pointers:-
Anything/person that makes you go against God’s word is a negative influence. This is also true of anything/person that makes you go against the grain of who you are
Let’s come down to “mundane” issues. When you start behaving in ways that people who know you don’t recognize then there’s a negative peer pressure at work.
Case in point:
A friendly woman who goes out of her way to be friendly with everyone she meets; says “hi and how are you today” to the janitor, or chats with the waiter at the restaurant/cafeteria at lunch time. Then all of a sudden, she becomes this aloof person who now has an understanding that she’s a management staff who shouldn’t fraternize with the “help”.
Hmmm! that’s not really who she is; can it be that some persons have told her that successful career women carry themselves with an “air of dignity? This by the way is just a very shallow example but I trust that you get my drift.
A Feeling of Not Belonging (Low Self Esteem)
When a person feels like they don’t belong in a place, then there’s a subtle peer pressure to make the person fit in.
I know we have all found ourselves at one time or the other in this position. Maybe you didn’t/don’t speak with the same accent and inflections or you didn’t/don’t have the same fashion sense. Your case may be that you didn’t/don’t live in the same geographical location (every city/state in the world have “bourgee” locations) or you don’t have a certain pedigree.
We can all totally relate to that feeling of being the odd one in a group. And why is that? It’s because there’s an unwritten code that some influencers are pushing and you are subtly feeling the pressure to conform.
Trying new things is one sure sign of peer pressure. Again, this may be either positive or negative. Peer pressure can help you become more adventurous with your fashion sense, relaxation/fun, exercise regimen etc.
It can also lead you into bad habits; yes even as a midlifer! Don’t be deceived into thinking that it’s only teenagers that pick up bad habits.
I know a number of married women who went wild and broke up their marriages after they turned 40(Most of them got married in their 20s). Those I spoke with told me that they’ve been in bondage all these years but have now “woken up”. Do you think they started trying those new things or going wild on their own? Definitely not!
Once a person becomes overtly conscious of their image or status, then they are succumbing to peer pressure. You are a pawn in the hands of social influencers when you live by a “code of conduct” that has no scriptural or moral bearing or that exalt image above reality.
If you can buy clothes and other fashion accessories on credit just so that you look the part, you are a victim of peer pressure. Same goes for those who misplace priority for status symbols; flashy cars and a fancy house instead of a good school for the kids or college funds, expensive vacations instead of regular mortgage payments… and the list goes on.
Whenever you find yourself comparing yourself with someone else, you are responding to peer pressure. Whether you do so to feel good that you are better than others or you feel inferior to your contemporaries. It’s all one and the same; it does you more harm than good.
2 Corinthians 10:12
New International Version
We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.
New Living Translation
Oh, don’t worry; we wouldn’t dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant!
English Standard Version
Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.
Doing Things Just to Please Others
Have you ever attended an event just to please someone? Or have you worn something you didn’t particularly like just because it’s trending? These are simple examples. Let’s go deeper…
What of those situations when you have been pressured into making life changing decisions that didn’t resonate with your spirit?
All of us can testify to having done something that we didn’t like just because of peer pressure or other forms of pressure.
Performance at Work or Other Life’s Endeavor
Peer pressure affects people’s performance either negatively or positively. Some people become overachievers while others become underachievers. Others yet are inspired to become all that God has ordained them to be.
The following excerpt from www.verywellmind.com explains overachievement/overachievers:-
“Success is something that everyone strives for, but is it ever possible to work too hard to reach your goals? Overachievers are people who do great things, but still need to accomplish more. Even though they attain more success than the vast majority of people, they are never satisfied and always strive to accomplish more.
While this behavior can lead to professional and academic success, it can create a huge imbalance in a person’s life. An overachiever may neglect his or her own needs or the needs of family and friends in order to triumph.
Achievement is, in most cases, a good thing. After all, who doesn’t want to reach their goals? The problem with overachievement is that it involves reaching these goals at costs that outweigh the rewards. People often sacrifice their own health, happiness, and relationships in order to chase a target that is always moving beyond them”. https://www.verywellmind.com/are-you-an-overachiever-4580606.
There are so many definitions of an underachiever but in the course of my study/research this write-up on the link below caught my attention
It explains who an underachiever is and what makes you one. This discourse goes to corroborate my assertions that we are driven to certain actions and habits by peer pressure.
I deliberately brought these links to you so that you can do a bit of further reading and hopefully learn more from these write-ups.
I’m sure some of you are wondering why this post is not replete with bible references as is my style but not to worry. This is just the first part of my thoughts and findings on peer pressure.
Please stay with me as I bring you the conclusion of this treatise in subsequent posts.