Have you been warned of peer pressure?
Like a monstrous storm put a mighty ship to wreck, peer pressure can destroy your life and leave you in shambles. Peer pressure has always been viewed as a negative force targeting the youth. There’s been a lot of research about peer pressure by behavioral scientists and many interesting conclusions drawn.
Let me not trouble you with the intricate details of how neurotransmitter levels in our brains can influence how we act and feel. In simpler terms, peer pressure is a powerful force that compels people to do something or act in a way that would make them feel accepted among their peers. And why so? Because, human beings are social animals. We live in groups, groups of closely knit individuals, and we regularly depend on each other. We all have this strong inner desire to be loved, to be cared for, and to be accepted by our friends, our peers. I would like to quote Mother Teresa who had beautifully summed up the innermost need of every human being alive.
“The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.”
― Mother Teresa
And so, peer pressure has an influence on any human being, not just the young. Sometimes this influence is too strong and negative that it can lead to a downfall. However, as much negative impact it is feared to produce, so much so, the positive influence it can have on people is astonishing.
So how do we create a positive peer pressure that can push people to higher limits of personal excellence and help keep the momentum? Here are the bare essentials:
1. Build self-esteem
Though there is a natural tendency to seek acceptance by the people around, you need some healthy self-esteem also to back you up. Self-esteem is the way you feel about yourself. Self-esteem should be the core around which acceptance and praise by people around should be the icing. A strong but humble self-esteem will help you at times when people around you change. Further, it will help you motivate others when the team spirit crumbles.
How to develop this self-esteem? Your self-esteem may be low because of some of your childhood experiences or non-acceptance within your previous gang. Reassure yourself. No matter what you feel about yourself, you are unique and have been gifted with talents to be put to use for the betterment of the world. So make a list of things you are good at, make a list of compliments you’d received from people, and keep in touch with those who care about you and take time to encourage you.
2. Positive peers
Find people who beam with a positive attitude and are bubbling with enthusiasm and determination to rise above. Stay close to them. Or even better, bring positive pressure into the gang you are already in. Inspire people around to put their efforts into personal excellence. Your friends may already be victims of negative peer pressure, so make them feel accepted. You can easily form a group of people with similar interests who share similar enthusiasm.
It was not considered cool to study hard and hang out with books in the college where I studied. A small group of friends and I joined together and read a lot together, which helped us with good grades in the tough medical school and beyond. We did have parties on weekends, watched movies together, and laughed a lot, but we also kept excelling in our studies. We kept away from drugs and other bad influences.
3. No envy!
Once you set yourself in a positive peer group and soon start to soar, keep up the spirit. Keep challenging yourself and rise more. By doing that, you’d contribute to the positive peer pressure. Never compare yourself with others. Never become jealous of your peers. Encourage them no matter what. You’ll soon realize that as people excel in their individual lives, they would bring momentum to the group they belong to. But jealousy and comparison would tear it down. Help foster a healthy competitive spirit in the gang you belong.
Positive peer pressure is just like team work, except that here, each one works on his/her own personal excellence and the success in turn provides the fuel for further propulsion.
Do watch this short one minute commercial about positive peer pressure from Values.com. You’ll sure appreciate how beautifully peer pressure can transform someone.
Do the right thing. Pass it on.