Peer presure looks different when we are adults but we still need to fight it.

Six Strategies to Combat Adult Peer Pressure


Peer pressure is usually talked about as if it were just a children’s issue, teenagers in particular.

Peer pressure, or social pressure, or any other name that you give to it, never really leaves us, it just looks different sometimes.

It may look like going out with your friends and spending more than you had budgeted.  It sometimes looks like us choosing a job that we don’t like because it will look more prestigious.  It could be resisting a romantic relationship with someone who doesn’t fit the look or style of our social circles. It could feel like the pressure to have children even though we don’t want any.  There are many variations on all those.

Sometimes it presents itself in personal confrontation and sometimes just in the pressure to assimilate- we want to fit in.

Peer pressure as kids: to go against authority's adults: to go against our own values. Click To Tweet

When we are children and teens we are pressured to go against our parent’s (and other authority figure’s) expectations and values.  As adults, we are pressured into going against our own expectations and values.  We need to be careful or we can be pressured right out of our own priorities.  Not living by our own priorities can keep us from our personal success.

In my life, there seem to be people aghast at the fact that my family doesn’t vacation every year (why they care, I’m not sure).  There is a lot of pressure to travel.  I am being told that “if you work hard, you should play hard”, “you need balance”, “you have to have fun sometimes”.  My husband and I are very strict with our financial affairs and don’t want to vacation unless it is paid in cash. Using someone else’s money for such a luxury is against our value system.  A vacation would not be enjoyable if I had to stress out about how to pay for it later (I enjoy travel very much when the numbers are right).  We also have so much fun in our own company, a change of venue really isn’t going to have a dramatic effect on our quality of life.  So giving in to peer pressure like that is only going to hinder us succeeding at the financial goals we set for ourselves.

Some social pressures are harder to resist than other ones and it is different for everyone.  It helps when we have something in our toolbox to help combat it.  Isn’t this, after all, the same advice we give to kids?

Ways to Combat Peer Pressure

Remember Why

Keep your goals and priorities in front of you to remind you why you need to resist this pressure.  Post it in a prominent place where you can see it if you have to.  This can be in your planner, on your desk, your bathroom mirror.  Wherever it works for you. This helps with focus.

Many times we feel like we are sacrificing things.  Sometimes we are.  Delayed gratification is a big contributor to success (.  If we have to give something up or postpone it, we should at least be looking at the flip side and acknowledging what we will be getting out of it.

Avoid YOLO Mentality

It is true that we only live once.  While I think that statement is supposed to illicit some healthy risk taking, I find that it is usually used as a rationalization to allow ourselves to do things we shouldn’t do…spend too much money, blur ethics in relationships, make rash decisions, or participate in some form of instant gratification that isn’t good for us.

If we only live once, we should be looking at the long-term goals and consequences of what we are doing.  How will our actions benefit us in the larger scope of things?

Adjust the Social Circle

This one is tough.  If the company you keep is putting too much pressure on you, you may have to adjust.  You may need to be around people who support your overall goals and priorities and you many need limit or eliminate those who are directly or indirectly sabotaging your efforts.

If you are no longer about the party life and all it entails but all your friends want to do is go to the club five nights per week, it may be time to find new friends who enjoy a sober fun.  If you are trying to eliminate your student loans at a more rapid pace you might want to hang out with the friends who are doing the same and will support a potluck on the weekends instead of the ones who are treating themselves to $50 sushi and $12 cocktails every weekend.

Limit Social Media

Researchers have found evidence that greater involvement on social media can be linked to depression and lower self-esteem .  Much of this comes from comparing ourselves to others.

When we look at someone’s social media we are seeing a snapshot of their best moments.  When we compare them to our average everyday goings on it appears as if our lives are not as exciting or accomplished as the ones we are seeing.  Most people (thank goodness) do not air their dirty laundry, their failures, or their character flaws.   Also, just because others may be seeing success in one area of their life does not mean that their whole life is perfect.  They may have just gotten a promotion at work but their personal relationships may be in the toilet.

We need to stop judging our whole life against someone else’s Facebook post or 140 character tweet.

Practice Being Happy for Others

We need to keep our Green Monster in check.  Envy and jealousy can make us do stupid things. It can start the “one up” game, trying to out-do someone else, even if it’s something we never truly wanted to begin with.

When we see someone succeeding we need to stand up and cheer!  Their success is not keeping us from our own success.  Success is not a limited resource.

Everyone has their own successes in their own time and if you are cheering for others they will more than likely cheer for you.

Celebrate Your Own Victories

Cheer for yourself!  Mark your own milestones!  Find joy in your own accomplishments!

When you can celebrate your own victories, even the small ones, it will take you back to the very beginning- it will help you remember why you are doing what you are doing.

That victory alone will spur even more victories.

When All Else Fails

When we are not so good at resisting the peer pressure, we need to forgive ourselves and get back on the proverbial horse.  If it is especially difficult we may need to get back to the very primal basics to start over:

That would be the sound of your parent’s voice saying, “If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you jump off a bridge?”

photo credit: Marcus Williams

What peer pressure do you experience as an adult? How do you fight it?

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