How To Be Immune To Peer Pressure
HOW TO BE IMMUNE TO PEER PRESSURE
Without a doubt the main question that I get asked by people is if I have any advice on how to follow the diet and lifestyle that I recommend in social situations, and how to deal with family, friends, and co-workers who aren't supportive and want to tempt them back to the "dark side"...
So I felt that it would be a good idea to devote a chapter to talking about "peer pressure" and how to become immune to it...
1. PEER PRESSURE TO HAVE MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES
Some people end up going through life with "Multiple Personalities" and will behave very differently around different people.
An example of this would be a man who has a very "Family Friendly" vocabulary and sense of humor when he is at home with his wife and kids, but when he goes to work and is with his male co-workers virtually everything that he says and does would be completely unacceptable behavior when he is at home. The 2 personalities that he displays are so radically different that it makes you wonder which one is the real one, or if maybe neither of them are genuine and he simply behaves however he feels will get him accepted.
Do you have an authentic personality that is the same no matter who you are with?
Start catching yourself whenever you suddenly feel the need to start talking or acting differently because of who just walked in the room, and start being yourself in all situations.
If you were to make a list of who you feel are the most influential people who have ever lived you will most likely end up with a list of "individuals" who don't "fit in" with the rest of society.
If you are "unique" in some way you will encounter people who want to make you conform as well as people who will mock you for being different early on, but in the end it is the people who are strong enough to truly to be themselves who are the most admired, because people respect strength a lot more than weakness, and although not everyone will appreciate you for who you really are, the people who actually will appreciate you for who you are won't even know that you exist if you spend your life pretending to be someone you aren't.
2. PEER PRESSURE TO ATTEND SOCIAL EVENTS
When people open up their mailbox and find an invitation to go to a someone's wedding, graduation, or baby shower, these "invitations" are actually "obligations" for a lot of people, because they are afraid of what would happen if they said, "No".
Personally, I look at invitations like these as "Spam" and simply ignore them.
So often people will say things to me like, "I recently went vegan, but I'm worried about what will happen when I go to my parent's house on "Thanksgiving" and everyone else is eating turkey." or "I'm trying to avoid alcohol, but I'm worried about what will happen when I go to my cousin's wedding next month and everyone else is drinking."
If social events are really problematic for you (or if you're an "introvert" and you dread having to go to these kinds of things) I want to tell you that you're not alone and you do have the right not to go to them.
If you are too uncomfortable to simply say "No thank you" to people and you feel the need to have a really good excuse to get out of going to something, then I would encourage you to just tell them that you have to "work" that day. (And keep in mind that it's not a lie to say that you will be working that day if you are an artist and you are going to be working on a creative project, or if you are on a health journey and you are going to be working out.)
Just because you aren't getting a paycheck to do yoga or to paint a picture doesn't make it any less important than the work that you would be doing if you were working at regular a 9-5 job somewhere. (And if you would like to someday be getting a paycheck for doing what you love then you should take what you love seriously enough that you show up for it consistently.)
If it seems "selfish" to want to do your own thing, I want you to stop for a moment and think about your favorite musician, actor, or athlete, and imagine all of the sacrifices that they probably had to make over the years in order to get where they are at. (Including missing countless social events that they were invited to.) And if you were to meet a relative of one of these famous people and you asked them what it was like to be related to them they would probably tell you that they rarely (if ever) get to see them because of how devoted they are to their craft.
If you know that you are here to do something important with your life that will make the world a better places then please do not others convince you that you should think of what you're mission as merely a "hobbie" that is far less important than any social event that comes up.
3. PEER PRESSURE TO FOLLOW TRADITIONS
"Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people."
- Nel @ Nelkosk
Although some of the holidays started off as very well meaning concepts, over the years they have almost all evolved into nothing more than a time when everyone is encouraged to over-eat and over-spend. (And some of the holidays have degenerated into nothing more than a day when everyone is encouraged to get drunk!)
Holidays can be very destructive, and if you don't believe me please consider the following...
- There are more heart attacks on "Thanksgiving" than any other day of the year.
- There are more drunk driving fatalities on "New Years Day" than any other day of the year.
- There are more cases of depression during the "Holiday Season" than at any other time of the year.
Maybe some of the holidays should be renamed...
- Maybe "Thanksgiving" should be renamed "National Heart Attack Day".
- Maybe "New Years Day" should be renamed "National Drunk Driving Day".
- Maybe "The Holiday Season" should be renamed "The Season of Despair".
A holiday is in reality no different than any other day, but we are all pressured to follow traditions and to look at certain days as special. (And to therefore look at others days as not special.)
So if you find yourself "counting down the days" until a certain holiday I would encourage you to be greatful for today, and if you love someone and you want to do something nice for them, I would encourage you to practice spontaneity and do nice things for them when they aren't expecting it rather than waiting for holidays when they are fully expecting you to do something nice for them.
4. PEER PRESSURE TO SMOKE, DRINK, AND DO DRUGS
Although I believe in the freedom of personal choice, if you are smoking while pregnant, driving while drunk, or openly taking harmful drugs while you are being looked up to as a "role model" by young and impressionable people then it is no longer a "personal choice".
And even if you are not harming anyone else by consuming harmful substances, the fact that you are on this website suggests that you are interested in health, and nobody who wants to be healthy would purposely fill their body with massive amounts of toxins in an attempt to become "Intoxicated".
The average child is warned over 10,000 times about the dangers of cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs, but due to "peer pressure" few kids make it to adulthood without trying them anyways.
The first time they try these things their bodies will immediately reject them through coughing, vomiting, and sickness to let them know that it simply can't handle these things, but because of "peer pressure" they decide to try these things again, and again, and again, until they eventually build up a tolerance (As well as an addiction) to them.
I was fortunate at a young age to have met a lot of people who's main goal in life was simply to stop drinking, or to stop smoking, or to break their addiction to the drugs that had destroyed their life, so I have never smoked, drank, or did drugs, and for anyone out there feeling pressured to do these things I would just like to remind you that your body is the only possession that you have that you are guaranteed to own for the rest of your life, so please take good care of it!
5. PEER PRESSURE TO GET MARRIED
In some parts of the world "Arranged Marriages" are still practiced, and although the idea of letting your parents decide who you will marry might sound "extreme" to most of us, the fact is that "Arranged Marriages" are still happening in every country of the world, but they are mostly happening through "peer pressure"...
Many couples out there decide to get married simply because they are afraid of how their parents would react if they were living together or had children together and weren't married first. And some couples are too afraid to get married (or even date each other publicly) simply because they are a different race, age, or religion and they are worried about how their family, friends, and neighborhood would react if they found out about it.
Couples also feel pressured to spend a lot of money on their weddings!
In the past weddings cost virtually nothing, but in recent years weddings have become yet another example of how people have found a way to charge money for one of life's most basic experiences (like falling in love) and they have done this by convincing everyone that the ultimate "symbol of love" is spending a fortune on your wedding.
So often when I hear people talking about weddings these days the price of the wedding is "somehow" public knowledge and it tends the main focal point. (People will be discussing the $80,000 wedding their co-worker recently had or the $12,000,000 wedding that a famous celebrity is about to have, and the fact that the number one cause of divorce these days is "financial difficulties" should make new couples stop and reconsider following this trend.)
If you are thinking about getting married I would encourage you to only do it if getting married is something that you strongly believe in, and not to do it simply because it is the social norm. And before you decide to have a really expensive wedding consider what else you could do with all that money. (A lot of weddings are expensive enough that the couple could use that money to travel and see the world. (Which would probably result in a lot more memories than a more expensive wedding could provide.)
6. PEER PRESSURE TO HAVE A CERTAIN JOB
If you asked 100 children right before their first day of school what they wanted to be when they grew up you would probably get a lot of answers such as, "An astronaut", "The President", or even "A Super Hero", but if you asked those same kids on the day they graduated High School what they wanted to do with their life you would likely find that most of them have given up on their childhood dreams due to all of the limiting beliefs that they were taught in school.
Up until around age 5 a child's mind is like a sponge that will absorb any new and interesting information that it gets exposed to, and children will literally ask hundreds of questions a day because of how curious they are about the world around them. But then they are forced to start going to school and once this happens their incredible love for learning quickly dissolves.
College can be beneficial for those who genuinely want to be there, but a lot of people feel pressured to go to college because their parents have been saving for their college education since they were babies, or because they want to have a certain profession because they think that it will make them enough money that they can impress people. (And ironically if they go to college through the aid of student loans they will likely accumulate so much debt that it will wreck their financial future and leave them worse off than if they gone to college in the first place.)
I am not encouraging you to not get an education. Far from it. I am encouraging you to get a powerful education by regaining the natural curiosity and love for learning that you once had as a young child, and then just like a child who knows what they want to be when they grow up you will know what you want to do with your life AND it will be something that you genuinely want to do!
Please get a library card and use it, and start using the internet as the powerful learning tool that it can be! (We are so blessed to be living in these times when we have the ability to easily learn about anything that we want to learn about.) Please avoid pornographic websites and websites that are full of negativity and arguing, as well as any websites that are taking up incredible amounts of your time without really serving you in any meaningful way.
A great scene from the movie "Peaceful Warrior"...