Have you ever felt like someone is directly or indirectly trying to get you to do something you really don’t want to do? Has being in such situation often made you feel uncomfortable and confused? Yes? This is what is called peer pressure.

Peers are people in our surrounding with whom we share a position or ability or age or something in common, which is the reason for our interaction with them. In matters where we lack conviction or understanding or the courage to stand up for what is right, we generally tend to get easily or forcibly influenced by the people around us and do things which we otherwise wouldn’t. We experience the pressure to conform to their style or appearance, their behavior or speech, or their ideology and values.
How can peer pressure affect our life?

Peer pressure can work for our good and for the bad too.

• Positive peer pressure is when our peers influence us to do something positive, progressive or creative, something that is good in general. Eg. peers influencing good academic performance. Such peer pressure helps us grow and move forward and is therefore welcome in our life.

• Another is negative peer pressure, which is mostly the case in today’s times. Such peer pressure can ruin our life, make us feel miserable and can result in serious consequences. It is very important to beware of it, for this pressure is quite powerful and hard to resist.

We normally give in to peer pressure to seek their acceptance and approval because we have the desire to fit in, to be one of them, to not disappoint the peer, or even to be just seen as being cool; although inside us, something just doesn’t feel right.

Let me give you my example: I once became involved with this group of people who were a lot of fun and I enjoyed spending time with them. But one night they were drinking and they kept offering me drinks.

I was put in a situation where I knew drinking was not something I wanted to do, but I also didn't know how to say No, as I was scared that they wouldn't like me anymore and will stop spending time with me. The right thing to do was to tell them, “Sorry, I don't drink”, but on one hand, I was blinded by the fear of being rejected, losing my friends, being talked about; and on the other hand, I was tempted with the feeling that if I give in to peer pressure and drink as they want me to, they will like me even more; we would become closer friends.

At the back of my mind, I did realize that ‘If they had this kind of power over me to be able to influence me to make bad choices, then going ahead what not would they make me do? This time it was drinking, next time it could be smoking or drugs. I would always be living under fear to conform.’ Yet, I drew a curtain on that realization and decided to give in to peer pressure. I agreed to accept the glass of wine.

But just then, I recollected the words I had read in a book, wherein Param Pujya Dadashri says, “For those people whose association is harmful to the Self (kusangi), there is no better respectful fear than that of spiritual company (satsang). In this world, the most fortunate person is one who is not touched or affected by bad company. From the moment one encounters bad company, there is nothing but unhappiness. Thus, run away from the bad company. When you feel unhappy inside, know that this is bad company so run from there. Run away from that which arouses unhappiness at its mere sight.” These words enlightened me and made me immediately leave that place, giving a viable excuse; and I was saved from the adverse effect of peer pressure.

Peer pressure has a lot of power. Its effects can be seen on our:

1.Personality: Bad company can turn a perfectly level headed person into an insolent, ill-mannered person. At the same time, positive peer pressure can help a shy, introvert and timid person blossom into a confident and self-assured person.

2.Performance: In the student age, peers influence our academic performance in a big way. Good peers pressure each other to succeed in academics or in drama or tapping our hidden talent, whereas bad peer pressure can sharply degrade our abilities and affect our results adversely.

3.Self-confidence: Peer pressure can make a
normally self-confident person into someone who is not sure about themselves anymore. One develops low self-esteem in the company of negative peer pressure, whereas one with a low self-esteem can flower beautifully amidst the positively charged group of peers.

4.Habits: Same is the case with habits. With positive influence, one overcomes his damaging habits such as laziness, lethargy, carelessness, casual outlook, etc. whereas negative peer pressure compels one to adopt dangerous bad habits such as to drink, smoke, drugs, drive recklessly and in extreme cases indulging into criminal activities too.

5.Family and friends bonding: Bad company makes one feel ashamed or bad about the class of their family and friends, whereas healthy company makes our ties with family and friends stronger and healthier.

6. Behaviour and Attitude: Negative Peer pressure is stressful, overwhelming, and confusing; whereas positive peer pressure makes you feel relaxed, sober and considerate.

Peer pressure is something that one cannot avoid in life. It is we who have to learn to choose our friends with care, have to take a moment to think about the consequences of our actions, have to decide to not succumb to the most common phrase, ‘everyone’s doing it’, have to look for our positive role models and maintain our confidence and self-esteem. Negative peer pressure can be resisted with some effort in learning how to say an emphatic and a repetitive ‘NO’, or to escape from the peer pressure zone.

So come, today, let us resolve to never give in to negative peer pressure, but to stay strong and be discreet in matters that can adversely affect our life. It is always better to walk alone, rather than follow a crowd that is going in the wrong direction.

Please visit this link to know more:https://www.dadabhagwan.org/path-to-happiness/self-help/competition-in-daily-life/no-competition-please/

Author's Bio: 

Ambalal M. Patel was a civil contractor by profession. In June 1958, spontaneous Self-Realization occurred within Ambalal M. Patel. From this point on, Ambalal became a Gnani Purush, and the Lord that manifest within him became known as Dada Bhagwan. A Gnani Purush is One who has realized the Self and is able help others do the same. Param Pujya Dada Bhagwan used to go from town to town and country-to-country to give satsang (spiritual discourse) and impart the knowledge of the Self, as well as knowledge of harmonious worldly interactions to everyone who came to meet him. This spiritual science, known as Akram Vignan, is the step-less path to Self-realization.