When looking back on your teenage years, I’m sure you can easily spot times when you caved to the power of peer pressure. Like teens everywhere, we wanted to fit in, be liked, or be part of a crowd. It’s easy to think those days are long behind us, but unfortunately it’s not true. Although the circumstances might be different as we get older, adults of almost any age can succumb to peer pressure too.
Of course, things are different when it’s positive peer pressure, such as being asked to join friends for a fitness class or a hike after work, having a group spa day, or volunteering together. Activities like these help you feel included and support your mental and physical well-being.
Adult Peer Pressure is Real!
Most of the time, however, we think of peer pressure as feeling the need to do something that others want us to do even though it’s not in our best interest or consistent with what we might otherwise do—things like:
- Staying out late at night with friends because they want you to, even though you have to get up early for work.
- Overspending on a shopping trip so you don’t look like you can’t afford things others can.
- Skipping the gym and going to an ice cream shop instead because everyone else thinks it’s a better idea.
Even though you’re an adult, peer pressure—whether overt or subtle—can be a powerfully motivating force. For some people, this can mean doing, being, or acting in a way to please others, but this is not good for your mental health and sense of self.Even for adults, peer pressure—whether overt or subtle—can be a powerfully motivating force. Click To Tweet
Fortunately, there is a simple and enduring way to break out of this pattern, and it comes down to one word: VALUES.
Identifying Your Core Values
Knowing what your core values are will guide you in making the right decisions for yourself, so that you don’t get coerced into doing things you shouldn’t or don’t really want to do. I know that once I was able to specify what my top values were, it was like I had an internal compass to help me stay on course through life’s temptations and challenges.
To figure out what values are most important to you, grab your journal and reflect on your answers to these questions:
- What are some of the best moments in your life, and what was it that made them so special?
- What do you care most about?
- What makes you feel happiest?
- What do you want for the health of your body, mind, and spirit?
- Who are your heroes and/or mentors? How have they inspired you, and what values do you think they live by?
- What aspects of life are most meaningful to you?
By taking the time you need to do this exercise and contemplate what you’ve written, you’ll gain more insight about what matters most to you. Then, you can distill it down into single words or phrases that represent the values you want to live by. For example, my top 3 values are God, health, and family. Your life is best served by identifying the guiding principles that resonate best with you and what you want.
Once you’ve identified the values you cherish, I promise you it will be so much easier to stay strong and politely decline invitations for things that you don’t want to do as well as keep you on course with your goals. And that, my friends, will make you much happier with yourself and the life path you choose.
For more inspiration, order my newest book, The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child: How Persistence, Grit, and Faith Created a Reluctant Healer.
If you’re struggling and need professional help, Amen Clinics is here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.