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Ways to Combat Peer Pressure as an Adult

What comes to mind when you hear the words “peer pressure”? If you’re like most people, that phrase probably takes you back to your school years, when your parents or teachers cautioned you not to leap off a bridge just because someone else was doing it. However, though it may not be as direct or intentional as what you went through in middle and high school, adult peer pressure can be every bit as harmful.

Why and How Do Adults Experience Peer Pressure?

When you were younger, you probably daydreamed about reaching adulthood and being in a position when nobody could tell you what to do. In reality, the people who surround you have a tremendous unconscious influence over how you think and act. Some peer pressure can positively affect your life. Perhaps several of your co-workers have convinced you to go to the gym with them after work every day, or maybe your sibling recently completed a degree that has inspired you to re-enroll in school. However, there is also a dark side of peer pressure, which leads you to do things that oppose your values. For example, maybe your workplace prioritizes a nose-to-the-grindstone culture, which gradually begins to erode your work/life balance in pursuit of that next promotion. Or, perhaps you don’t enjoy sports, but all your friends are football fans, so you started drinking with them at the local sports bar every weekend.

How to Handle Adult Peer Pressure

Negative peer pressure can affect your self-confidence and overall mental health. If you didn’t learn effective ways to respond to peer pressure by the time you reached adulthood, you could be holding yourself back from reaching your full potential and enjoying life on your terms. Here are some constructive ways to deal with peer pressure as an adult.

  • Live your values: As Shakespeare famously wrote, “To thine own self be true.” If something feels uncomfortable, it’s usually because it contradicts your inherent ideas of what’s right.
  • Assert yourself: Convey your confidence in your decisions by maintaining eye contact and using “I” phrases, such as “I want to…” or “I believe that…”.
  • Be self-aware: If your head and heart are telling you that something is wrong, it’s probably a situation you want to avoid.
  • Keep an open mind: One way to avoid peer pressure is to have a diverse group of friends. If you are straight and cisgendered, expand your horizons and make friends with people from the LGBTQ+ community. If you are lucky enough to be relatively affluent, reach out and make connections with those who are less fortunate. You will probably be surprised what you can learn from talking to people with different viewpoints and beliefs.
  • Learn from your mistakes: The best way to avoid repeating a mistake is to treat it as a valuable learning experience. If you allowed peers to lead you astray, reflect on what you could have done differently. Next time a similar situation occurs, you will have the tools to react accordingly.

Preserve Your Long-Term Health and Happiness

At Segue Recovery Support, we created our sober living program as a step down for people who need to put an extra layer of accountability between themselves and the high-pressure world outside recovery. Learn more about how we support your sobriety through our high-accountability sober living program by contacting us today.