Peer pressure – Are you a victim ?
Are you worried about something right now? If yes, “About what?”. Is “Peer Pressure” the cause of your worry or is it contributing to your woes in some way or the other? The answer would most likely be a “Yes” if you are living a good life in general (i.e. you have a good job, you earn OK and have a happy family) but something is bothering you deeply. Then most likely you are the victim of Peer Pressure.
Peer pressure can be good as well as bad for your mental health. It is usually bad. Healthy peer pressure is not a very common phenomenon but it exists and works for some people. If it is turning out to be healthy for you, nothing like that and you probably don’t need to read any further😊. But most likely that is not the case because Peer Pressure affects most people negatively, the degree may vary though. Let’s dive little a deeper in an effort to find the real problem.
Despite having lot of things working perfectly in our lives, sometimes we do get stuck in a bog, tied with chains of social pressure. Take few examples – You are planning to buy a new home, you got a new job offer, you are planning to get married. All these things are personal and you are the one ‘In Charge‘ to make any decisions related to these events, simply because ‘Only You‘ are going to be impacted the most by the outcome of those decisions. There are lot of choices to be made during these times and quite often you make them based on other people’s recommendations and liking. Or based on how they live their lives and what led them to be crowned as ‘successful’ individuals. Those ‘Other people’ could be your family, friends or any other(s) who you admire and see as successful individuals. One common situation in the United States that gives many parents a nerve wrecking time is the urge to buy a home in a highly rated school district. That house is usually much more expensive and you might like some other place better but because everyone says and so you believe that your kids will do better in that school than your other options, you move to that place. You sacrifice so many things for the unseen future. You pay more dollars and compromise on many other things that you would want to have in your new home. I am not trying to say or prove that it is wrong. But there are some simple questions I always ask myself.
Why do we worry so much about things?
Why do we have to live the lives of others?
Why do we carry the pressure of the society all around?
These worries are draining out joy from our lives. We are running in a race that we are never going to win. Competition and comparison with others around us are making our lives miserable. Think about it. Just imagine that there is no one around to judge you, no one who you have the pressure of moving ahead of, no one who you have to justify your decisions and the explain your way of living ‘Your Life’. Wouldn’t it be cool and wouldn’t you be able to enjoy yourself more and focus better on improving yourself if you stop spending most of your time trying to meet expectations of the world around you?
Now that doesn’t mean you should abandon the social norms, manners and etiquette that are imperative to live in a civilized world. What we are talking about is the ‘unnecessary’ pressure that you always carry on your shoulders to make others happy or at least have them not complain about you. Many a times, this behavior comes from cultural background. People grown up in the western world have lesser pressure than their counterparts from Asia and other traditional communities. However, it seems that the western world carries its own problems; the desire of being number one, being more rich and smarter than other people. People from countries like India, China and some other nations who have more traditional roots struggle to meet the social norms, rituals and customs they are expected to follow.
If this stress is killing you and you are being impacted negatively, you must find a way out. One survival technique in this scenario is to think about the extreme that can happen and prepare your mind to deal with it. You do not necessarily have to take any action but just rein in your mind so that it doesn’t scare you a lot. Worse thing that can happen to anyone is death. All other things lie on your side of that moment. You can’t defy death; in fact, you can’t defy many things that are going to happen to you in your life and you can’t control what happens to you but you can always control how you respond to it. It can be very challenging to stay calm in adverse situations but it is not impossible. Again, the biggest thing that might impact your response to it is “Peer pressure”.
You might still be OK after losing some money, after facing a downfall in business, after losing a job because you know you could survive for some time and then you can find another job, you might still be Ok marrying someone who doesn’t meet the expectations you or your parents had set earlier. You might be Ok if you have some other family related issues. You might still be OK if your child doesn’t grow into a great soccer player or a doctor or someone else who is regarded as “successful” in the eyes of the world. You might be OK after making a wrong decision and facing its consequences.
But what you are not OK with is “How others will see this?” and “What they would think of it?”. You might feel depressed just because you won’t be able to boast about your kids, your marriage, your job etc. in front of others (like they do).
Peer pressure can be lethal. You might take decisions that you didn’t want to in first place. And that could potentially turn them into bad decisions. Before you take an important decision related to your life, let your mind think freely and independently. You are the only one who is going to face the consequences of your decisions, so think wisely, take your time and then proceed. Seek guidance but make your own decisions. For someone, money or job may be more important than comfort and happiness but for you they may not be and vice versa. Decide for yourself, do not follow them.
The bigger question is – Can we live a life that is free of (at least some) worries? I believe so. You must have read this a thousand times: “Everything is possible in this world”. Now consider this -> “Everything is OK in this world.” Anything that God made is OK. It is there for a reason and it is there for someone. Any suffering, any accident, any mishappening unless it is the result of your fault should not bother you much. You cannot control everything. Things happen and they will happen… to someone else if not you. As long as you don’t do anything wrong or don’t contribute towards it intentionally, You are OK. Don’t bother. Work sincerely, work hard and trust your journey. You will then start enjoying the journey itself and it’s definitely going to lead you to a beautiful destination. Once you set your mind free of worries, you will start experiencing the Joy of Life.
Be yourself and happiness will enter your life.
All we learn from our parents and society is to be better than others. That is probably the root cause of all worries. We need to learn and practice: “To be better than ourselves” rather than “To be better than others”. We should try to improve each day and be better than we were yesterday. So when we look back at the past, we should feel a sense of satisfaction that we evolved during this time for the good. It would relieve us from any unnecessary comparisons and worries. And hopefully in this process of continuous improvement, some day we will become the person we want to be.