How can you tell if it’s peer pressure?

I loved this question I got from a ten-year-old boy so much I wanted to answer it here.

Q – How do you know if you are doing something out of peer pressure, or because you really want to?Soccer Boy

A – When we feel pressured to do something, we feel a heaviness or tension in the body. When we are doing something we want to do, we feel light, energized or expansive in some way. These are physical sensations in the body, steering us in the right direction for our life.
Negative peer pressure can be obvious, “Come on, let’s cut class and smoke pot” or “We’re playing a game of shirts vs. skins, you’re skins.” More commonly, peer pressure is unspoken. Nobody is telling you what to do, wear, think or say, you just get the impression of what is expected of you. After ten times of being asked, “Which boy do you like?” You get the idea that you are supposed to like a boy.

I remember figuring out in Jr. High that it wasn’t cool to get good grade.  Nobody told me, but there were enough comments swarming around that I made sure to comply.  (Even though it did not improve my social status!)

My daughter puts a lot of pressure on herself to get good grades. I know for sure this is not coming from home. We beg and plead with her to STOP studying, give up, turn in incomplete work. She doesn’t think this is peer pressure but I’m not sure I agree. It doesn’t really matter, pressure is never good for us whether it’s coming from parents, teachers, peers, media or ourselves. It’s exhausting and stressful and takes the fun out of life.

Whenever you hear yourself thinking or saying the words “I have to” “I should” or “I need to” notice how heavy it feels in your body. That tension is how your body communicates you are believing a lie. It’s better to switch your thoughts to “I want to,” “I intend to” or “I will.” “I intend to do the dishes” feels better in our body and eliminates unnecessary pressure. If “I want to do my homework” doesn’t feel true, then switch it to “I will do my homework.” The body doesn’t like us to lie.

A little test you can do to find out if you are doing something out of peer pressure or because you want to, is to put “I want” in front of your thought, “I want to wear UGG boots” “I want to play Call of Duty online with my friends” “I want to get C’s on my report card.” If you feel pressure or tension in your body, then you are believing something that is not true.

Where in your life do you feel pressure? What are the thoughts you are believing that aren’t really true? Try eliminating the “shoulds” and “have-to’s” from your vocabulary and notice how it feels.

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