6 Ways To Stand Up Against Peer Pressure & Do Your Own Thing

Remember when you were growing up and your friends pressured you into doing something you didn't want to do? Well, situations like this happen in adulthood too and depending on your personality, you might need some help to resist peer pressure.

You don't often hear fellow grown-ups discussing times they've been peer pressured in adulthood, because we probably don't look at it in the same way. As kids, peer pressure was obvious and came in the form of a bully, or a so called "friend," teasing you until you buckled to their demands. Now peer pressure can take many forms, such as your friend guilt-tripping you into a girls' night out, feeling like you have to work late because everyone else is, or feeling pressured to start a family because most of your friends have. Peer pressure has evolved from a neanderthal that enjoyed bashing you on the head with its club, to a reptilian dragon that is a master of manipulation. If I had to choose, I know I'd rather suffer a bonk on the head that I saw coming, rather than get burned unexpectedly.

So stand up to your bullies, your frenemies, or the expectations of society by saying no to peer pressure.

1. Call Them Out

So someone wants you to do something wildly inappropriate, go along with what they want, or bend you to their will? Call them out! Discard any social graces or forced politeness and let them know you see right through them. Their plan will be foiled and you will have the upper hand for not bowing to their ego. As a kid, I would always feel too afraid or impolite to call out my frenemies and I would inevitably let them get away with pressuring me into stuff. It was never serious, but I hated that I allowed them to have a certain power over me. Now, I know that staying true to myself is more important than the fear of coming across as impolite or rude and besides, who cares if those peer pressuring me perceive me as rude? IMO, peer pressuring someone is a much worse social faux pas.

2. Be Brave & Flatly Refuse

You are an adult, so act like one! You're not in the playground anymore and you don't need to feel bullied into something. You need to learn how to say no and you don't even have to justify your answer. Imagine that.

3. Question Their Motives

Look your tormentor in the eye and ask them bluntly what's in it for them. Folks who peer pressure others are most likely used to getting their own way, so they may be taken aback when you stand your ground and simply ask, "Why?" They probably don't want to be found out as a sneaky manipulator, so they might back down, leaving you to decide your own destiny.

4. Ignore It – They’ll Soon Get Bored

Ignoring peer pressure comes down to patience: Whoever can outlast the other wins. So hold fast, don't crack, and wait until the peer pressure subsides, because eventually people will get bored. Radhika Sanghani, writing for The Telegraph, discussed how she feels peer pressured to take drugs as an adult. She said, "Only last month, I was called “boring” for not taking drugs by a friend of a friend. But as someone who doesn’t want to do drugs, never has and never will - I didn’t really care. I’m comfortable enough in my beliefs to let comments like that slide off my back." The recipe to ignoring peer pressure is feeling confident in who you are, being able to shrug off any negative comments, and sticking rigidly to your guns.

If the peer pressure is serious, for instance your "friends" are pressuring you to drink, when they know you have a problem with alcohol, it's probably time to get some new friends. Your friends should not be wanting to harm you physically, mentally, or emotionally and if you think your friends haven't got your best interests at heart, it might be time to move on and make some new pals.

5. Be Kind

If someone is being particularly persistent and their peer pressuring is taking a nasty turn, kindly ask to know why they want you to do something that you don't feel comfortable doing. Kill the dragon with kindness and show them that what they are doing is wrong and perhaps, downright mean. Explain that you thought they cared about you, so you don't understand why they'd ask such an unfair request. Obviously if they continue, you will come to learn who your true friends are. A friend breakup may be on the cards, which is totally fine, because who wants to be surrounded by someone who is trying to negatively impact their life?

6. Widen Your Social Circle

People change and sometimes your views on life may not align with your friend's as they once did. This is perfectly okay and there's no-one to blame here – it's just life! Your friend might be going through a rough patch or evolving into a different person and if your outlook on life doesn't match up to theirs, it might be a good idea to widen your social circle. Your friend may eventually come out of the other side of their phase, so you don't need to rule the friendship out completely. However, if they've gotten into a situation which is effecting their life negatively – such as excessive alcohol or drug use – and they're trying to bring you down with them, you may want to put the friendship on hold for a while.

On the other hand, it might be an entire group of friends, rather than just one friend, who are trying to peer pressure you into following their lifestyle. If it doesn't sit well with you, don't go along with it! Meet new people, make an effort with colleagues, or reconnect with childhood friends; there are so many great people out there who wouldn't dream of peer pressuring you, so go out and find them!

Learning how to stick up for yourself is tough, but with practice you'll be able to stand your ground firmly against any type of peer pressure! Because that's just how you roll now.

Images: DrewHays, PatrickFore, MuratBirtane (2), BrookeCagle (2). CarolinieCavalli /Unsplash; Bustle