Thinking. Peer pressure part 5

Be prepared

By this stage in this series, you may have had enough philosophizing and you might be wondering if I’m ever going to give you some practical tips for handling peer pressure.

What I’ve said so far is first, know who you are. Second, know why you’re being pressure and by whom. Third, know what the pressure is, and what its consequences are.

Fourth? Find a substitute rush and affirming friends.

Studies have shown that teenagers’ brains are hardwired to take risks. They give you a rush and make you feel amazing. It’s great to feel vivid and sparkly and free, but it’s not smart to get the alive feelings by doing things that can kill you. Doing drugs and alcohol and risky stuff is just not a great decision.

However, there are other things in life that can give you the same feelings without the bad side-effects. Sport, and particularly running, can get you ‘high’ on endorphins. You can challenge yourself by pushing as hard as you can. Finding vivid feelings in performance and creative arts is also a buzz. If singing a solo on stage isn’t taking a risk, I don’t know what is. Join a canyoning club, study chess, learn swing dancing, discover a cure for cancer, invent facebook... really, as long as the activity is legal and relatively safe and your parents agree to it, what it is doesn’t matter. If it gives you a buzz, go for it. You won’t need drugs and drink to feel the excitement of life, so you’ll be more immune to peer pressure.

The other thing that builds immunity to peer pressure is to know that you are loved and valued. It helps to be valued at home by your parents and family. It’s really good to have friends who can affirm you, and it’s even better to know that God loves you so much that he even sent his son to die for you. You are valuable and precious and special. And if you truly understand that, you won’t need to fall for the lie of acceptance by peer pressure.

Of course, finding friends who are affirming might mean leaving a group of friends that you know are no good for you. If the only thing your friends are interested in is drink, drugs and having it off with the boys over the road, perhaps it’s time to look elsewhere. Only you know when you need to make that decision. The good thing is that from reading this book you now know how to make new friends, so you have ways to overcome the fear that might be already creeping up on you just from reading that sentence.

The fifth thing you can do is to develop a sense of humour and confidence about saying no. You might feel like dying inside, but if you can crack a joke and have a laugh and keep your integrity, you’ll gain people’s respect and admiration.

Finally, the sixth practical thing you can do is to make a plan and be prepared for the times you’ll face peer pressure to do things you’re not comfortable with. Here are some questions you can ask yourself as you think about it. You might want to discuss this with your parents if you think they can handle it!

Where am I likely to be pressured into.....?

Can I avoid the place?

What is a good reason I can give for avoiding it?

Can I leave early?

Who is likely to pressure me?

What are some things I can say to that person to help them feel affirmed even while I say no to their pressure?

Why have I decided to resist the pressure of....?

Can I think of ways to express my decision that sound gentle and humorous instead of angry and defensive?

What can I do instead of ....?

If I’m really in a tight spot, is there someone I can call to talk to about it?

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