• Staff Writer

Facing Adult Peer Pressure

Peer pressure doesn't just go away when you hit adulthood. It is quite the opposite.

Being an adult makes you feel more independent. You may think you are not easily influenced by others, but that isn't always the case. Adult peer pressure isn't always as apparent as it was when you were a teenager.

As an adult, the pressure you feel from friends, social media, or even strangers can be a lot more subtle. It can be so subtle you don't even realize it.

What is Adult Peer Pressure?

Adult peer pressure is the impact those around you have on your feelings and behaviors. This can be either positive or negative. If you surround yourself with people who support you and share your values, that peer pressure would be positive.

If you are trying to quit smoking, for instance, but have friends that keep lighting up around you, or joke about your attempt to quit, that would be negative peer pressure.

As an adult, you may be able to shut down direct pressures from others that make you feel uncomfortable. You are probably more confident in yourself now than you were in high school. But, there is always a desire to fit in and compete.

Maybe you want to prove your abilities or feel like you compare to others. These emotions, when brought on by peer pressure, can become very intense. Peer pressure as an adult can impact your mental health, sense of self, and physical health.

How Adult Peer Pressure Impacts You

Although there is a lack of research on adult peer pressure, it can impact you just as intensely as it does during adolescence.

The expectations of others or the ones we presume others have can undermine self-esteem and even induce aggression. As an adult saying no to peer pressure can actually be much more difficult.

When you're young, you can blame your parents or the risk of getting into trouble as to why you want to say no to something. When you are an adult, the decision is solely yours. Without an excuse for saying no, you can feel like standing up for yourself or simply not wanting to do what others want of you is wrong.

This level of pressure from any outside source is dangerous. Whether you feel like you need to binge drink to be one of the guys after work or that you need to get married to fit in with friends at different stages of life, it can be harmful.

Facing adult peer pressure, even when not direct, can feel impossible. Simply seeing photoshopped bodies on social media can impact you enough to cause severe self-esteem issues. Feeling pressured by engagement announcements can make you feel like you don't measure up. Instead of finding pride in where you are, you can struggle to keep up with others. It can seem easier just to give in and handle the consequences later. But, sometimes, the consequences sneak up on you.

Agreeing to go out and drink on the weekends when you know you struggle with hangovers or addiction won't just affect you the next day, but can cause a deeper problem with substance abuse. Trying to force an unhealthy relationship to keep up with friends may seem minor but can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.

The best thing to do in the situation of adult peer pressure is to take the same lessons you likely learned as a teen and incorporate them into your life now.

How to Handle Adult Peer Pressure

Handling peer pressure is about having the confidence and will to say no, but it goes beyond that too.

Peer pressure can be extreme. Whether you feel you need to lose weight, be more successful, or use drugs or alcohol, you need to believe in yourself to remain true to yourself.

These tips and guidelines can help you learn how to face down adult peer pressure, whether direct or not.

#1 Speak up for yourself: You are an adult who is more than capable of standing up for yourself. Whether someone is urging you to do something you're uncomfortable with, or you just feel unsure in a situation, speak up. Let those around you know you are uncomfortable.

#2 Stick to your values: Being true to yourself pushes down the voices of peer pressure, whether they are aloud or not. Remind yourself that you like yourself and are proud of your choices. You can often feel lonely when you don't give in to peer pressure, but knowing you are staying true to what you believe helps you gain confidence.

#3 Remove yourself: When you are feeling particularly pressured, remove yourself from that situation. If you have friends who push you to drink, use drugs, or do anything you don't enjoy, take yourself out of that equation. The same goes for social media. If you compare your body to others or your life to others, unfollow anyone that doesn't make you feel happy.

#4 Learn from mistakes: Consider the times when you gave in to peer pressure in the past. How did you feel afterward? Were you proud, or did you feel a sense of shame? If following suit made you feel bad about yourself in the past, let that guide you in the right direction now.

#5 Surround yourself with positive influences: Let positive peer pressure override the negative. Surround yourself with people who lift you up. Join peer groups, teams, or classes that support your goals and align with your beliefs.

Saying no to peer pressure is not as easy as it sounds, even more so as an adult. Finding a way to fit in and also stay true to yourself can be very challenging. We all desire to belong, but conforming to what others want from us can be harmful to your happiness, mental health, and physical health. Developing a strong sense of self and learning to stand your ground when something doesn't align with your values is a big part of dealing with adult peer pressure. To remain true to yourself and feel satisfied with all of your own decisions, you should surround yourself with positive influences. Socializing with likem-inded people, finding support groups, and committing to therapy can be great places to start. You can find more resources for handling adult peer pressure by calling California Care Detox & Treatment at (949) 281-0632. We are here to help.

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