How to Stand Up to Peer Pressure

When people are taunting and teasing you for not doing something you don’t want to, it’s hard not to feel frustrated. On some level, you want to just cave in. However, doing so would violate your principles and possibly corrupt your future. Fortunately, peer pressure can be resisted with some effort by building your self-esteem and confidence, learning how to say no, and surrounding yourself with more accommodating people.

Steps
Building Self-Esteem
Remember that “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”.[1] Peer pressure thrives on making you feel bad about yourself, so that you have to do whatever your friends are doing in order to feel good about yourself. Make a resolution that no one is allowed to do this to you anymore.

Find things that do make you feel really good about yourself. Maybe it’s playing an instrument or a sport. Maybe it’s spending time outside, or starting a collection. The reason peer pressure works is because sometimes you feel like being accepted by your friends is the most important thing in the world. If you have other things going on in your life that make you feel awesome, you won’t depend so much on what your friends think of you.

Just Saying No
Make your opinions known. You’ll want to make it clear that there are some things you won’t do BEFORE those situations come up. For example, if you know you don’t want to smoke, don’t wait until someone offers you a cigarette. Find ways to mention to people that you never want to smoke in everyday life. Post articles on Facebook or Twitter that show the effects of smoking on the lungs. If someone in your life has or had lung cancer, talk about how that made you resolve never to smoke. By taking this approach, the likelihood of someone trying to pressure you to do something you don’t want to do will be much lower, because people will already know you’re not into it.

Practice saying “no thanks!” in a casual and no-big-deal kind of way. Think of scenarios where you might feel pressured. Visualize all the details; what people would do and say, where you are. Rehearse your response. Keep it casual and light. “Nah, I’m good” is a great way to turn down an offer. Practice following up with a change of subject. Offer to go get food for people, for instance: “No thanks! I’m pretty hungry actually–does anyone else want KFC right now?”

Have a back-up plan. If things turn for the worse, like if you go with a friend to a party and it turns out everyone is getting drunk (including your friend, who drove you) have a plan for what you would do in that situation. Is there someone in your life who you could call who could come and pick you up?

If you feel cornered, lie. This is a last resort, because you can’t lie every time you’re put into a difficult situation. People will catch on and the pressure will be worse. But if you’re in a bad spot, pretend to feel sick, or like you’re about to throw up. Or say you’re allergic to cigarette smoke. Whatever it takes to avoid doing something you know you don’t want to do.

Surrounding Yourself With Better People
Evaluate your friends. Are they starting to do more and more stuff that you don’t want to do? Maybe you can talk to them about their new habits. Sometimes people just want to explore new things…other times they do those things because they feel stressed out by something else. Try to talk to a friend with this approach: “Hey, I noticed you’ve been doing a lot more smoking/drinking lately…that’s fine and totally your choice, but what’s up? You never used to do that stuff. Is everything ok?”

Break up with your friends. This can be really hard to do, but if your friends are constantly pressuring you to do stuff you don’t want to do, maybe it’s better to move on.

Make new friends. If you started pursuing new interests, try to find new friends who have those same interests. There are probably other people who are avoiding the same things you are.

Tips
Be proud of what you have accomplished; many people can’t get enough courage to set a course for their own lives and stay on it, avoiding the pressures of others.

Always speak with confidence! Any signs of weakness and the person pressuring will continue until they have won the battle!

Hang out with close friends.

You are not the only one, talk to other victims and/or your parents and teachers who have gone through peer pressure before.

Even though it might be very hard to stand up to peer pressure; think of how big the consequences could be later on. That might help you stand up to it more confidently

Avoid big parties with a lot of people you don’t know.

Keep in mind that there’s good peer pressure as well as bad peer pressure. For example, inducing friendly academic competition between yourself and a friend is okay, since it pushes you both to do your best.

Warnings
Some people may react differently, don’t step down even if they call you weak.

Related wikiHows
How to Say No to Negative Peer Pressure

How to Lessen the Pressure of Life

How to Be Assertive

How to Communicate in an Assertive Manner

Sources and Citations
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