Peer Pressure: Help Yourself

Have you ever been affected by peer pressure? Have you ever had a friend ask you to do something you weren't sure you should be doing? Were you afraid that if you said "no" your friend would give you a hard time?

Everyone wants to have friends. Friendships are generally good for most people. There are times, however, when friends have too much influence over others and bad things happen. Sure, you want to be like your friends. You want to do the things they do and go to the places where they hang out. That's not a problem unless they are engaging in activities which can cause harm to themselves or others.

You have to force yourself to see the situation as it really is. What is happening and is it in your best interest (and don't just think about how it's good for you right now.) You have to think about how it is going to affect your life in a few weeks, a few years or even further down the road. It's not easy to stop yourself and think like this, but you have to do it. Too much is at stake? like the rest of your life.

Lindy's Story

Lindy was an older teen who couldn't seem to find her way in the world. She was often depressed and even occasionally suicidal. She didn't think her life amounted to much of anything. It didn't look like things were going to improve. Everything looked bleak. She hated her parents. She didn't do well in school. Nothing mattered anymore. During a bathroom break at school, she came across another teenager who was cutting herself in the stall next to hers. She could see the blood dripping on the floor. Lindy waited until the girl came out and silently watched as the girl cleaned up the floor and her ankle, where she'd made a crude cross using a razor blade on her skin. She sneered at Lindy, then handed the razor blade to her. Lindy went into the stall and started what became a ritual of self-abuse.

Fast-forward six years. Lindy is now married and has a little girl of her own. In spite of what she thought all those years ago, things did improve. Only now, she has awful scars on her legs and no idea how she's going to explain them to her daughter. How in the world is she going to keep her daughter from making the mistakes she made as a teen?

One way to protect yourself from succumbing to peer pressure is to prepare yourself for situations when it could happen. Close your eyes and visualize yourself at a party where there are several teens are drinking beer. Practice your response to the question, "Do you want a beer?" Imagine what you will say and how you will feel. A simple "No, thanks," works great. If and/or when it actually happens, you will be prepared. Do the same thing for every possible situation where peer pressure plays a role. Know what you want your response to be and then follow through with it.

You are responsible for your own life and your own choices. Make those choices count.