Six ways to resist peer pressure (part 2)
Practical tips to help you get through
In the previous article, I talked about knowing who you are and what you want, and knowing who others are and what they want. Now we get more practical.
3. Understand the pressure and its consequences
Some of the typical peer pressures that teenagers face are drugs, smoking, alcohol, sex and dangerous driving. They are risky and they give us a rush and a buzz and make us high. Let’s be honest, some of them may feel great. So why should we say no?
The short story is that drugs fry your brain, cigarettes will kill you and binge drinking can poison you and lead to violence, unwanted sex and public humiliation. Sex before marriage has consequences (check out my previous article on that) and dangerous driving can leave you in intensive care, or the cemetery.
Why do we feel pressured to do these things? I think because it’s easy to substitute the high and the rush for acceptance and love. But it’s a false substitute. The only thing that will make you feel loved is actually being loved. By people. In real friendships and relationships.
When you face peer pressure, take a step back and look at it clearly. What are you hoping to get from the experience? A rush? Acceptance? Will it deliver what you think it promises? And if it doesn’t deliver, how will you feel when it’s all over?
4. Find a substitute rush and affirming friends.
Make yourself immune to peer pressure by finding alternative ‘highs’. Sport, creative arts and performance can all give you a rush. Join a canyoning club, study chess, learn how to play guitar, discover a cure for cancer, invent the next 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.
The other thing that builds immunity to peer pressure is to know that you are loved. It helps to be valued at home by your parents and family. It’s 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. Only you know when you need to make that decision.)
5. Develop a sense of humour.
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.
6. Be prepared
Make a plan and be prepared for the times you’ll face peer pressure. Here are some questions to help you. You might like to discuss them with parents or a trusted older friend.
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?