You’ve probably heard of peer pressure.
It’s a term thrown around a lot in our teenage years. My dictionary app, Dictionary.com, defines it as “the social pressure by members of one’s peer group to take a certain action, adopt certain values, or otherwise conform in order to be accepted.”
You could have probably given me that definition since most people know what peer pressure means. The thing about it I don’t understand is why it is only ever talked about as a bad thing. Don’t get me wrong, it can be a really bad thing. Examples of the undeniably negative results of peer pressure would be: your group of friends are bullying someone and they want you to join in, and it makes you feel awful but you do it to fit in; your friends convince you to use drugs when you wouldn’t otherwise for fear of negative consequences; or when your friends convince you to spend a night out when you know your time would be better spent studying or resting for your next work shift or class, but you cave in against your better judgment.
However, peers can be positive influencers as well. I would not have joined my high school tennis or basketball teams if my two good friends hadn’t joined them and suggested I follow suit. Tennis is still one of my great loves, and I’d be missing out if my friend Lisa had never suggested I try out for the team. Besides that, I’ve had peers who’ve been supportive and encouraging of my goals, who’ve taught me skills I wouldn’t have otherwise, and who’ve lifted my spirit when I experienced failure.
In Larry Winget’s book You’re Broke Because You Want To Be, he says your income is typically the average of your five closest friends. Many successful people have proposed the average five concept relates to more areas of our lives than finances. Your fitness level, your happiness, your career success can also be figured based on your five closest friends. The word ‘friend’ is vague. In most cases, it refers to the people with whom you spend most of your time.
Evaluate your current peer group.
Do they influence you in a positive or negative way? If it’s negative, it would be beneficial for you to find other peers that could impact you more positively.
Brainstorm two lists: The ways your peers affect you positively and the ways your peers affect you negatively.
Which list is longer? If the negative list is longer, consider cutting back on the time spent with them. Then make a list of qualities you’d like to have in a beneficial peer group. This understanding is the first step in finding new, positive peers.
If the positive list is longer, that is great news. You can still think of ways to help each other get to an even higher level of support and accomplishment. A great idea is to discuss it with them and have them help you brainstorm.
Here are some things to consider during this process – a list of ways peers can affect you:
- When you share a goal, do they encourage you to go for it or give you reason why you shouldn’t?
- When you are feeling bad, do they try to help you feel better by thinking of something uplifting or do they reinforce the suckiness of your situation?
- Do you mostly argue or mostly have thoughtful conversations?
- Do you do things that are not good for you more or less when you are with them?
- Which happens more often – they compliment you or they criticize you?
- Are they headed in a positive or negative direction with their own lives? Or are they not heading in either direction, and instead are sort of stagnant?
- When you need help, are they willing to help you or do they have reasons they can’t?
- Do you find yourself spending more money than you should when you are with them or do you make good financial decisions when you are with them?
- How often do you talk about the future with them? (often, sometimes, rarely, or never?)
Do you have something to add to this list? If so, leave a comment below or send it to me in the CONTACT window. I’d love to add it to this list.