Are you trying to fit in a group? Are you doing things you normally wouldn’t do? Are you trying to get self-confidence by seeking a group’s approval? You’d better stop. Conforming to values that are not yours can make you do things you’d be regretting for a long time.
It’s normal that you want to feel part of something. It’s normal you want to belong to something. It’s normal you want to feel accepted. But when you feel the pressure to doing something that’s against your rules, it’s a kind of red light to quit.
Reachout.com says that there are three different types of group pressure:
- direct – someone tells you what to do or what to think
- indirect – your group does certain things and not doing them together would make you stand out
- self-motivated – you try to impress the group by doing something that would be applauded by them
People who have or want to have a strong influence on your life are always a kind of danger. If you’re wondering how impactful they are, ask yourself a question: If I didn’t do it, what would they say? Observe your reactions. Observe your feelings. Observe your emotions. Is there any risk that they would reject you just because you didn’t agree to do something? Is this what you’re afraid of? If so, are you sure that these are the right people to be surrounded by?
What if the group you belong to does something harmful to another person? Will you support their actions or will you stand up to them? Are you able to stand up to them? I’ve never mastered the skill of opposing myself to a group of people. I’ve never felt strong enough to do it. I preferred to stand aside. Not participating actively in what the group was doing, but not preventing their actions either.
You could think that being lukewarm is an easy way to be. Believe me, it’s not. So what if no formal responsibility is involved for what the group does? You’re always torn by contradictory feelings. Shall I do this or that? Shall I support it or shall I oppose myself this time? What if they ask me to come down to one side or the other? Not having a firm and strict personal code of rules to follow make us weak. Eventually, we end up feeling burnt out. Feeling like we depend on other people’s moods and whims. Like we’re not autonomous in decision making. We’re not free to make our own choices.
In general, thinking about a group pressure, we used to identify it with peer pressure, mostly in adolescents’ environment. We equate it with drinking, drugs, sex, bullying or crimes. While this is definitely one of the biggest target group, we often experience pressure on a much more subtle level that’s barely recognizable in adult life.
In adulthood, the group pressure doesn’t have to come from tangible triggers. It might be something so suggestive as hitting the like button on social media not because we really like the content we see, but because all our friends like it. Or buying the latest iPhone model not because we really need it, but because all our friends have already bought it. Or to start a relationship not because of love, but because all our friends have got someone and we’re the only ones alone.
The group pressure doesn’t have to be voiced out either. It might be something expressed between lines. Making yourself available 24/7 for your workmates or for your boss isn’t always an explicit request. We may subconsciously feel like it’s expected from us and not complying with it will bring a negative outcome. We give in an illusionary pressure worrying that otherwise, our work would be hindered whenever we need support. That we will never be promoted or given a salary raise if we refuse to help immediately. That we will be the first ones to fire in case something goes wrong.
It’s worth noticing that the group pressure may also be related to people who are members of our family. We’re often pushed by our families to comply with established habits or morals. To follow a traditional scheme: go to school, get a decent job, get married, buy a house and raise children. In many toxic families, there’s no room to encourage individual dreams, aspirations, and ambitions. The pressure commands to bend under a burden of everlasting order or being doomed to failure.
How to resist group pressure?
Understand what matters for you. Find people who share the same interests so that you don’t have to adjust or pretend to be someone you’re not. Back up each other to stick to principles you’ve set for yourself.
If you decide to stay with your present group, learn to say no and to calmly explain why you won’t do something. Say no with confidence. Make eye contact. Have a ready response. Don’t compromise. The more confidence you put into saying it, the less you’ll be bothered with unnecessary comments or zingers.
The key to not give in a group pressure is an ability to take individual and independent decisions. Take these decisions before anybody else does it for you.
How do you cope with the group pressure?
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