You probably started experiencing peer pressure way before you had the ability to understand what it meant. Even preschool kids can influence each other. As you got older, your parents probably said things like, “If all your friends jump off a bridge, are you going to do that too?” The thing is, our brains are hardwired to want to impress the people around us. A study conducted by the University of Southern California actually showed that people are more likely to take chances in front of friends. Scary, right? So how do you beat that impulse and think for yourself?
Take a breather
Feeling influenced by your friends in a spur of the moment way? Literally remove yourself from the situation, at least long enough to think. Do you really want to ride someone else’s momentum, possibly into a dangerous situation or illegal activity? When you’re using your rational brain, the answer is probably no. Give yourself space to make the right choice.
Surround yourself with smart people
If your peers aren’t pressuring you to do stupid things, you don’t have to worry as much about peer pressure. Choose your friends and your social activities wisely. Don’t hang out with people who put you down or try to push you into situations that make you uncomfortable. Don’t go to gatherings where kids are doing things that aren’t in your comfort zone. That way, you’ll feel way less pressured to do things you don’t want to do just to fit in.
Talk it out
Girlshealth.gov recommends coming up with an excuse if you don't know what else to say. Maybe you have somewhere to be or a big project to complete so you don’t fail a class. Alternately, if you feel comfortable, just be honest. You may be pleasantly surprised to find out that you’re not the only one who doesn’t want to cave in to peer pressure. After all, all of us want to be independent, unique and brave. If the people around you act like they only accept you if you do what they say and act how they act, it’s time to put on some mental armor and fight your way into a better situation. You’ll feel better knowing you made your own choices.