28 August 2014

Resisting peer pressure

I've been pondering about the impact of peer pressure lately, given that there seems to be so much of it around. Some is benign and non-threatening, so can easily be ignored but, other times, the insistence can be too much to resist.

Here is a recent example of such pressure: over the past week we've seen many photos of people pouring buckets of iced water over their heads 'for charity' (Most of the photos don't refer to which charity and certainly don't tell you why this action will help the unnamed charity.**)

These people have been called upon by other people in their networks to tip the water over themselves. Much like an online meme, but with physical consequences - remember it's winter in Australia and I've seen plenty of shivering going on!

Most of the doused people have done it in good spirits but some who've been nominated really don't want to be involved. 

This is when peer pressure kicks in.

It takes a strong sense of self to resist this sort of coercion, to say 'no, I don't want to do this'.

We all want to belong to a group and have a longing to be accepted. I don't believe, though, that this need to fit in should dominate our actions. Being part of the crowd shouldn't mean the same as being subservient to group-think.

So how do you recognise a strong sense of self? 

I have discovered a thoughtful post by Malavika Suresh that I have found helpful (in fact, I wish I had written it!). It's definitely worth reading if you are interested in this subject.

I'm convinced, though, that the core of a self-aware person is the belief that you are responsible for making your own decisions. We each have a single life to live and are the leaders of the way we live it.

How do you resist the pressure to do things you really don't want to do? Do you have a way to say 'no' without feeling obliged to add excuses? I'd love to hear your comments about this. 

** We are all free to donate to the charities of our choice at any time without having to wait for someone else to convince us. We make our own decisions, remember!


  1. Hi Erica, wise words! I have been pondering what I would do if challenged, and had come to the conclusion that I wouldn't accept.
    Two reasons, I am not comfortable with someone else's supposition that I should donate to a certain charity, and yes, it is winter in Australia - not good ice shower weather.
    Given that I recently organised a ball to raise funds for a charity in my community, and close to heart, raising almost $10,000 I felt vindicated that my charitable self had been active enough.

  2. What a wonderful result for your charity ball, Deb! Congratulations.

  3. It took many years but I have learnt that saying "no" becomes easier with time - especially if you make that the first word of your answer. Not "oh no, I didn't really want to but if no one else will......." - just "no". It can be qualified further if you wish, but as many people only hear the first few words of your answer "no" is sufficient.

  4. I agree Jennifer, the impulse to offer an explanation or excuse when saying no often flows from the pressure to say 'yes'. We don't owe an explanation for everything, it is okay to just say 'no' without making it sound as if 'I would say yes, but ...' when what we really to say is 'not under a general anaesthetic' ... which I sometimes use. People are often surprised that you will just make a simple statement of 'no' and either actually or passively pressure for an explanation - but a question was asked, and the answer might just be 'no'. Jill

  5. We're strong... Neither of us have joined the Happy Hookers Erica :-)

  6. Such a well written article Erica!!!!! And so applicable even to us all In the crafting community!!!! Thanks for reminding us all to be individuals

  7. Thanks for your comments everyone. What strong women you all are!

  8. If I were nominated I would say no, but gladly donate to the charity if I so wished. I am too old and life's too short to do stuff you don't want to, if you don't have to! Great post! xCathy

  9. I'm with you there, Cathy!


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