Is social pressure limiting your life?

You might think of social pressure (sometimes called peer pressure) as something that forces teenagers to smoke or get involved with drugs or alcohol. But we can all be pressured into doing, or not doing, things in order to get approval from others at any age. Sometimes it’s those we care about – family or friends– and sometimes those like neighbours or colleagues, who touch our lives much more briefly. We worry about providing the perfect Christmas, about being ‘good enough’, about being judged, and about fitting in.

Social pressure can be very powerful and some studies suggest it can actually change your perception of reality. Resisting it, especially if you rely on good old fashioned will power, can feel very uncomfortable. As 'Psychology Today' says

Fitting in feels good, even at the expense of your otherwise good sense(s)—and we pay an emotional price for the courage of our convictions.

Perhaps one reason that social pressure is so powerful is that it can be a good thing. It can encourage us to recycle, to obey social rules and laws, refuse a drink when we’re driving, or to donate to charity. But when it limits your life in ways you find stressful, it’s time to look at ways of taking back control. 

Coping better with negative peer pressure:

As we've said, going against the social pressure tide can feel uncomfortable, but so can going along with things that you know are wrong for you. Sometimes you have to take a stand and these are our top tips about doing just that.

Create Positive Thoughts  
  • Anxiety is created by your thoughts. If you're worried about what other people are thinking you will start to feel anxious.
  • If you focus on what you're doing and why, you will worry less about what other people think. Remind yourself it's OK to make the right decisions for you.
Gain Some Perspective  
  • The social worries you have now are probably different from the ones you had five or ten years ago.  
  • Ask yourself how much your current worries will matter in a couple of years.
Try a Small Step First  
  • Make your challenges to peer pressure small at first. For example, if you currently dress to please others, make gradual changes to your style over time until you are 'doing your own thing'.
Challenge Your Boundaries  
  • Think of one thing you have avoided doing because of fears about what someone else might say. Maybe that's karaoke or having your hair died blue! 
  • Make a plan, set a deadline and go for it.
Learn to say No  
  • Sometimes people will try to pressure you whatever you do. Learn to say 'No' and mean it. 
  • If you have trouble with this, email me and ask for my free guide to saying no tactfully and firmly.

Peer pressure can be spoken or unspoken, direct or indirect. But if you think it is impacting your life and preventing you from being the person you want to be, you can learn to resist it.
Life is short. Be certain you’re living the life you deserve.


Author: is a professional stress management coach, specialising in working with individuals and smaller employers to minimise stress and maximise feeling in control.
Debbie is the author of Their Worlds, Your Words and has co-written the Hypnotherapy Handbook both of which are available from Amazon.
Find out more about Debbie's services on  or phone 01977 678593


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