Do you think that if you were living alone on an island you would have been doing the same things you are doing now?
A very big part of our behavior, actions and thoughts are highly affected by the people around us even if this is not apparent to us.
Peer pressure or the pressure a person feels when he breaks from traditions or from others expectations cannot only let a person blindly follow the groups of people he lives with but it can also limit his abilities to what people expect from him rather than what he can really do.
In this article I will explain how peer pressure can affect you and how you can reach your true potential by learning to break free from it.
The effect of peer pressure on your actions
Yesterday I attended a Yoga class at one of the Yoga training centers here in Alexandria. While I was supposed to prevent my mind from wondering I couldnt prevent myself from analyzing how the people around me were acting and how were they influenced by peer pressure.
During the Yoga class the trainer did some exercises that involved making shapes with our bodies and moving them in a somehow difficult way, here is what I noticed about the effect of peer pressure on people during the class:
* If they can do it then I can do it too: Sometimes the trainer made a move with her body that seemed to be hard to mimic, at this point some people who tried to do it without success started looking around and when they found that most people managed to do it successfully they suddenly succeeded in doing it too!! Those people must have thought that way “If everyone is doing it even the beginners then I can do it too”
* Its difficult for everyone so I am not to blame if a failed: When the same situation was repeated but with the difference that most of the class failed to do a certain move people who looked around seemed not to be trying hard enough after finding that most of the class didnt manage to do the move
* Its shameful to make a mistake if others didnt do it During the exercises some people werent successful in doing some moves that involves standing on one leg and as soon as those people fell on the ground they looked around to see if someone else fell, if someone else fell those people continued normally with the exercise while if they found that they are the only ones who failed they felt ashamed!!
Its pretty clear the performance of many people in the class was limited to a narrow range by the effect of peer pressure. People tried not to be the worse performers and in the same time they didnt mind to be the best as long as their performance was acceptable!!
Social proof theory
One of the psychological theories that is called the social proof theory states that when people are unsure of the action they should take they seek out the direction the majority is following.
This is exactly the same as peer pressure where people try not to be the black duck among the others ducks.
One of the main reasons websites like mine display the number of visitors, twitter followers and RSS subscribers is to take advantage of peer pressure because if someone found that a website is already popular he might follow the path of the majority and start visiting it too.
How to break from the effect of peer pressure
In order to break free from peer pressure you must adhere to the following actions:
1. Become conscious of your thoughts: Most of us take unconscious decisions based on the unconscious thoughts that flaw in our minds. The first step to breaking free from peer pressure is to learn how to monitor your thoughts and spot the statements that involve comparison with others
2. Break from the limits: When you realize that you comparing yourself to someone remind yourself that your peak performance could be much better than that of the whole group and that comparing yourself to others will only limit your abilities
3. Dare to be different : some people stick to norms because they are afraid to be different. This reminds me of the famous statement “He tried to be somebody by acting like everybody so he became no body”. If you want to become a confident person then you must have an independent identity
Stick to the previous advices and you will escape the effect of peer pressure