087 – Peer Pressure

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As a new listener you might wonder why we would want to do that…and I would say because if you commit to being a better man today than you were yesterday, and keep doing that every day until you die, then you will have lived a life that is as close to your potential as a man, as you can get.  The other benefit, is that with all these men being better men than they were the day before…the world will become a better place.  So, we are making the world a better place, one man at a time.

So thanks for being here, new listeners and old ones.  I am your host, my name is Alf Herigstad.

Today I am going to talk about peer pressure.  Peer pressure has probably gotten guys into more trouble than anything else in the world.  Seriously, when people take drugs or alcohol for the first time it is usually because of peer pressure.  When guys do stupid things that send them to jail…it’s usually because of peer pressure.  When guys wind up permanently maimed or dead…it is usually because of peer pressure.

So…why is that?  Why will people so readily and so often act in ways contrary to their own common sense just because they are encouraged by a group of their peers to do so?  It’s obviously a very powerful thing, this peer pressure.

I’m sure many, if not all of you listening have succumbed to peer pressure at least once in your life.   Well, don’t feel bad about it.  It turns out it is a very natural human thing. 

Our peer group are usually people in our same age bracket that are in the same social / economic status as us.  This is the water we swim in from day to day.  It’s a pretty natural thing to want to elevate your status within your peer group by becoming popular, being well liked, and being accepted and thought of as part of that group. 

The problem is…often times, people of greater influence in a peer group will encourage others who want to gain status, to do really stupid things.  Things you wouldn’t do otherwise.  Sometimes it is done just to demonstrate their power.

Peer pressure can effect people of any age, it’s not just a high school thing, and it doesn’t just happen in social settlings…peer pressure can happen in the work place too, and it does.

Basically, anytime you are talked into doing something you really don’t want to do…you are being peer pressured. 

I’m sure you can see the obvious problems this can potentially lead to.  Well,you came to the right place because I’m going to tell you some stuff that might help you.

First of all, I should confess that I was one of those weird kids that was immune to peer pressure.  It was because of my dad, he taught me some really great but really tough lessons.  He never let me do anything if he thought I was just doing it because everybody else was.  In fact, in the 70’s when all the guys had long hair guess who had his hair shaved off…me. 

It was tough at times, always being different, but it taught me something amazing;  it taught me that if people don’t like me just for me…then why should I give a crap?  Who are these people?  Why are their opinions so important that I should care? 

If people don’t want to hang out with me because of the car I drive or the clothes I wear…then they are obviously extremely superficial and not people I want to be friends with anyway.

My dad made sure he stripped me of any possibility to ever be “cool”.  I’m so glad that he did too because without the option of being cool I was left with one choice;  being Alf, just being myself genuinely.

You know what?  It worked!  Turns out people liked me anyway.  It wasn’t really me they liked so much though, people are drawn to others who are individuals, people respect others who stand their ground, people appreciate authenticity on a deep level.  So that’s my first tip about peer pressure; be authentic, be 100% you 100% of the time and just watch how people respond.

So…I made it all the way through high school never doing any drugs, never even trying a cigarette…because I thought it was stupid and there was no way anybody could convince me otherwise.

When I was in the Army I had a group of super close friends, we were really tight, like brothers.  We called ourselves the wild bunch.  Somebody designed a tattoo for our group and everyone got tattoos on their forearm…except me.  They begged me to get one but I refused, because I didn’t agree with the symbolism in the tattoo.  You know what…I didn’t lose one of those friends because of that decision, nothing bad happened.  And wow…I am so happy that I didn’t get that tattoo.

But…if I would have lost those friends, if they had all turned their back on me, it would still be a victory for exposing the kind of people I didn’t want to associate with.  Then I would be free to go find my people…thats how it works.

So you need to ask yourself, you need to figure out why you care what these other people think…who’s more important, them, or you making your own decisions?

Peer pressure doesn’t always involve dangerous or illegal activities.  Sometimes it can be something perfectly innocent…what makes it peer pressure is that someone else is convincing you to do something, and it’s something you don’t want to do.

Here is something else to consider.  When someone, or a group of someones wants you do do something that you wouldn’t otherwise do…and you do it, you have just placed yourself in the role of a follower, and the other person in the role of the leader.  Wether you realize it or not, another person has wielded power over you.  It’s impossible to be a leader from that position…you are a follower.

However, in the same scenario if you refuse, something else happens;  you are no longer a follower, in fact you are on the same par as the leader now.  You become more like that persons equal because they have no power over you. 

It all comes down to what I talk about a lot…that is, deciding what kind of man you want to be, and then being that man.  I doubt if too many people look in the mirror and tell themselves they want to be a follower of other men.  No…most people would naturally rather be a leader, or anything other than a follower.  So, now going forward in life you will have some choices to make and things to think about.

Look, whatever else it is, succumbing to peer pressure is a habit, and any habit can be broken with effort and will…but first you have to decide you want to.

I think I’ll wrap it up there for today guys.  Hey, if peer pressure is something you struggle with and you have questions or concerns about how to deal with it… write me a letter.  I am here to help, and I return every email I get.  otherwise, I would love to get your feedback one the website or the Facebook page. 

Now head out there into the world and be a strong authentic person, don’t give your power away, keep it for yourself and use it for good, while you are being a better man today than were yesterday.

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