Can practising mindfulness be the answer from falling into peer pressure?
Say you’ve been saving up to treat yourself with a stuffed toy unicorn. However, when sharing this with your friends, you’re met with phrases like “Unicorns, ha that’s so lame” or “Bruh for real? Are you what... 5 years old?” And while you decide if you’re going to defend yourself or be insulted by them, you end up saying “Yea lol. I was obviously joking pshhh.”
Removing unicorns, have you encountered similar experiences? I introduce to you — peer pressure.
While we may justify our actions as “I take criticism from the people I take advice from", we may actually be falling into peer pressure. Peer pressure is defined as the act of influencing one’s behaviour to be accepted into a community — in other terms, to be accepted by your peers. Individually, our communities may differ; your peers could be your friends or even within family, but that doesn’t mean peer pressure doesn’t exist — it’s just often ignored or unnoticed.
While peer pressure could actually impact an individual both positively or negatively, it’s important to be aware of instances of this happening. To illustrate, when your peers influence you positively, it may lead you towards introducing good habits in life. However, we also see peer pressure as a source of unwanted behaviours.
Even though it falls under the same lines of adopting habits, they may involve going against your own will, resulting in making wrong decisions and possibly losing your own identity. Negative peer pressure may seem small but it can carry a big impact. According to TeenHelp, over the course of a year, 2,500 teens per day are pressured into abusing prescription drugs.
Peer pressure is often confused as advice from someone that claims to know you better. The real question is how do you ensure that you’re prioritising your own values and beliefs instead of the surrounding pressure when it comes to decision making?
It’s time I introduce you to another term — mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present of where we are and what we’re doing. In other terms, becoming more aware. However, it's often misunderstood as relaxation or a one-step therapy.
In actuality, it’s the process of acknowledging and responding to your surroundings, not running away from your emotions. Though mindfulness helps with awareness, it’s vital to understand the process and apply it when making a decision. Globally, a huge body or research has illustrated meditation as a benefit for many individuals. In fact, a recent study by Frontiers in Psychology has highlighted that meditation directly correlates to an improvement in decision-making.
Did You Know?
Mindfulness wasn’t always the star of the show when it comes to positively guiding individuals with peer pressure. In fact, it only became popular in the 21st century thanks to technology and the increasing awareness of mental health.
Another reason why we fall into peer pressure is because we’re used to following the leader, especially when it’s someone we trust. Though trust may be the ground for building a memorable relationship, there’s a discrete line between doing something you want to do and meeting others’ expectations. Being mindful and aware helps to evaluate information into informed opinions allowing us to identify the necessary steps that we can benefit from ourselves.
Mindfulness may be easy to explain. The process of implementing mindfulness? That’s quite challenging.
A common mistake many make is the unrealistic expectation of achieving mindfulness after one day. In reality, mindfulness isn’t about receiving a trophy — it’s the journey towards winning the trophy.
One way you can start practising mindfulness is through yoga and meditation. Yoga and meditation is said to be helpful in developing mindfulness as it’s centred around the idea of achieving mental clarity, allowing you to organise your thoughts and analysing the emotional state you’re in.
However, the art of mindfulness isn’t about completing or forcing yourself to follow every ‘trend’ you see on the Internet. It could even be practised through simple daily actions. For instance, you could have a mindful walk or even during a shower!
Individually our methods on improving mindfulness and becoming more aware may differ but improving mindfulness essentially involves communication within yourself. You could pick up outdoor or indoor activities based on your energy levels – but the aim is to breathe and talk to your inner self.
Peer pressure is common yet often unnoticeable in our society. Individuals may negatively influence our decisions. Hence, mindfulness needs to take front and centre of the life skills we need so we can be aware of our thought process to truly satisfy our needs. Once you’ve started becoming more aware and mindful of your own emotional needs, it’ll be easier to play the ‘No card’ to peer pressure.
So before you fall into peer pressure, ask yourself: Is this truly what I feel?
Ishaanaah Ravi is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Education at Taylor's University. She is also a member of the Taylor’s Leo Club and Girl Up. She enjoys reading and creative writing during her free time but also relishes conducting volunteering work, believing that we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.
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