How to “Positively” Handle Negative Peer Pressure

How to “Positively” Handle Negative Peer Pressure

Are you afraid of that if you don’t go along with your friends you will be abandoned or shamed?

Do you find yourself not wanting to go to the big party, see the violent movie, or miss sleep when your friends do?

Are you stressed with with having to choose between pleasing others and taking care of yourself?

If you said YES, to the above questions, you’re not alone. Highly sensitive people are deeply caring and attuned individuals who can feel what others are feeling and want people to love and like them. It’s part of your nature and a lot of your families conditioning to get your needs met and feel loved.  Without knowing better and out of habit, you take care of your peers/friends needs before you take care of your own. This nurturing instinct along feels necessary for your survival, to be part of a tribe, to be loved and liked, to feel connected and not ever be abandoned. You been taught to not disappoint anyone, so you aren’t kicked out of the tribe and receive love.  Helping others when you’re depleted, involves you abandoning yourself and resenting others needs of you.

Peer pressure is defined as influence from members of one’s peer group. “his behavior was affected by drink and peer pressure”

Managing peer pressure can feel overwhelming and gut wrenching, because you’ve been trained to do what others want you to do.  I’m here to tell you it is healthy to care for yourself before others and your independence is needed for you to thrive and know freedom. Allowing someone else to make a decision for you against your will is giving your power away. You have the power to make choices, so start making them.  You are worthy of making your own choices…no one else can know what is truly important and BEST for you. Start to trust your what you are feeling in the moment over your domestication.


A special note: There are extreme peer pressures such as Fraternity or Sorority hazings, athletic team gang rapes, gangs, cults or mob scene mentality that I will not be addressing here. I will say, as a HSP you know when something doesn’t feel “right” or “safe” so get the hell out of there if you feel that energy.


Below are some typical examples of peer pressure and how to take care for yourself or erase it from your life.


It’s Friday night and Caroline is invited to a party by her friends and boyfriend. She wants to go, but doesn’t want to drink. Her body doesn’t like alcohol, it makes her feel sick. She is already anxious about having to defend herself at the party. It drains her to have to argue with them when it’s not a problem for her.  They pressure her to just have a drink, loosen up…and the pressure builds to join them the more intoxicated they become. They want her to have fun and they are projecting onto her that she can’t have fun unless she drinks like they do.

What to do: Plan ahead by bringing your own drinks. Choose carbonated flavored water and add limes/lemons/fruit …Make it look like a gin/vodka/tequila drink.  You can pre-make these at home and put into screw top bottles that you throw away after you pour it into one of the party glasses. You can also buy non alcoholic beer or wine and put it in glasses everyone else is using, so no one will know the difference. Let go of the anticipation that you’re having to defend yourself and intend to have fun. Communicate to your friends you’re having fun so they are not worrying about you having fun. Most likey they are HSPs and they are concerned for you, but self-medicating rather than self-caring.



(Photo by Dahiana Candelo)

Sarah has been overwhelmed with all her college homework and responsibilities. She feels scattered and anxious. As a highly sensitive she doesn’t like a lot on her plate at once. Too much of anything makes her feel overwhelmed and stressed. Add to that she doesn’t want to make mistakes while doing a great job.

Her friends are all sitting around planning their Friday evening and she just wants to stay home and chill. Part of her is afraid that she will miss out on the fun and part of her is scared to say something because they’ll be relentlessly poking her to change her mind…and she doesn’t feel like she has the strength to hold her ground….she’s too tired. She doesn’t want to argue…she wants peace, respect, her space, support and love. Stress builds inside her as she anticipates sharing her plans.

What to do: 1. Say you’ve got other plans and you’ll see them ________, wish them a great time—and leave it at that.  Leave quickly, so they don’t have time to dig. They don’t have to know what you’re up to.
2. Tell them you will meet them after you give yourself a break. It is not either or. Do you need a couple hours to recharge, a whole evening, a day, or  a weekend….it’s up to you.  Listen to your bodies needs and meet them. It could look like you take a couple hour nap and soak in the bath and decide you want to stay snuggled in and binge watch one of you favorite shows. Let the group know, your good! and not going out after all. Or go join them when it feels good to!


Jennifer has big ambitions and dreams. She is working full time and learning all about business, so she can create an online business someday. She has got a couple ideas already brewing. She is networking and meeting new people who are helping her grow and develop new skills. She is excited about her new opportunities and friends. The struggle is with the old friends who aren’t working, still in school or the only thing in common with them is the past. She feels bad and sad she doesn’t want to spend that much time with them. She feels high and excited about life and when she spends time with them she feels disconnected. She feels like she has to lower her energy and excitement about life because they are struggling and she doesn’t want to stand out or hurt their feelings. The relationships is strained.  Jennifer’s focused on creating and saving money and paying off her school debt so she can travel. Her friends are focused on doing the same old things. She needs to go to bed, when they’re wanting to play.

This friendship dilemma will happen at various times in your life when you have learning growth spurts that change your interest or when you make a significant change like going to college, getting married, having children, change career, and move to a new town or country. As you grow, your friendships will either grow, hibernate or die off, it is part of your life cycle. Having compassion that we are all experiencing life in different ways, not that our way or their way is right or wrong…it just is.

What to do: Creating healthy boundaries with the friends in your life is important. This requires you to take responsibility for your time, energy and actions. Learn to say, “NO” when you mean NO. Learning to value your time and energy will help you determine where they are best spent.  You are not a victim of your friendships, you are a result of them. It is very important to note who you spend your time with, because the top five people you spend your time will greatly influence your perception of the world.  Are your friends viewing the world as abundant with opportunities to create or are they surviving with limited mindsets? What aligns with your path and purpose?

You are the one making your schedule, designing your life and taking the actions. Be true to yourself and you will make friends who value you and your time.
The problem is, Jennifer wants to spend less time with her old friends and more with new creative and positive friends.  She doesn’t want to appear arrogant or dismissive of her old friends, nor make them feel badly.

It is alright for you to not spend as much time with old friends as you use to. Let them know that the time you have now is less than before and that you are focused on _________________ and you hope they will understand. Share you look forward to spending time, and it will be a lot less then in the past. You might schedule the next meeting for coffee or lunch in 2-4 weeks. So they see you care and are not dropping them like a hot potato.  By being true to yourself, you are a positive influence for your friends.  Remember, how they receive and react to your sharing and boundaries is not your problem.


Take away: you’ve been conditioned or domesticated to take care of others and it’s time to set healthy boundaries for your own well being. If you don’t set boundaries you will end up pushing away your needs and desires and become a resentful bitter bitch. Your life will never feel like yours or bring you sustainable freedom and happiness. Your value will be based on others validation of you, which can change with the wind. It’s very unstable and a shaky foundation on which to build your life and it makes you feel insecurity. People pleasing and lack of clear boundaries creates co-dependent relationships which attract narcissists who want someone who will do what they say and tell them how great they are. You don’t want this!!!!!  Be strong and courageous…stand up for yourself, no one else will!

Got a peer pressure problem I didn’t address? Share it in the comments below and I’ll respond back to you.


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