Can Peer Pressure be a Positive Force?

The inspiration for today's article is hilarious.  One of my friends shared this really funny vintage poster about stopping thumb sucking.  First I smiled. Then I started laughing. Then memories of myself as a child arose and I thought that would be a fun story to tell. Lastly I realized there was a life lesson that could go with the story. WOW. May every day of writing be filled with ideas that bubble up like this one did today. 

The childhood memory that arose was of me as a committed thumb sucker.  I have no idea what my age was, but I was old enough to remember. I am guessing somewhere between three and four years old. My parents were determined to stop me, which of course made me resist even more.  No painted on goo would stop this strong headed child. I licked it off with glee - probably the reason I love cinnamon candies. I even remember sucking my big toe once to see what that would be like.  Guess I was pretty flexible. 

What finally stopped me?  Turns out peer pressure was the answer. When I started kindergarten it was instantly clear that NO ONE sucked their thumb.  Having no desire to be the butt of jokes and wanting to be "grown up" like my school classmates, I stopped instantly.  I am pretty sure I really had no attachment to doing it, I just didn't want to be told NOT to.  I was that strong willed.

As I was lost in these memories, I began to consider how we view peer pressure today. The general perception seems to be negative, that it leads young people down the path of poor choices.  Everything, however, has both a positive and negative side. That same pressure could exert a positive influence. As kids we have less choice in who surrounds us - our family, our class mates in school and those we meet in outside activities. These social groups are beyond our control. As adults the same is not true. 

When I embraced becoming a writer in my 50's, I had tons of passion, but no confidence. I was filled with doubt. I began to realize to reach my goals, I needed to immerse myself in a community of supportive individuals. Changing my peer group was 100% crucial if I was going to succeed. To this day, I always acknowledge during interviews I am only where I am because of whose who told me I could do it, who always believed in me without reservation.  They were, and still are, my foundation.   

Friends Forever by artist June Koch

I also embraced a different kind of "peer pressure" influence. I filled my bookshelves with positive books on a wide range of topics from self-love, to writing, to habits, to passion. I didn't just put them on my shelves though, I read every single one.  I also joined an entrepreneur book club to expose me to more and give me accountability.  And I read and shared countless positive quotes (often on social media posters) by people I admired to help keep me focused.  

Surround yourself with the positive. Find mutually supportive relationships where you lift each other up. Read books that give stoke your passion,. Share quotes that bring you joy.  It is true - what you put in is directly related to what you get out. Start today to feed your soul with as much positive energy as possible and surround yourself with a community that does the same.