Unwittingly, some of us carry around our experiences with peer pressure, from our youth into adulthood. Remember when, in high school for example, there was a constant stream of information telling us how to fit in, how to dress, how to act, and how to become one of the “beautiful people”? Who did not want to be popular and be accepted by our peers?
If we were in the popular crowd, we were fortunate. However, we were conforming to what was expected of us to stay there. If we were not so fortunate, we felt like an outsider and the message became “you are not good enough”.
The peer pressure experienced from our past can echo into our present. Sometimes we go to any length to be accepted and liked, both in our professional and personal lives. After all, we need to hear positive things about ourselves and be recognized and valued. That’s normal. But if our self esteem or confidence has been threatened by some trauma from the past and if we feel that we are not good enough, an addiction can fill that void. Some of us can turn to food, others to gambling, alcohol or drugs. For a little while this works.
When we decide to make changes in our lives, like dealing with an addiction, we often do a mental checklist to be sure that we will still be accepted by our peers. We question whether we will continue to fit in. Our concerns may go something like this: (and you can substitute the word “drinking” with the addiction that you are living with.)
What will people think about me if I quit drinking?
What am I going to say to people when I refuse a drink?
Will people treat me the same way when I stop drinking?
Will people think I have a problem and therefore am weak?
Will people find out that I have an addiction?
1. What are some of the messages about yourself that you received in the past from other people?
2. What are the messages you are receiving from people now?
3. Do you care so much about what others think that it is stopping you from getting well?
4. How much do you want to change?
5. How much do you worry about what others will think?