Answers In Love

Winning at Life God's Way

Do You Really Need All that Peer Pressure?

Monday night I returned worn out from a 10-day “vacation” The days were productive but not restful. I traveled 1100 miles by car, worked on an old house in hot weather, made big business decisions and tagged after our son’s active young family.

On Tuesday I prepared to take things pretty easy though I hadn’t darkened the door of a gym in two weeks. Then I opened an email from a high-school class mate who’d undergone surgery. She said, “All went well because I’ve gone to the Rec Center every day for the last two years and was in good shape.” I got myself to the gym that day!

On Wednesday I saw pictures of our daughter’s in-laws riding their bikes, kayaking and climbing mountains in Maine. Those pictures prompted me to schedule more exercise later that day. In the end something interfered but I came close to more exercise.

Today I had lunch with a friend who runs races. I knew when I saw her that she would have done her standard run at sun-up. I couldn’t face her without getting back to the gym myself so that’s where I went first thing this morning.

I may have exercised some this week on my own but I pushed myself harder because of the good-example peers around me.  I really needed all that peer pressure.

The Benefit of Peer Pressure

Peer pressure gets a bad rap. That’s probably because most of us still cringe at thoughts of the toxic, unrelenting pressure to conform we experienced in high school.

There is such a thing as good peer pressure. That’s the pressure we feel when exposed to people who live their lives with excellence. They  don’t actively apply peer pressure but we feel pressure simply by being around them. Social psychologists know we compare ourselves to one another all the time.

When I brush elbows with people who live their lives with discipline, love and mastery I compare myself to them and feel pressure to do better in the areas of:

  • fitness and self-care
  • positive outlook
  • productivity
  • community volunteering
  • learning new things
  • spiritual disciplines
  • mental disciplines
  • humility

I’m grateful for the pressure I feel around good-example people. Their discipline and choices inspire me to fight back thoughts of: “not now,” “someday,” “good enough,” “I don’t feel like it” and “I can’t.”

I don’t try to match the accomplishments of others who live well but I do like being able to hold my head up around them knowing I’m actively working to achieve my own goals. The good examples set by others prompt me to fight forward.

Choose Peers Who Provide the Right Kind of Pressure

The Bible says “iron sharpens iron” (Prov 27:7). Disciplined, accomplished people with iron determination to live well challenge others to do the same by the sheer power of their example.

On the other hand, individuals with wills of clay and a laissez-faire attitude toward life exude negative influence. The same is true of people who overvalue worthless things.  Parents of teens know this and keep a careful eye on their child’s friends. The influence of peers continues throughout life.

I’m not suggesting we avoid people who are not setting a good example. Struggling people need the time, attention and encouragement of caring others.

I am suggesting that we take stock of our friendship circles and make sure to include people who inspire us to excellence by the way they live their lives. Doing so can help us become good examples ourselves!

What about You?

Is there someone in your life whose good example pressures you toward excellence? If so, why not give them a shout out by mentioning their name in the comment section below.

Better yet, talk to that person. Let them know how their good example makes you feel  pressured to try harder and become more. They’d probably like to hear it!

Wishing you the the right kind of pressure!


About Cheryl Savageau

Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor

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