Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Under Pressure?

Last week provided good conversation around the pressures we face around conformity even as we enter into our adult years.  We don’t often recognize these pressures, yet they are real and must be managed.

First, was an example of parental pressure. If you’ve graduated from post secondary education, found yourself that great job and then decided to raise a family, get ready because it’s coming. It will be subtle & well intentioned at the same time as leaving you feeling in a constant state of tension which (left unchecked) can manifest itself in unhealthy coping behaviors. The reason parental pressure has such a strong hold on us is because of our innate desire to please. Instinctively we just don’t want to disappoint our parents and will even endure personal suffering rather than risking making them feel bad. If I were an expert in this subject matter - which I am not, my advice would be to understand we can’t live our lives trying to please others. It’s impossible, unrealistic and consumes way too much time and energy. What we can do is respect the view points of others (in this instance parents), and let them know a) we have established our own set of guiding principles & b) assure them if we need their advice & input at any time, we will not hesitate to ask. From a parents perspective, we must accept that after 21 it’s time to take a back seat and let our kids lives play out the way they wish to lead them.

Second was socioeconomic based peer pressure. It seems as though we never quite get away from the clique mentality and that’s because no matter where we go – there we are (another conversation). The example was shared based on a group of friends who reside, socialize, shares schools, party & even vacation together. An observation from a fringe participant was to the effect of – “everyone in that group spoke poorly of their friends immediately after they left the proximity & conversation. It was a little bit like high school”.  Now if I were an expert in this subject matter – which I am not, my advice would be to steer as clear of these types of settings because when people are talking poorly about others, rest assured they are doing the same with you when you leave. This type of adult peer pressure has as much to do with EGO as it does with insecurities & low self esteem. We’ve all probably witnessed it at one time or another but to have to deal with this when you are an adult with more important things on your plate / in your life, is on the unnecessary end of the spectrum. We need to invest our energies on the worthy, not the needy. In this instance, it's ok to be the black sheep of the clique.

What was interesting about both scenarios was the energy that had been expended processing & managing the conversations. As a person on the listening end (and we’ve been on the other end of too), it highlighted the need for the clarity, confidence & communication around charting our own life courses. That’s not something that’s taught.

But it should be. 

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