Peer pressure is hard. There’s no doubt about that. People tend to act differently in a crowd than they would on their own, and sometimes, going with the flow is oh so easy that we just let the current carry us forward.
Some of us are stronger than others, though.
Want to know if you’re a self-assured person who is immune to external pressure?
These are the 9 signs to watch out for.
1) You’re highly principled
Flexible morality is the reason many people give in to peer pressure, go back on their word, and abandon their sense of integrity.
When you abide by very stable principles, though, you’re not so easy to shake.
At high school, I used to have a friend – let’s call her Lea – who would always wait for the green light to come on before she crossed the street. Under no circumstances would she break that rule, even if she was rushing to catch a tram.
While this example seems a bit too much – not everyone wants to miss their tram just because they’re too stubborn to break a rule – it’s the perfect illustration of Kantian logic.
According to Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative, you ought to “act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.”
What this basically means is that if you don’t want the whole world to cross the street when the light is red, you shouldn’t do it yourself to begin with. Sticking to that principle shows that you’re highly disciplined and that your actions are grounded in stable rules.
As a result, your principles will anchor you under external pressure, helping you to remain your own person.
I may have rolled my eyes when my friend refused to cross the street and catch her tram on time, but I also couldn’t help but find it quite impressive.
2) You have healthy boundaries
When I told Lea, “Come on, you’ll miss your tram! Let’s go,” she would shake her head, smile, and say, “No, thanks. I’ll wait. You can go.”
That is an amazing display of healthy boundaries if I’ve ever seen one. She could feel the peer pressure, but instead of getting angry and flipping out or shrugging her shoulders and giving in, she just smiled and politely refused.
She knew where her boundaries lay, and she didn’t let me push them. In turn, I chose to respect her decision and run to catch the tram on my own.
3) You love yourself enough to withstand judgment
When one of our classmates confronted Lea about her weird stubbornness when it came to crossing the street, she just shrugged.
She knew her principles may have been difficult to understand, but that didn’t make them any less valid. The judgment didn’t make her shrink or feel the need to explain herself – she loved herself too much for that.
She knew her truth. And that was enough. If someone judged her behavior, so be it. It made no difference.
4) You understand how peer pressure works on a psychological level
Would you be surprised if I said Lea went on to study psychology and has just started her doctorate?
Didn’t think so. Even back in high school, she was fascinated by the human mind – the psychology of crowds included.
I think her in-depth knowledge may have contributed to her impressive resilience because she understood on a psychological level what was happening, helping her withstand the pressure.
Based on research, people behave differently in crowds than they do as individuals. We tend to lose a sense of responsibility and are more likely to amplify each other’s emotions, becoming a part of something bigger and letting go of self-control.
Lea knew this. And she refused to give in to the urge, no matter how silly she looked when she was the only one standing at the crosswalk while all of us were being carried away in a tram.
5) You know that not everyone will like you – and that’s okay
Lea had this thing about her that either made you love her or hate her. She was very much her own person, and this could be seen as intimidating by some while others simply didn’t think she was their “cup of tea”.
What I always admired about her was just how much she didn’t give a damn.
“I’m not for everyone,” she’d say.
“I don’t care if X or Y don’t like me. I don’t like them either.”
“We’re not friends, why would I care what they think?”
And I loved that. As someone who used to be quite a big people-pleaser, I found Lea’s confidence and self-assuredness immensely inspiring.
She knew for a fact she wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But no one likes *all* tea the same amount. There will be people whose vibe doesn’t dance with yours, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
All that matters is that you find your own tribe.
6) You have an inner circle of people whose opinion matters to you
Let’s get one thing straight. The fact that you’re immune to external pressure doesn’t mean you have no one you trust or no one whose opinion you care about.
It’s the opposite. People who are very self-assured usually have a few friends who constitute their safety net – if they’re in doubt, they know who to go to for advice.
In other words, they have a support network to fall back on. And the fact that they have someone to lean on gives them enough confidence to take up space in the world, stick to their guns, and believe in the power of their own decisions.
Frankly, you can be as self-assured as humanly possible, and you’ll probably still care about the opinion of at least one person. And that’s not a weakness. It’s a strength.
Because this person’s honesty keeps you in check. If you’re making the wrong decision, they’ll tell you. If you’re acting in a way that doesn’t align with your values or principles, they’ll call you out on it.
This feedback is more valuable than gold because it helps you grow in self-awareness.
7) You’re very self-aware
If you didn’t know yourself, you’d probably just drift along with the current, changing your mind with each new tide.
Self-awareness is the key to self-assuredness. It’s not easy trying to withstand external pressure, and only those who know themselves extremely well can manage it for long periods of time.
Because when you know yourself, you also know how to give yourself the support you need. You know when to doubt your choices, when to remain stubborn, when to confide in someone, and when to integrate valuable feedback.
What’s more, you know when giving in to that pressure might be a good thing.
8) You can balance the difference between stubbornness and integrity
External pressure isn’t always bad. Sometimes, you truly *are* in the wrong. Sometimes, your beliefs or opinions may need to change.
But the difference between abiding by your principles and digging your heels in out of pure pettiness can be incredibly difficult to balance.
Does your argument truly stand? Or are you just too stubborn to let go and allow yourself to grow in new directions?
It’s a difficult skill to master, but self-assured people who are immune to external pressure are so self-aware that they have an easier time navigating that fine line.
9) You don’t compare yourself to other people
Oftentimes, comparison is the death of confidence. And that’s simply because there will always be someone better than you.
Are you a brilliant chess player? Well, guess what. There’s an eleven-year-old child out there who would beat you in a heartbeat.
Are you the best writer in class? As soon as you join that university writing program, you’ll realize just how much competition there actually is.
We all feel the pressure. It’s everywhere. However, a self-assured person doesn’t let it get to them.
Instead, they focus on themselves and their own journey. They don’t think about the most effective ways to best Kyle or Jason or Peter over there.
All they think about is what else they can do to be better than yesterday.
If this sounds like you…you know what it means. You’re very likely immune to external pressure.