You Get to Choose Your Peer Group
When you were a kid you couldn’t choose your peer group. You were blessed or stuck with the people your parents put you with. For the most part, your parents didn’t have much choice. They placed you where they thought was best. Sometimes it was best and sometimes it was horrible.
As children, we learned, for the most part, that life was easier if we could make people happy. Other children would play with us. Our parents gave us pats on the back. What we usually didn’t share with our parents was when our peers bullied us, made fun of us and wouldn’t play with us.
Each one of those rejections caused pain. Depending upon how much we were rejected, we built up pain which we kept deep within. We carried that pain into adulthood. This resulted in becoming a people pleaser or, on the other extreme, someone who avoided others and did whatever we wanted.
Both extremes result in relationship problems.
- We don’t know who we are because we’re trying to make others happy.
- We alienate anyone who doesn’t agree with us and can close ourselves off to love.
Being a strong and free person includes the ability to move freely through the world without excessive concern about the opinions of others. This means we speak our truth with love and commitment. Think about the people you respect the most. Do they allow the opinions of others to dictate their decisions? Do they run over everyone to get what they want?
Be your own person by using these tips:
- Say what you think but do so from your heart. First know that when I say “do so from your heart” I’m not talking about emotions. I’m talking about actually bringing your attention to your heart or the center of your chest (the Heart Chakra). If you’re unfamiliar with this practice, the best way to do this is to put your hand on the center of your chest and feel your hand on your chest.Now breathe while focusing on the area beneath your hand. Feel yourself calm down. Feel yourself become more grounded.This simple process has a tremendous effect upon your entire body-mind. Being centered and grounded is one. Another is your intuition opens. Now begin to share your opinion with others. Their response to you will let you know if these are people you want in your peer group of choice.
- Start giving your opinion on smaller issues that don’t have an emotional impact for you. For example, if you’re asked what movie you’d like to see, say what you’d really like to see, not what you think they want to see.
- As your comfort level improves, take more risks. Share how you feel about the topic. If you’ve never spoken up, then speaking up is a huge event for you.
- Take the time to appreciate yourself. When you’ve had a tough time in your childhood, you probably only pay attention to the negatives you came away with. Now is the time to affirm yourself.List 10 things you do well. What have other’s complemented you on? What do you enjoy doing? What makes you good at what you enjoy doing. It can be your ability to learn, eye-hand coordination, being a good listener, have an eye for detail, your love of animals.Once you have your list, take a few minutes every day reminding yourself of these things. Look yourself in your eye in the mirror and say, ” (Your name, you’re great at ______________.)
- If you can affirm yourself, you won’t need as much affirmation from others and will be able to handle it when someone disagrees with you.
- You can’t make everyone happy. As much as you try, you can’t please everyone. If you find that the people you hand around with, your peer group, are never happy with what you do, you need a new peer group. You may be caught in a peer group where people are super competitive and focus on “winning” rather than supporting.Know that trying to make everyone happy leads to losing yourself. Be with people who have similar values such as respecting each other. You don’t have to agree on everything, but you do need to be with people who are honest, trust worthy and respectful.
- Few things are black and white. There are various ways of looking at the same topic. You’ve probably heard the fable about the blind men feeling the elephant and each declaring what the elephant looks like. Depending upon what part of the elephant they were touching, their perception was different.
- As to your peer group, even the best people occasionally do or say things most would consider to be negative. No one is perfect all of the time, including you. However, if you feel beaten down when you leave a particular group, perhaps that is not your peer group.If you reacted to childhood difficulties by isolating yourself and being angry with others, examine where you make mistakes and give people the same opportunity to learn as you do.Some people are hard on others because they’re so hard on themselves. Allow yourself the opportunity to learn and have compassion for yourself. This will help you have compassion for others.
- Sometimes you have to find a way to handle someone who loves to criticize. Your response depends upon the nature of the criticism and who is the critic.Many people use disapproval as a way to control others. When this is the type of criticism you face, the best response may be to repeat the criticism in your own words and say, “I respect your opinion but I disagree.” This type of critic is likely to repeat the criticism. Don’t engage in discussion, just repeat what you said before.
With friends or someone you respect in your peer group, chances are you’ll be able to have an honest discussion with give and take. Enjoy the exchange and gain self-confidence in expressing your opinion.
- Before taking an action, go into your heart and ask yourself if you’re primarily doing it to receive approval. Eliminate activities and choices driven by the need to have others think highly of you. Instead, make choices in which you’re proud of and that you enjoy.
As you have discussions with people, you can decide if you want them to be part of your peer group. No longer are you at the mercy of someone else to decide who you’re going to spend time with. Choose people who are compatible to your way of thinking and to your values. There’s no need to be in a position where you are constantly having to defend yourself.