Without a doubt the main question that I get asked by people is if I have any advice on how to follow the diet and lifestyle that I recommend in social situations, and how to deal with family, friends, and co-workers who aren't supportive of their decision to change their life for the better and who are trying to tempt them back to the "dark side", so I feel that it would be a good idea to devote a chapter to talking about some of the common forms of “peer pressure” and how to become immune to it...
1. PEER PRESSURE TO HAVE MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES
Some people end up going through life with "Multiple Personalities" and will behave very differently around different people. An example of this would be a man who has a very "Family Friendly" vocabulary and sense of humor when he is at home with his wife and kids, but when he goes to work and is with his male co-workers virtually everything that he says and does would be completely unacceptable behavior when he is at home. The 2 personalities that he displays are so radically different that it makes you wonder which one is the real one, or if neither of them are genuine and he simply behaves however he feels will result in acceptance.
Do you have an authentic personality that you use no matter who you are with? If not, just remember that no matter how hard you try you will never be able to please everyone 100% of the time, and although you may fear not being accepted if you are “different”, deep down you know that the people who are the most accepted of all are “individuals” who are brave enough to be their own person.
I encourage you to make it a point to catch yourself from now on whenever you suddenly feel the need to start talking or acting differently simply because of who just walked in the room, and practice expressing yourself openly and equally to all. (And please keep in mind that although it's true that not everyone in the world is going to like you if you be yourself, some will, and you will be much happier when you find the people who like you for who you really are.)
When people open up their mailbox and find an invitation to go to a someone's wedding, graduation, or baby shower, these "invitations" are actually "obligations" for many people, because they would be too afraid to simply say, "No thank you" even if they really don't want to go to these things... (Personally, I look at invitations like these as "Spam" and simply ignore them.)
So often people will say things to me like, “I recently went vegan, but I'm worried about what will happen when I go to my parent's house on Thanksgiving and everyone else is eating turkey.” or “I want to avoid alcohol, but I'm worried about what will happen when I have to go to my cousin's wedding next month and everyone else is having a drink.” so if social events are really problematic for you (or if you are an “introvert” and you just really dread going to these kinds of things) I want to tell you that you're not alone and you do have the right to not go to these things.
If you are uncomfortable simply saying “No thank you” to people and you feel the need to have a really good excuse to get out of going to something, then I encourage you to tell everyone that you have to work that day. (And keep in mind that even if you have that day off at your job it's not a lie to say that you will be working that day if you are on a personal journey of self development, because any “self-work” that you do for yourself such as exercise or working on a creative project counts as “work”. And although you may not be getting a paycheck to do your daily yoga routine or to work on your dream of becoming a famous artist it doesn't make the work that you are doing any less important than the work that you would be doing if you were working at a regular job and you couldn't get the day off.)
If it seems selfish to want to do your own thing, I want you to stop for a moment and think of your favorite musician, actor, or athlete, and then ask yourself if you don't think that in order for them to get where they are they didn't have to make a lot of sacrifices over the years to be able to devote more time to working on their craft. (Including missing countless social events that they were invited to.) The odds are that their relatives rarely get to see them, so be willing to make the same kinds of sacrifices if you want to have the same kinds of success.
Although some of the holidays started off as very well meaning concepts, over the years they have almost all evolved into nothing more than a time when everyone is encouraged to over-eat and over-spend. (And some of the holidays have degenerated into nothing more than a day when everyone is encouraged to get drunk.) If you don't believe me when I say that holidays can be destructive please consider the following...
- There are more heart attacks on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year. - There are more drunk driving fatalities on New Years day than any other day of the year. - There are more cases of depression during the Holiday Season than at any other time of the year.
Maybe some of the holidays should be renamed...
- Maybe "Thanksgiving" should be renamed "National Heart Attack Day". - Maybe "New Years Day" should be renamed "National Drunk Driving Day". - Maybe "The Holiday Season" should be renamed "The Season of Despair".
A holiday is in reality no different than any other day, yet we are all pressured to follow traditions and do what everyone else is doing on these days. (Even if the tradition is clearly unhealthy.) Personally I am a lot happier without holidays in my life. (As a vegan I could always buy a “To-Furky” on Thanksgiving if I wanted to, but I have no desire to do that because I don't feel “left out” knowing that millions of other people out there are eating turkey and I'm not.) So if you find the holidays to be stressful I would encourage you to stop celebrating them as well, and for those of you who really enjoy the holidays and want to continue celebrating them I would just encourage you not to wait until it's a holiday to celebrate life, spend time with loved ones, and do things that you enjoy...
If it was your dream to win the lottery someday and become a millionaire you probably wouldn't wait until next year on January 1st to start buying lottery tickets, so if it is your dream to look in the mirror someday and see a fit person looking back at you please do not put off starting a workout program until New Years Day. And if you want to do something nice for someone that you love why not practice spontaneity by doing something nice for them when they are least expecting it rather than wait until it's a holiday and there is an unwritten rule that you have to do something nice for them that day or else they will get upset and might even leave you?
The next time you find yourself counting down the days until a certain holiday I encourage you to instead live as if the 10 days you have left until Christmas were the last 10 days you had left to live.
Although I believe in the freedom of personal choice, if you are smoking while pregnant, driving while drunk, or filling your body with harmful drugs while you are also being looked up to as a “role model” by young and impressionable people it is no longer a “personal choice”. (And even if you are not harming anyone else by consuming harmful substances, the fact that you are on this website suggests that you are wanting to improve your health, and nobody that wants to do that would purposely fill their body with massive amounts of toxins in an attempt to become "Intoxicated".)
The average child is warned over 10,000 times about the dangers of cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs, but due to peer pressure few kids make it to adulthood without trying them anyways. The first time they try these things their bodies will immediately reject them through coughing, vomiting, and sickness to let them know that it simply can't handle these things, but because of peer pressure they decide to try these things again, and again, and again, until they eventually build up a tolerance (As well as an addiction) to them.
I was fortunate at a young age to have met a lot of people who's main goal in life was simply to stop drinking, stop smoking, or get off of the drugs they were addicted to, so I never felt tempted to try these things personally, and if you feel pressure to drink or consume harmful substances whenever you are around certain people I would just like to remind you of the words of wisdom that your body is the only possession that you are guaranteed to have for your entire life, so please try to take good care of it.
In some parts of the world “Arranged Marriages” are still practiced, and although the idea of letting your parents decide who you will marry might sound “extreme” to most people in this day and age, the fact is that “Arranged Marriages” are still happening all over the world, but they are mostly happening through “peer pressure”...
Many couples out there decide to get married simply because they are afraid of how their parents would react if they were living together or had children together and weren't married first. And some couples are too afraid to get married (or even date each other publicly) simply because they are a different race, a different age, or a different religion and they worry that their parents and society will be outraged if they ever find out about it.
Couples also feel pressured by society to have a really expensive wedding. In the past weddings cost virtually nothing, but in recent years weddings have become yet another example of how corporations have found a way to charge people money for one of life's most basic experiences (Falling in love) and they have done this by convincing people that the ultimate “symbol of love” is being willing to spend a fortune on their wedding.
So often when I hear people talking about weddings the price of the wedding is “somehow” public knowledge and is the main focal point. (People will be discussing the $80,000 wedding their co-worker recently had or the $10,000,000 wedding that a famous celebrity is about to have, and the fact that the number one cause of divorce these days is “financial difficulties” should be enough to make people stop and realize what is going on.)
If you are thinking about getting married I would encourage you to only do it if getting married is something that you strongly believe in, and not to do it simply because it is the social norm. And before you decide to have a really expensive wedding consider what else you could do with all that money. (The average wedding is expensive enough that you and your lover could use that money to travel and see the world, which would probably result in a lot more memories than a wedding ceremony.)
If you asked 100 children right before their first day of school what they wanted to be when they grew up you would probably get a lot of answers such as, "An astronaut", "The President", or even "A Super Hero", but if you asked those same kids on the day they graduated High School what they wanted to do with their life you would likely find that most of them have given up on their dreams and a lot of them have no idea what they want to do with their life. (They just spent 12 years in school (which is supposed to prepare children for their future) but now they are a lot less confident and a lot more confused than they were 12 years ago due to all of the limiting beliefs that they were taught in school.)
Up until around age 5 a child's mind is like a sponge and it will absorb any new and interesting information that they are exposed to, and children will literally ask hundreds of questions a day because of how curious they are about the world around them. But then when they are about 5 years old they are suddenly forced to start going to school and once this happens their incredible love for learning quickly dissolves.
Not only can forced schooling hinder a child's mental growth but it can also stunt their physical growth as well. Children need far more sleep than adults because their bodies are growing rapidly so they need close to 12 hours of sleep a day, and having to wake up early for school each morning and not being allowed to take a nap if they get tired at school makes young children just as sleep deprived and caffeine dependant as adults. (Children should spend half the day sleeping and the other half daydreaming and the less a child is able to do this the less their mind and body can develop properly.)
30 year school teacher John Gatto referred to school as a 12 year jail sentence for children (People that commit terrible crimes often spend less than 12 years in jail.) and isn't it ironic that the whole time you're in grades 1 - 12 you are told that you better not quit school because if you don't get a High School diploma you won't be able to get a "real job", and then once you get your diploma you are basically told that it is worthless and that you had better go to college because if you don't you won't be able to get a "real job"?
College can of course be beneficial to those who are there because they genuinely want to be there, but a lot of people feel pressured to go because their parents have been saving for their college education since they were children, so they feel obligated to go because of how disappointed their parents would be in them if they didn't go. (And those who's parents don't pay for their college education often get “student loans” which can end up turning their dreams of becoming a doctor into a nightmare of financial debt.
I am not encouraging you to not get an education, in fact, I am encouraging you to get a powerful education by regaining the natural curiosity and love for learning that you had as a young child. Please get a library card and use it, listen to inspirational audio books, start using the internet as a powerful learning tool, and go out and “explore” through traveling and talking to people. Become child-like again and you will have no question what you want to do with your life and you will also have no doubt that you can make it happen.