Positive support – Live Well Centre

A unique project by:

Positive support

Dealing with peer pressure

We’re all influenced by the people around us, so it’s really important that we choose our friends carefully.

It can be hard to challenge friends on their behaviour, even when we know it’s wrong. It’s a nice feeling to be part of a friendship group, and we don’t want to do anything to lose those friends. But this means that sometimes we end up going along with what our friends are doing, even when we don’t want to. This might even involve things like taking drugs, hurting people, or committing crimes.

If you don’t feel like you can challenge your friends on their behaviour, that’s okay. Just focus on keeping yourself safe and try to distance yourself from them. The easiest way to do this is by getting involved in a new hobby – joining a new club or taking up a new sport is a great way to meet new people.

It’s important that if you do want to challenge your friends about their behaviour that you don’t get angry with them. They’re free to make their own choices, just like you are, so getting angry won’t help anyone. Try explaining why you don’t want to get involved with what they’re doing, and suggest something else to do instead. If they still don’t want to stop, you can’t make them. Walk away, make your own choices, and try to find a new group of friends.

It’s important when you’re trying to make changes in your life, that you have supportive people around you, who are aware of your goals and want to help.

Positive support

Be open with friends and loved ones 

Let people know why you want to make these changes, and how you’re feeling. It might take them some time to accept your new goals, but having that conversation will help you see who you can turn to in times of need. It’s important when you’re doing this to explore how the behaviour you’re trying to change really makes you feel. For example “every time I go out on a weekend, I feel really low for the next week. Feeling like that really hurts me, and I don’t want to feel like that any more.”

Look for new positive role models

Be willing to expand your social network to include new, positive people, maybe those who share similar goals to you. If your goal is to not drink on an evening and you want to find others with a similar goal, think about where people might go on a evening which doesn’t involve alcohol. For example the gym, or a fitness class. This can help you to make new friends and you’ll know there’s a strong possibility they’ll have similar routines or goals to you.

Don’t get frustrated if loved ones don’t come round straight away 

Some of your friends and family might expect you to go back to your old ways eventually. In fact, they might even encourage you to. Try not to get frustrated by this. Most of the time, they’re just hoping to enjoy ‘the good old times’ with you, and they don’t mean you any harm. Remind them of your goals and why you want to achieve them, and ask them again to be supportive of what you’re doing.

Work it out

You can do a simple exercise to help you understand your social network. Start by making a list of the family and friends you have around you. Then draw a box called ‘who can I rely on?’ and put their names into that box if you think you can rely on them to support you.

Download the worksheet to help you

Unfortunately the worksheet is not fully accessible, but it can be printed out and filled in by hand, or you can do the exercise with a pen and paper or on your phone’s notes app.

Middlesbrough skyline graphic