The 12 Thrive Days of Christmas – Day 6 – Social Pressures
A series of 12 brief articles, published daily from 25th December to 5th January (The traditional 12 days of Christmas). Today we look at Social Pressures.
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How do you respond to Social Pressures?
As social animals, we learn about the world through our interactions with other people. As babies we learn from our parents and siblings and then it’s off to school and the influence of teachers and peers.
These influences can be either positive or negative and different levels of social pressure exist in different communities. No community, however, is free from social pressure and influence and we are made to feel uncomfortable if we fail to conform. This can lead to social anxiety.
What is social anxiety?
When you have social anxiety you fear of being judged and evaluated by other people. You worry that you will say, or do, the wrong thing causing yourself embarrassment. This leads you to imagine what others will think of you. In reality, most of the time nobody will care, or even notice, it is only in your mind that they are judging you.
The good news is that Social Anxiety does not happen ‘to you’, – you create your own anxious thoughts and feelings.
Please tell me nobody is looking!
We all want to have friends and acquaintances and to feel accepted. Social anxiety isn’t about a healthy desire to form social relationships and acceptance. It happens when you have low self esteem (Day 5) and feel powerless in relation to other people and social situations (Day 2).
With good self-esteem and an internal sense of power and control, social anxiety will not be a problem. You believe you have the capabilities to manage social situations, and the skills to tolerate any negative judgments.
Obedience to Authority
Social anxiety isn’t the only way in which we may respond to social pressures. We all feel a need to conform and it is common to act as instructed by a person we consider to be in authority. History is littered with examples of ‘just following orders’.
Similarly the ‘herd instinct’ comes into play when normal law-abiding citizens become part of a rioting mob rather than stand out from the crowd.
People will do terrible, out of character, things when:
- Someone in authority instructs them to do so
- They stand to gain from their actions
- A diffusion of responsibility takes place (“I was following the crowd, it wasn’t just me”)
Overcoming Social Pressure
We have already seen that an external sense of power and control, and low self esteem increases social anxiety. Developing and internal sense will make you feel more self sufficient and powerful, giving you the skills you need to beat social pressures.
The Thrive Programme very specifically targets these three key areas in order for you to learn how to Thrive.
We are now half way through The 12 Thrive Days of Christmas. Tomorrow we will look at Unhelpful Thinking Styles. Be sure to catch this fascinating topic by subscribing to my blog.
Ian Crosswell – Thrive With Ian