Autonomy + Social Pressure

Autonomy  Social Pressure

Yesterday we discussed autonomy and self-determination, and let’s go one step further today. Let’s dig into the practical application of social pressure, shall we?


It’s interesting when we think about how much emphasis we put on teaching young people to be able to withstand peer pressure, and then when we’re adults it’s no longer a topic of conversation. Like, we nailed it so well in our teens that now we’re peer-pressure pros, and it will never come up as a challenge for us ever again.


Of course, we know that this simply isn’t the case.

Peer pressure, or social pressure, remains a challenge that we face throughout our lifetimes. But as we work on this concept of autonomy—of standing firm in our choices regardless of external feedback—we are focusing on cultivating strength against this kind of peer pressure.


And within the context of being a person who no longer drinks alcohol, peer pressure comes up all the time. A friend offering us a shot, giving us grief when we decline, asking why we can’t “just have one,” or even just the unspoken pressure of drinking at an event where everyone else is drinking. Peer pressure can come from loved ones too—family members, coworkers, and partners are all capable of putting pressure on us to consume something we don’t want to.


When we consider social pressure, it’s helpful to contextualize the way alcohol shows up in our society. Drinking culture is pervasive—commercials tell us it’s cool or relaxing or celebratory, we drink at baby showers now, and booze is even present in workspaces these days. We know that it’s everywhere, and because of this, it has become incredibly normalized. When we step outside of this normalization of alcohol use we’re suddenly able to see how wild it is that we get so wasted at the wedding of a loved one that we don’t even remember it, or how crazy it is that much of our socialization is built around drinking a substance that blunts our experience.