Recognize and Deal with Improper Pressures (February, 2018)

Majority of people consider themselves to be knowledgeable enough to know the difference between right and wrong. To a certain extent that’s not incorrect either, for the righteous things have been told so many times that we can complete the sentences if someone starts to talk about them. The problem, however, is the intuitive misconceptions such literal knowledge give to our subconscious mind: that because we intellectually know the difference between the right and wrong, we will be able to stick with the righteous path in tough situation. Unfortunately, we do succumb to pressure. Be it peer pressure or pressure of our own insecurities to fit-in, we often end up taking paths that we regret – and in some unfortunate cases our near ones who are left behind grieve for life. The topic of this month is “recognize and deal with improper pressures”.


The improper pressure, which is also referred as peer/social pressure, is a phenomenon in which a person, group and/or situation forces someone to act in a manner different than what that person would have behaved otherwise. When under pressure, the person behaves unnaturally, i.e., he compromises his values and nature. Sooner or later, this behavior leads to frustration, disappointment, and remorse.


Pressure can be direct or perceived. A direct pressure is one in which the pressure is exerted by explicit manner. For instance, when a group of kids ask another kid to skip a class is an example of direct pressure. Direct pressure, however, does not always involve explicit verbal communication. As kids mature, majority of peer pressures are exerted non-verbally. In fact, its prevalence can be easily spotted among adults, too.


Perceived peer pressure on the other hand is a pressure that someone assumes and feels on his own. Even though no external person or situation is expecting anything, the person feels a pressure to change oneself to fit-in or look cool. The perceived pressure is worse than the direct pressure: the direct pressure can be avoided by changing company or external factors, but the perceived pressure, which is a result of one’s own mental attitude, cannot be avoided by changing the external factors.


Unfortunately, social pressure is more prevalent than we acknowledge. Keeping apart external settings, we also end up exercising and validating peer pressures in the comforts of our homes. When a mother tells her daughter that she cannot wear a fairly new dress because some of her friends have already seen her in that dress, she is legitimizing social pressure. Similarly, when a father who cautions his kids against drinking but offers drinks to his friends because that’s expected of him to fit in the society, he is validating peer pressure. When observed astutely, one can view numerous examples in one’s own surroundings.


Let’s get to the root cause of the peer pressure: it is one’s own insecurities. An insecure person is one who is always seeking approval from others. Such a person seeks happiness in appearance than in being. To such a person, it doesn’t matter what he is; instead, what others think is of utmost importance. This lack of respect for one’s own thinking and character leads him to a state where external factors can easily put undue pressure on him.


To address this problem, first and foremost, one must identify one’s own insecurities. And, that’s possible only when a person has acquired true knowledge (सच्चा ज्ञान) because only a person with the true knowledge (i.e., a crisp understanding of right and wrong) can identify one’s own problems. One can acquire the true knowledge by reading good books such as scriptures and biographies; discussing ways to handle difficult situations with parents, guidance counselors, and well-wishers; attending uplifting events like satsang and Hawan; and, becoming an astute self-observer. Right knowledge gives confidence; and a confidence person cannot come under pressure.


While we have talked about negative pressure only, pressures can be positive, too. A positive pressure is one under which we take inspiration from others, we identify our inadequacies, and we resolve to rise.


In this month’s article, Hawan kids will talk about…

  • peer pressure definition
  • ways to identify social pressure situations
  • how to overcome pressure
  • real-life example of peer pressure
  • how kids will handle hypothetical pressure situation


I am looking forward to insightful explanation by Hawan kids.



Harsh Mendiratta