Do you ever experience feeling tempted away from your real self? You know when it happens. You find yourself in a certain situation that just doesn't feel quite right. Your stomach feels like it's in knots, or there's a tickle on the back of your neck and you feel the desire to run away.
It happens most often when you feel a resistance to social pressure. For instance,
Experiencing social pressure and simultaneously being aware that you are experiencing it, is a good place to be. You can quickly realize you’re on the verge of caving in or going along with something you don’t want to support or do.
Adam Smith, the father of economics and a profound 18th century moral philosopher, used the phrase “going along with” when referencing choices that are socially influenced or conditioned. Being social creatures, we are definitely swayed when making decisions that are sensitive to what other people think or do. We are more likely to go along with our peers than to dare to be different.
However, not going along with what others are thinking or doing is part of building the person you want to be because you have the ability to recognize and choose according to your individual standards and beliefs. Norms change only because some people stop going along with them.
No matter how considerate you are, there are times when it may be difficult to agree to disagree. Resistance can be costly at times, and sometimes it may cost the relationship. This is especially true when you've stood up to someone who isn't acting in integrity. While it may be painful, the best thing you can do is let them go.
Etiquette involves chosen behavior that helps others feel comfortable and valued. So, if you’ve let yourself get in a situation that you know you need to stand up to, it’s important in the end, to have worked the margins of the situation in a caring, respectful way.
We each get to choose our own thoughts, and how we react or respond in any given moment. Noticing your gut feelings, and heeding their warning not to get dragged along in social pressure, will keep you on track. When you can do this, and respect another person's right to choose his or her beliefs and responses, you are a person others will admire.
Special Note: Social pressure has many forms, but there are times when it shows up as violence or places you in a dangerous situation. If this happens, please ask for help. It's also important to know that someone who will threaten you this way has not earned your continued courtesy.