A bad conscience is easier to cope with

than a bad reputation.

Friedrich Nietzsche

If you are honest with yourself, you can recall a time when peer pressure, or negative influence from some of your friends or associates, convinced you to act in a way which was contrary to your natural instincts. The result was that you ended up feeling badly about what you did, but even worse about betraying your morals and principles.

The truth is that you are hardly alone. Many people blindly put all of their faith and trust in the people who are closest to them.

When you have a close relationship with someone, you give them every ounce of your trust you can. It is perfectly natural . we are designed for community. We are meant to live and work together. But, there comes a time when you may need to draw a firm line between that close association and your own beliefs.

The challenge lies in knowing how, when and where to draw that line.

Here are a few strategies that can help you build the fortitude to be true to your beliefs and to yourself.

1. Don’t be rash. Avoid making rushed decisions. One proven way to avoid being drawn in by peer pressure is to take the time you need to think through a situation before making a decision or commitment. Thoughts are usually cloudy in the midst of chaos, and that is most often the worst time to make a decision.

Tell your friend or associate that, while you appreciate their input, you would be completely unfair to yourself if you did not take the time to think with a clearer head. Keep in mind that you are the person who will have to live with the consequences of making a decision in the midst of chaos.

2. What are the potential consequences? Consider the possible outcomes. When you are at a crossroads and faced with a situation that could have multiple outcomes it is only logical to spend some time considering what those outcomes are.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What are the moral implications of each scenario?
  • Who may be affected by each situation?
  • What are the far-reaching effects of each option?

3. Prevent assassination of your own character. Make the time to reflect on how you will be perceived after all the dust has settled. When making a tough decision, choose options that maintain your integrity and honor the trust of those around you.

  • Can you continue to live the same quality of life as before?
  • Will the friend who influenced your decision be willing to stand by your side and defend your uprightness?
  • How effective do you think you will be in positively influencing others when this situation is over?

4. Prioritize the relationships in your life. I know that this sounds callous on the surface, but it is critical that you consider the impact your decision will have on the people who are most important to you. Sure, the friend or associate who is cranking up the pressure for you to act in a certain way will be offended if you ignore their advice. But what about your family? Your children?

How will those closest to you be affected by this decision and its ramifications? If at any point you see gloom in their future, then it would be wise to reconsider what you are being influenced to do.

At the end of the day, your character and the morals that define who you are, are the strongholds that will take you through any challenge and allow your positive relationships to prosper. Your utmost focus should always be on sticking to what in your heart you know is right. Remember that if there is even an inkling of ounce of doubt, the chances are good that your conscience and your gut are telling you to reconsider!


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