Peer pressure is not limited to school playgrounds. It exists within workplaces, family units, adult friendships and marital relationships alike. As people become more intimately involved, expectations invariably arise regarding the rules of relationship and tribal order.
But, in the same way that we should not seek to control others or situations, we should be aware not to allow others or situations to control us. Maintaining healthy boundaries is about recognising where our principles and those of the people we are interacting with are not the same. It is about cultivating healthy relationships.
It takes courage to stand your own ground when many of us grow up believing we are not worthy; not enough. In order to be accepted, we may feel a little too willing to please. And to honour relationships that are important to us, we may sometimes feel inclined to dishonour our truth and our relationship with ourselves.
Healthy relationship recognises individuals. It also recognises the millions of variables involved in any relationship that make it completely unique. Healthy relationship honours that uniqueness and does not try to squeeze, push or mould a person or relation into what one or the majority believe is the “right way”. Rather, it invites dialogue that includes transparent communication and respect, with trust in ourselves and each other being a key component.
When any of these is not present, it is necessary to establish healthy boundaries. We may be tempted to follow the crowd, but that just makes us into sheep. It is truly knowing yourself and standing up for what you believe in that makes you a lion.
Learn to know yourself and respect yourself as an independent individual while knowing you are also part of a whole. Think of the earth and its inhabitants as a single living organism with each being as an individual cell performing its own unique function. If all the cells tried to do the same thing, the whole organism would collapse and die.
It is this respect for the fact that our lives exist independently that allows us to explore our personal interests and capabilities and find our place in the world. It is with this understanding that we realise that our inner heart is the guide to fulfilling our destiny. We must not deny the world the gift of our existence. If sometimes our opinions, goals and dreams do not align, we must each agree to disagree so as to allow both the “me” and the “we” to coexist peacefully. While valuing the role of others in your life, don’t allow them to direct its course. Neither should you expect others to change the course of theirs because of your role in their life. With these healthy boundaries you can have healthy relationships that are balanced, harmonious and mutually fulfilling.
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