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SOS BOOK Chapter 33: Understand group pressure.



GROUP NORMS ARE NOT OUR BEST OPTION.

Deep within us, we have a unique personal nature. We have deep inner needs, dreams & drives. We can unknowingly suppress our true inner nature because of our family, friends or community. Too often we march to someone else’s drumbeat, not our own unique rhythm. Without realizing it, we can surrender our individuality & uniqueness to group pressure!


By identifying with group values or norms, we deny ourselves a full range of inner self-expression. We make a significant sacrifice to 'fit in' with the group! The perceived need for safety & belonging, has been deeply instilled in us. The group seems to provide this, so we generally comply. We feel it’s the admission price for being included.


PUNISHMENT & REJECTION IS USED FOR CONTROL.

Whatever the group’s nature, be it radical or very conservative, there is always a pressure to comply. Dissenters are side-lined, criticized or scorned. They can be punished and threatened with eviction. Non-compliant members are eventually rejected & cast out. They are often made an example of! This serves as a warning to others in the group who might also be considering non-compliance!

If we lose acceptance from one group, we search for another that will accept us. So, the process of alignment & compliance starts over again.

…Have you started to break free from group norms?

RULES & REWARDS ARE CONTROL MECHANISMS.

Communities also control their members through established traditions or rituals. These may be written or unwritten codes of behavior or ethics. The group may even appoint monitors or guardians of its standards. Some members delight in taking on such a judgmental or supervisory role!


Status in the group may be given as a reward for loyalty & ‘good’ behavior. There may be additional titles, awards or positions of power granted for supporting the system.

…Are you influenced by the rewards offered by a group?


EXCLUSIVE GROUPS OFFER PRESTIGE & POWER.

There can be considerable prestige in being invited to join some exclusive or powerful groups. Group membership may confer considerable favor, opportunities, or material benefits in the wider community. This is a strong drawcard. Great sacrifices are often made to join and maintain membership to exclusive groups.

…Are you enticed by the prestige of belonging to exclusive groups?


THE GROUP OVERRIDES INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS.

On a larger scale, nations and states formally enforce their rules. Local regulations and national laws are perhaps the most obvious control. At this legal level, we are policed and even forcibly restrained. We can be formally judged in a court of law and penalized or punished to varying degrees.


Without these laws & controls, society fears its structure will degenerate into chaos or anarchy. There seems to be so much at stake, even the survival of the group itself. This is the narrative we have been conditioned to believe!

All these methods of control tend to restrain individual members in the collective. This helps deter dissent & rebellion.


WE MAKE TOKEN PROTESTS.

Most collectives allow limited individual dissent to be expressed in the group setting. This is allowed because self-expression is such a pressing human need and is hard to deny.


But even in an open & liberal society, there are still limits which must not be exceeded! Stepping outside these acceptable bounds is deemed too threatening to group stability or sensibility. But what’s the alternative?

We could attempt to live independently from the group. However, we are inherently fearful of such a change and the disruption it would cause! The fear of being scorned or rejected is usually enough to intimidate us. The stress of being alone or seeking another group is usually too much to bear. So, we generally comply and conform.

…Have you considered breaking from a group?

PARENTS DON’T RECOGNISE THEY ARE COMPLICIT.

Our parents want us to cope well and fit into our community! Society has convinced us that this will be an advantage to the child. Parents want ‘the best’ for their children, so the subtle conditioning starts early. The same thing was done by their parents too!


Parents teach children the importance of self-limitation & suppression. It’s often labelled as learning ‘self-control’. Children don’t always need to be verbally told that it’s important to comply. Children see what is expected of them, simply from observing parental reactions.


Displeasure can simply be conveyed through behavior or body language. Even a facial expression or a posture can convey a powerful judgement. Young children acutely notice the withdrawal of love or support. So, they learn to comply. They put on the mask of compliance.

…Can you recognize the ways you have been controlled by your family?


BREAKING FREE SEEMS THREATENING.

When we look deeply within, we can find that we are unhappy and unfulfilled. We’re usually not at peace with ourselves! There is a subtle but pervasive emptiness and a lack of contentment. We are outwardly compliant, but inwardly quite unhappy. So, what can we do?

We need to break free from our old ways! To do this we must change ourselves. We must reassess our social conditioning and even our expectations. We need to review our old habits. We also need to appreciate the effect of our past trauma. That’s how we change and heal ourselves. Remember our ego will perceive any such change as being difficult or too risky. So, commitment is required to overcome the ego’s resistance.

FULFILLMENT REQUIRES SELF-DISCOVERY.

One strategy to break free from old ways is to view our life from a higher perspective. From there, we aim to find contentment & fulfillment in life. We aim to discover our individual life purpose. We aim to express this passion in our lives.


Sadly, most of us still haven’t realized our inner dreams & desires! We grow up, work, fall in love, age and then we die! But somehow all this seems insufficient! So often, we still feel dissatisfied and unfulfilled! We have failed to grasp the meaning and purpose of our lives. We miss the point! But why is this so?


EACH INNER JOURNEY WILL BE UNIQUE.

We are each so different. Every person has a unique perspective & life purpose.This life purpose is what drives us and gives us passion. Finding our life purpose requires exploration or a life quest. But this quest is not a journey of distant travel. It’s an inward journey, through a process of increased awareness, contemplation & reflection. This process of inner discovery provides the realization we seek!


We need to look inwardly, deep within ourselves. Our individual and unique answer resides there, deep within! There is a pathway that's just right for us. But we must navigate this path ourselves. We do this by trusting our deep intuition & inner guidance systems. This book will help explain this process. We might even discover our ultimate purpose or our Ultimate Quest.


…Have you considered what your passion & purpose might be?


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