How can one develop integrity and not get influenced by peer pressure?
I many times in hurriedness make wrong decisions of agreeing with people and later realize that I shouldn't have because I compromised the higher principles. Its been there in me since childhood and I am fed up of making such decisions. But out of habit and peer pressure I do it. How can I overcome it?
This is an excellent question. You have brought to light a challenge that many people must face and deal with at some point in their life.
My own experience used to be exactly as you have described. It is simply what happens when you move too fast and don’t give yourself enough time to really listen, reflect, and respond. Imagine a singer who steps up to the microphone without pause, without entering into the feel of the music and without breathing… and just blurts out the song!
I would suggest starting with focusing on your breath. Especiallly in meditation, focus on a breath that starts in the abdomen, or better yet, at the base of the spine. Notice the quality of your thoughts when you are breathing shallowly from the chest up vs a full deep breath.
Next, imagine yourself pausing before responding to the people around you. Just say “hmm, that is interesting idea, let me think about that.” or just “hmmm” Let them wait for your reasoned response.
Of course then one hopes to have a reasoned response! This is an intuitive art in itself. You have to stop and ask yourself, “What do I think?” “What is my opinion on the matter?” You are a unique individual in all creation! Your point of view is your own. The idea is to respond from what is true for you.
Then the fun begins. You then observe: does that point of view I hold make me happy? Is it beneficial to those that I work with?
There is a simple question you can ask yourself: Does it work? Does your approach or thoughts on the matter bring greater clarity? Does your approach or thoughts improve a situation or create confusion? Does it expand your sense of self, or does it make you feel limited in some way? You can start a practice of keeping an ongoing conversation with God at all times, inwardly asking His contribution to the matter.
Integrity is something we build in ourselves day by day, through our successes and failures. We continue to learn and never stop learning. Swami Kriyananda said something I’ve always found very helpful. When difficult circumstances arise, learn as much as you can in the moment, and then let them go. Don’t hold on. Each breath can be as a fresh beginning.