The Unhealthy Pressure of Society

by Steffen Messerschmidt, Naturopathic Doctor, Brisbane, Australia.

In the clinics where I practice, patients frequently report to me that they often only drink alcohol, take drugs or eat certain foods in order to be socially accepted and to fit in.

These days, in many circles, it is socially and culturally acceptable to drink alcohol, take drugs and eat in a way that is not supportive of our bodies and our health, and often makes us feel sluggish and bloated.

But for some, this way of living is recognised as no longer working and they are making different choices such as: not to drink, to quit smoking, go to bed early, to take better care of themselves, live a simple, joyful and loving life showing respect and love towards humanity and to respect others without judgement for their choices.

When they begin to make different lifestyle choices, they feel targeted, condemned or even bullied and find it hard to make the changes they would like to make simply because of the pressure that family, friends, work colleagues and society puts on them.

This does not make sense. Self-loving choices may seem out of the ordinary to some, but from what I witness on a daily basis in my clinics many people can now attest to the benefits they are feeling.

People feel so much pressure, some of which comes from and is perpetuated by the media, to continue to engage in unhealthy and loveless choices. You just have to look at all the advertising for alcohol, junk foods, soft drinks etc. and the daily emails advertising for alcohol specials and free junk food samples and unhealthy choices.

Under the pressure of society that encourages an unhealthy lifestyle, many accept this as a normal way of living without actually stopping and truly feeling if this suits them, if this is good for them and if this actually represents what they truly want to live.

Overall our bodies show lots of signs that the way we are living is not going well, but because of the pressure from all of the above we still give in and carry on with behaviours we know are unhealthy.

Many suffer from the consequences afterwards but can not say NO when it is just that one piece of birthday cake from your niece, the Christmas Dinner your family invited you to, just a glass of sparkling wine on New Year’s Eve, just that cookie or cake because the relative baked it herself, just that piece of chocolate because it is for a raffle for school, just that glass of alcohol because it is your friend’s wedding and so on …

Recently I also heard this one: ‘I know you do this healthy lifestyle thing now and do not drink alcohol but you can just have one glass with me and I will not tell anybody.’ Who needs enemies when you have friends like that!

And at the end of this list would certainly be the statement that it is Un-Australian not to drink alcohol on Australia Day! (1)

Again this list could go on and on and on, but I am sure you know what I mean.

Because of all this pressure we would rather suffer than dare to say ‘No’ to something we know does not feel right for us and is actually damaging our health, as in the end the body has to bear the consequences. How crazy is that?

World health statistics show that we are not getting healthier and we have epidemics in obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, mental illness and many other chronic diseases.

It is time that we as humanity look at our choices, the consequences those choices bring and start to take responsibility for our own health. This begins by saying ‘No’.

Saying ‘No’ is definitely a more healthy choice than giving in to the pressure of peers to persist with an unhealthy lifestyle. Indeed, saying ‘No’ to unhealthy choices is saying ‘Yes’ to yourself, ‘Yes’ to lovingly looking after your health and your body.


553 thoughts on “The Unhealthy Pressure of Society

  1. Sometimes I find it hard to say no, I am finding it easier to say yes than no. For example, if I want to eat something that is not good for me, if I try using will power and say NO, it often does not work. But if I say yes to making more loving choices, and yes to wanting to care (even if in that moment I don’t really care), then I can find that works easier for me. And I am finding out more and more that it is the way that I move, that supports me to make more loving choices or not. If I move throughout the day in a way that is more connected and present with me, and gentle and loving, I find it easier to say YES to loving choices. If I move harshly, and disconnected, it is easier to say YES to the not so loving choices.

  2. There will always be pressure from others if our diets are different to the norm. People suppose that we are missing out, when in fact we are actually protecting ourselves from disease and opening ourselves up to Love instead. I do still get caught out but my own fault rather than someone else.

  3. You would think that as a society we would want to help ensure the health of our community, its amazing to consider how the opposite is actually the true.

  4. You spell it out really clearly here Steffen, we live in a society that is unhealthy and not only that it promotes ill health. We learn many subjects as we grow up yet the biggest one – self responsibility – is never taught.

  5. I have noticed that people who drink alcohol, smoke, eat unhealthy food etc often feel very uncomfortable in the presence of those who are making more loving choices. Does this not tell us that we all know what is true for our body but don’t always want to make that choice to be responsible for ourselves?

  6. It is amazing – despite all the signs our bodies and the statistics are showing, we keep justifying the abuse we inflict on ourselves and each other and accept as normal. Saying ‘no’ to the normal can seem confronting at times, but it is an amazing offering to everyone around us to start considering a new (not so new actually) and more loving normal.

    1. Yes, that is because we are prepared to pay the price (feeling lethargic, aggressive, affected, chronic lifestyle diseases etc) in return for the momentary relief.

  7. The key is to know what our true choices are and then it is easier to make them. We don’t need to be perfect – it gets easier over time, though.

  8. Society is definitely set up to make us unhealthy in many ways, it only takes a few people to start saying no to alcohol, drugs, sugar etc, and others start to question their own choices, at the end of the day by taking responsibility for ourselves, we offer society a different choice.

  9. Waywardness is a conspiracy we are all in on until such a time that we lift our head above the cloud we collectively live under and begin to make choices that are true for our body and being.

  10. The worst pressure in this world is the one we subscribe to and apply to ourselves. We think that as others do things we have no choice but that is simply not right. We always have the possibility to see the truth and stay strong in that. All we need for this, is to love and back ourselves regardless. As so many of us don’t do this though it can easily seem like there’s no other way. Thank God for those like you Steffen who show there’s another option.

  11. It does seem bizarre that making healthy choices gets ridiculed, snubbed or even attacked. But at the end of the day, it’s a choice to want to fit in or stay true to what feels right for you… regardless of the pressure or negative comment.

  12. It feels like the tipping point will happen at one point as more and more people choose to make more loving choices and this will gather momentum to tip over into more larger scale humanity where more and more people will do so as well.

  13. People often can’t cope when we say no to something they are saying yes too, because it makes them uncomfortable and feel how their own choices are unloving. It used to bother me that I stood out as different or odd, when I said no, but I love what you write here that we are actually saying yes to ourselves and our loving choices for our bodies.

  14. Whilst the fact that this plays out in society is most illogical and very unfortunate it proves that there is more going on behind the scenes of what we see so to speak. There is no way when someone is living from their essense that such a response to anothers embrace of their own love would happen. In fact it would be confirmed and appreciated. So does this not indicate that there are more forces playing out in our realm than we care to realise or give credit to?

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