Peer independence is arguably the least understood aspect of self confidence. Many people who are shy, or suffer from social anxiety, tell me that they lack confidence. However, their shyness or social anxiety is only one aspect of a constellation of qualities which combine to determine our confidence profile. Understanding peer independence helps many people to appreciate and build on their personal strengths.
Peer independence is the ability to ‘stick to your guns’ in the face of opposition or dissent from your peers. Some individuals have exceptionally high levels of peer independence, for which we should all be thankful. Peer independent people are the heroes in our society, the ones with moral courage who will stand up for truth and justice, regardless of fashion. Peer independence is a special, and relatively rare, aspect of self confidence.
As a hypnotherapist specialising in confidence, self esteem and stress management, I regularly work with people with low self esteem or who perceive themselves to be lacking in confidence. Low self esteem can have its roots in a variety of sources - accidents of upbringing, inherited disposition, recent misfortune. We are all vulnerable to this curse; just consider the way you feel immediately after receiving an insult. Low self esteem can affect anybody, with some of us more susceptible than others.
Yet when working with people who rate their own personal value quite poorly, who profess themselves utterly lacking in confidence, I often find that my clients have normal or even above-average levels of peer independence. High levels of peer independence are typically seen in leaders. Think of top politicians and business leaders. For me, the ultimate peer independent person was Margaret Thatcher. Peer independent people are iconoclasts - they are not afraid to challenge convention.
When I find high levels of peer independence in a client I am always intrigued by the way their depressed self-image interacts with the honesty, integrity and refusal to compromise which are associated with peer independence. These are interesting people - frequently very caring, stubborn and somewhat misunderstood. The first step in helping such people to rebuild their confidence is to highlight their great strength. Because peer independence is a wonderful quality, and deserves to be understood. It can also be a social handicap; the peer independent person is rarely a flatterer or charmer.
All manner of people can be helped with their self esteem issues. I particularly love helping people who have high levels of peer independence, because the gains can be so impressive. A peer independent person with high self esteem is a force of nature - and a force for good. Society needs challengers, and a self confident, peer independent person can provide that constructive challenge.
Jim Sullivan is a hypnotherapist specialising in confidence and self esteem. For further information relating to peer independence, and to assess your own peer independence and other confidence-related qualities, see http://www.confidenceclub.net/content/peerindependence.php