Do you think for yourself? Are you sure ?
Did you choose to get Duncan Donuts coffee or were you subliminally influenced by an advertisement?
People have been shaping how you live and the decisions you make for as long as you’ve existed. That’s part of living in a society. Our culture, beliefs, and values shape our conscious and sub-conscious decisions for the rest of our lives.
It started from the babyhood years, with “Don’t touch that! Be nice. Sit still.”
It went on and on, following you into your adolescence. There, you learned more rules of how you should live!
Society will always dictate how you ‘should’ dress, look, and act.
And in today’s age of rapid media, heavy advertising, skyrocketing internet, and plenty of other external influences, it’s easy to be influenced with-out even being aware of it.
Not that all external influence is bad but it’s very important to understand how to think for yourself with-out external manipulation.
There’s beauty and fulfillment in thinking for yourself and not being a puppet of the programming instilled in us by society.
That’s why you should always strive to think differently and to think for yourself.
Become the self-creating, independent, and self-defining individual who makes their way in life without the fear of being ostracized.
Thinking for yourself is a learning experience. It is a skill that you must develop, explore, and nurture.
Here’s how to do just that.
Rearrange Your Priorities To Think For Yourself
Most of us can admit that outside informational forces have had a hand in shaping our personalities, beliefs, virtues, fears, hopes, and dreams. This is true for all cultures.
The truth is that these external influences will always barrage you with their “truth” and mold your thoughts, beliefs, and values.
Sadly, you might never be aware of when it happens.
The cartoon above is a perfect example of how the perception of reality can distort the truth.
To think for yourself, you first have to get rid of all pre-conceived narratives you know.
You must prioritize understanding what’s true in the “bigger context” over being right in the smaller context.
Ask yourself, how do you know what is the truth? And how do you know what is other people’s biased and brainwashing propaganda ?
In other words, start by viewing everything you know clearly and independently before relating it to other ideas. This way, you’ll have a blank mind, free of pre-conceived conditioning.
While at it, remember to forget about being “right” or “wrong.”
The priority is to find out what is true with-in the bigger picture context. If something is ‘by-in-large true, don’t worry about the exception. Being wright or wrong doesn’t matter, finding out what is true does.
If you flesh out the truth with the idea that others are wrong and that you are right, you’ll work hard to prove that you know more than others and the information you look at will have a bias slant.
Then you’ll no longer be speaking facts, logic, or the truth but feeding your ego’s needs!
Are Your Information Sources Credible?
Determine whether your sources are reliable and unbiased if you desire to strengthen your ability to think for yourself.
Are your sources of information fair and open-minded?
There are many bias information traps, including social media, religion, family, politicized media, celebrities, and politicians.
They don’t always contain accurate, factual, and updated information.
For instance, any online publication and any second-hand information can always be edited for more viewership, following, or popularity. Often these sources are incentivized by feeding information that their audience want to see.
“Spinning” factual information to cater to your audience in order to make higher profits is dangerous, but it happens so look out for it.
People can also just say things because they are infatuated by the topic at hand or are spreading rumors.
You can only cultivate independent thinking if you get information from a credible source.
Do so by finding the real source and even understanding their motivation.
For instance, are they spreading information for personal gains? Are they sponsored by political donors?
Also, avoid sources that can’t back up or provide evidence and references to support their viewpoints.
Don’t Rely On 1 Source Of Information.
Another way to develop the ability to think for yourself is to feed your mind with new insights from as many “credible” sources as possible.
Being able to think for yourself doesn’t come from single-sided perspectives.
Therefore, always collect data from various sources, compare, and analyze it to see what makes the most sense.
Only after you’ve gathered perspective from the various collage of lenses should you settle for one truth.
This means that you need to expose yourself to various opinions and conduits of truth.
Read extensively, take classes, discuss topics, and scour through various cultures until you notice the most echoed piece of information.
The more lenses of information and perspectives you look through, the deeper your insight and the better understanding for truth you will have.
Plus, reaching out to more sources also allows your perspectives to be challenged the same way you do others.
Remember your opinions could be wrong. Be open minded
Being open-minded is the key to a constantly expanding and evolving consciousness.
It’s only after you find the ability to be truly open minded that you can connect with the deepest knowledge and unlock your inner wisdom.
This means that if you can’t be open to changing your mind, you won’t possess the inner wisdom that will influence you to think for yourself.
You must accept that your opinions could be completely wrong.
The best way to cultivate a state of open-mindedness is by understanding that even the smartest individuals in the world make mistakes. Or that your ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and opinions could be wrong.
There’s beauty, goodness, and respect to be gained by being willing to change your belief, firmly-held principles, and opinions based on new perspectives.
So, step out of your fixed mindset and preconceived notions of what you know or what’s popular in your world. Listen to other ideas and look for solutions to a situation from as many perspectives as possible.
Be flexible and widen your perspective—It’ll offer you a getaway for new ideals, beliefs, truths, thoughts, and CONFIDENCE!
Plus, it’s no use being too closed-off and holding onto the same worldview your whole life.
Don’t Change Your Opinion Because of Peer Pressure.
You are human, which means you are a social being. You want to belong, to be part of a tribe, nationality, race, or religion.
We can all fall victims o peer pressure at any age.
Having a sense of belonging is fine, and fitting in is great. But it shouldn’t be corruptive or come at the cost of your understanding of truth, identity, beliefs, and ideals.
Again, you are human. And as a social creature, the desire for social acceptance and to impress your tribe can creep on.
Peer pressure is among the greatest forces on earth. It’s amazing what it can get you to believe!
Peer pressure is often used in politics. For example, if you believe in one political idea, you can be manipulated to believe in another “because everyone else in the group thinks that way”.
So, always stay mindful of when your peers corrupt your thinking and when your viewpoint starts to change. You’ll only be able to guard your self-belief and sense of security if you are self-aware.
With a strong sense of security ask questions, debate, argue, and critique sentiments until you make sense of other people’s opinions.
Don’t conform, just to avoid confrontation.
Re-examine Your Opinions
You need to “fact check” your opinions because, while “your truths” could be true, your opinions might not be.
Of course, we always want to believe we are right.
But, do you know why you think what you think? how do you “know” that you’re right.
There’s only one way to know-come back to your opinions and challenge them.
For instance, ask yourself why you think like you do. You might discover just how poorly you can defend your own opinions.
Double-checking your beliefs can help you to understand why you know what you think you know.
It’ll also make you aware of what feeds your opinions and perspective.
You might even identify which of your opinions are data-based and factual and which ones are shaped by your experiences, ego, and wounds.
Ask More Questions To Think For Yourself
You can always check online for things like trends and fashions to understand how they started.
But then, there are other aspects like culture, rules, norms, and opinions. These, you can only find out more about them by talking to other people and asking questions.
Questioning other people’s beliefs, norms, opinions, and cultures demonstrate that you have actually thought about the truth you seek.
It means that you seek clarification because you want to think for yourself and not go with the masses “just because.”
So, it’s okay to be curious. Explore. Let your thoughts and doubts be known.
Question every authority there’s, whether legal, religious, academic, or governing.
However, the questions need to be intentional. Don’t just ask because you think that’s what you should do.
For instance, when there’s a problem within your community, ask “how,” “why” it arose, and “how” you can help.
Make it intentional!
Avoid Mass Manipulation To Think For yourself
Mass-scale manipulators employ one trick, which is getting you to believe ideas that benefit them.
This can be done with mass media, meme sharing, out-of context facts, paid false advertising, and many more techniques.
Such people include propagandists, social media influencers, pop stars, cult leaders, con artists, advertisers, and even the political class.
At a personal level, it can include an abusive domestic partner, a family member, a friend, or an ex.
Such people develop a narrative that only works if they can make you believe it. And, they can be convincing!
The best way to escape mass manipulation is to “stay woke”.
Being “woke” means being wary of individuals and anyone whose intention is to distort your general understanding of what’s true, real, and ethical.
Take a stand, commit to your point of view, and stick to it regardless of the external pressure.
Mass manipulators might derail your commitment to your beliefs. But, they won’t succeed if your opinions and stands are deeply rooted in your core principles.
Oscar Wilde once said. “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation. “
What he meant by that was that we tend to believe things and conform to what’s already in place without question.
That’s how the world has conditioned us. It’s human.
But in a world where people wear fake personas to “fit in,” become the best version of yourself.
Discover yourself, become yourself, and think for yourself. This way, you’ll be authentic and free of society’s conditioning.
I mean: try to imagine a planet full of self-actualizing humans that can think for themselves. Beautiful, right?
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