This article has everything you need to know about how to think for yourself.
It’s easy to accept what others say in these uncertain times, but to think for yourself is essential. Improving critical thinking skills can help you reevaluate your beliefs and question information.
Writing down your beliefs can serve as a reference when in doubt. Seek knowledge from experts and gather evidence to make informed opinions.
How To Think For Yourself:
1. Take on one challenge daily.
Everyone encounters daily challenges, be it choosing the right candidate, weighing job offers, or dealing with a relative. Dedicate some time each day to tackle one of these issues. Evaluate if the problem is within your control, such as the job offer or a family member’s refusal to seek medical help.
If not, don’t waste time on it.
Gather information necessary to make a decision, such as comparing salary and benefits from job offers. Make a choice based on the gathered information. For example, choose the job offer with better compensation. Stay flexible and be ready to adjust your plan as new information arises.
2. Maintain a reflective journal.
Start by describing an event that had emotional impact. Detail your reaction to the situation. Examine what your reaction reveals about you and what emotions may have been at play.
Then, consider alternative ways you could have responded or how you plan to handle similar situations in the future. Ensure that each entry follows the same format to maintain consistency.
3. Examine your beliefs and their origins.
Many of our views are shaped by factors such as family, culture, location, education, and affiliations with religious or cultural groups. Compile a list of beliefs that are expected of you as a member of these groups. Assess whether you truly hold these beliefs.
For instance, if your religion prohibits abortion, reflect on your stance on the issue. Ensure your beliefs align with your religion because they stem from your personal convictions, not just because it is expected.
4. Challenge everything.
To think independently, gather information for yourself instead of relying on others. Ask plenty of questions, especially in situations that impact you personally, such as voting or selecting a school.
Don’t blindly follow others’ advice. Ensure to use trustworthy sources for research.
If you’ve struggled to think independently in the past, you may still be influenced by others initially as you try to think for yourself. This is normal. Changing long-held thinking patterns is challenging (1). Allow yourself time to develop the ability to resist external opinions and think for yourself.
6. Document your principles.
To remain steadfast in your beliefs and values, you must be aware of them. Compile a list of your most important values and principles.
Use this list as a reference when you’re feeling uncertain about your stance on issues. Examples of common values include authenticity, faith, kindness, justice, love, and respect.
7. Follow your values.
Thinking for yourself is not meaningful if you do not act on your thoughts. After you’ve reflected on a situation, make a decision and stick to it.
For instance, when choosing who to vote for, evaluate how the candidates align with your values. If you value authenticity, kindness, and respect, and one candidate contradicts these, it’s likely not the best choice. Ensure that your personal goals align with your values.
8. Say no to group influence.
When you’re seeking a friend’s opinion on a topic or asking for proof of their stance, they may attempt to persuade you to see things their way. Don’t succumb to this pressure, especially if multiple friends have the same view. Sometimes it’s best to remain silent, as the more you speak up, the more they’ll try to sway you.
For example, if a friend claims vaccines are bad, request them to back it up with evidence. If they don’t, don’t accept their perspective and instead, do your own research. It’s acceptable to respectfully hold a different viewpoint. After expressing your stance, you could say, “I respect your opinion and I appreciate you respecting mine.”
9. Follow your gut.
If you’re making a decision or talking about something, and you have a feeling that something is off, pay attention to it! You often have a good understanding of what’s best for you and your life, and how you really feel about certain things. Don’t ignore that inner voice. By listening to it more, it can help you make decisions based on your own thoughts.
For instance, when choosing between two job opportunities, you may be pressured to take the one with a higher salary, but your gut might tell you that the other one will bring you more happiness. Be selective with arguments too. If you sense that the person you’re talking to may not accept your viewpoint, it might be best to keep it to yourself.
10. Acquire trustworthy information.
At times, relying solely on your own thoughts isn’t the best approach. When dealing with an area where experts have more expertise, rely on their findings and opinions. In such cases, it’s acceptable to heed other people’s opinions.
For instance, if a physician diagnoses you with an illness and suggests specific medicines, it’s advisable to follow their advice. But, if the source of information is questionable, conduct further research.
For example, if you come across a piece regarding the effectiveness of certain medical treatments, look into the treatments more deeply and focus on well-known and credible sources such as WebMD or Mayo Clinic (2).
11. Consider differing perspectives.
A great way to form a well-rounded opinion is to expose yourself to a variety of perspectives. If you only listen to one individual with a single viewpoint, your own thoughts will be influenced by their stance or the information they provide.
Ensure that you gather information and evidence from differing viewpoints and take the time to evaluate all the information. This will allow you to arrive at an informed decision.
12. Request for proof.
When someone is attempting to persuade you, request proof. The evidence required may vary depending on the situation, but demand that you be presented with substantial evidence. Evaluate the evidence provided and consider its validity. Are the sources reliable and trustworthy such as reputable news outlets or professional websites?
For instance, if someone tries to convince you to change your cell phone brand, ask for their reasons and weigh their arguments against your needs.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read my article about how to think for yourself. I sincerely hope its contents have been a good help to you. +