Learning how to think for yourself can be a bit overwhelming especially when you’re not used to it. I was reading a book about a young girl who was working as a housekeeper for some wealthy people to make ends meet.

While cleaning, she’d listen to her boss and his wife discuss issues, events, and sometimes people.
After working with them for about a year, she noticed that every time they discussed, they seemed to criticize everything and everyone. Of course, only hearing their point of view, she naturally became a fault-finding person.

Upon leaving their house a couple of years, she applied for another job. During her interview, she was asked what she thought about the increasing extinction of animals in the country. She stood there for a whole five minutes thinking of all the conversations her boss and his wife had. Since they’d never talked about the topic before, she didn’t have anything to say. What did she do?

The girl followed the pattern she was used to hearing and condemned the animals. She said ‘I don’t know what the issue is with these animals, they need to start giving birth more’. Everyone in the office had a nice laugh. She was told she wasn’t cut out for the job since she had very limited knowledge and was escorted out of the building.

As she stood outside suffering from utter humiliation, she told herself ‘There’s one thing in life I’m sure of today and forever. As long as I have a head on my shoulders, I would always get knowledge, evaluate what I learn, and form my own beliefs in life.

Anxiety Level Test

Do you think about yourself?

Can you say the same? Can you say you know how to think for yourself?

It’s very easy to say YES! But I’d like you to think deeply about it.

It may seem absurd that the first thing I’m asking is whether you can think for yourself but it’s a very fundamental question to help you understand where you’re at in life.

There’s something lots of people are fond of doing unconsciously and I’m sometimes guilty of this. It’s letting other people think for you.

Unless you’re a very perceptive person and very aware of situations, events, and trends, it’s unlikely that you think for yourself all the time. It’s very easy to decide to do things just because the whole world is doing it. We tend to fall into the cycle of living according to trends and shifts placed before us by marketers and influencers without even considering their value.

How are our thoughts shaped?

It’s why thinking for yourself is not just something you say you do but something you practice. There are beliefs and thoughts established in our societies long before we were born that unconsciously shape the way we think.

You may not intend to let this happen but you find yourself making decisions based on the opinion and ideas of others that you may not necessarily agree to if you thought about them.

I didn’t just get to the point where I sit back, try to think about what I hear and see and form my own opinions by growing older. So don’t be worried if you can’t.

Why think about yourself?

Thinking for yourself is the beginning of your journey to an independent lifestyle and the foundation for becoming the person you’ve projected to be in the coming years. Where do you see yourself in the next five, ten, and twenty years respectively? What’s the plan for your life? 

If you cannot think for yourself, you may not have answers to these questions. I know that a lot of people believe in living in the ‘here and now but if you don’t see yourself working towards something, how would your thinking, actions, and interactions lead you to become anything at all.

I’m an advocate of taking every day head-on as it comes and not worrying about the future but I also believe in living an intentional life.

What exactly does it mean to think for yourself?

pexels photo 6169695

Do you think for yourself

When you make decisions, form beliefs, and take responsibility for yourself, you can think for yourself. Simply put, to think for yourself is to have an independent mind or attitude.

There’s something lots of people are fond of doing unconsciously and I’m sometimes guilty of this. It’s letting other people think for you.

You may not intend to let this happen but you find yourself making decisions based on the opinion and ideas of others that you may not necessarily agree to if you thought about them.

When you learn how to think for yourself, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner. These are some of the things I’m sure you’d experience.

  • You begin to make smarter choices that are tailored to your desires.
  • You become much more confident in yourself and your abilities
  • You’re open to the opinion of others because you are capable of sifting out beliefs that are not in-line with your values.
  • You are respected by others because you can make sound contributions to topics or issues that are discussed.
  • You’re a step closer to achieving your goals in life since you know what you’ll want for yourself.

“It’s only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea. By giving my brain a chance to make associations, draw connections, take me by surprise”

— William Deresiewicz

How to think for yourself with five simple tips

Establish your values

You want to learn how to think for yourself, then establish your values. Try writing down what your values in life are. The things that you believe in and the things you don’t. This is a very important step in learning how to think for yourself.

You begin to form the wrong thoughts and opinions when you start to think for yourself if you don’t have the right values from the start. I believe you have the ability to decide what is right or wrong because you have a conscience   

Be open to learning

“If you read, you can learn to think for yourself.” ~ Doris Lessing

There’s hardly going to be anything to think about if you don’t have information. You need to have facts to draw from, history to learn from, and opinions to guide your thought process. How’s this possible? Read the dailies, books, and literarily anything you can get your hands on.

If you’re reading this blog post, you’ve already begun this part. Listen to people speak on things you’re interested in (it could be anything beauty experts, the news, public speakers, your friends, and even your family members) Understand the best tips on how to learn.

Compare what you know and have learnt with the subject you’re thinking about

This is where you think. And no, it’s not that you tell your brain to start thinking. It’s simply the process of using your judgment to consider something. It is simply reasoning. It’s not as hard as you think.

5 Quick prompts to help you think properly

What do I know about this topic?

Is my knowledge enough to get me to a logical conclusion on this subject?

Where can I get more information to help improve my perspective on this subject?

What did the information I got imply about this topic?

With what I have learned, (considering my values, beliefs, and opinion) what do I feel about this topic?

That’s the simple process involved in thinking in the right direction!

think for yourself

Be firm with your thoughts.

“Think for yourself, or others will think for you without thinking of you.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

When people are not used to you having opinions for yourself, they are likely to unconsciously force their opinion on you because you usually just accept them. What does this mean?

If you aren’t firm about your opinions and thoughts, likely, others would not take them seriously and would try to change your opinion. For example, if, after much consideration, you don’t think a red frame goes with the overall outlook of a room. Be firm about your opinion. It doesn’t mean forcing others to accept them. You’re just clear on what you think about the subject.

Don’t be afraid of being wrong

I’ve never met anyone right about everything. Have you?

If the fear of having a wrong opinion keeps you from thinking for yourself then you’re never going to do anything innovative for fear of failing. Imagine you decided never to breathe for fear of inhaling polluted air. What would happen to you? That’s exactly what the fear of being wrong is like. It’ll kill you.

Will you be crucified for having the wrong opinion? No, you’ll learn what is considered right and why it is right (remember point 2).

And yes, don’t you get into overthinking too, that will make things worse.

“No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”

~ Friedrich Nietzsche

If you don’t take anything from all this, at least keep this one thing in mind.

None of the big names you know today got to where they are by following the bandwagon of letting others think for them.

I’d like to know if this helped clarify some notions you had about thinking for yourself. What other methods have you tried to improve the way you think? I’d like to hear all about them.