I’d first like to begin and say that being an independent and free-thinker isn’t about being so stubborn that it takes a toll on your compassion.
Because we’ve all met that person who insists that playing devil’s advocate is their way of remaining impartial to everything.
There’s no actual free-thinking happening unless you value other people’s right to think freely as well.
Instead, I’d like to bring up how independence can be lost through our relationships and the directions in which our thoughts go when they lack self-awareness.
Not to mention, being a free-thinker imbues you with different problems and issues that aren’t as often talked about.
Keep scrolling and you’ll see what I mean – here are 10 habits of people with an independent and free-thinking mind.
1) They ask themselves what they want
It’s a constant self check-in with free-thinkers and their desires.
Only because it’s always changing! It’s important for them to stay connected with themselves in order to ensure they feel good about their decisions.
And although you can become a more independent person through practice it’s worth noting that some people are naturally self-sufficient.
Especially with certain autism profiles like PDA (pervasive drive for autonomy), some people’s neurodivergence wires them to strive for independence.
That just goes to show you how different we can all be from one another and how important it is to honor that by encouraging people to think for themselves.
No matter how you’ve come to value your mind, the bottom line is that patience becomes a subject in which you have a personal history with.
2) They are patient with themselves
A big part of being an independent thinker is being open to multiple perspectives.
Especially all the different ones in your head, and giving them all a microphone. As you can imagine, getting them all to be on the same page takes time.
So to some it may seem like it takes a while to make decisions for a free thinking mind, but really they’re just consulting what I’d like to call the “council.”
In fact, being around them might feel extremely validating and comforting because they will encourage you to do what’s best for you when it comes to making big decisions.
All because they’re able to honor their thoughts and emotions without hesitation.
3) They validate themselves
Being a free-thinker sometimes feels like you’re an alien because this planet has a way of thinking we need to suffer for the things we want.
But the truth is that the suffering in question is usually a byproduct of not knowing what you’re feeling or thinking.
When your mind is as open as it is, people may subtly or outright project their difficulty holding multiple perspectives in their heads onto you.
It’s a form of jealousy that they might not even be aware of. And it’s crucial you learn how to validate your own perspective and stand up for yourself.
You can do so by offering yourself compassion and extending that to others by allowing them to think what they want.
It doesn’t mean they’re right, nor does it mean they can have access to you.o
But as someone who fought people for a while to defend myself, I’ve learned that detachment is sweeter than revenge.
4) They let people think what they want
As mentioned, allowing your mind to project insecurities and make assumptions about people is the biggest sign that someone doesn’t know how to think for themselves.
So it’s no surprise that there’s a correlation between letting go of control and free-thinking.
Allowing others to make their own decisions comes with the task of learning how to set the right boundaries with them as well.
Personally I had a hard time with this because I felt like I was going against what I’ve done all my life, which was allowing people’s emotions to dictate what I did.
But in the end, a healthy space is worth keeping a peace of mind. And learning how to set boundaries will help you reconnect with your intuition.
Which will help you make decisions that honor your uniqueness and autonomy even more.
5) They listen to their intuition
The difference between your anxiety and intuition is that your intuition won’t tell you what not to do.
I would say that’s more your gut instincts, or in other words accumulated wisdom from your past experiences.
You should use both to cultivate independence but your intuition is extra important because it tells you what’s good for you.
Think of it like this: if your gut tells you what potholes to avoid, then your intuition is the castle on the horizon that you’re trying to reach.
And when you live by what you fear, it makes it harder for you to challenge your preconceived notions and assumptions.
6) They challenge their assumptions
When you’re an independent thinker it doesn’t matter so much to stay the same for fear of losing what you’ve gained.
What worked then worked then. And if it no longer does, it’s not a bad idea to try something new.
Challenging your assumptions is also important if you want to continuously grow as a person because it keeps you in the present moment instead of ruminating on past experiences.
I don’t mean that you should question yourself all the time because that would be detrimental to your self-esteem.
But keeping yourself in check requires you to bruise your ego just a bit.
And luckily, you are not your ego. If you feel like you are, perhaps separating yourself from it is where you could start.
Then you can lock in all that wisdom while evolving as a person by making time to try new things.
7) They make time to try new things
Purposefully allocating time to go against your comfort zone will be uncomfortable at first.
But once you see how capable you are, all the initial fears will wash away – giving you a whole new perspective.
For example, I recently decided to travel on my own for the first time since the pandemic started. And let me tell you… there was a huge learning curve.
There were so many moments where I just wanted to go home because I was exhausted from being constantly on the move.
And oh how I embarrassed myself a few hundred times just from not knowing things.
But turns out that’s when you experience the most growth because all my insecurities and fears came to the surface.
Now I’m a couple weeks past the curve and I’m so glad I didn’t give up.
If anything it just showed me how being wrong can be a blessing sometimes.
8) They admit when they’re wrong
The best part about having your own sense of rules and values is that you get to decide how you grow by identifying where you can do better.
Aside from growing on your own terms, free-thinkers are able to admit when they’re wrong because they aren’t afraid to consider different perspectives.
Intellectual humility and empathy also go hand in hand.
Offering genuine apologies and getting curious about how they affect others is another way they cultivate more self-awareness.
So despite a lot of people using the label of free-thinking to preserve their thoughts, the opposite is true.
And necessary, if you want to grow your communication skills.
9) They engage in constructive dialogue
Constructive dialogue is basically when you communicate with the intention of growing and refining what you already know by being open to new concepts.
A part of it is engaging in conversations with different kinds of people.
People who may not always agree or share your viewpoint, and trying to find a middle ground of sorts.
Being a good problem-solver is a part of being an independent thinker as you have to come up with new or unique solutions.
So while it may sound contradictory, knowing how to respect different ideas is the key to thinking independently. Without it, you’d just be stuck in your own echo chamber.
And I don’t know about you, but being stuck in a chamber doesn’t sound very freeing.
10) They perceive beyond the physical
As illustrated above, thinking outside the box is a big part of being a free-thinker.
Though it’s not necessary, a lot of them have strange or unconventional beliefs that they might entertain.
Sort of like their brain is a dog that needs to be let out in the yard once in a while.
They might act like they live in their own world at times. And if it’s not strange beliefs, then they might enjoy thinking in abstract concepts.
Almost like they’re learning a language that doesn’t restrict their brain’s mother tongue of symbols and everything unknown.
It’s how they embrace complexity and acknowledge that the understanding that we have of the world is merely the tip of the iceberg.
Having an independent and free-thinking mind is like having the best antivirus on your brain
Our multitude of perspectives help us shake off the negative ones, and the world has never looked so daunting because of it.
Where others see neverending questions, we see endless potential for the truth.
It may feel isolating at times because the nature of our mind’s curiosities questions the “way things are.”
But you never hear the ocean complain about motion sickness, so don’t be afraid to rock the boat.
Although I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that.