Thinking for yourself can be the most liberating and at the same time one of the most demanding tasks of a person’s life. It seems so easy to just give in and go with a flow, allow others to take control and make decisions for you, but in the end, thinking for yourself will only serve you well.
We make decisions based on the information we have from school, personal experience, and professional knowledge.
Our perception is so highly influenced by external factors that sometimes you may wonder: is it you who makes the decision or is it the outer world in charge in the form of your thoughts and opinions? This is the dilemma every person faces at some point.
So, to help you out, here are 7 signs that you are thinking for yourself:
1) You are able to say no
It is always tricky to say no. On the one hand, saying yes is so much more comfortable than no, but on the other hand, the word “NO” holds so much power. To be more clear, saying “no” in this context means saying no even though saying “yes” might seem more convenient in a particular situation.
You must have experienced it: you want to say no, but you are afraid of hurting somebody’s feelings or peer pressure is just too strong.
When you say no, you change the context and take control over the situation. Usually, agreeing to things is simpler and quicker. Saying no requires certain mastery over yourself. We normally think more when we say no, and refusal is mostly based on more information and analysis than acceptance.
Saying no requires confidence and the ability to evaluate the situation. If you can say no, it means you can think for yourself. But remember, being able to say no does not mean that you will be able to say it in every situation.
We all have our weaker moments or sometimes we just cannot help but agree to stuff we truly want to decline. So, do not be too hard on yourself, as long as you can say no in important situations and respect your boundaries, you can think for yourself.
2) You can handle peer pressure
Peer pressure is something that nobody is totally immune to. At some point, all of us have been victims of social pressure. But as individuals, we must work on setting boundaries and respecting our personal space.
Being able to handle peer pressure is no easy task and if you are able to do that, it is a sign of independent thinking. By defying peer pressure, you respect yourself and show trust for the decisions you have made.
It takes mental strength to handle peer pressure because we face it in so many places. This aspect can take over your personal as well as professional life.
You need a high level of self-awareness to draw a line between yourself and the group of people surrounding you. Our friends and colleagues influence our lives so much that it is often hard to determine if our opinions are a result of our own thinking or group influence.
According to the Need-to-belong Theory, humans have a fundamental need to belong to relationships and be accepted by groups. This desire has very deep roots because it started in the prehistoric age when people needed to live in groups for survival.
Therefore, it is very hard to go against this desire and you will not be able to do without the ability to think for yourself.
3) Recognize and admit your weakness
When we discuss independent thinking, often we mean independence from the external world such as society, colleagues, media, and overall information. In truth, thinking independently also means the ability to critically evaluate your own thoughts and be independent of your own prejudices.
After all, most of the time we are our own worst enemies.
When you can admit your weakness, that means that you have critically evaluated yourself, seen your bad habits for what they are. This plays a key role in thinking for yourself. One can never truly master independent thinking unless one recognizes and admit their weaknesses.
When you can see not only others’ but your own fault as well, then you are able to assess situations better. That is why this sign is so important.
Everything starts from admitting your weakness to yourself. After this, you can know when your judgment may be biased, when to think more critically and how to make decisions. If you are on the path of recognizing your faults, then you are definitely thinking for yourself.
And do not forget, working on your weaknesses is not the case in this situation. While it may be crucial for self-development, you should remember that as a person, you will always have some faults and that is totally fine.
The first step to managing the situation is recognition of yourself just the way you are.
4) Respect personal space and set the boundaries
To think for yourself, you should be aware of your identity. None of us have it figured out completely, but at the very least person need to know what they want and what they need. A high level of self-awareness is one of the main ingredients for thinking for yourself.
In this case, we are discussing a person’s ability to set the boundaries and respect their personal space as a sign of thinking for yourself.
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Setting boundaries can be very challenging, especially because most people do not learn this skill from their childhood. As children, the majority of us were taught to behave in a way that makes others feel comfortable.
Therefore, setting the boundaries can be a huge challenge. It requires independence, courage, and awareness of one’s needs and desires.
If you are able to respect your own and others’ personal space, you can set the boundaries and stick to them, then you are a person capable of thinking for yourself. Otherwise, you simply would not be able to have that much strength. Fulfilling this task requires determination and willpower that come from independent thinking
5) You are not afraid to be demanding
Sometimes demanding is discussed in a very negative context, while it can have such a positive influence on people. Demanding respect and fair treatment is something each and every one of us should exercise, but only a few are truly able to do it.
When you can demand things that you deserve, you respect yourself and the people surrounding you. There is so much beauty in this act because it requires courage and mental strength. When demanding fairly, people can show the best traits of themselves.
Usually, people demand things that they think they deserve thus it is only a good sign to respect others and demand the same thing from them. Only people who can truly think for themselves are not afraid to be demanding.
Especially when this act is quite often frowned upon, one must be able to prioritize themselves over social standards to master this skill.
6) Focusing on self-development
As mentioned above, thinking for yourself is truly loving and respecting yourself. After all, thinking independently is kind of a smart, long-term investment that requires a lot of resources, might not seem very convenient in the short term but it will eventually pay off.
Because thinking for yourself is a way of self-care and it might not serve others, but it will most certainly serve you. This is why focusing on self-development is a sign of thinking independently.
The more you develop, the more ability you get to positively influence your life and your environment.
Self-development can have any type of form.
All of us need development in different aspects of our lives, hence our methods and strategies are diverse. Most important thing is to have a desire for self-improvement. Developing new skills and tools that help your personal growth can only positively impact your judgment, thus your ability to think independently.
Trying to improve your well-being is a product of free will and independent thinking. If you are on a self-development journey, then you are one of the people capable of thinking for yourself.
7) Love yourself
Loving oneself is one of the signs and a very solid foundation for thinking for yourself. Love brings trust which is so important to allow yourself to think for yourself. Self-doubt and low self-esteem are some of the main barriers to independent thinking.
If a person has low self-esteem, they cannot trust themselves to make a good decision. How can you believe in your decision if you do not believe in yourself? It seems quite contradictory.
Every person on the journey to love themselves will master the skill to think on their own. Don’t worry, you might not be there yet, most of us are not. But if you are trying and actively working to love yourself, you most definitely can think for yourself.
Extra tip, when other people try to control your life, they usually manage to push you into self-hatred. They attack your self-esteem and try to bring you down. If you refuse to accept this kind of treatment, it is a sign that you can think for yourself.
How to start thinking for yourself?
Every one of us at some point of our lives worry that we might not have necessary tools to think for ourselves. The cause for this might be different. You might be afraid to think on your own, you might be too dependent on other people or you may not be able to trust yourself to make right decisions.
Whatever the reason, remember that you can fix anything.
If you want to start thinking for yourself, you have to identify why you are not able to think independently.
Remember that the reason is always internal. Even if you live in a very strict and conservative society, even when people around you tend to be manipulative, you have to start fixing the issue within yourself.
To help you out with the process, here are some steps you could take to start thinking for yourself:
- Identify the barriers – try to find out the reasons why you are not able to think for yourself. What factors act as barriers? What influences your decisions?
- Start self-awareness journey – start discovering yourself. What are your dreams and goals, what do you want to achieve, what would you like to change.
- Set clear boundaries – set clear boundaries for yourself, as well as other people.
- Communicate with yourself – start a conversation with yourself by analyzing your decision-making process. You can communicate by writing things down or saying out loud your emotions and observations. Try to be honest with yourself about your feelings and weaknesses.
- Start saying no – say no even when social pressure forces you to say yes. Start with the smallest things. Set challenges for yourself and embrace the power of no.
- Raise your self-esteem – start being kinder to yourself, remember that you are the one handling all the issues and going through with this life even during the hardest moments. Raising your self-esteem is the key to start thinking for yourself.
After all, even though you may have a strong support system in life, you are still the only one that can take care of everything and handle all the problems. Loved ones will offer help, but you will be the one making decisions, so you might as well be prepared.
Thinking for yourself will give you the ability to make your own choice even in the hardest of situations. Having a choice and luxury to make decisions is what makes us free in the end.
And as George Harrison sang in his 1965 song “Think for Yourself”:
“Try thinking more if just for your own sake.”