They say to find yourself, think for yourself.
I couldn't agree more.
How do you know who you are if who you are is just a jumbling of other people's ideas and opinions?
Today I'll give you some strategies for thinking for yourself.
This list is not all-inclusive, so make sure you engage your curiosity and continually see where it takes you. That itself is the first step in thinking for yourself: be curious.
Before we get to the strategies, let's answer why you would want to think for yourself.
Most people don't want to be originals. Many are content with just fitting in. But if you're here, you probably want more.
Maybe you want to change the world or be a trendsetter or otherwise stand out from the pack.
If you do, you must think for yourself. There is no way around this prerequisite.
If you think the way everyone else does, you will get the same results as everyone else.
This is 1 + 1 = 2.
This brings me to the first step in thinking for yourself: wanting to think for yourself.
If you don't honestly want to think for yourself, you never will.
So you've already gotten over the biggest hurdle to becoming a unique thinker.
Now, I should warn you. When you start thinking for yourself, a few things will happen.
You'll sometimes feel lonely. Thinking for yourself will separate you from the group. Depending on your constitution, this might be harder or easier for you. So be prepared to receive pushback from your current group if your ideas start diverging.
There are ancestral reasons why divergent thinkers get attacked by humans, which we won't go into today. Just expect it.
Then decide how open you want to be with your ideas. Maybe you slip your ideas in strategically and easily. Maybe you test the waters with new ideas a bit at a time. Maybe you keep them primarily to yourself.
Thinking for yourself will make you a unique person that is going to stand out from the crowd. I urge you to visualize this ahead of time, so you are prepared for the backlash you are going to get.
I wish I were exaggerating, but this is human nature: others will always try to beat you into submission if you do anything that challenges the status quo.
Throughout history, the innovators, disrupters, revolutionaries were attacked, sometimes killed, for their challenging of the status quo. It was usually only later generations that thanked them for their ideas—because the current generation could not change their mind.
The unique thinker can feel like a solitary life. You might have to find a new social group, and you may need strategies to handle your family.
Now that we got that disclaimer out of the way let's look at how you can think for yourself.
How to think for yourself
1. Become Socrates
The first step in thinking for yourself is becoming Socrates—question everything.
Instead of using statements, if you want to say something, ask a question that has someone else answering what you want to say.
This is maybe the most powerful persuasion and communication strategy you could adopt. If you make this part of your personality, you'll go far in life.
So start using questions more than statements. Ideally, you could have an entire conversation using only questions. That will make you a master thinker.
2. Question authority
Like I said at the beginning, thinking for yourself is not for the faint of heart. This will happen naturally as you become a better thinker, but you must question ALL AUTHORITY.
To what extreme you go with this is up to you. There is nothing wrong with questioning authority. It's about how you go about it. The better you get as using questions, like Socrates, the easier this will get because people will see you as being genuinely curious rather than disruptive.
Many times, how you ask a question will matter more than what the question is. So practice your questions and your tone to get the desired response. When you have a solid grasp over your question tonality, you can adjust it to suit your needs depending on the situation.
Some examples of questioning authority include:
- Why is it done this way?
- Do you know the origin of this process?
- I'm curious, can you explain why and how this process works?
- I've never heard of that, can you explain to me why?
3. Do your research
The most important aspect of thinking for yourself is confidence.
Most people do not have the confidence to put themselves out there. So they don't raise their hand, they don't ask the "expert" the hard questions, and they otherwise fall in line with the rest of society.
One way to build confidence is to do your own research. The more you know, the easier it will be to challenge and question and to think for yourself.
Books, youtube, podcasts, articles, and history, are great places to build your knowledge around certain topics so that you will form your own thoughts.
They say knowledge is power, but it's actual knowledge applied that's powerful.
You could know every bit of information in the Universe, and if you sat in your room staring at the wall, what good will that information do for you?
So do your research then put that knowledge into practice in the real world. Just doing this will put you ahead of 99% of the population that spends most of their time with distraction and end up thinking whatever their screens tell them to think.
4. Avoid mass manipulation
This one is integral to becoming an independent thinker. The more mass-produced content you consume from your community, the media, and politicians, the more skewed your reality will become.
The masses think the same because they rely on these sources to get their worldview. Your best bet is to ignore these sources of information as much as possible.
You might think it safe to listen to your family and neighbors, but unless they are already independent thinkers, that's no different than watching the news every day.
"The number one reason people fail in life is because they listen to their friends, family, and neighbors."
- Napoleon Hill
Think for yourself quotes
“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”
- Coco Chanel
“Trust yourself. Think for yourself. Act for yourself. Speak for yourself. Be yourself. Imitation is suicide.”
- Marva Collins
“Think for yourself, or others will think for you without thinking of you.”
- Henry David Thoreau
"To find yourself, think for yourself."
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
- Mark Twain
“Now you are beginning to think for yourself instead of letting others think for you. That's the beginning of wisdom.”
- Margaret Mitchell
"Dare to think for yourself."
“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”
- Rudyard Kipling
“Information is Power. Think For Yourself. CAUTION: proper use of the brain is not endorsed by federal governments nor huge corporations involved in serious financial profit from a brainwashed and enslaved population. Mild discomfort may occur as confusing independent thought challenges popular views of the world.”
- Timothy Leary
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
“No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”
- Friedrich Nietzsche
“When you place a high value on truth, you have to think for yourself.”
- Cornel West
How To Think For Yourself Conclusion
Thinking for yourself will not come overnight. Heck, as I write this, I'm 35, and I still have some thought patterns I need to break after 15 years of thinking differently as a self-proclaimed iconoclast.
As it goes with improving anything in life, you must be consistent and patient. Open your mind to see those lingering negative thoughts patterns that will well up from time to time.
Catch yourself in conversations slipping into groupthink and saying "ya" or nodding your head too much.
Take a breath. Take a step back. Then use your questions—the most powerful tool in your arsenal for thinking as a unique original person.