In my continuing quest to master my own mind, I keep digging up (sometimes repeatedly) certain cosmic truths that seem to power the engine of personal happiness. One of those truths I am today calling “Think for Yourself.” In the past, I have also written of the “to thine own self be true” Shakespeare adage, as well as to the idea of having unshakeable belief in yourself. I also recently tipped my hat to my spiritual mentor Thoreau on the subject. Anyway you slice it, the ability to think for yourself, no matter what others around you think, seems to be a required skill if you wish to be a happy, self-actualized, and well-balanced person (This also relates to the Abraham-Hicks inspired concept of alignment, which of course I write about all the time).
Today I was writing at the cafe, reviewing notes from a couple of months ago, and I was reminded yet again of the absolute necessity of independent thinking: it just doesn’t seem possible to be happy unless you can think for yourself, and make your own choices that you know are in alignment with your inner knowing and preferences.
You must be able to “follow your instincts.” People say this all the time, but in practice, many of us falter. Why is this? It is because from Day One here on Earth, so much of our training is about not following our instincts. We are taught not to hit our baby brother, or not to run on the sidewalk, or, in my case, not to wear a Superman cape to pre-school for fear that we will jump off a tree trying to fly and injure ourselves (!).
Of course, much of this is very valuable! Adults who “know better” can help protect us from ourselves. I understand now why my teachers took away my Superman cape. But I didn’t realize it then. In fact, I basically took it as a message that my own instincts–which were to wear the cape, not to jump from a tree!–were not to be trusted. And so, the gradual process of alienating myself from my own preferences, from my own Inner Guidance, took place.
I can’t blame adults for acting out of protection like they did. Yet I think that, very often, their efforts fail with children because adults are so often themselves mixed up about their own guidance that they can’t help but alienate their kids from theirs! Adults teach by example, and children are always watching. If you are an adult who has a good relationship with your own inner guidance, you are no doubt serving every child who has the privilege of being around you, because you are showing them the way.
Back to thinking for yourself. This quality amounts to not letting other people knock you from your pedestal. This is about not letting someone else’s words make you doubt your own. This doesn’t mean that you don’t listen to others and take inspiration from them when it is there. We are not alone in this world, and it is important to be open to the resources around as to help us along.
Yet, it is your responsibility to filter the inspiration from the crap. There will always be other opinions out there. Everyone has one (like something else, as the old saying goes). That is not really what is important. What is important is, are you secure in your own stance? Can you sort out your own preferences, when faced with other people offering theirs? Can you pull away from the perpetual noise of others’ minds when needed and find your own clarity?
Again, I’m not suggesting we should close our minds to other people. Sometimes we need better ideas than what is in our heads. Sometimes we need to be open. But, in my personal experience, it is easier said than done to know when other people’s guidance is valuable and needed, and when it would interfere with our own. If you are like me, this take continuous self-examination! It takes being willing to check in with yourself, to constantly feel for how you are receiving other people’s ideas. If they honestly match your inner guidance, they are a go!
If not, they must go.
No ifs, ands, buts about it. Outside influence must always pass through the gates of your own scrutiny to determine if they are worthy before they are let in.
Think for yourself!
Post script: while writing this post, I have been struck repeatedly about how much I have already written about this topic on this blog. Here is another example. It must be a big one in my personal learning journey! Hallelujah 🙂