So are you thinking for yourself or are you simply being influenced by external forces? such as television, internet, friends, family, societal norms and limited stereotypes and generalizations which are only loosely based on the truth.
How to know if you are thinking for yourself?
You need to have a certain amount of self awareness and a good understanding of why you make decisions. You need an objective open mind, not influenced by personal beliefs or bias, this openness and objective thinking is needed the achieve that awareness. If your thinking is being influenced then you need to figure out what exactly is influencing you. Then decide for yourself if the influence is having a positive or a negative effect.
It can certainly be a difficult thing to detect, however being aware of it will allow you to change it. The negative effects can be massively controlling and restrictive to our lives. Being controlled by societal beliefs can prevent us from living our lives to its full potential, in a sense we become puppets to popular standards and beliefs.
We our born and then we are programmed by the societies in which we are raised, I suppose the question is, is all of this programming good? I will answer this question immediately with the answer NO! certainly not. I believe it’s important to be able to question those norms and standards in which we have been programmed. If we don’t question the status quo then we are blindly following these set standards which will only limit us.
Once you have an awareness of these societal standards imposed upon you, you can then make a choice. You can follow the crowd or you can choose to do your own thing. If you choose to follow the societal norms then at least it’s your own choice and you are thinking for yourself. Even when it’s a choice most people will try to be like everybody else and go with the flow, because it’s the easiest choice to make. Going against the flow is difficult, people will oppose you and criticize you and it can lead to social isolation.
Advertising and media can be a form of control, it tells us we need the latest iphone or to follow the latest fashion trends.
Social status is massively important and it always has been, however modern culture and society influences our internal value systems. Our value systems determine what social status is, and what we need to seek to gain it.
We are also influenced by small groups, for example a social circle or group of friends. We often just seek social approval and just wish to get on with everyone (conformity), while this can be good, it can also be restrictive, sacrificing our goals and never reaching our potential for the need to simply fit in or not disappoint somebody.
Tips on how to think for yourself
Always question why you and others do the things that they do. learn, study and gain knowledge about a situation, keep an open mind before forming an opinion.
Really get to know yourself, what will you accept and what wont you accept in life. Set your own standards for living well and don’t be controlled by outside sources such as the media or societal standards. Do some soul searching and find out who you really are and what you really want.
Don’t just seek the approval from others, if you are constantly just trying to please people you are not going to find out what you really want for yourself.
Don’t just keep quiet for the sake of keeping the peace or the risk of upsetting somebody, or avoid being criticized or being afraid to fail. Sometimes hearing the opinions of others is good even if their opinions are wrong, it allows you to gain different points of views.
We are not all influenced equally
Different personality types deal with the world in different ways. For example people who think more inwardly are less likely to be influenced by external forces like social standards.
These personality types are often inherited genetic traits. So while there are many ways in which people can be influenced, it doesn’t account for all decisions and personal choices that people make.