Blog Short #8: Do you think for yourself?

Welcome to Monday Blog Shorts – ideas to make even Monday a good day! Every Monday I share a short article with you about a strategy you can use, or new facts or info that informs you, or a new idea that inspires you . My wish is to give you something to think about in the week ahead. Let’s dig in!

“Your mind is your private world, and you’re the gatekeeper.”

You have within yourself a private place that belongs to you. You can invite someone in, but only if you wish to. You’re the gatekeeper of this space, and no one can trespass without permission.

That space is your mind, which includes your thoughts and feelings.

You may choose to share these with those you deem worthy of hearing them, but the point is, you can sort through them yourself and decide what you want to expose.

But what about others’ influence?

Because we’re wired to be social, we’re likely to be influenced by those around us. Other people’s thoughts, emotions, values, beliefs, opinions, and behavior can affect us and have an impact on what we think and how we feel.

We’re a tribal species, and although we see ourselves as individuals, we seek membership in our tribes. This might include our families, friends, co-workers, or community, or it might include ideas or beliefs such as our religious tribe or political tribe.

What’s crucial about remembering that we have our own minds is that we can and should use this important freedom to sift through the daily, weekly, monthly, and historical input that constantly seeks to find a home there.

You have ownership of what you choose to think, feel, believe, and internalize. No one else.

But, and this is a big but:

If you don’t use that freedom by taking charge of your mind, you lose it. You become a slave to what others in your personal sphere think and feel.

To avoid losing that freedom, you must be in the habit of evaluating what you hear, and truly deciding what you think. It might be that you need more information, or you need time to think something through.

What’s important is that your thoughts and feelings echo and reflect your real ideas and values. Don’t automatically assume or accept.

new study reports that we have around 6,200 thoughts per day.

They come in and go out, and at such a rapid speed that you probably have no awareness of many of them, but those that are persistent or repetitive try to find a home in your mind. Those are the ones you can evaluate. Those are the ones you can question and decide if you’d like them to stay. Those are the ones you can build on or discard.

Ask yourself:

Am I parroting my tribe? Do I really agree? Is this a belief or value that I have? Is this an idea that resonates with me?

To do this, you have to allow your thoughts and feelings to come up without suppressing them. You can’t hide out. You need to see what’s there.

Here’s some things to help you with that.

  1. Don’t censor, but choose how to react. You have no control over the thoughts and feelings that arise in you. What you do have control over is what you do with them, and you can decide whether they add to your life, or provide value for you. You can keep them, or discard them, or learn from them.​​
  2. No one can control your mind if you don’t allow it. Just because someone says something is true doesn’t make it so, regardless of how loud they shout it or how often they say it. Remember that! You always have the ability to question, evaluate, research and decide for yourself what’s true for you. No one else can or should do that. However, keep in mind that the more you’re around someone, the more they will affect what you think, how you behave, and what you believe. So choose carefully.
  3. Pursue continuous learning to help you keep your mind open. Access new information and ideas that expand your thinking and enhance your creativity. Challenge yourself. Make your mind a fertile garden for growth.

So take some time this week to commune with yourself. As you go through your week, watch the thought trains that occupy your mind. Ask yourself where they come from.

Are they your thoughts, someone else’s thoughts, or a combo? Do they have value? Are they true? Are they distorted? What can you learn from them? What do you want to keep and what do you want to discard? What do you want to modify?

As Voltaire says, “Dare to think for yourself.” It’s one of your greatest freedoms. Exercise it!

That’s it for now. Have a great week!

All my best,

Barbara

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