How do we stop letting other people’s opinion of us guide our life?
By boosting our critical thinking skills.
Why is it important to work on our critical thinking skills?
As we go through life, it is important that we don’t just take everything we see, hear, and observe for granted. Instead, we should form our own opinions and ask ourselves why these things matter, regardless of why they may matter more or less to other people.
If we hear opinions or get advice from others, we should treat their comments with caution. Why? Because it’s a bit like listening to them tell you their autobiography full of their own life experiences (as well as their cultural background, the way they were raised, the education they received or did not receive), mistakes they made, personal fears or concerns, goals they think are important to them, values they place high above others and that may or may not be aligned to your own goals and values. Just because someone tells you what they think about something, doesn’t automatically make it a fact. It’s just their version of reality – what they think, how they feel, why they consider it important to talk about on that particular day – but it likely is not what reality means to you.
How can we work on developing our critical thinking skills every day?
Expose yourself to different points of view (f.ex., on world history, philosophy, politics, literature, spiritual practice, art, science, technology, etc.) so that you see just how different people’s perspectives can be on various topics.
To better understand how things work, ask questions whenever an opportunity presents itself; not just questions that others can respond ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to; ask open-ended questions that begin with why and how. Gather information both for and against an issue so that you can see it from all angles.
Distill from the information you gather what is important to you(based on your own personal goals, values, and priorities) and figure out what you can learn from it.
When someone offers their opinion or advice on what you should do, ask yourself these questions: Does their opinion or advice align with my personal values? How would I benefit from valuing their opinion or following their advice? Am I taking people’s comments seriously or am I just looking for their approval; do I want to emulate them because I admire them, or do I just want to be liked so I can have more friends? Understanding the motives for our behavior is important because then we can adjust our actions, experience personal growth, and learn from every encounter with people around us.