Sometimes, I have to stop and ask myself if what I’m thinking is actually what I think or if it is something I’ve been told to think or have been otherwise convinced of. Sometimes, just being around a group of people that say a lot of the same things can cause you to kind of fall in line (groupthink) with the same train of thought.
Even if it’s something good, sometimes, if the words are not my own, it doesn’t really sit right, it doesn’t settle in, I don’t actually live it or believe it.
It’s good sometimes to just stop and ask yourself “Is this really what I think?”
So often, we feel pressured to hurry up and pick a side or declare something out loud when we haven’t gone through the work of digging in and thinking critically and coming to our own conclusions, not just parroting the words of someone else.
Since so much of our life is wrapped up in our thoughts, truly knowing our thoughts is important. If the only thoughts we have are the ones others have given to us, we’ll never really live our life with authenticity, we’ll never really make a home for ourselves in our own life. We will always be clinging furiously to the coattails of others, at the mercy of their words and ideas.
I’ve gone through blocks of time where my own thoughts were not to be trusted and to counter that, I needed to fill up with the words and thoughts of others. Sometimes, in the midst of personal or existential crisis, we do need to lean on the words of those we trust, who we’ve established to be good for us and who have good things for us to think.
But ultimately, and as we begin to heal or leave those dark places, we have to dig in again to that critical thinking, that work of deciding what we really think, in the midst of all the words and thoughts and ideas around us.
The good news is, we won’t be alone. No matter how original and unique and personally developed our thoughts are, we will always run into others who, by way of their own processes, have come to the same (or very similar) conclusions.
In the same way that a school project requires a student to “show their work” to make sure that they didn’t just grab an answer from someone else or out of thin air, our life requires us to do the work of becoming a person with thoughts that are steeped in our own system of personal beliefs, experiences, ideas.
That process becomes the foundation and the framework from which we live our life. We can’t build a home on someone else’s lot. We can visit and browse the blueprints and come back to view the furnished rooms, but they aren’t ours. We didn’t create them, they’ll never really be home.
So if you’re ever feeling like a visitor in your own life, ask yourself if you’ve done any work lately on building your own home.
Ask yourself “What do I really think?” and go from there.