How to form your own opinions can be challenging if you aren't clear on who you are or what you think. In this article we’ll explore 5 simple ways on how you can form your own opinion and the danger you face if you don’t.
The Danger Of Not Having Our Own Opinion
Like many of us, when we're not clear on what we think, we look to other people to give us the answer. We adopt the same approach they do, which means we lose the opportunity for independent thought and action. This results in living a life on someone else's terms.
And sadly, we blend into what is around us.
When you learn how to form your own opinions, you take charge of your life and the direction you want to go in.
Benefits When You Form Your Own Opinion
When you know what you think you benefit from reducing the need to be liked or accepted. If you are a people pleaser, this is a great way to break free from those tendencies.
When you know what you stand for, and what you don't, it's easier to worry less about what other people think because it really doesn't matter. If you're interested in learning more about whose opinion matters and whose doesn't, you'll enjoy reading Whose Opinion Really Matters And Why It Should
5 Simple Steps On How To Form Your Own Opinion
Here are 5 simple steps to get to the core of what you really think:
Step 1. Question Yourself
One of the best ways to do this is to find some time and space to sit quietly. Grab a piece of paper, or even better your journal, and ask yourself the following question:
Who am I?
Don't censor yourself; just let the thoughts flow and capture them as they come. In my experience, the first thoughts that come to mind are the labels we give ourselves. Such as the relationships I have, the jobs I do and the hobbies I have.
Make a list
Relationships: I'm a
Job/Role: I'm a
- Dog walker
Hobbies: I'm a
- Stationery addict
Once you have this list, you can start to delve a bit deeper and consider what each label means to you—a sure way to learn how to form your own opinion.
Let's take as an example my role as dog walker. I have three dogs, and if I explore what I think about that role, I come up with things such as:
- I love dogs
- Walking is good exercise – health benefit for both the dogs and me!
- Opportunity to get out to the park – meet people (social) dogs can go off lead (freedom)
As you can see, from exploring what the role of dog-walker means to me, I can start to dig into some of my beliefs, values and opinions. I like to take the dogs to the park because it's good for their wellbeing, it's social.
If I'm honest, I get a little bit of a buzz when I see them exploring and running around completely free. Fundamentally it makes me happy.
The opinion I have about my dogs can be expanded to animals in general. I don't like to see animals caged, and animal cruelty is something that makes my blood boil!
Take Your Time
Take your time compiling your list. You don't have to get it done in one sitting. You may find it easier to keep your notes with you so you can jot things down when they occur to you. You’re not going to be able to form your own opinion on topics overnight!
This exercise is excellent for getting to the root of who you are. Along the way, you might discover who you want to be!
Step 2. Practice Easy Ways To Form Your Own Opinion
Up until now, you may have struggled to form a strong opinion. In the past, you may have found it easier to go with the flow. But, now is the time for you to start forming your own opinion on things.
Please don't panic; I'm not going to throw you into the deep end here. My recommendation is to start at a level that's comfortable for you and build from there. For example, begin to form an opinion on:
- what to have for dinner
- the film or TV program you want to watch
- and anything else that occurs to you
The Time Is Now
Often we don't voice an opinion because we believe that our opinion isn't important. Now is the time to say – I'm important and I have an opinion on what I want (and what I don't want).
If you're prone to saying 'I don't mind', STOP!
Start to have an opinion on everything. You'll be surprised how quickly you're able to build up the momentum. And before you know it, you'll learn how to form your own opinion confidently.
Step 3. Get Diverse
One of the reasons you may modify your preferences is because it's easier to go with the flow.
There's a lot of room for diversity –think about the number of different coffee brands there are! Experiment by discovering new places and then sharing your experiences with others. If your friends always like to go to a particular chain of coffee shops, voice an opinion that you would like to go to a competitor – or even an independent. Experiencing different places widens your ability to form your own opinions.
The people we spend time with shape us. Often we find that opinions are also shared (or we have just gone along for the ride). To get out of this way of thinking, explore different cultures and people. You could join multi-cultural groups or clubs. If you don't feel confident enough to do this, try:
- listening to other community radio stations
- read translated books.
I've been fortunate to work in multi-cultural environments during my career and support employees in different European locations. Learning about people's backgrounds and cultures different from your own is fascinating. It opens your mind to new thinking and how to form your own opinions.
Trust me; you'll benefit hugely.
From listening to others and learning from them, you learn how to form your own opinion.
Step 4. Exercise Confidence
One of the reasons some people have no problem knowing who they are and what they believe without asking others is due to confidence. You might notice that confident people have a sort of invisible barrier between them and the rest of the world. When someone is clear and know how to form their own opinion, they seem to project that.
As a result, other's don't try to influence or sway them.
Building confidence is the biggest gift you can give yourself. You won't be surprised to learn that confident people not only know who they are, and know all about how to form your own opinion, they also tend to:
- Manage inner doubt
- Make decisions
- Prioritise their wellbeing
- Be optimistic
- Get what they want
- Be happier
Learn more about what confidence is and what it can mean for you by reading my article What Is Confidence? And Why You Need To Know
I'm a believer in building authentic confidence. I think the approach of 'fake it 'til you make it' is dangerously flawed. To read more about this have a look at my article Can You Fake Confidence? Here's The Ultimate Truth.
Step 5. Be An Epic Explorer
If you aren't sure who you are and what you love, become an explorer.
You can't know if you prefer cappuccino or latte if you haven't tried both. You can't decide what your opinion on politics or other important issues if you haven't explored their merits. Take the time to dig into things.
Try to understand the different options rather than agree with what everyone says. If as a result of your exploration you agree with them, then that's fine. The difference is that you form your own opinion through your own endeavours rather than the short-cut of adopting what other people think.
When you go deep into knowing what your opinion is, you grow in confidence. Before you know it, you'll be like those confident people in the previous step!
If you don't know who you are or how to find your own opinion, it will be easy for other people to influence you. When swayed by others without knowing your own opinion, you will always find yourself looking to them for reassurance and support.
Don't fall into that trap any longer.
Get to know who you are, how to form your own opinion before you adopt someone else's opinion.
You deserve to manage your own thoughts and actions and live your life on your terms.