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15 Signs You’re Born to Be A Free-Thinker

15 Signs You’re Born to Be A Free-Thinker

Free-thinkers are confident, logical and intelligent. They give birth to their own ideas and resist the dominating mantras of the simple-minded. Having a mind that is free and the courage to express it will often mean free-thinkers have only a few close friends (who are equally interesting and intelligent). Though they are proud of their brilliant minds they are also sensitive and seek harmonious relationships with accepting partners. It can be exhausting to resist the overwhelming myths of popular thought on a regular basis. Free-thinkers are intellectual heavy lifters in our world and their non-conformist, irreverent wit and insight shines a light on the fallacy of often illogical beliefs in many areas.

1. You Are The Pope Of Your Own Life

Speaking of dogma… as a free-thinker you live by your own set of rules and no one,  not even your beloved mother, can tell you to live otherwise. You came by your beliefs through your own experience and curiosity. You tested them and they stood up to your tests. It’s impossible for you to kowtow to religious or secular bylaws that were created to control people.

2. You Are Outstanding In Your Work And Play

A free-thinker does not understand mediocrity! You give everything your all. You don’t need to do a non-traditional job to be a free thinker. Because of your insight and imagination you may be the best legal secretary in the land but no-one knows that every weekend you jump into a uniform that looks like a space suit and go longboarding down mountain highways. Most people are happy to spell-check their way through their days, but you write life at a higher level.

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3.You Have Unique Style

Who wants to fit in? Free-thinkers stand out and you don’t need tattoos to do it. You may have them but you’re not following a trend; you’re expressing your life. Most people you know let their jobs dictate their style of thought and dress. Not you. You’re dapper, edgy or classic. You wear what you want and you wear it well.You’re Oscar Wilde or Baudelaire.

4. You Are Creative

Free-thinkers engage in creative thinking on many levels. Socially, emotionally, logically and spiritually. You may make movies that question deeply held beliefs, paint pictures that challenge conventional thinking about love, write stories that provoke people to question their place in the world or sing songs that dispel myths about sexual orientation. You think creatively because you think freely.

5. You Have Been Called Weird

Normies don’t get you. Nine to fivers think you’re wasting your life. Buttoned down bankers who profit from the funds of dictators and other (more local) criminals think you’re morally bankrupt because you don’t buy into the American dream. Free-thinkers see that the dream is crushing the reality. You go off to live in the woods off the grid and raise a bunch of hippie kids. You spend a year traveling to see every work of art you’ve ever wanted to see. You start a publishing company focusing on books for old people. You do what your heart calls you to do and that’s pretty weird.

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6. You Think For Yourself

As a free-thinker it goes without saying that you think for yourself. Ever since you heard your friends who are outside your faith are going to hell you’ve thought for yourself. There has been some seminal moment where you rejected the authority over you and started to think secret not-so-secret radical thoughts. You are so determined to think without constraints that you question your own thoughts and beliefs on a regular basis.

7. You Question Authority

A free-thinker knows that more knowledge or power does not mean you have a superior belief system. Historically, people with vast intelligence and power have been a destructive force in the world. The atom bomb was devised by some fairly smart dudes but they did some serious damage in the world. Even the most learned can be wrong. You know you don’t have to believe them but you also know you can if their ideas pass your qualifying tests.

8. You Have Friends With Whom You Disagree

Free-thinkers agree to disagree. Your book clubs are pretty raucous events. Eight people read the same book and have eight different takes on it. All of them make you think. It’s a pleasure to be in the company of people who spark your imagination. You think dinner parties are better when they sound like an old joke: “So, a Jew, a Catholic and an atheist come to dinner.” A closed community is a boring community. You’re not much for boring.

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9. You Have Heard Of The Kardashians (but know nothing about them)

Free-thinkers know what is going on in modern culture but they feel no need to buy in. You’re definitely not dead to modern culture. You think freely enough to have friends who watch this stuff but you don’t have time for it. The real estate in your brain comes at a higher cost than the price of admission charged by so called reality TV. You’d rather eat rusty nails.

10. You Don’t Watch Television

A free-thinker won’t find entertainment in a mind control box. There is nothing on TV that appeals to you and you don’t want your mind numbed and your money stolen by the marketing messiahs who promise a better life (if you only eat their brand of yogurt). TV is dead anyway. You can find your entertainment climbing mountains, dining with friends or selecting movies you want to watch when you want to watch them. Your mind will not be tamed.

11. You Read

A free-thinker likes to read. Yes, you read books. Whole books. With big words in them. You read more than headlines. You read more than articles. You like to fill your mind with well thought out, complex ideas – not sound bites. E-readers or actual books are equally of value to you.

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12. You Don’t Pay Attention To Labels (Except Food)

A free-thinker is label-free. Gay, straight and everything in between – you could care less and it’s likely you’ve tasted from the smorgasbord of Conservative, Liberal, Libertarian – you listen to all and come up with your own ideas. Feminist, Humanist, Pacifist, Realist – if there is any thing in any ist you like you adopt it but you don’t go wholesale to the point of exclusion or inclusion. The only labels you read are the ones that list allergies.

13. You Understand There Are Many Ways To See The World

A free-thinker is multi-dimensional and sees the world that way. Your best friend studies Buddhism, doesn’t eat meat or onions or garlic and stays away from the demon liquor. Your mum goes to church, runs a mission for orphans and refrains from the naughty words. Your favorite professor is a passionate communist, marks too hard (and with his bias showing) and has worn the same elbow patched stereotype of a tweed coat every day for at least the last 25 years. You like it all.You see the value in each and every way of being and it makes you happy that these people are in the world.

14. You Never Stopped Asking Why

Free-thinkers are confoundingly curious buggers. From about the age of three you’ve been asking why and you’ve never stopped. You now know why you poop, why dogs smell everything and why the caged bird sings. The bigger questions about life fascinate you and you love to explore them. Having said that… you’re still curious about the little things too. A visit to the dentist opens another world for you – so, when you eat sugar, microbial bacteria on your teeth release acids that cause cavities. Interesting…

15. You Have Fun

Free-thinkers don’t take things too seriously when they don’t have to. It’s fun to wrap your head around new ideas. It’s fun to try new things. It’s fun to eat new foods. Life is full of adventures and free thinkers are up for adventure.

Featured photo credit: Young hippie in a red dress dancing in the middle of the road on a hot summer day via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

Conflicts are literally everywhere.

Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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