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Is it a bad thing if someone tells you that you're not a independent thinker?

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Today my teacher & both psychologist at the university told me that I'm not an independent thinker but she didn't gave further information about why she thinks like that and I didn't ask but that made me feel so bad about myself. I know I can be a dependent kind of person because I'm very sensitive and I was raised in a very loving and protective family but I'm trying hard to get out of my comfort zone and be more independent, does that makes me an dependent thinker? In fact I do have my own opinion in many topics. Does that mean I'm not good enough as a student and as a person? Looking forward for your answers. Thank you guys

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The fact that you asked this proves that you are not able to think independently. Couldn't you try to deduce what they meant on your own without posting here? Google is a wonderful tool.


You shouldn't feel bad about yourself, just realize it's something you need to improve on. Do some research and start trying to change. In fact not taking criticism personally is an attribute of independent thinkers. It means thinking outside the box and not being afraid to share your opinion or ideas even if they are against the norm.

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"Does that mean I'm not good enough as a student and as a person?" This in particular and this post in and of itself is kind of an active illustration of what they mean about you not being an independent thinker. In first part, upon receiving what you perceive as negative information, you immediately leap the idea that you must be bad in some way. In second part, instead of asking for clarification and a better understanding of what they meant and then reasoning out for yourself whether their statements and point of view has merit or not, you are asking for other people to form your opinion for you. So that's an illustration of being a "dependent thinker".


You are basing self worth on what others say. An independent thinker would critically evaluate whether or not what others say has merit and only apply/adjust those parts that do. It's really about differentiating between constructive criticism, aka beneficial criticism, and destructive criticism, aka criticism without value intended to put you down for no reason other than to make you feel bad. Independent thinkers are very good at recognizing the difference between the two types and using the former to their advantage and improvement, while disregarding the latter and not allowing it to affect them.

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Your biggest goal based on this is to not let what others think of you sway you too much. Who cares what kind of a thinker you are? You are thinking, aren't you? As long as you are thinking, you are also learning. At some point, you can take the thoughts of others and use them to form your own ideas. Most authors, artists, and musicians do this. For an analogy, I will tell you that the best way I've found to teach myself how to draw is by tracing. Independently, I couldn't draw for sh*t, through tracing and copying the work of others, I've been able to get a better feel for how lines should be drawn. I can take those ideas and integrate them into something my own. Hopefully, that makes sense.

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When I was in college, one of my professors told me I had a "unique" way of thinking. I had other people tell me that he meant I was weird. Fortunately, I'm one of those who thinks being "weird" is cool. I say he was my second favorite professor (after my History professor, she was a true gem).

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I can identify with this. As a sensitive and shy person who has always felt a strong need for outside approval, I'm sure others have labeled me this way as well. And in some ways it is true.


The thing is, a lot of people only see things on a surface level and don't recognize complexities. Especially if you are from the US (I'm not sure if you are). People get an idea of you without really understanding you and make a blanket statement. Professionals, counselors, psychologists are not immune to this type of labeling, not remotely. To me this reflects negatively on them. Yes there is usually a negative judgement wrapped into a comment like that. But you should not take it seriously. I agree with others that you should take the constructive criticism and work to strengthen your ability to "think independently."


However, as another person noted, often what is meant when people say you don't "think independently" is that you don't display confidence. They are not actually looking for/wanting you to think independently most of the time, usually they just want you to be more self-reliant but conformist. So in order to truly think independently, don't let people who casually throw labels around sway you too much. They likely do not know what real independent thinking is themselves. That's not to say you should not take the constructive criticism from this, but don't feel bad about yourself or let yourself be patronized. You have an inner voice and learning to listen to it is a process no one else can dictate.


For example, sometimes my own inner voice pushes me to ask questions that show a lack of independent thinking. I do this to gather information and validation I am not yet able to give myself. I think this is valid, and at the same time, I am slowly stepping away from doing this as much in order to build my own confidence in my thoughts. The other thing is, while I can display very dependent characteristics on one hand, in other ways I think much more independently than average about certain topics. This independence of thought combined with its opposite: approval seeking, being easily influenced etc. held me in a really intense gridlock for years where I would not be able to comprehend basic things that most people took for granted because part of me was questioning them, sometimes subconsciously, and and approval seeking part of my brain was shutting down these questions and dissentions, to the point where I sometimes felt a little crazy since I was denying my independent perceptions. This led me to act very dependently in terms of seeking answers from others outside myself, since what was going on inside me felt so crazy making. Now I am learning to embrace these perceptions, and I think I can sometimes see things from a very unique angle (if it's an area I'm strong in). At the same time, I can be one of the most reassurance seeking, validation seeking people in some areas of my life, causing some people to think I don't know myself at all and am very dependent on outside feedback.


Sorry for rambling about myself. What I'm trying to say is the topic is complex, and sometimes people who are "dependent thinkers" are so because they have not given themselves permission to open their eyes to their true thoughts, not because they lack these thoughts. (In my case, I thought I had no opinions and was totally useless in that department for years, and now I realize it's the opposite).


I think lacking independent thinking can actually serve as a trigger to developing a deeper level of independent thinking than most people will achieve in life, because you become consciously aware of the issue and actively work to resolve it, which requires real reflection most of the time.


If you can't relate with what I'm saying, it doesn't matter. Don't take the comment about your thinking to heart, but do try to learn to rely on your own voice and opinions even if that may involve seeking out the opinions of others first as a jumping off point. Your therapist doesn't fully know you, and it is likely that you don't fully know you yet, so don't take anyone's judgments, your own or your therapists too seriously. Just take what is useful to improve your life.

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From another angle, some people have a very black and white common sense approach to life, so sometimes things seem completely obvious to them, but if your mind gets wrapped up in or carried away by subtleties or potentialities of meaning etc. these things are not always so clear to you. So to them you may look like you can't think independently. But it could be that you think about things in a different way/have a different mental orientation. If this is the case, the orientation that you have is likely more conducive to independent thinking in any deep way.


I don't know you, so it is hard to give good feedback. But I really don't think you should let yourself be categorized by others and I don't think you should feel bad about yourself. You can strengthen this aspect of yourself consciously and it will likely happen with time as well. And you might find that you are more independent of a thinker than you or others give you credit for.

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As another flip side of this, if you are reliant on other people's opinions it could indicate that you have a high level of receptiveness which could translate into the ability to really listen to connect with other people's points of view. If this is the case there is the danger of loosing yourself through being easily influenced. But there is also the the potential to combine the best of both worlds: receptivity and independence. Receptivity is undervalued in American culture to our detriment (in my opinion). Sometimes instead of espousing opinions it is better to be listening. The key is to have a balance between the two. (And like I mentioned, as a culture in the US at least, we are bad at this balance. We want to produce output and sometimes have difficulty understanding and assimilating input).

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Also, over the past few years I've come to the conclusion that out personal weaknesses can be used as gateways to access our greatest strengths. Sorry if that sounds abstract. I don't think my brain is functioning enough to explain further at the moment. I guess it's just that often something we see as negative has a hidden positive strength and if we bring things more in balance this can shine through. (Sorry, not a good explanation, I can try again tomorrow if you are at all interested

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she didn't gave further information about why she thinks like that and I didn't ask but that made me feel so bad about myself.


Part of learning how to think independently is to be curious enough to probe more deeply about topics that matter to you in order to gain more information. From there you can form your own opinions.


Since the statement obviously matters to you, why not ask more about it instead of taking it at face value to stew over--without even understanding what it means?


I'd go back to the people who said this and say, "I'd like to understand more about what you said the other day, that I'm not an independent thinker. Would you please explain what you meant by that?"


I'd start to make it a habit to ask everyone follow up questions such as, "Can you explain that to me?" "What does that mean, exactly?" "Would you tell me more about that, please?" or simply, "Why?"


Questions aren't necessarily confrontational, they're requests for more information. This helps you to decide whether you agree with people based on 'context,' which reveals the biases that shape the opinions of others.


Your teacher and therapist have pointed out that you appear to have no interest in probing deeper to explore the 'why' or 'how' behind statements. Your unwillingness to question their statement further is an example of what they meant, so if you want to change this habit, start there.


Head high.

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