“The moment you begin to write…you are making a declaration of independence, determining to think for yourself..”
This quote by Irish writer Dermot Bolger is how I open The Journal Writer’s Handbook. It appears in bold lettering ahead of the preface. It is the reason I write, and the reason I wrote the Handbook.
Independence of thought and knowing how to think for ourselves are increasingly important. We live in various social media driven echo chambers, where group-think is all too prevalent, pressuring us to adopt an “acceptable” point of view that will neither offend nor incite any kind of “wrong” action or belief.
What we read in the media is increasingly untrustworthy. More than ever we have to rely on our own judgments, and our own research, in order to understand what is really going on in the world.
So we need to deepen our discernment. We need to know our own minds. We need to be able to recognise the subtle intuitive nudges that hint to us when things are “off”. We need to feel our own truth in order to then identify the Truth around us.
Independence has always been a theme in my life. I went to private school outside the comprehensive state system; as a young woman I travelled and worked abroad and learned self-sufficiency and how to fend for myself in tricky circumstances; in middle-age I like to buck convention and create opportunities for myself.
Maybe I was too independent. I was stubborn with it, so I was often alone, choosing to be on my own in the things I did rather than rely too heavily on others.
It was at these junctures that writing became central to my experience of my life. Keeping a journal or writing letters home helped me express myself when there was noone else around to hear, and it also helped me get clear on the page about who I am and what I think.
Acclaimed academic, author and commentator Jordan Peterson is now advocating the same kind of idea – that we take some time to write things down about our lives and aspirations. His online self-authoring programme is a guided process to documenting one’s thoughts and opinions – and DANG I wish I’d thought of it.
Of course writing isn’t the only way to learn to think for yourself. Good quality, open and curious conversations help too, but you have to be a lot less stubborn than I was to make these work! Meditation practice is also conducive – funny that sometimes it’s better to quiet the mind to know the mind.
Whatever approach you take do it. Learn to think for yourself. The world needs your view.