In a world in which we are exposed to more information, more options, more philosophies, more perspectives than ever before, in which we must choose the values by which we will live (rather than unquestioningly follow some tradition for no better reason than that our own parents did), we need to be willing to stand on our own judgment and trust our own intelligence—to look at the world through our own eyes—to chart our course and think through how to achieve the future we want, to commit ourselves to continuous questioning and learning—to be, in a word, self-responsible.Nathaniel Branden
Trusting ourselves–what a concept that is! In a world in which there are hundreds of people every day in our media, in ads, and in our personal lives telling us that we should trust their judgment and do as they say, it’s quite a novel concept to trust ourselves and to trust what we learn and what that learning means to us. But you see, we have to live our own lives and make our own ways through this world, so it’s up to us–and only us–to determine who we become and how we interact with the world, its people, and its nature.
We all were given intelligence, and we all have our own unique conscience. We were given our own sets of desires and wishes and wants, and we were given our unique gifts that will allow us to make the best of our lives if we use them to their fullest potential. We choose the values we live by, and we choose how we treat others. Far too often, though, the criterion for our choices is simply, “Well, that’s how everyone else does it.” This criterion, needless to say, doesn’t take into account our uniqueness or our own judgment. It’s an easy way out of having to make decisions that may be fairly difficult to make.
But those are the decisions that make you who you are, and that help you to become the person you’re meant to be. If you don’t make them, you’re standing in place or treading water, however you wish to look at it. That’s not fair to you as a person, and you deserve to be treated fairly, especially by yourself.
Questions to ponder:
1. How often do you stand unflinchingly on your own judgment?
2. What are the results of “unquestioningly” following traditions simply because our parents or someone else did so?
3. How does it become difficult for us to “stand on our own judgment”?
For further thought:
There is a dangerous threat in the air these days—the threat of our being thought for, ruled, regulated, pushed around, made into things. There is only one weapon against that. The weapon is the self—the unique and incalculable reality that is a human soul.
Eric Manners (1953)
Credit: Living Life Fully