10 personality traits that show you’re an independent thinker

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Independent thinkers are always people that I admire. They’re confident, self-reliant, and overall just completely sure of who they are and what they have to bring to themselves and other people.

It’s not hard to see why you shouldn’t become like them in a world that’s sometimes full of chaos and uncertainty: but where should you begin?

Well, first you need to understand that independent thinking isn’t just a vibe that someone gives off: it’s a crucial aspect of their entire being.

Once you’ve got that down, here are a few personality traits that you should look for (and develop!) if you want to become an independent thinker yourself.

1) You Don’t Fall For FOMO

I personally don’t like missing out on stuff. I’m always curious about what’s going on in the world, and that sometimes means that I’m really susceptible to the Fear Of Missing Out – and admittedly, that hasn’t always led to the best situations.

However, you’ll never see an independent thinker falling for this at all.

Independent thinkers make decisions based on their own values and beliefs, rather than feeling pressure to conform to societal norms or follow the crowd. 

This doesn’t mean that they don’t care about trends at all, but they’re far more discerning about which ones they’ll hop on.

After all:

They trust their own judgment and don’t feel the need to do something just because everyone else is.

So if you’re able to resist the pressure to conform or participate in activities or events that do not align with your own values or goals, then you’re probably an independent thinker. 

2) You’re Fluid With Your Opinions

Too many people never change their minds.

People take pride in the things they believe in and start associating their sense of self with their rigid and permanent opinions.

How many times have you seen a person argue to the death for an opinion that everyone around them knows to be wrong?

Independent thinkers don’t associate their egos with their opinions, which is why they can so easily say, “I was wrong.”

So if you aren’t afraid of admitting that something you once believed in is actually incorrect and that you now believe in something else because you have more evidence or proof, then you’re probably an independent thinker. 

3) You’re An Expert At Research

Independent thinkers are amazing at looking up things, primarily because they’ve never seen the need to rely on anyone else for information or other similar situations.

If you’re comfortable researching things on your own and can follow through with the results of your research, you’re most likely an independent thinker.

It’s this particular trait that I admire the most – can you imagine how easy it would be if I were that motivated? – but admittedly, it does require years of practice.

And even then, you’ll need someone experienced to show you the ropes of how to do it well.

Whether it comes to the best restaurants in town, recommendations for a new headset, or important social, cultural, and political events, you can rely on an independent thinker to get the answer themselves.

4) You Have A Healthy Dose Of Skepticism

I’ve never been able to fool an independent thinker for very long, even with minor pranks.

These types of people will usually take things with a grain of salt: they won’t disbelieve you upfront, but they will make sure that you’re not pulling things out of your backside.

If you don’t believe everything that you’re told, you refine your curiosity to something better: a motivation to find out what’s true and what’s not, based on your beliefs and efforts.

Being skeptical of things and not always taking them at face value is one of the hallmarks of an independent thinker.

This means that you trust what you know above all else, and you’re not afraid to make sure of something before you believe in it.

5) You’re Not Easily Fazed By Authority

On that note, independent people are far less likely to be intimidated or follow authority.

That’s not to say that they’re rebels: rather, they know that authority alone doesn’t mean that someone should always be followed or believed.

If you’ve run into issues before with someone in charge because you believe that what they’re doing is wrong, you likely have an independent streak about your thinking.

While you’ll respect someone in charge, you won’t hesitate to call them out or act out against them if you think they’re not in the right.

Authority doesn’t scare you. But an authority figure that you feel doesn’t deserve to be in charge? They should be scared of you.

6) You Take Initiative When Doing Things

Initiative: the one thing that many people (including me) wish that they could tap into on-demand.

Who doesn’t want the natural drive to get stuff done?

Most people need to be told to do something, especially when it comes to the workplace. Independent thinkers are go-getters.

You just go ahead and do things – no need for directions, prodding, or otherwise being told what to do.

You either have a natural grasp on what needs to be done, have already been briefed in advance, or it’s just the way you do things.

Because you don’t really require any pushing to do something, you always do things based on your own initiative.

Once you’ve managed to lock on to something you want to do, no one’s going to have to tell you how, when, or what it needs to be done.

7) You Have Natural Leadership Qualities

Independent people naturally gravitate toward leadership positions, and that’s because they’re used to setting their own pace.

I’ve seen this trait with independent thinkers who were great in group dynamics, work settings, and basically anywhere that needs someone to take the helm and push things along.

As someone who thinks independently, you’re comfortable with striking out in places that no one else has tried to go, or simply taking charge with doing things that no one else has thought of doing.

You’re so comfortable in this element that people just naturally want to follow your lead, making you an excellent leader.

From picking the restaurant for dinner to the next steps for your quarterly project, people rely on you.

8) You Can Focus Easily On Your Tasks

Life is full of distractions. Between the internet, other people, and life in general, it can be difficult to focus on the things that need to get done.

As an independent thinker, your center isn’t reliant on the things around you – so you can focus on things far easier compared to the average person.

This includes tasks both big and small. As long as you’re determined to get it done, you’ll go through hell or high water to make sure that’s something you can cross off your to-do list.

I’ve seen some of my friends pursue their work, interests, and other things with a single-mindedness that’s been honed by years of experience.

Once they set their eyes on something and they’re properly equipped and determined to get it done, I’m 99.9% sure that thing is as good as done.

9) You’re Tactful With Others

Tactfulness, honesty, and bluntness are all so easy to confuse with one another.

However, an independent thinker knows the subtleties and differences between all three: and most of the time, they’ll go with tactfulness as their default approach.

Knowing when to adjust your approach, attitude, and perspective on different things is a sign that you think independently.

What others (or most people) would handle in one way without question, you’d rather spend your time thinking about it before doing any actions at all.

Knowing when to be gentle, when to be honest, and when to be a little blunt is a sign that you value your own independence as well as others with the situations they encounter.

Sometimes, there are just situations that need a discerning eye to resolve well.

10) You Take Responsibility For Your Own Actions

I’ve never heard an independent thinker try to shift the blame on something they did to anything or anyone else but themselves.

They take responsibility for what they do and any consequences that may happen because of it, primarily because that’s how they approach most situations in life.

Since they’re used to making their own decisions, informed by their own opinions, they’ll always take responsibility for something they did.

Taking responsibility also means owning up to any mistakes – yet another thing that many people have trouble doing, especially if they’re too concerned with how everyone else thinks about them.

If you can take responsibility for something that you did, and what happens after (good or bad), you’re an independent thinker.

You value the agency that someone has to make their decisions, and you hold yourself to a standard of owning up to that agency with the things you do.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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