9 signs you’re a highly independent thinker, according to psychology

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Some people follow the crowd, like sheep or lemmings, whilst others forge their own paths. 

So, what are you? Sheep or lone wolf?

Being an independent thinker doesn’t just mean having creative and unique ideas. You also have the confidence to voice them and the strength to act on them – which is a pretty fierce mix.

Luckily for you, psychology offers some pretty interesting insights into what makes a person an independent thinker. And the best bit is that you might be in possession of these sharp minds without even realizing it!

Without further ado, let’s explore 9 telltale signs that you’re a highly independent thinker, according to psychology:

1) Questions. So many questions!

Forget curiosity killing the cat. These kittens are thriving!

Independent thinkers never just accept things at face value. They have an insatiable curiosity and a strong urge to dissect, analyze, and challenge every idea that comes their way.

This habit often means they’re going against the grain. Others might accept social norms with a shrug…

 “Sure, if you say so”.

But not independent thinkers. They’re out there, busy picking them apart.

So, if you often find yourself questioning everything around you, you might well be an independent thinker. 

Stay curious!

2) Okay with being alone (and even enjoying it)

Independent thinkers tend to treasure their alone time. They might well enjoy socializing, but they recognize and respect the value of spending time alone as a critical opportunity for reflection and self-discovery.

Others might side glance their ability to spend a weekend alone, tucked up with a good book. But it’s in these periods of solitude that their creativity and problem solving capacities reach their peak.

So, if you often find yourself craving some alone time to ponder over your thoughts or to dive into a good book, it’s a pretty good sign that you have the mind of an independent thinker. 

Enjoy those quiet moments – it’s in them that you’re allowing yourself to come up with your most original and unique ideas.

3) Conformity isn’t your thing

Conformity can feel like a straitjacket to independent thinkers. The idea of doing something just because it’s the ‘norm’, without any critical analysis, can be deeply unsettling.

This tends to be why independent thinkers are rarely part of the herd. They shun fads, hypes, and trends, and tend to align their values instead with authenticity.

If you often find yourself wrestling with the pressure to conform, take pride in your ability to stand out from the path that all others choose to follow. 

That courage you have to stand out and be different is not a burden, but a badge of honor.

4) Open-mindedness

Owing to their wisdom and intelligence, independent thinkers tend to be open-minded and receptive to new ideas. They don’t let their preconceived notions or societal pressure limit their perspective or understanding.

You won’t catch these worldly individuals shutting down other people’s perspectives or being unwilling to listen, just because their own viewpoints differ.

Instead, their curiosity drives them to constantly seek out new information, ideas, or perspectives, even if they contradict their existing beliefs. 

And it’s this inherent openness which stands as a testament to their intellectual curiosity and willingness to grow.

5) Uncertainty isn’t all too scary

Most people crave certainty and predictability, and will do everything in their power to shun change and live in the comfort zone.

Independent thinkers, on the other hand, often thrive on uncertainty. 

For them, the unknown is a space where creativity blossoms and new ideas are born.

In the words of psychologist and psychoanalyst Erich Fromm, “Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.”

If you’re also someone who feels comfortable and maybe even embraces the realm of uncertainty, using it to fuel your creativity, you’re likely an independent thinker too. 

The ability to thrive in the face of the unknown, rather than cowering from it, is a key trait of independent thinkers.

6) Standing out from the crowd doesn’t bother you

Independent thinking tends to be fairly closely linked to intellectual ostracism as one extreme.

And whilst complete social exile is rare, most independent thinkers are nonetheless labelled as ‘different’, or maybe even a little ‘weird’ for the way in which they go against the tide.

The majority of people strive for acceptance and fear standing out; independent thinkers embrace their individuality.

And whether it’s wearing quirky garments, having less common hobbies, or holding unpopular opinions, they’re not afraid to stand out and be true to themselves.

So if you’re someone who doesn’t shy away from being a lil’ different and values your individuality above societal acceptance, you’re most likely a highly independent thinker.

7) Incredible problem solving skills 

Natural born problem solvers, independent thinkers don’t shy away from a challenge…

No, quite the opposite – they see these hurdles as opportunities to learn and grow.

Cue quick thinking, swift wit, and the ability to find the silver lining in any bad hand of cards.

They don’t wallow in the face of an unexpected challenge, but instead step forward and start working twice as hard to navigate past the obstacle. 

So if you’re the type of person who actually enjoys solving problems and sees challenges as opportunities rather than obstacles, chances are you have incredible independent thinking abilities.

8) Forget being popular, you choose authenticity

For those who value independent thought, the thing they value the most is being true to themselves. This stands as far more important than being popular or well-liked. 

They understand the importance of being authentic and aren’t afraid to show by their true nature – even if it means standing alone.

If you fall into the category of often valuing authenticity far more than being popular, you’re likely an independent thinker. 

It takes immense courage to be authentic in a world that often rewards conformity, so be proud and keep your head held high.

9) Buckets of motivation and discipline 

Finally, independent thinkers aren’t spurred on by external factors. They actually have an internal drive that pushes them to explore, learn, and create without limits.

They might not roll out of bed every morning with a spring in their step, but they pull themselves together and toil away at their goals, regardless of other things going on in their lives.

If you too possess a unique drive and discipline and are constantly edging forwards to your goals, you’re also likely an independent thinker. It’s this self-motivation which fuels your path, sets you apart, and propels you forward.

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