Don’t Tell Me What To Do – Let Me Think for Myself


Enlightenment by Mark Stivers

When I was a child, not sure what age this started, I had this habit of stopping in the middle of whatever I was doing, walking over to a window and staring out if I was inside or staring at the sky or the horizon if I was outside and then I would say out loud – Let me think.

The type of thinking I was referring to was similar to meditation or contemplation.

When I was very into New Age and spiritual practices, I tried learning meditation and found it impossible. Serious meditation teachers insist you do it according to the rules, or the rules according to them and their way which is THE way, which caused a problem for my instinctively rebellious side.

Don’t tell me what to do – is an inner reflex whenever someone tries to impose their will on me. This is also a habit which started when I was a child as a reaction to the constant barrage from the adults in my environment. Not sure what age this started either. I am certain that it was early as I was often accused of being stubborn – adult speak for how dare you think that you’re an autonomous individual.

In the case of meditation I had willingly put myself under someone’s instruction and opened my mind eagerly to their tuition.

However some teachers think that teaching is about them telling you what to do and how to do it with no input from the pupil and no room for individuality. They’re the master, they know everything, have nothing more to learn and certainly have no intention of learning from their pupils. Their spirituality only flows one way, their way, into their ego.

I eventually gave up on meditation as my teachers decided that I was a bad pupil. I did not respect their authority, their status as master. They were right in a way. I was foolish in thinking that all humans are equal regardless of status. I did initially respect them as fellow humans, and as teachers to whom I had come seeking to be taught how to do something which I wanted to learn, and they taught me to disrespect them. Had I continued to respect them, I would have learned from them to disrespect myself. They did not respect my pupil status, my eagerness to learn was seen as admiration for their superior knowledge. Their authority relied on them knowing more than others, and they were not eager to pass their knowledge on because then the pupil might also become a master, and to maintain their status of master they had to keep the pupil in permanent pupil status. This dynamic made me question their ability, their motives, and my open mind closed itself off from their teaching, but did learn a lesson just not in meditation. Such is life.

Later I read a book which said that daydreaming or any moment where we zone out and let thoughts drift through our minds watching those thoughts like a stream without thinking about them is meditation, and that meditation of that sort often occurs spontaneously when we’re waiting, pressing pause on our busy lives, or doing a task which is repetitive, automatic, and keeps our logical mind focused so that the rest of our consciousness can explore itself. That idea change the way I looked at meditation and at my life. I realised I’d been meditating naturally since I was a child, but not to transcend being human, become superior, detach from myself and escape this mortal illusion or whatnot, but to become more grounded within myself, a part of my body, my humanness, and the Earth on which I live. To be here now and feel it. To be conscious, aware and think for myself.

Let me think – was to me a signal. My mind had reached saturation point. It was full, usually of the voices of the world outside of me, many of which were fighting due to contradictions and opposing realities. This was not just down to growing up with two Narcissists who were constantly at war with themselves, each other, the world and everyone else and who regularly dumped their confusion into me so they wouldn’t have to deal with it. This was also society and the world constantly telling me who I should be, was, wasn’t, and what I should do and not do. Orders, dogmas, bias, isms, fears, beliefs, hopes, fantasies, stories, news, opinions, alternate realities, collective hypnosis, and information flooding in at an overwhelming rate and volume. And I needed time to sort through all the information which my mind had absorbed. To let the voices which were irrelevant to me flow out of me, and to see what was left once the noise had subsided to a level which could be listened to, and then decide what was pertinent and therefore required attention and focus.

I later came to view this pause for thought as panning for gold. I would pass my mind soup through a sieve. Whatever passed through the holes in the sieve was let go, if it was important it would find its way back to me, that which didn’t come back in the same form or another was overflow. That which remained would then be checked, followed up with research, examined to learn and understand what it meant, and sometimes what remained although looking like a random collection of information would connect together and form a whole or part of a whole idea and picture.

The nuggets of gold which the sieve catches don’t always appear like gold, in fact sometimes they look like faecal matter. Those are often more precious than gold, because they offer us the way into the deepest parts of ourselves.

Those quietly creeping thoughts which undermine the self from the inside out and which we don’t notice because they are subtle and usually don’t have a physical representation which is blatant. Such as when we dismiss our inner knowing in favour of rational logic. Rational logic which probably doesn’t belong to us and which we may not even agree with, but society and others – others who may have rammed the point home into our brains through repetition, the constant drip, drip, drip hypnotism of media, and nagging, and bullying in the form of authoritative statements, experts postulating that they know and we don’t, that they have proof positive and that’s that – have forced us to adopt as our own for fear of being or looking or thought of as stupid. Don’t question what the norm has decided is the norm or the truth or reality otherwise the norm will gang up on you and come down on you like a ton of bricks, crush, blame, shame and humiliate you, then ostracise you from the group until you cry for mercy and accept their dogma. If you question those thoughts, you are questioning the fabric of their reality, and when you do it openly, you threaten the group, the norm, and might infect them with doubt about their concept of life and how to live it and their ivory tower will crumble and topple… and then where are they going to live.

I’m not saying that society and experts and those around you are wrong. They might be. They might also be right. But is their right, right for you as an individual.

There are poisonous things which we inhale, eat, drink in and absorb all the time in minuscule, imperceptible doses which accumulate within us over time.

Things that can’t be seen, or are seen but not noticed anymore. Like when you hang a picture on the wall and after a while you stop seeing it, you know it’s there, you vaguely recall and register the image, but you no longer notice it… until it is not there anymore. Covers of magazines, you may not buy them or read them but you see them without seeing them, what are those images telling you.

Things that can’t be heard because we hear them so often their words are now subliminal. Like that voice inside your head which monitors your every word and action for correctness, which whispers – you’re not good enough – a voice which was probably was put their by overly concerned (invasive) parents and which censors your natural self turning it into an unnatural self just for a pat on the head which it never gives you but always promises to give you if you just try a bit harder and do a bit better. News headlines which tell us the world is a bad place to live, sensationalising the bad, shoving anything good to one side unless it is exceptional and thus impossible to achieve by ordinary mortals, and now we only need to see the word ‘news’ and we feel heavy, gloomy, and bad about ourselves without really knowing why it just seems how we should feel so we feel it, feel not good enough, dissatisfied, restless, and seek out a distraction.

We accept a lot of things because we are used to them and we no longer question whether they are right or wrong, good or bad, for us as an individual. We like to think we think for ourselves, but how much of our thinking is actually our own. How much of our thinking belongs to someone else and is disguised as our own thoughts. If only we had a moment to ourselves to just be… ourselves without added extras.


Let yourself think.

Don’t let anyone tell you what to do and impose their will on yours.

That includes me right here and now.

No matter how authoritative they are, how confident they seem, or how uncertain you may be until you have had time to decide whether it is the course of action or thought for which suits you.

Don’t tell me what to do – Let me think for myself.


    • It can be difficult though because of the pace of life and all the ways we can fill any breaks in the busy. Still, it is a wonderful experience to just be and to connect with yourself 🙂


  1. Its about taking the time and space to let go of other voices and opinions which can surround us all the time and getting quiet enough to listen for the inner voice inside us that just “knows” what is right for us.. not for anyone else, but for us…loved this.


    • True dat!

      I often hear everyone criticising me. Because that’s what I grew up with. I formed myself based on that dynamic. I’m aware that I hear that even when it is not there, and that awareness shifts things.

      What am I hearing versus what is actually being said? – is something I’ve taught myself to ask. It’s an intriguing question and applies to compliments as much as to criticism.

      Learn to know your voices as well as those of others (not just what they’re saying but also what they’re hearing) and how they interact. And learn to switch off. Pause. Go blank sometimes, see what fills the space. 🙂

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      • I really relate to that “hearing others voices”. At times it can be like an ongoing interior model of criticism… good when you can just listen and not attach, realise where it came from, hear a truer voice from deeper down answering back… But like you said even better when you can go blank or just put up a detach sign inwardly, to counter all the crap 🙂


        • I always keep in mind that other people have similar hearing problems as I do, and hearing criticism seems to be one many of us share. It helps to chill about criticism, then the sound of it whether it is there or not isn’t so harsh and reactive 🙂


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