“What we think, we become.” — Buddha
Thinking is a skill. You can build it with practice. It all starts by thinking to yourself …
… “I Am a thinker.”
Your self-image is a key to improving your thinking skills. If you want to improve your thinking skills, one of the most important first steps is to think of yourself as a thinker.
This is not the same as thinking of yourself as intelligent or as an egghead. The problem with holding those self-images is they get in the way of effective thinking. For example, if you have a self-image of “intelligent” that you may find yourself defending it to yourself or others. You might be afraid to ask “dumb” questions. In the case of an “egghead” self-image, that might conflict with an image you want to have about yourself. For example, maybe it’s not “cool” to be an “egghead.”
The solution is to simply think of yourself as a thinker. This frees you up to use and practice thinking.
In the book, De Bono’s Thinking Course (Revised Edition) , Edward de Bono writes about thinking of yourself as a thinker and practicing thinking as a skill.
Think of Yourself as a “Thinker”
de Bono writes:
“The self-image of ‘I am intelligent’ or ‘I am not an egghead’ is a value image which has to be defended or maintained. In the first case, thinking is merely a tool to show how smart you are. In the second case thinking is avoided because it has to be regarded as ‘boring.’ The self-image of ‘I am a thinker’ is a totally different image. It is not a ‘value’ image but an operating image. … It means that I can try to think about things, that I enjoy thinking about things, that I am interesting in developing more skill at thinking.”
Shift to the Self-Image of “I Am a Thinker”
How important is this shift? Let’s put it in perspective. Edward de Bono published more than forty books on thinking and he had this to say:
“If all my work, including this book, achieved no more than cause a shift to the self-image of ‘I am a thinker,’ I would be happy. The techniques, understandings, and methods are of secondary importance to this.”
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Photo by Shandi-lee.