A critical thinker rarely takes things at face value. They like to analyze and evaluate all sources of information before coming to a decision.
Critical thinking is an essential skill, especially in an age of fake news and misinformation. We need to question sources and make sure the information we take in is valid. However, in an age of information overload and complex choices, a critical thinker can come up against a few problems.
Here are 6 things that a critical thinker might find challenging.
1. Information overload
Critical thinkers are smart. They often see through false arguments and shallow ideas and love to get to grips with a subject. The problem is, there is so much information available now that critical thinkers can’t possibly take it all in.
Every subject you can think of has thousands of websites, books and other resources dedicated to it. This means critical thinkers can never really know everything about a topic. They might be caught in a trap of always searching for further information about a subject and never finding an end to it.
2. Difficulty making decisions
Most critical thinkers like to weigh up the pros and cons of any decision before they make up their mind. This is often a great way to make decisions and can lead to excellent choices. However, many of the decisions we make in day-to-day life are not straightforward enough to be made in this logical way.
For example, in deciding whether to move far away from your family to start a great job, how do you measure the value of your relationships against the great pay and opportunities of the new career? Some decisions need to be made using instincts and intuition rather than logic and critical thinking, and this is something that many critical thinkers find hard.
They may make decisions that make logical sense but actually, lead to unhappiness because they are not comfortable trusting less tangible feelings like intuition.
For a critical thinker, even simple choices, like which type of toaster to buy, can be difficult because there is so much information available. They may look at product descriptions and reviews, but these can often be contradictory. The critical thinker then fears they don’t have enough information to make a choice.
3. Lack of connection with the physical body
Many critical thinkers spend a lot of time in their heads. In fact, some only see their bodies as useful tools for moving their heads around! This can be a stressful and unhealthy way to live. Thinking is only one part of what makes us human. Spending time taking care of our bodies and enjoying the pleasures of the senses helps make life wonderful.
When we spend all our time thinking, we can miss out on these pleasures. Of course, thinking gives us a lot of pleasure at times, too. It’s great to learn new things and explore ideas. As in so many things, it is finding the right balance that makes the difference.
4. Difficulty relating to others
Others may see critical thinking as a criticism of them. Because critical thinkers always analyze both sides of any problem, some friends and family members may find them unsupportive. To be honest, sometimes people want our support rather than our critical thinking skills. It can be difficult to balance these ways of behaving, but sometimes, critical thinking isn’t what is required.
It’s often best to try to assess what another person needs before weighing in with critical thinking. Sometimes our critical insights are exactly what they are looking for – other times not so much.
5. Feeling negative
Being a critical thinker can mean that you are always looking for the problems in life. A critical thinker can always see what might go wrong and why something might not work. Unfortunately, this can be quite a pessimistic outlook on life. While seeing where things might go wrong is useful, it can also crush new ideas before they have been explored.
Looking for the negative can also mean forgetting to see the wonder in the world and being grateful for all its blessings.
6. Exploring different ways of thinking
While critical thinkers often use logical thinking as their main way of living and relating in the world, there are many other ways of being. I’ve mentioned feelings and intuition already, but we can also use our imagination and creativity to help us live a full life.
Relying on critical thinking alone does not lead to new ideas and creative insights – for that we need to use imagination and intuition.
Critical thinking is a valuable skill, but it is part of a toolbox of ways of thinking and living that we can use to get the most out of our lives.
Are you a critical thinker? Can you relate to any of the above-described points? Share your thoughts with us.