For those of us who have always felt like the black sheep among the flocks of sheeple it’s sometimes hard to find a way to fit in. I know that was certainly the case for me when it came to politics and religion. Wearing the Republican and Christian labels I chose wasn’t always comfortable for me. It just didn’t feel right all the time.

Like most people, I didn’t always subscribe to the doctrine and orthodoxy of those groups, sometimes hiding my true feelings of disagreement while just focusing on the stuff I agreed on. (I know I’m no the only one who does that.)

Too many times we keep our unpopular views to ourselves so as not to upset the other sheeple in our pen. Of course when we have a point of view that we think the other sheeple will respond well too, we go, “BAAAAAH BAAAAH BAAAAAH” at the top of our lungs! That way the others will know that we belong with that flock. 

I’ve recently found my way out of those pens and declared my political and spiritual independence. It wasn’t easy. It took a lot of soul searching and thought.

Making a conscious decision to be a free-thinker isn’t as easy as you think it would be. We are bombarded with outside influences all day every day. Peer pressure and influence comes at us from all directions – media, friends, family, religious communities, political organizations, pop culture – all the different flocks of sheeple baaahing at us all day long.

I want to invite you to do a little exercise. Maybe you’ll do it for a few days, or maybe it will be something that you continue for the rest of your life. It’s something that I do, and it’s wonderful.

When you read the news or learn about a new issue, don’t look to see what others are saying about it. Just think about it. While hearing others’ opinions about things is always helpful in forming our own opinions, try not doing that for a bit. No cable news television or talk radio pundits, no opinion columns in the paper or online, just read the news and think about it.

Then, the next part of the exercise is harder. Don’t speculate about what others might think about it. Everyone does that, even unconsciously. We are always aware of our “audience” of sheeple. Try to forget about them. Don’t worry about they might think about you and what you think. It’s not as easy as you think.

Look, I know that most everyone prides themselves in thinking for themselves, but until you make a purposeful decision to tune out everyone else, you probably won’t realize how much others influence your thinking. Give it a try. See what you really think. The results may surprise you.

One more point – Don’t confuse being a contrarian with being a free-thinker. Sometimes popular opinion is popular for a good reason – it’s right. The contrarian sheeple are still just sheeple unless they’ve arrived at their opinion honestly and independently.

I predict that you will find yourself agreeing with your usual flock of sheeple a lot, with other flocks of sheeple more often than you expect, and you will probably even find that you have opinions that nobody else has even expressed before!