The following post was originally published on my "Mental Health for Humans" blog. I've reworked it, mostly in terms of its format, for this site, but it's more or less a replication of the original post.
"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -- The Buddha
I have been constricted by others' dogma at times in my life, as have many of us. When seeking answers to a personal problem, one is almost guaranteed to encounter other opinions and perspectives that conflict with one's own sense of what ought to be done. The conflict can be subtle enough as to go undetected; and, to one who is vulnerable and in pain, the urge to be soothed by another's message can overwhelm one's intrinsic sense of guidance. I don't mean to paint a picture with too broad a brushstroke here, but I am warning, I suppose, against falling into the trap of guru-ism at one's own expense.
I encourage anyone who seeks my input to employ guerrilla tactics, so to speak, when seeking solutions to their problems. (Most of the time, I don't put it that way, but sometimes I do.) Why? It's all too easy for many people to be drawn in to another person's dogma and lose sight of their own ability to construct solutions that make honor their own beliefs and ways of being. There are a lot of magnetic people in the world whose messages can feel like a catch-all problem solver to the desperate solution seeker.
Of course, people turn to others for help, and that's well and good. But there needs to come a point in which the seeker detaches from the advice-giver, or the expert, in order to evaluate what has been learned, to filter out anything that doesn't jive with inner sensibilities, and proceed into a decision—or, as the case may be, other avenues of exploration. In other words, the seeker has to be the one to regroup and make the change in their life. No guru or dogma can do it for them.
There is so much information available about basically any idea in the world. Just as our physical health is aided by a diet of nutritious food, so is our spiritual health aided by dynamic learning: The more we learn, the more we have available within to help ourselves.
What I would say, then, is to allow yourself to investigate the things that hold your interest. Learn about them. Read about them. Talk to like-minded people about them. Teach other people about them. Draw connections between the things you're learning and the things you've learned, and allow them to spur you onward toward new explorations. By pursuing your interests thus, you will be creating a rich psychological framework for yourself; you will be cultivating your inner world, and developing it as your most precious resource.
Moreover, this practice of cultivating your knowledge from a variety of sources gives you a better chance of being flexible and considerate in your thinking, and better-able, thus, to tackle the inevitable problems of your life with dexterity. After all, many times we must only look at something from a different perspective in order to see the way forward.
But it all comes down to you. These are my words, and my way of looking at things. If what I just wrote doesn't make any sense to you, and even if it does, keep searching. I think that, for many folks, especially in a world as nuanced, and as full of disparate information, ideas, and cultures as ours, it can be helpful to draw inspiration from a variety of sources, and to then employ guerrilla tactics (so to speak) in problem-solving.