Q: Dr. Hurd, I hate being told that I HAVE to do something. Is this an indication of immaturity, as some in my life have told me?
A: No. Hating to be told what to do is an indication of maturity–so long as you’re willing to figure out what you ought and ought not to do, and why. Resenting being told what to do is healthy and rational–so long as you’re committed to using your own mind to figure out what really makes sense. A child wants and needs to be told what to do, not an adult. A rebellious teenager resents being told what to do even if he knows it’s right, and makes sense. A true adult falls into neither of these traps. Nobody who loves or cares about you in a mature way would want you not to have a mind of your own, either. I respect it when people don’t want to be told what to do. My attitude towards them is, “I understand. I want to comprehend WHY I’m doing something. I don’t want to be told just to do it.” When somebody feels entitled to tell you what to do–via coercion, if necessary–this is the ultimate form of entitlement. It’s not just entitlement over your body, but over your very mind. Anyone with genuine self-esteem does not grant anyone power over his or her mind. “You can make me do something–perhaps–but you will never make me think it.” No matter how crazy the world gets, you don’t have to let anyone ever do your thinking for you. That’s the essence of freedom and the essence of sanity.