What is NORMAL?
A client recently told me ‘I know it’s not normal’ when she described something she does, which not only do I find common but definitely do myself!
Like everything else, ‘NORMAL’ is a perception. But the backdrop it falls onto, is those experiences that have shaped our lives.
My ‘backdrop’ is an eccentric, chaotic, exciting childhood in which being ‘normal’ was (silently) not valued!
So what are five associative words that come up for you, if I say ‘of course a normal person would…’
I can bet that every single person will come up with completely different words.
In therapy, we listen for the ‘damning conclusions’ people come to about themselves and we point them out to clients; the big statements of ‘facts’ that are not facts at all but more likely fears. So we’d say ‘I notice that you are saying ALL people are like this – but can you really be certain it’s ALL?’
Invariably a client will pause to consider and realise that they can’t say ‘all’.
So why do we do allow limiting beliefs? We concoct them and embed them to feel in control and safer and pre-warned. That’s comforting apart from the fact we’ve forced ourselves into a boxing ring for a mental self punch-up.
Fretting about being different (not being normal) is one of these punch ups.
If you put a (useless/unhelpful) thought under cross-examination you will find how inaccurate it is, how full of suppositions and bias it is and how the ultimate ‘belief’ we’ve told ourselves is not only wrong, but useless and pointless.
“yes, but I still feel this way…’ will be the come back to this.
And, absolutely, I don’t doubt how people feel. But I once you start to NOTICE your thought patterns, you can at least choose whether to keep shining inside them.
So, let’s take NORMAL to cross-examination:
Who is NORMAL? What is NORMAL? If you were NORMAL what would that look like smell like, taste like, act like, behave like? Sound like? Where is the evidence? How else you could view this? Who was the first person or event that made you think/feel this way?
Normal, like all perceptions doesn’t truly exist. It’s almost a red-herring to the real, powerful changes we can make; who we want to be (not who others want us to be) what we want to change and what we are actually secretly quite okay with (even if our loved ones tell us otherwise!)
There is no wrong or right with perceptions; there’s simply understanding that helpful, affirmative ones propel us forward and negative, damaging ones hold us back.
Every day, we get to choose the thoughts we obsess and feed, and the ones we give less attention to, so like unwatered plants eventually wither and die.