Marianne Klancke: Do I Look Normal to You?
April 10, 2009
Normal is a figment of our imagination. It does not matter that we define normal as a standard determined by the calculation of everyone’s average; we, each of us, only really know normal by our own terms. What is normal to me could be quirky and weird to you. There is nothing normal about normal.
This observation is never more obvious than in the vast cultural distinctions of norms. Suddenly normal is not so clear. Why do we care? So, there is no real norm. Would we not be better off being free of any dictatorial standards, oppressive expectations, or dullness of same? Well yes and no.
Societies are shaped and maintained by their standards of norm. It is pretty much agreed that chaos would ensue if participants of a group did not know and act within the benchmarks of normal behavior. Consequently, we are all hardwired to fit in ” to be normal and maintain, at all cost, the norm, whatever that may be.
So, on one hand, we survive by norms and, on the other hand, we would not know a norm if it sat down beside us. What happens, then, when we adopt, for whatever reason, thoughts and actions that we faithfully respond to as our own steadfast norms? In other words, how conscious are we of our norms, the quality of these dictates, and our obedience to them?
Is it normal for you to speak poorly of yourself or to believe that you are undeserving of happiness? Which emotions shape your norm ” guilt, fear, joy, anger, even hate? Do you accept daily pain or constant discomfort as your normal? Is being ignored or abused as natural to you as love and appreciation would be to someone else?
Constant and consistent mindsets, physical conditions, or life circumstances manifest as our personal norms. However, just because a thought, sensation, or state is automatic to you, does not make it a norm that serves you. Herein lies the dilemma. We must consciously recognize all that shapes our unique sense of normal, evaluate these standards for their contribution to our well-being, and choose healthy thoughts and actions despite any comfortable state of normality.
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This purposeful recommendation applies to communities, as well. Norms are the essence of our sense of community. The same standards that solidify within individuals as normal also sculpt partners, groups, businesses, organizations, and communities for the same reasons and with equally influential benefits and consequences.
Let us start by searching our awareness for a norm. Here is a clue ” “always” and “shoulds” usually highlight the normal thought or occasion. Try especially to notice one omnipresent standard that drains your energy on a regular basis. Next, cause yourself to explore and examine at least three distinctly different descriptions of normalcy about this same concept or action. If you need to research credible sources or poll other trusted people, dig in and do it?
Are your eyes open, now? Do you see choices? Can you sense another attitude that could better support you in the future? What is happening to your energy when you flirt with this new approach? Oh, boy, could you do an instant norm-lectomy and start with fresh standards right now? No, sorry, I do not believe you could even exorcize a norm if you tried, but you can attempt this revolutionary challenge.
Norm-disobedience. Choose to rebel against your own unhealthy norms. Vigorously prepare yourself with different reactions. Train for alternate actions and arm yourself with varied emotions that move you in the direction you desire and from which you will thrive. Your norms, more than likely, will “always” be your same old norms; however, your responses to your norms can most definitely be a matter of choice and change.
You and I are as normal as the next guy and the next guy and the next guy. Each of us march to the beat of our own very unique set of norms, instilled in us by the magic of believing that these attributes are the average thoughts, actions, or circumstances of normal people just like us. It is important to know, however, that whereas you may not be able to pick your norm, you can always choose how to live your life.
” Marianne Klancke is a certified professional coach and group development facilitator. What are your coaching questions or communication concerns? She welcomes any comments firstname.lastname@example.org.