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How Do I Become Normal?

I think we are at an awkward stage of this in the world right now. Half the population tells you to embrace your uniqueness, your quirks, and faults, and the other half expects you to conform to social standards, not cause a scene, and fit in as best as possible. We get a lot of mixed messages so it makes a lot of sense that we feel confused about how we should behave and how much of ourselves is tolerable and acceptable.



So how do you become normal? This is something I get asked A LOT in counselling, and I totally get it. If I were to tell you to work on your self-acceptance and encourage you to love yourself as you are this is not necessarily going to make you feel more ‘normal’. If I were to tell you to become someone else and act more like them, I doubt this is going to make you feel more ‘normal’, either. The things that make you feel like you are not normal are quite often the things you can't tolerate about yourself. Work out what YOU picture to be normal. What does ‘normal’ mean to you? Who told you that you weren’t normal and how normal are they? If someone was to tell you that you are normal, would you feel better?

 

Normal, to me, is an idea and it’s a feeling, and it is one that is very individual to each person. What’s normal to me might not be normal to you, and that’s okay. That’s where the self-acceptance comes in handy. However, accepting yourself and learning to be content is one thing, and being normal is another. I encourage my clients to explore ‘normal’. Tell me what it looks like. What it feels like. What would be different in your life if you were more ‘normal’? This, my friends, is where your answers lie. This is what tells you and me where you feel you are lacking, what you feel is missing, and where you feel you want changes to be made. It also helps us to realise if changes actually need to be made. If it’s your voice telling you that you’re not normal or someone else's who judged you in the past. It helps us differentiate what is you, truly part of you, and what’s not. What’s hurting you and keeping you stuck in this shame cycle. Of course, each time the responses will be different.

 

Someone may tell me they need to lose weight or get a nose job. Some might say they need to be confident in their role at work. Some might say they need to be more comfortable and relaxed or more assertive or brave. Some might say they need to settle down and have children. Some might say they need to learn how to drive. Some might say they need to stop thinking the way they do, if they could change their thoughts, they’d be normal like everyone else. If they stopped worrying so much. If they stopped obsessing. If they stopped….etc. This is proof that normal is a construct. It’s something we see in our lives from other people that we feel we want to achieve and because we can’t we’re not normal. Other people seem happy, their dreams and hopes are fulfilled, they don’t struggle like I do, they don’t feel unacceptable…. They are normal. Why can’t I be more like them? Or sometimes even, ‘why can’t I be more like you? You seem to have it all together, I mean, you must… you're a therapist!”.


This could not be farther from the truth. It makes me laugh inside every time I hear it, actually. I am no perfect person, nor am I normal. I am normal by my standards, but I surely won't be normal by other people's standards. If there is one thing you take from this blog, please let it be this. All therapists struggle with something. There is always at least, something. We are all human and a constant work in progress. We have our hold-ups; we have our baggage, and we have our own daily practices to keep pushing ourselves. We do not have it all figured out and we never will. There is no guidebook to becoming normal at counselling school.

 

Instead of pushing to become normal, push to understand your perception of normal. Instead of searching for these answers through the internet or advice columns, look within yourself. It will be a lot more likely that you’ll find long-lasting results that way. I promise that none of us are ‘normal’.

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