The Truth About Normal
Modern human beings subsist in an ongoing effort to be perceived as ‘normal’, and we all endeavor to attain it or generally subscribe to it in one way or another, even if we also enjoy being different. It’s part of the landscape that we are born into, so we must look to our mentors and tormentors to find our modeled form. The specific beliefs of the people who taught us had/have a heavy influence on our individual concepts of normal. Since we each have multiple mentors, it makes sense that the differences in their opinions make it impossible to adopt a common connotation for normal, yet strangely, we continue to hold it up as an actual standard.
In my view, this proves that ‘normal’ is not an achievable state, because it is nothing more than the scattered projections of billions of incongruent concepts. Any time we spend trying to be or feel normal pulls our focus from the valuable things we could be caring for instead. The fact is, when we are frequently made aware that we are ‘missing the mark’ on normal, the effects will stick with us in weird ways… unless/until we learn to work directly with our feelings. And not many of us are willing to readily expose our deep vulnerabilities without a damn good reason.
We’ve been highly conditioned to fear our emotions and protect their boundaries. I contend that this is where we frequently miss opportunities to know what we are actually capable of in this human condition. (Who else wonders what we can do with the other 90% of our brains we don’t useIf we put too much value on appearing ‘pretty normal’, we fail to engage our passion and purpose. We become a distorted version of ourselves, scrubbed of our full emotional range, and lacking the depth that comes from being in tune with how we feel.
Our early learning is fraught with well-meaning attempts to redirect and refocus our more exuberant energies into something more appropriate and/or acceptable. From excitement to disappointment, our most visible emotions are shushed, over and over, as we are forced to place value on our environment, and away from the thing that has triggered our emotion to begin with. In childhood, our worst behaviors get held up to the light of what normal people do in this situation, and when we don’t measure up, the shame can leave us feeling separate and alone. Depending on the situation, this can have lasting negative consequences within our psyches. As kids, most words from our parents (or the adults in charge) serve as the law of the land. These form the imaginary boundaries that we each carry within us, helping us appear normal, as we strive for whatever outside acceptance we seek.
Whether we agree with our Mentors or not is another discussion, but the point I’m driving home here is that we have all been organically guided into believing that there are people around us who are a lot more normal than we are, when that just isn’t true. If we could all be our spontaneous and joyful selves more often, we would cease to care whether we were meeting the standard of normal, releasing its pull. We would be able to listen from within for direction, because we would believe in ourselves from the inside out, with less value placed on how we appear to others. We could be caring for the well-being of others, while softening our desire to affect their opinion of us at all.
Recently, I watched a five year old who was supposed to be sitting with his friends stand up, move to the back of the crowd, and bust some pent up dance moves he couldn’t contain while sitting still. The third time he got up to dance it out, his mom met him at the back of the room. She looked embarrassed on his behalf as she approached him. This kid was into it, so he was genuinely surprised when she grabbed him (gently) by the arm and whispered into his ear. I don’t know what she said, but it appeared to be kind and loving parenting. She couldn’t see his face as he turned away, and what she missed was the disappointment that visibly coursed through her child’s body as his excitement was quelled and he returned to sit and act normal with the other kids. With no wind in his sails, he looked smaller as his excitement was replaced with shame, and that blanket enveloped him. I didn’t see him dance - or crack a smile - for the rest of the event, although I’m sure he bounced back quickly. At five, we can feel what we feel and then move on. As adults, we believe that we can intellectualize our emotional experiences and this is at the root of our inability to feel Whole.
Incrementally, this practice of valuing normal has dampened our collective awareness of the universal power supply that is present underneath our blocked energies. Its strong undercurrent reaches us in our dreams, imagination and creativity. The voice of our Soul (inner self, higher self, whole self, consciousness, connection to God, the Tao whatever you choose to call it) is persistent in its ongoing support of our Wholeness, always endeavoring to remind us who we truly are, apart from whatever normal thing we think we should be or present as.
By my research, this arbitrary standard that we have all been expected to meet and be on a regular basis, has never been REAL - it is just the official line of consciousness (affectionately, the O-LOC) that generates our beliefs. It is based largely on the opinions, fears and prejudices of the people who taught us. As well-meaning as they may be, this pattern of finding normal has been hard-charging since “the old times”, another place where the lines of fact and opinion are ridiculously blurred. Depending on the beliefs of those who taught us, we might carry a tremendous degree of guilt as a result of not meeting the standard of normal, and I’m here pioneering Our Raw Material to help shake us from this energy-sucking habit.
Our feelings are meant to be our indicators– they reflect our inner weather. They exist to let us know how we are doing and what we might need to prepare for what’s in front of us. When the weather is stirring, anything can happen–so it’s helpful to understand what we need. Our beliefs form from the things we are told over and over, whether they are true or not…. Steve Miller (in Dance, Dance, Dance) and Todd Snider (in Mission Accomplished) both sing the lyric “I don’t know, but I’ve been told…” - both of them aware that believing and knowing are two different things, and both of them aware that trying to achieve normal is buying into a bunch of BS that keeps us from being excited and proud about exactly who we are in every moment!