Normal – is there Another Way?

If anyone asked you to follow ‘The Pied Piper’ over the edge of a clifftop or under an oncoming bus, would you do it? I’m guessing you’d say “no way,” yet how many of us have ever tried a new beer, a coffee or energy drink, a hair product, a so-called ‘super food’ or miraculous diet – because others around us are doing it? Have you ever made a small or large choice in your daily life because it is the normal thing to do? I know I have. And how many of our daily life choices do we actually make because they are “normal” and “everyone does them?”

I ask those questions as I have been asking them of myself recently while I get to know myself more, and understanding just how many of the things I do in life are because they are ‘normal.’ For instance, I may eat snacks during my working day – and everyone around me eats snacks at work, so this is a normal behaviour – yet what if my body actually doesn’t want those snacks? And what if I am actually not hungry but in a habit of doing something because others do it?

What then is ‘normal’? And why is it of interest to us all?

Normal can be seen as conforming, as something that is ‘usual’ or expected. It comes from a Latin word ‘normalis,’ which described something made with a carpenter’s square. Something built this way would be normed to have angles that were perfectly aligned and fit a general pattern. This meaning eventually gave us the broader sense of fitting a pattern, standard, or average. (1)

Normal can also be a habit, something typically done, customary, a routine, a regular occurrence, or an established way of being.

On a bigger scale, societal norms or social norms are “the rules of behaviour that are considered acceptable in a group or society” (2), and whilst norms can provide a sense of order in society, do we take them as ‘normal’ with no further consideration or do we still discern even if something is ‘normal’?

What I observe is that:

  • We can do something that is ‘normal’ for fear of reaction from others – or that we may be shunned in some way – yet just because it is normal in that society, does it make it true?
  • I may do something that is ‘normal’ because my mum or teacher showed me to do it that way when I was a child, and I’ve never considered whether there was another way.
  • Over time ‘norms’ change – and seem to flow with the tide of where the majority are, but how do we discern what becomes the new normal? And in whose interests is this new normal?
  • A ‘normal’ for me may be something that did at one time support my body, but what if my body no longer finds it supportive, but I continue to do it as a habit, or just because it is my normal?

And what if I am already doing a new normal for me which is actually supportive, but I have not confirmed for myself that this is the case?

So what are our benchmarks of normal? And when will we look at the world and discern not what is normal, but what is Truth?

Let’s take an example. What if some of what is accepted as ‘normal’ is actually abuse?

When we mention the word abuse we probably use it to describe extremes such as domestic violence, modern day slavery, paedophilia – and yes, they are all abuse – but what if our daily accepted ‘abuses’ (which to us may seem normal, e.g. overriding the need to pee, eating/drinking substances that are toxic to the body, overeating) are subscribing to the current reality that abuse is okay – because it is ‘normal’? And if abuse like this is accepted as okay then is it possible that is why abuse is still able to run riot in our lives to the extreme – because in our basic daily living we accept seemingly small moments of abuse as being normal?

Is it not only in our own best interest, but in all of our interests if we choose to discern ‘normal’ and we start to explore for ourselves in daily life with curiosity to consider: how do some of our ‘norms’ in society become norms? Do these norms serve us in truth? And, where am I in my own daily living accepting norms, without first discerning what feels true for me in that moment? Where am I making a choice that may go against the grain, or go against my own well-trodden ingrained way, but that may just be what is needed at this time?

What if in discerning ‘normal’ we set a new bar of ‘normal,’ which is one of more awareness, more responsibility, and more empowerment when we realise that we don’t have to follow a particular norm, but we can begin a new norm based on our own lived experiences – one that just may turn the tide on abuse? Or shine a light so that others can see there is another way?

By Jane Keep, London

References:

  1. Vocabulary.com. (2018). normal – Dictionary Definition. [online] Available at: https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/normal [Accessed 11 Apr. 2018].
  2. Yourdictionary. (2018). Social Norm Examples. [online] Available at: http://examples.yourdictionary.com/social-norm-examples.html [Accessed 11 Apr. 2018].

Related Reading:
From exhaustion to vitality: how my definition of ‘normal’ was challenged
What’s the New Normal?
Zoochosis – A very human condition

615 thoughts on “Normal – is there Another Way?

  1. It is very worthwhile to explore where we are just accepting norms without looking for ourselves what the norm is actually about. To become aware of our thoughts, how we feel about things and so on. For instance knowing that drinking alcohol is actually abuse and choosing not to drink can make you feel uncomfortable around people who drink. Just the conscious awareness of the fact that you are actually saying no to abuse and that this is absolutely fine can help let go of this discomfort.

  2. The difference between normal by statistical majority and normal by natural to our innate qualities, is super huge. As we align to the latter, we build towards the moment that the latter becomes the former.

  3. There is so much “stuff” seemingly in and around as that we call normal that truly isn’t – that we can barely find a space to observe ourselves and what really feels true inside ourselves at all. Allowing the space to truly observe is key, without just accepting it all as normal, like a bad habit.

  4. Normal is dangerous when it is about following trends. And the thing is – the world is about trends and what is in fashion. So there is certainly a role in that for us to discern and to really feel into what truly supports us.

  5. If we make every day about going deeper – we should keep blowing our ‘normal’ away. If we get used to life being a certain flavour it’s most likely a sign we are coasting and holding back from letting all our love out.

  6. I am really coming to see how harmful normal is for us and our development. We may have grown as a person beyond the norms around us but the norms keep us down. They ask us to ignore and override what feels true for us and doubt anything outside the ‘normal box’. It also carries a mob energy that feels entitled to discredit and mock anything that stands outside of its control.

  7. Breaking habits that have been with us for a long time is not necessarily easy but when we remind ourselves of how supportive it is to do so it helps us wean ourselves off things and ways of living that are holding us back from having a vital and purposeful life.

  8. In various cultures abuses we would find abhorrent are normal, like the femicide of babies and women, and then there are behaviours like drinking alcohol to be more socially accepted, in each case if it’s considered normal it’s not really seen as an abuse. So I suppose the question is how does one come to realise something is abuse, when previously it’s been seen and accepted as normal? I know for me the more I listen to and honour and respect my body I see how I treat it as either supportive and caring, or non-supportive and abusive. In addition, the deeper I connect into my inner-heart, the area of the heart that connects us to our soul and the love we are, the more I see what is abusive and not loving – no matter how normal it is considered to be. The other way that normals get exposed as abuses for me is seeing how others live, they may live levels of love and harmony I don’t and their reflection supports me to consider what’s truly supportive and caring of myself and others.

  9. It is interesting to consider where our normal comes from. Is it the normal copied from the majority or is it the normal that lives within. While I know I have lived the first for a great part of my life, I am now more to listening to my body that tells me what my normal is and experience a great appreciation from my body when adhere to it.

      1. And this awe you are talking about Matilda is not to be held within, which by the way is impossible to do, but to be shared with everybody we meet. The wisdom from our body then naturally becomes the source from which we speak and in doing so we spread unconditionally the love that we are connected with.

  10. Yes, you can say that the current norm in our societies allows or at times even encourage abuse in peoples lives. It is normal thus we accept it as normal and do not question it. But we are not robots that run a program. We have a free will and are able to choose otherwise but why do we not do that?

  11. Normal has changed without a doubt just in my lifetime. Tattoos shocking, tattoos normal, women drinking shocking, women drunk normal and so on….no mobile phone, to everyone has one. So normal is perception and our normal is something we can all choose for ourselves. But yes, let us all challenge what does not feel true, just because it is a regular occurrence does not make it inevitable or always useful or purposeful to humanity.

    1. Decency and respect used to be normal, now the levels of indecency and disrespect are like a plague, including on the internet. I absolutely agree with you here Samantha “just because it is a regular occurrence does not make it inevitable or always useful or purposeful to humanity.”

      1. Yes, we need to reflect and ask ourselves does this really have a purpose that serves us all, and not think about short term outcomes and self interest, we can simply go deeper in all areas of life to find the root causes of our unrest, illness and dissatisfaction.

  12. There are so many things that we accept as “normal” yet have we accepted them as normal simply because we have never questioned them? I used to consider for example that drinking alcohol was just a normal part of life until I came to understand how alcohol actually affects us and then it became very obvious that drinking alcohol was not normal at all.

  13. We have so often behaved “like sheep” or “like lemmings” as the expressions go, rather than having our own anchor within where we make our choices afresh in each moment, independent of and also understanding of one another’s choices. It’s not about living as an island, but definitely not jumping off a cliff either.

  14. “What if some of what is accepted as ‘normal’ is actually abuse?” Great question and one that should be considered even in the smallest detail. Ultimately, are we honouring our bodies at this level, or abusing them?

  15. The trap we have fallen for is that we always deem the new, the, better, the bigger, the more efficient and so on as the way to go and adjust our normal accordingly, but what we completely neglect, dismiss and ignore is that nothing is of true wealth if the quality we live in and thus naturally do things in is not one of love and harmony.

    1. And the thing in always looking forward in improving or bettering our lives or the systems we have in our societies is that in that drive we do not notice that we are running in circles, not going anywhere and that actually nothing in our behaviour and attitude has changed.

  16. Like with anything we can either bastardise what is normal or a standard or bring awareness to the cycles we live under and how as we evolve they change and a new ‘normal’ arises. I realised a normal I have this week of looking for issues, something I usually do without even thinking about it and I felt how awful it is in my body and it was easy in that moment to give it up and see I don’t have any issues.

  17. I love what you are unraveling here. We are often so quick in judgement when we think we see something clearly and particularly in another, but rarely do we combine the dots or do we reflect what the given situation actually is telling us about ourselves. Everything we see, are in contact with and experience in life brings us a reflection that helps us to grow, to deepen our own understanding about ourself and the world. It is always something we ourself can learn and grow from.

  18. The opposite effect of staying true to ourselves in the presence of others is it can create waves, discomfort or tension:: people prefer it if we conform to ‘accepted’ ways. Being open and expressing there is no right or wrong way and explaining our choices made have evolved over time and are suited to our body is one way to approach this These experiences are a true test is how steady are with in ourselves and our strength of resolve to maintain consistency of purpose regardless of where we are.

    1. Yes.. Maintaining a consistency of purpose, with no need to explain or justify. I find what causes far more reaction than me being true to myself is me attempting to be true to myself but going off into so much justification and explanation that it then becomes a far lesser version of the truth/living true to myself, and so not true at all. Simplicity and steadiness builds trust, within and around us.

  19. It’s interesting to stay with someone and meet their normal which may be very different from our own. Staying with who we are, simply reflecting our way of being with few words and no judgement can have ripple effects when we leave.

  20. Another way of thinking about what is normal is calling it a ‘standard’… Setting standards becomes normal practice, be it in the workplace, in your own home or in relationship with yourself or others… and standards always have the opportunity to be raised… and raising of these standards is another way that Love is expressed.

  21. Why settle at any point or for any ‘norm’ when there is so much to explore in life, so many opportunities to take up and ways to take our relationships to deeper levels.

  22. Last night I had a dream about answering a huge questionnaire in which I got to feel the enormous expectations about what we think is required of us and how we play the game. The thing is, we cannot win the game of creation, we can only choose co-creation – God’s true loving way.

  23. I often ponder about what it takes to be making choices from fresh, truly so, without being influenced by the perceived normal going on around us. There is just so much that has shaped us that has absolutely no foundation in truth.

  24. ‘Over time ‘norms’ change – and seem to flow with the tide of where the majority are, but how do we discern what becomes the new normal?’ – And how often do we discern if the new normal is true to ourselves and not something that we go along with just because by others it is deemed to be the norm?

  25. Setting a new normal and one based on truth not normal is very beautiful and inspiring to feel with all you share here Jane and opens the door for us all to make our lives about evolving to a greater love and awareness simply by the way we live and our choices.

  26. Something that stood out for me in this blog is the importance of looking at what we accept as ‘normal’ or familiar – whether on a societal or personal basis – through the eyes of love. I.e. If we wish to treat others and ourselves in a loving way, then does ‘xxxxx’ behaviour, attitude, policy, etc support this loving way, or not? Starting from, and assessing life, from a connection to love gives us a reference point from which to look back at personal and societal ‘norms’ and know what needs to be confirmed or what needs to change.

  27. I strikes me that there are two types of normal within society; the normal that comes from living from your spirit and the normal that comes from living from your Soul. One is the true normal the other, which is the commonly accepted ‘normal’ is an untrue form of normal which is entirely based on a level of energetic collusion and arrangement to keep yourself less.

    1. and the normal as we are living in the world today at some level doesn’t make sense – you’d have to ask why is it this way? why is illness and disease rising so high even with all the technology, research pharmaceuticals etc? why do we still have slavery etc? as whilst it is commonplace it really is not normal for the truth of who we are – and those types of conversations as to why are things the way they are are much needed to begin to see what we accept as normal need not be the case.

  28. There is a great need to keep challenging all the things that we take for granted as being so called “normal”. Just because we have done things for a long time does not make them correct and teenagers are great at pointing out this fact.

    1. Agree – and even what is normal for us – and what works today we can’t assume it will work tomorrow as our body and what is needed in the way we are living is a constant evolution and not a static thing.

  29. Many times the norms of a group or community appear to offer safety and a sense of belonging but in reality they may be the limits and boundaries of a self imposed prison.

  30. It’s a great question to ask ourselves, what is it we consider normal and is it really true for us? I find the more I honour my own truth the more I can be seen as weird, simply because it’s not normal to live the way I do, even though, for example, I may be expressing love to others more than the average person.

  31. Discerning what is really normal and setting new normal standards from the reality of what is really going on and what we feel in our body is beautiful and a way to change our lives to a greater truth, honesty, value and integrity.

  32. With powerful modalities like Chakra-puncture and Esoteric Healing we get freed up from age old patterns and beliefs – it just comes down to whether we are prepared to let go and embrace a new normal or wish to stay fixed and recreate past maladies.

  33. The last observation about how we can have a normal for our bodies but as we evolve and change it makes no sense to hold onto that normal because it no longer serves the body and where it is at. To let go of fixed ideas of what is normal is certainly a process that is presented regularly during the day if we so choose to see them.

  34. The things we do, are they a habit or truth? because at the moment I relate to the word ‘habit’ as: Something I do blindly without questioning it’s origins. Something to feel into here.

  35. Just because its normal does not mean its true or that is it is good for us, for example there are many that follow the soccer, and how often have we heard of fights between supports on different sides of the team, its normal to be in division, to take sides for the team you are going for and deeming the other team as the opponents and therefore we can even become abusive. This is normal, and in this example it is not healthy, does not contribute in a positive way to society, it is harmful and causes division that can even lead to abuse. Therefore normal simply is about the majority not about quality, truth, bring people together. Normal does not mean we hold social standards of decency, love, care for each other, truth etc.

    1. And it is interesting that we aren’t curious or ever deepening our discernment of life and everything around us – as deep down we know when things don’t make sense or don’t feel true – but because they are ‘normalised’ we can over ride what we feel or deny what we felt – but why do we do that? Why would we put ourselves at risk of abuse, or into abuse when we already know something just doesn’t make sense? We have to first want to see what is going on e.g. that what is normal is not true.

    2. It’s a really great conversation, why aren’t we questioning things more and overriding our feelings to accept normals that degrade human life? I know for me part of this is I give my power away to what’s outside of me and to majorities, instead of staying true to what I feel is the truth within.

  36. At one point it was normal for me to drink alcohol while knowing that my body reacted badly to it and it was normal for me to continue to conquer why I couldn’t drink and persist in trying only to find myself ill for two or three days afterwards. Questioning these things we see as normal is healthier for us than following the crowd.

  37. Our norms and values changing overtime shows they are not set in stone although we like to think they are when they are being challenged. There is a set of values though that is firmly set in stone, or deep within ourselves. They are untouched by other peoples choices, upbringing, culture or experience. It is the values of the soul, of divine order and harmony.

    1. yes, I love that – we have standards – and if we truly feel deep within, and we connect with our body we know what those standards are – even in the seemingly smallest daily life decisions.

      1. I agree just as we all innately know ‘wrong’ and ‘right’ for lack of better words we know true love and we know what it is not. So anything that is chosen that is lesser than our divine values is done so by choice.

    2. And why is anyone’s ‘normal’ challenged? It is interesting when someone sees a different way of another’s normal to their normal, they can feel threatened. They get awakened that their normal may not be true and they may have been less discerning. Its great to hold the values felt in the body solid and true no matter what others think.

      1. I agree Gill, the only reason to defend our ‘normal’ the way we see today is because only then can we hold on to our set and very comfortable ways. The defense often comes from feeling the lies being exposed and not wanting to face this. Only when we already have acknowledged to some degree that our normal is not the way are we open to real change.

      2. Another thing to consider here Gill is how important it is to never get into justification for why our ‘normal’ may be different from others, especially when we know we are providing a reflection of greater love or self-care in our lives to others. At that point people have the choice to be inspired or not, but when we feel like we have to explain why we appear different, we are enjoining the masses and have lost the opportunity to lead the way back to greater love.

      3. Absoutely Gill. Staying true to ourselves is one of the most precious and powerful things we can choose to do.

      4. Ah, I know that one Michael, I used to justify myself when questioned why my normal was different from someone else’s. Everyone can feel when normal supports us and we can be forever tweaking it as we take greater care of ourselves.

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