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

406 thoughts on “Normal – is there Another Way?

  1. They have a term in the NHS even for this – it is called ‘group-think’… when enough people are doing something to make it the normal and then others just follow along blindly because they don’t want to stand out or step out of line. It has caused major problems and issues within the health service and we can widen this to the issues we see in the wider world. Do we just blindly follow along with what the majority are doing or do we stop and feel and discern for ourselves what feels true for us and act on this basis? I reckon if more people actually acted on what they felt was true rather than what they thought they should do the world would look very different.

  2. In a world where teenagers and our young are looking for the way to be, the way to live, the way to understand life, there is little available to them that empowers them, that tells them they are an incredible being within. Thank goodness for people like Serge Benhayon and Natalie Benhayon offering another way for us all, and that way is founded in the premise that we are all equal, and we are all worthy.

  3. As a child I used to hear sayings like, ‘would you jump off a cliff if X person did it?” Ironically it was said by adults who were still quite hooked into conforming to societal norms! As I have matured I have seen the ills of peer pressure and conforming and it is up to us as adults to reflect to kids that we need to feel what is right rather than blindly go along with the pack.

  4. Setting the bar for a new normal in the world how brilliant with new levels of honesty, responsibility, love and awareness honouring who we are innately and removing abuse from our lives and making life about love and connection with everyone.

  5. There has been points in my life where I have wanted to rebel and not follow the ‘norm’ not in a protest way but in a way where I refused to conform with everyone else. I can remember say nope never getting married as what I saw around me showed no real reason why I would want to. Years on things change and marriage i can see now thanks to Serge Benhayon can be a wonderful, truthful and deeply loving relationship where you are transparent, open, prepared to look in all the corners together and evolve. I have started to see how this is possible and is becoming a normal for those who want true Joy and Love in their lives.

  6. It occurs to me today, having just read the next article on how to “respectfully disagree” that when we make friends with that feeling we are more prepared to make our own choices and not just follow the choices of others to avoid an imagined confrontation.

  7. Sometimes we ‘go with the flow’ with what others are doing, not because we seek true harmony but because we seek a movement that will create the least ripples in the ocean of energy in which we live. That is, even if what the status quo is doing is something we know is not true, we do it anyway so we do not rock the boat and draw attention to ourselves. In this way we create a way of living that has strayed very far from our true normal and replaced it with a way of living that is common but not true.

  8. When I was a child growing up, my family knew a man who had been at sea and he had an anchor tattooed on his arm, that was the first and only one I saw for many, many years. Now it seems for example the new ‘normal’ is for everyone to have one or many tattoos covering their body, I’m told it is a form of expression, a form of walking body art. I wonder when this became ‘normal’.

    1. And one of the things about ‘normal’ is whether we consider the consequences or long term consequences of the norm or choices. E.g. what are the consequences of a yet to be older generation with multiple tattoos, body piercings, extended ear piercings, eye tattoos, or long term use of Botox or plastic surgery, or nitrogen infused coffee (a new current trend) what kind of trajectory lies ahead not just for our body, but for our health services and carers.

  9. Normal has become our easy chair and favourite old slippers. We no longer push for anything and just slowly accept what once was unacceptable! Have we sold ourselves out to the road of less resistance for a hassle-free existence? When we make our new normal about what feels right in our body, it is the beginning of a life-long pursuit of expansion.

  10. We make it ‘normal’ to hide our thoughts and to say what we think others want us to say. But that is just keeping everyone in comfort. Expressing what we feel deep inside is expressing Truth and true reflections are what helps us to evolve.

  11. That fear of looking like you are the odd one out is really and truly debilitating. This is such a key issue, the need for acceptance and recognition from others at the expense of conforming to something that deep down you know is not true for you. Turning this around and claiming what we feel and expressing this in all that we do is a turning point for humanity if we say Yes to ourselves and not to others.

    1. And the way we treat others when they do make choices that are different from ours is not loving at times either – we can be quick to judge or be jealous or in comparison when another makes a loving choice that is a new normal.

  12. Normal is what we have allowed to happen, we can change that by presenting a new normal for a new era of living truth.

  13. If everyone is doing the same thing we don’t notice what we are doing is abusive. This is so evident when we have groups of people with a common interest. If the common interest is smoking dope, when one person decides they want to try to cut down on their smoking, the reaction from everyone else is quite full on. That is entirely logical because the person who is wanting to cut down is saying what the others know deep inside but do not want to activate, therefore they cajole, bully or reject the person who is looking to change the behaviour that ‘held them together’.

  14. ‘when will we look at the world and discern not what is normal, but what is Truth?’ – When we are ready to let go of the illusion that we have played ball with and learn to see the world from a spherical view i.e knowing that every little choice and detail matters in the whole.

  15. What a great blog Jane, so practical and yet so exposing. Who sets the normal and who allows the normal to stay in place?

    1. Absolutely Kim. Who indeed? How many times do we hear the expression ‘they say….’ . My question is, who are ‘they’?!

  16. What I find fascinating is that those children and adults on the autism spectrum often will not behave in societal ‘normal’ ways aka they say what they are thinking, they don’t filter to be nice or fit in. The ways they have if expressing are so lovely due to their lack of contorting to be acceptable. It’s interesting for those at that end of the spectrum that we ‘society’ find it so unacceptable we have to label it a disorder…

  17. We need to look at all our ‘normals’ through the eyes of Truth… and we will find many that do not match up.

  18. The other day I was in a gentleman’s clothing store staring at a notice that said “sizes up to 64 inches” and that was waist size not leg length. When I did the math with the inches that turns out to be taller than me. The shop offers men’s trousers for men that have a girth of 5 foot, three and a bit inches (approximately 162 cm) and it seemed so normal. At what size do we stop and say “enough, this is not normal, what are we doing to create this abnormality?”

  19. It’s a great point how previously we may have done something that felt supportive but that it doesn’t necessarily mean to keep doing it the same way always from then on – if we do that kind of repetition it can mean that we stop tuning in to our body and sensing what’s needed in the present moment…

  20. The habit of normal for fear of rejection from others also brings a realisation how others try to impose with the discomfort felt as they become aware they have never considered their own behaviour. There is no need for justification or explanation, I have been down that route and it’s a slippery slope, but we can observe that normal is everyone’s behaviour at a certain time, and there is no need to conform to another’s normal behaviour to accommodate them.

  21. There comes a time in our life when we have to question all that we have been taught to see if it actually resonates with our body because that is the only way we can know if something is true or not.

  22. As normal can be far from normal so it is good to discern what is right for you and your values. As we have been going along with what has been perceived to be normal for a long time.
    Thanks Jane for this article on a topic that needs discussion or unpacking
    As crazy 😜 is the new normal these days.

  23. The term ‘acceptable behaviours’ really got me here when referring to what the social norms are. We accept far too much in the way of abusive behaviours towards ourselves and to others. What gets me is that we would rather accept and tolerate the abuse, violence, contraction and warfare instead of accepting our beauty, our grace, our divinity and our love for one another.

  24. When choosing ‘normal’ becomes easy and comfortable, it can feel extremely uncomfortable to then step outside the box, express how we really feel or do something that we know is true but might not fit the criteria of what’s liked at the time. However, the sense of strength we can feel from standing up for truth is a thousand times greater than the sense of ‘fitting in’ or comfort (which can actually leave us feeling empty) achieved by going with the ‘norm’.

  25. In my experience we do a lot of things that are not good for us, knowing they are not good for us. We may not jump off a cliff but we may slowly slide down that cliff onto the rocks, knowing that this will be the destination.

  26. I would agree that the daily abuse of our bodies by holding off when we need to pee or have a drink of water or keep going when we need to rest/sleep is a very normal way of being. ‘Normal’ makes it harder to see what should be obviously harmful to our bodies and wellbeing. Normal also has the function of making us doubt and not trust the feelings we get from our bodies. This is probably the greatest harm that normal creates.

    1. And in all of that we over ride the fact that it is normal for our body to feel everything, and normal if we so choose to listen that our body is the greatest barometer through our daily life choices.

  27. Inspiring to reflect that we set our own bar for what we call normal, and how we do this. When we claim a choice in full because it comes from our body, it becomes normal for us, because it’s a whole body yes. When we half heartedly commit to something based on a picture we’re holding, without really feeling it, it’s more difficult to establish that as a new normal way of being because it doesn’t have a strong and steady foundation behind it. Rasing the bar of normal starts with listening intently to our body, and following its cues.

  28. The trick of “normal” is we all think we know what normal is, but that idea of normal is different for everyone.

  29. Just the other day I was stood waiting at the airport arrivals and I was astonished by some of the “normal things” going on around me. I say they were normal because they were common to many people around me, even though they did not feel particularly normal to me. It was a bit like looking at the world as if I had come from another planet, or I had been absent for a decade or two and had the advantage of objective detachment.

    1. Ha! I had a similar experience at a train station and there was settlement in my body as soon as I observed from detachment.. What was interesting that a young lady continually swearing on her phone began to carry on her conversation with no swearing.
      “It was a bit like looking at the world as if I had come from another planet, or I had been absent for a decade or two and had the advantage of objective detachment”.

  30. I can see there is so much normal that is contradictory and unloving. When we have someone like Serge Benhayon who is free of the impediments as to the reasons for following the norm – even when our bodies are screaming, ‘this isn’t a good idea!’ – and asks us to consider what we are signing up for, it’s then I can see I’m in a bubble that is the norm and can break free if I so choose. Unpicking and challenging the bubble is great, as too is being honest about the payback I get for being in it which keeps it going. Until I start really honouring my body and recognising it for the authority it is, what is normal but unloving will continue to foster. I’ve given up many bubbles but there are more to identify and let go of. The difference is now, I know how to discern for myself what is an unloving norm.

  31. It was not until I met Serge Benhayon who lovingly asks those questions that most of us may skip over, that I started to realise oh my word there are so many more discrepancies in life than I was choosing to be aware of. Following a pied piper to our demise is a great example, because there are so many ideals and beliefs that we take for granted but when someone or something has us stop and reconsider they simply do not even make sense!

    1. I agree Golnaz there are so many things we take for granted without really recognising where they come from or discerning whether they feel true.

  32. If what has become normal is a way of life which is full of abuse and which leads to such high levels of illness and disease and other problems facing humanity as a whole lets start looking at abnormal as the way forward until we shift our perception back to something which is normal for us from within.

    1. We have all lived a life before that is so stupendous that there are currently no words in our language to reflect such unparalleled grandeur. But not only was that unparalleled grandeur our normal but it was normal for all of us to be working constantly and collectively on expanding it to the next level.

      1. Rosemary, I have found questioning to be very beneficial but only when it’s done with absolute honesty and when it incorporates renouncing the behaviours that are no longer supportive or loving. Questioning done in this way can indeed be a powerful tool in our return to our old normal that was far from normal by today’s miserable standards.

  33. I have been bullied going against the norm. This was not even planned I just did from a young age. So, I was bullied early on and still to this day I feel it. It can be very over-powering if allowed. Normal for me is going deeper into inner-stillness that I know is pure and divine — it is confirming and I feel great.

    1. Rik thats a great point you raise, this going against the norm causes all sorts of reactions in people. Especially when the going against the norm – means – going with the truth.

    2. You being bullied for going against the norm does not surprise me at all, because someone who has the internal resilience to not conform is a challenging reflection for those who are too afraid not to conform.

    1. Yes, our life can look very strange when we take a detached point of view – with allowing advertising for foods and drinks that harm us as just one small example, the current issue with fake news as another.

      1. Adding to the list… exhaustion, binge drinking, boxset binging, excess eating, obesity, abuse, bullying in the workplace, self-abuse, lack of self-worth, porn, smoking, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer, stress, divorce, gossip, press that print lies, corrupt systems everywhere, … all this is considered normal and yet taking a step back when we consider that at our core we are simply love, it really is bizarre we have let life become all of this!

  34. If we don’t snap out of our current normal trends, we are going to go over the edge without the piper needing to do anything. The rise of ill health is alarming in an age when our medicine is very far advanced, which must be a huge pointer to the fact that our current ‘norms’ are highly abnormal.

    1. Great point Rowena, how is it that our medicine is far advanced but more people are sick and have ill health than ever before? Some of the illness and disease we have today was unheard of say 100 years ago. It is a huge sign that the way we are living is a huge contributor to our ill health.

    2. Unfortunately part of our normal is living in a very hazy reality. None of us ever think that anything is ever going to happen to us, even when we are living in such a way that we know is harmful. It’s as if part of our normal is to repeat behaviours and habits without really questioning them. Illnesses and accidents have a way of shaking us up but so often, up until that point we are sleep walking with the masses. I know that from personal experience, I was only able to start to really question the way that I was living once I became unwell, it was from that point on that I started to choose different ways to go about things and it was those different choices that then provided me with a different angle from which to view things. But up until that point I was a sleep walker in the crowd.

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