4th May, 2018
Do you consider yourself to be normal? When for you is it good to think of yourself as normal and when would you prefer not to be?
So out on the coast we tend to get into some pretty raw conversations… the kind where we have made the level of connection where guardedness dissipates and we have the opportunity to talk about “random yet real stuff”…
Here is a phrase I hear all too often, generally after a co-adventurer (otherwise known as a coaching client) has shared something profoundly honest about a tendency they want to look more deeply into….
“… is that normal… it can’t be – right… that surely is not normal – is it?”
This phrase is often coupled with a vaguely amused, semi-apologetic giggle.
Since the frame of reference we are taking when we are out coastal coaching is one of good-humoured wonder and awe rather than judgment, my answer is often warmly provocative and of course dependent upon the wider conversation.
Let’s think about normal for a moment though…
Sometimes it can help to hear what you are going through is… well… “unsurprising”
… but often-times the idea of your situation or behaviour pattern being described as “perfectly normal” fails to address the very subjective nature of life and can lead to a sense that the subtleties of your reality have not been acknowledged.
The trouble with Normal…
Let’s imagine something is not normal…. It could be described as abnormal.
The latin ab means away from… so if you are abnormal you are:
…away from… separate… unfamiliar… isolated… deviant… a stranger here…. not part of THIS tribe etc
More often than not the term “abnormal” is perceived as bad….
Words are important…
So in contrast, if we think about ordinary and not ordinary… we might use the term extraordinary… to mean having something extra to add to the ordinary… we don’t tend to think of this meaning “even more ordinary than most”.
If something is extraordinary it encourages some fascination and invites exploration, it captivates in some way.
To be unusual or atypical rather than usual and typical… likewise provokes curiosity rather than the seeking of flaws… We find ourselves immersed in the expectation of something different and surprising.
What does it mean to be normal in any case?
Norms are taken from averaging out the remarkable and the mundane… So do you want your validity to be defined through averages?
Who wants to be in the middle of bell curve? Not many of the people I work with.
And I am pretty sure nobody wants to be described as a bell-end.
But to be “Ahead of the Curve”… Now that could be fun… that could lead to being happily astounding… as long as what we are doing has compassion, creativity and courage of course.
To tap into our exceptional qualities… there lies the magic!
Of course there might be habits we address that are less than desirable, after all we don’t want our impact with others and the planet to be noteworthy for the wrong reasons… but when it comes to behaviour change – “desirability” is a distinctly different quality to normality.
So better questions might be… Is this quality desirable, is it you at your best? Is this habit working out well for you? What’s this doing for you? Might you like to play with different options? Etc etc…. The list goes on…
As for asking the question… “am I normal”… my response is evolving and could well be something like this…
“No you and the behaviour are NOT normal… you are quite clearly a freak of nature… much like the rest of us.”… and to be a freak of nature is an amazing thing.
Your life happens in the light and shade between the hard edges… and cannot be distilled into numbers… Be curious, be kind and be unapologetically awesome!
The photo for this blog is of @RayTheSeal one of my favourite seals at the #CornishSealSanctuary
Ray is a bohemian, free spirit, and unorthodox, non-conformist individual (all synonyms of the title word of this blog post “weirdo”)… It is exactly these qualities that make him an authentic legend.