One question I get asked a lot by clients is: â€śAm I normal?â€ť Who doesnâ€™t, consciously or subconsciously, consider this question sometimes? If youâ€™re like me and have been dealing with social anxiety for a good chunk of your life, itâ€™s likely this is something youâ€™ve obsessed over a lot.
Psychological assessments and diagnostic manuals aside, the word normal is flat out one of the most dangerous words that can be used in the process of personal transformation. Iâ€™m not a psychologist or psychiatrist, so I canâ€™t comment with any degree of authority on the correlation between prescribed treatment models and symptom reduction. Yet one thing that I am sure of, is that there is no handbook out there that can match the power of our innate intelligence to direct us to the most optimal outcomes for our lives.
In other words, no book, no online quiz, no expert – no matter how educated and helpful they may be – can paint a reliable picture of who you should strive to be. And if they canâ€™t, your friends, family, and colleagues most certainly canâ€™t.
Whether its bliss or simply peace of mind youâ€™re after, at some point you will need to part ways with whatever roadmaps youâ€™ve acquired. What we most strive for as human beings are the most intangible and ephemeral experiences that life has to offer. Happiness belongs to an invisible world that canâ€™t be put into words, let alone be scientifically defined. If you truly want to experience it, at some point youâ€™re going to have to take a leap into the unknown.
When we are physically sick we have to turn to prescribed treatments for resolution. But not even modern medicine is foolproof. In many cases, itâ€™s only because weâ€™ve dulled ourselves to our own innate intelligence that the body needs to resort to physical cues that something is wrong. When we are open to it, we receive abundant signals that something is no longer working. And when we pay attention to these cues – some people refer to them as intuition, but they are quite simply your feelings – we may even be able to prevent physical issues from occurring in the first place (check out the emerging literature linking stress and disease if you want an example of what Iâ€™m talking about).
If you truly value happiness, then you need to reframe your approach. Instead of approaching everyday situations from the mindset of â€śwhatâ€™s normal?â€ť, ask yourself, â€śwhatâ€™s healthy?â€ť And as you consider the options before you, tune into whatâ€™s actually happening for you in the here and now – not what you overheard or were taught would happen if you chose A instead of B.
We are so conditioned to the cult of normal that this may feel like taking a leap across a canyon at first. But the more you cultivate an attitude of healthfulness, the sturdier you will become. Soon, even the most giant leap will feel like a stroll in the park. And then peace of mind will no longer be conditional on whatâ€™s happening in the media, your social circles, or anywhere else in the world. It will simply be your way of life.
By: Kelly Pritchard
Kelly Pritchard is a therapist-in-training at Transformational Arts College. She focuses on the best of many healing traditions to offer time-tested, self-empowerment strategies that anyone with a sincere commitment can master. She provides non-judgmental, caring support to enable clients to embrace their strengths and weaknesses. She empowers clients to discover the inner resources that will enable them to live the lives of their choosing â€“ and inspire others to do the same. Kelly practices client-centred, holistic psychotherapy which guides clients to work with their bodies, emotions, minds, and spirits in order to achieve their highest human potential. If you are interested in learning more about Kelly or her services, you may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.