"Is It Normal?" - Is The Wrong Question.
Is It Normal?
In my experience as a psychologist specializing in sex and relationships, I often encounter clients grappling with the question of normality.
They come seeking validation for their feelings, relationships, and experiences, asking, "Is this normal?" This question, however ubiquitous, is not the most constructive or revealing one to ask.
Instead, we need to shift our focus towards a more personal and introspective query: "Do I want to live with this as my norm?"
The concept of normality is inherently elusive and subjective. When people seek to understand if their experiences align with what is 'normal,' they often unknowingly embark on a quest for statistical normalcy. This might mean seeking comfort in being part of a majority, like having five fingers on each hand. However, this pursuit becomes problematic when applied to less desirable aspects, such as experiencing poverty or emotional distress. The majority of people are struggling financially - do you want to be ''normal'' and thus be in this majority group though?
''Normal'' has other dimensions aside of statistical understanding of 'normalcy'. For instance, location - if you live in New York City, it's very unlikely that you have a cow and a bunch of chickens on your property, but if you live in rural Kentucky - you probably do. You'd be normal not having them in NYC, but definitely not normal if you live on a farm in the country side. Religious definitions - you'd be an abnormal man if you have more than one wife in the Western world, but it'd be completely normal if you had several wives in the Middle East. Contextually too - it's normal to ask your bakery to make you a special cake - you cannot expect your butcher to deliver a birthday cake though. Normal here, now and for you does not mean normal there, then and for them. The ambiguity in defining what is 'normal' stems from its reliance on societal standards, location, time/era, gender, societal status etc. all vary greatly and often do not account for individual differences and definitely not for personal desires.
Asking Yourself The Right Questions
It's essential to transcend the narrow confines of societal norms and instead focus on what is personally desirable and fulfilling. This approach shifts the perspective from an external to an internal frame of reference.
For instance, rather than wondering if it's normal to feel ashamed about sex, question whether you desire to live with that shame. Ask yourself if a sexless marriage, or losing yourself completely in a new relationship, is what you truly want for your life. Instead of wondering if it's normal to never experience orgasm from partnered sex - ask yourself if you want this to be your ''norm an normal''. Because it's about evaluating your current state and deciding if it aligns with your personal values and aspirations.
This reframing encourages a deeper introspection about our life choices and experiences. It's not about seeking a universal standard of normality but understanding and accepting your unique version of normal.
If your current situation – your 'norm' – resonates with you and brings you satisfaction, then it's your prerogative to embrace it without seeking external validation.
However, if there's a disconnect between your current state and your desired state, this is where the potential for change and growth lies. It's about making a conscious decision to either maintain your current norm or to strive for a different, more fulfilling one. This decision-making process is deeply personal and requires honest self-reflection.
Embracing Change and Personal Growth
If you find that your current 'normal' doesn't bring you joy or fulfilment, it's an opportunity to redefine it. This is where professional support can be invaluable. As a professional, my role is to assist you in this journey of redefining your norms, helping you to create a life that feels authentically yours, one that is filled with joy, fulfilment, and personal satisfaction.
The journey towards redefining personal norms is not just about changing what doesn’t feel right; it's also about celebrating and embracing what does. It's about living life on your terms, where your experiences, relationships, and feelings are in harmony with your personal values and aspirations. Maybe you don't want to live with shame, or get lost in your romantic relationships, or live a sexless life... Maybe this being the norm in your life is exactly opposed to what you value and want for yourself.
And if this is the case for you - then my advice to you is - don't settle for your current 'norm' - you deserve the life you want to live.
Put briefly, the question "Is it normal?" is not the most enlightening or helpful one in our quest for personal understanding and fulfilment. A more pertinent question is, "Do I want this to be my normal?" This shift in perspective encourages a deeper understanding of our desires, aspirations, and the essence of what makes our experiences uniquely ours. It's about embracing a life that is not just normal by societal standards, but one that is normal and fulfilling by our own personal standards.
If you're feeling inspired to embark on a journey of personal growth and exploration, I'm here to support you every step of the way. I invite you to sign up for a complimentary 30-minute discovery call with me. This call is a safe and open opportunity for us to connect, discuss your unique situation, and explore how we can work together towards achieving your goals. It's a chance for you to ask questions, gain clarity, and make an informed decision about your path forward. Whether you're seeking to redefine your 'normal,' improve your relationships, or simply find greater joy and fulfilment in life, this discovery call is the first step towards transformation. Let's begin this journey together, exploring the possibilities and paving the way for positive change.