Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the word “normal.” What is normal? Why do we care? Who decides what is normal?
One of the most challenging things I bump into as a coach are clients who vehemently subscribe to beliefs about what is normal and what is not normal. They have so many strong beliefs about how things are supposed to be—whether it’s their partners, their jobs, or their homes.
Spouses are supposed to be responsible with their finances.
It’s normal to want a bigger house.
It’s normal to want to get married and have kids.
So who says what’s normal? More importantly, why do we care?
In thinking through this question, I went down the black hole that is The Google. It doesn’t take much digging to find all sorts of odd practices that were once considered “normal” that would now be considered bizarre or even illegal!
Have you ever caught yourself saying:
It’s weird that she doesn’t wear makeup.
It’s normal to want to make more money.
I make good money so I should drive a nicer car.
It’s normal to buy an expensive purse if I want to.
It’s normal to buy Starbucks every day.
It’s weird to ride your bike to work.
It’s weird when a woman doesn’t want to get married or have kids.
It’s normal to want a fancy engagement ring.
Have you ever asked yourself whether those thoughts are true?
One of the biggest challenges I see young attorneys face is how to handle their money once they land that first big job. So often I see them go out and buy an expensive car, huge house, or new wardrobe. Why? Because that was normal. That’s what you do when you get your first big job.
Not only do we have these thoughts we aren’t questioning but we then go on to tell ourselves that it is “normal” so that we don’t need to question them. This is such a brain gimmick! There is no such thing as normal! You should always question your thoughts, beliefs, and actions. Why? So that you can like your reasons for the things you think, say, or do—so you can show up as an authentic human and not a robot!
Why does it matter that others think we are successful? Why does it matter that your purse cost $1,000? Why are those things important to you? Do you like your reasons?
People can spend their money however they choose but if people are not examining the underlying reasons for their spending, they are sleeping with the enemy. Shopping and spending money can be a buffer in the same way that overeating and overdrinking are. People splurge on things because they are looking for that momentary happiness—that endorphin rush that they get. They are spending money to try and make themselves feel better.
Feel better from what?
That is the true work. What feelings and thoughts are they trying to bury? When we tell ourselves that these types of activities are “normal” we are rationalizing our actions and trying to legitimize the buffer. We all know that once that high wears off from that splurge, you end up right back in the same place you started with those feelings you were trying to avoid. If you don’t confront those thoughts and feelings head-on, you will get really good at buffering and really terrible at emotional adulthood.
So, I ask you:
What are you doing in your life because you consider it “normal”?
Do you like your reasons?
As a coach I support my clients to uncover the hidden thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions that are preventing them from achieving their best life. We confront those feelings and discard the buffers and get to work on the real issues underneath it all. Give it a try, I’d be delighted to see what we can accomplish together!