On my self-hypnosis seminars, my hypnotherapy training and at many other times, I challenge the use of the word ‘normal.’

It gets used in some ways that are not immediately obvious, but are utterly crazy… It is a word that the NLP community would refer to as a nominalisation, that is, it can mean one thing to me and another thing to you and something completely different to someone else. So when it is used, you all agree on what it means, yet it could be (and probably is) referring to something totally different than the other people you are talking to.

And what’s more… What is normal? Who is to say what normal is and is not?

I find it happening a great deal… That is, people telling me how abnormal they are. They grew up in a family that perhaps were all advocates of ‘normalcy’ and insisted that anyone outside of those parameters was the black sheep of the family or just to be labelled abnormal.

Many people grow up thinking they are crazy if they are not ‘normal.’

Someone I spoke to this week had all their abnormalities readily pointed out to them throughout her former years. The ways she was different and in their opinion, abnormal.

Grrrr. This is what kids do. Kids who know no better on the playground point out who is overweight, who has a visible scar, who is wearing different clothes, who likes different music, who is not in the ‘normal’ mainstream.

The adult versions of people longing for normalcy are normopaths. These are people who plain and simply have a fear of difference. They find safety in normalcy perhaps. They even draw parallels with ‘different’ and ‘insane.’ Which I tend to think is not the most sane way to think, is it?

These normopaths go on to create a variety of character traits and life rules that are within the realm of normalcy according to them. Those people that do not fit in with the normopath’s stereotypes are then considered abnormal, i.e., insane.

Throughout my own lifetime, the people whose work I have adored and admired are often those labeled abnormal… And are more often than not the most fascinating and creative people.

Any student of mine or therapy client, if it is appropriate and pertinent is helped to embrace their difference as a sign of depth and beauty. Those who consider themselves normal, however, often need a great deal of support and reassurance to discover that they are not, as they fear, insane and do not need to continue to aspire to fantasy notions of normal in order to feel good about themselves.

Off the top of my head this morning, I think of some of my favourite people… Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Alex Higgins, Jonny Rotten, George Best, Diego Maradonna, Eric Cantona, John McEnroe, Hans Christian Anderson, Oscar Wilde, Bill Hicks, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Marlon Brando, Andy Warhol, Jack Kerouac, and just about every artist I love, every ground-breaking author… The list is endless… How many of these fit in to the classification of ‘normal’? None of them would want to, would they?

Many people attempt to live this life by living up to a rather fictionalised idea of what normalcy is. This then sometimes leaves those of us unable to meet this idea of normalcy potentially feeling bad about ourselves, especially those not equipped with or taught the notion of celebrating their own uniqueness.

Many people experiencing the ideas of normalcy for the first time, start to relate to the issue both personally and professionally.They can have some eureka moments when they step out of the shackles of attempted normalcy.

I think when explained well, any therapist sees the usefulness of pointing out to their clients that their feelings of abnormality are in fact, signs of richness and uniqueness to be celebrated. The discussion can also clarify the fact that those who say they are normal can often be so difficult to reach on any real, connected and emotional level.

What I am suggesting here today is that a person who believes in being normal, thinks of them self as normal and defends being normal may actually, have some emotional problems and those of us who celebrate our uniqueness, our foibles, our quirks, idiosyncracies and eccentricities, may just be much more together… Knowing of who and how we are, with a pride in that and a genuine appreciation of ourselves.

I’m going to have a crazy, insane kind of day, being an absolute lunatic and not doing anything considered normal… I may be in a padded cell by morning and unable to blog, my apologies in advance… 😉