When teaching self-hypnosis or on my hypnotherapy training courses, I often tell the budding self-hypnotists or hypnotherapists to be very careful in using the word ‘normal’ to describe an experience… Simply because what is normal to one person, may not be normal to another and so on… It is an incredibly ambiguous term… Heck, fans of Ericksonian styled hypnosis may leap for joy over the use of a word which can be interpreted in a variety of ways, I just mention that it is also good to be clear sometimes too…

Have you ever strolled in to see your doctor, explained your ailment or issue and in response the doctor asked, “is that normal for you?” The doctor wants to gauge how you are in contrast to your own personal norm.

So in addition to our mindsets, thoughts, beliefs and attitudes and so on… Our bodies and physiological systems also have their own levels when it comes to what is and what is not ‘normal.’ of course, mine is likely to be widely different from yours, and each of us interprets being well in our own unique way. What is normal, after all?

During a discussion this weekend whilst I was socilising with friends, sat outdoors late at night, with wine and after dinner brandy flowing… A female friend was talking about how she had put on weight since giving birth, she was complaining that she could not get into her pre-baby clothes currently and was doing everything she could to get back to that shape. However, currently she could not get to her “normal” weight or size.

I suggested that “the way you are now might be the new normal for you.”

Uh-oh… This stilled the liveliness of the racy chat.

I explained that if she gave it some real deeper thought, and looked at the person she is today, she might agree with me… She has children now, she is much older (my peer group is nearing 40) you are involved in a very different social life, you eat and drink differently, your activity is different by its very nature…. What I wanted to explain was that the person she is today is completely different to the person she was when she defined “normal” for herself.

This is a bitter pill to swallow for people. I find it frustrating that I can’t run a marathon as fast as I could 10 years ago… but heck, I don’t train as much and I am no way near as naturally fit, my life is busier and so on… So many people that we encounter in life seem to spend so much of their time consumed with the pursuit of “getting back”  how we used to be and it prevents us from being aware of who and how we are today. That may even cause problems for our ability to move forward in the manner we want.

The dictionary defines “normal” as “conforming to the standard.” Surely we can all see that when it comes to our bodies, the standard changes over time.

So perhaps we need to focus on how to adapt instead, no? “Adapt” is defined as “to adjust oneself to different conditions.”

Now some people reject this notion out of hand and think of adapting as a means of giving up… It isn’t. It is being realistic. It is respecting the limitations of the body you have today. It is agreeing to make the most of today’s healthy body, instead of trying to recapture the exact body you lived in a decade ago…

Recently, and just so that you know I am not always just attempting to be a urban philosopher after a few drinks…. A great friend of mine was on the receiving end of me complaining… Yes, I complain too. I mean properly turning the air blue… F-ing this and f-ing that… Our website has been hacked into a couple of times in recent months and though no trouble is caused, I just don’t understand the people who do it.

What is the point of a hacker? What is their raison d’etre?

I am hardly a government agency and not really a very impressive target for fellow hackers, am I? It is just vandalism.It is no different to smashing up a bus stop, it is mindless and so inconvenient for us… Someone has to pay in time and money for vandalism and it is often the victims of it.

So I told my friend that I’d love to turn up on a hackers doorstep and give the hacker a knuckle sandwich. In reply he said to me, “Adam, you are not normally like this…” he said I do not normally react this way. Though I think I do. He knew me very many years ago when I was much more placid, but maybe it is too many episodes of ‘Grumpy Old Men’ that I have watched, but I am less tolerant of some of the minor irritants that come my way… And I like to vent my spleen emotionally and get on with my day, it is how I do it.

Over a period of time, I have also been redefining “normal.”

Mentally, physically, emotionally and even in business… Sometimes it can help to look at what should and should not be considered normal and perhaps consider approaching it with the same kind of careful manner that I teach my students to…