Why do we strive so hard to be like everyone else, to conform, to be “normal?”
Because this generation has developed into a people-pleasing, fearful group of people who are afraid to be different and terrified of confrontation or making anyone else uncomfortable -even of it means being true to themselves to do so.
No one speaks the truth to another anymore because they are too afraid of not being accepted by a group of friends, or not being liked by someone, or not being loved, or making someone uncomfortable with the truth —truth the other person often needs to hear.
The era in which we live has produced human beings who are so fearful of loss, or being alone, or being different, that they have conformed to untruths and bow down to others instead of honoring themselves and instead of being true to their own beliefs and feelings.
What is “normal” anyway? A 9-5 behind a desk career? Marriage? Children? A college degree? Having lots of friends? Going to football games, or to bars? Getting together with neighbors or dinner parties?
Who the hell defined these things as “normal?”
There is nothing wrong with these things, but if you are not driven to engage in them, be happy with yourself and honor and respect your being “different.”
The truth is, there is no normal way to behave, think, feel, or to believe. Personally, I am attracted to and would rather associate myself with people who are considered “different” –people who go against the grain, think for themselves, and who reject the lies so prominent in today’s society. I would rather sit down and chat with a homeless person than the average employed, so-called “good citizen.”
The article below mentions sensation-seeking or compulsive behavior in the forms of addiction, criminality, hypersexuality and abuse –all of which can be caused by a person’s history of child sexual abuse. Although these behaviors are not healthy or good for anyone involved, they are “normal” in the sense of being a normal reaction to having suffered child sexual abuse.
So if you experience any of these behaviors, or other unhealthy lifestyles -like over-spending and abusive relationships- and you were sexually abused as a child, then concentrate on finding help to heal these issues. Don’t feel different, useless, unworthy, or “abnormal.”
Most importantly, do not punish yourself. Stop any self-condemnation, self-sabataging and self punishment feelings, thoughts or behaviors.
Science Says: Being Different Doesn’t Mean You’re Weird
Susan McQuillan M.S., RDN
Social conformity, or adapting to and acting like those around us, can make certain behaviors seem more common, and therefore more normal, but all it really means is we are able to adjust our moral compass in order to acclimate and fit in. We don’t want to seem weird or abnormal. But according to clinical psychologist Avram Holmes of Yale University, abnormal behavior isn’t necessarily weird or bad or indicative of mental illness, because there is no absolute definition of normal and no single best way to behave.
In a review article published in the February 20th issue of the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Holmes proposes that there are variations in all human traits and, depending on the circumstances, there can be both positive and negative manifestations associated with any trait. Which way it goes depends on many factors, Holmes research indicates, including the context or the individual circumstances of a person’s life.
Popular ways of thinking and behaving aren’t necessarily ethical, or right, or better than others, just because, at times, it seems like “everybody’s doing it” or “everybody’s saying it.” And at the same time, not all behavior that varies from the norm is indicative of a mental disease or disorder. Human variability is important, Holmes points out because there are times when both positive and negative traits serve an important purpose. For instance, variations within the region of the brain that controls inhibition can result in sensation-seeking or compulsive behavior in the forms of addiction, criminality, hypersexuality or abuse, but they can also manifest as more positive behaviors, such as an increased motivation to exercise or a high degree of social or reproductive success.
Holmes’ research reveals that anxiety is another good example of a condition that can work for or against us, depending on the situation. While an anxiety-ridden individual might have a harder time than most people in personal relationships and social situations, the same trait can provide more motivation to strive for success in school or work, and even preserve one’s life because of a tendency toward caution that results in fewer accidents.
The question remains: When do abnormal traits and behavior reflect a psychological disorder? The answer is complex but, for a start, Holmes points out, it’s important not to view oneself or others in terms of a specific good or bad trait, and not to strive for one type of homogenized, ideal behavior, but instead understand the relevance and importance of human variability. The answer to the question, Holmes research suggests, lies not only in recognizing existing psychological, neurological and genetic conditions, but also the environmental context. Abnormal variations can lead to success when individuals find themselves in situations conducive to the way their brain functions.