Updated: Apr 19
When a stranger at a grocery store said to me "You seem normal" I couldn't help thinking that she was implying, "but, maybe not". I actually started the conversation when I asked "How old is your child" she replied "18 months" and I said "She's the same age as my grandchild". That is when she walked saying, "You seem normal". I thought, what an odd thing to say to me. I wasn't expecting to be judged by a stranger and I felt vulnerable at that moment. Should I avoid talking to strangers, to avoid being judged possibly as abnormal? This got me thinking - what is "normal"?
Please watch the TED video below with Dr. Brene Brown. It really hit a cord with me. As Brown says, to be vulnerable is to be honest - it's an act of courage. She says, "Vulnerability is the birthplace for innovation, creativity and change". Brown cites the work of psychologist James Mahalik at Boston College who found the following top 4 qualities for the "normal" women in our society: nice, thin, modest, and using all her resources for appearances. WOW!
I guess you could say, I'm nice and modest, but I fail being thin and using all my resources for appearances. Don't get me wrong, I was dressed reasonably well at the grocery store. I do care about how I look, but, I don't throw all my resource into appearances.
Of course, the 4 criteria are absurd, just as judging anyone based on appearances alone is absurd. And that's why the young woman in the store included the word "seem" - "You seem normal" - she couldn't be certain. But, what was going on with her that she would even bring it up? Brown speaks to the issue "Listening to Shame". She is very adept at pin pointing the need we all have to address our shame and we all have it and that is what is ailing society today. I would venture to say that the young woman in the store has disowned her shame so she projects it on to others like me who do not fit the perfect mold of "normal" using those 4 criteria. How we behave is another measurement for "normal". If anyone was watching me, I'm certain they would say I was behaving normally. Then again, what is normal behavior and what are normal emotions? We have the DMS Manual to help us out with that question. There are over 375 emotional disorders in the newly revised DMS. Grieving beyond 2 weeks has been added to the list. WOW! AGAIN.
This is what happens in a quick fix society, based on “medicalization of human nature, which may be attributed to disease mongering by psychiatrists and pharmaceutical companies” (quote from Wikipedia). And this brings me to our society's current confusion and turmoil. So many are confused right now. It's time to redefine our emotional values. RESET TIME! (to be continued next time )
Sending wisdom, healing and love,
Copyright 2020 Cariel Quinly.