Is This My Normal?


Ask not "is this my normal?" Ask "is this how I want to live?"

Many of my clients - probably many people in general - wonder if how they feel is just their "normal." Near-constant anxiety, chronic low-grade depression, and even obsessive thoughts and compulsions can feel like a permanent part of us, something we just grow to accept. As humans, we are adaptable; we can get used to just about anything, including pain. But the real question is: is this how I want to live?



That is a scary question, which is why it is often answered with, "Well, I have no choice." However, if we dare ask the question, we must be prepared to answer genuinely, and to assume that we do have some choice in the matter, some degree of control. And if we have choice, we have the responsibility to exercise that choice, to take some ownership of how we live, and that's the scary part.


This is not to say that we can simply choose to eliminate anxiety, reduce depression, or suppress obsessive thoughts and compulsions. Anxiety, depression, and OCD are real mental disorders that we do not just wish away. It takes great courage and strength to walk away from a familiar "normal" that absolves us of any responsibility for our suffering. And, it takes hard work to embrace that new, scary place of shaping how we want to live. Not everyone makes that choice, and not everyone has to. However, if we allow ourselves the slightest glimpse of something better, of living in line with our true values, of thriving rather than just surviving - we can know that we have an unalienable power to choose and create our new normal. We may not dissolve the pain of a mental disorder any more than we can cure ourselves of cancer, but we can choose how we relate to our pain, manage our suffering, and align with how we want to live.


Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. -- Buddha



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