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'Normal' only seems normal, thanks to our preconceptions

By Alex Farmer
On January 29, 2014

The world is not always as it appears.
This is such a powerful statement, but have you ever thought about why things aren't always as they appear?
The answer for that is very simple. It's the difference between what is normal and what is abnormal.
First, state your definition of "normal" to yourself. Now, define "abnormal" for yourself. Keep these definitions in your head as we now progress.
In a state of being normal, a person does what they believe is a common, socially acceptable action.
We each grow up with certain ways we do things as well as certain things we believe to be right.
That is just part of human nature and culture. Hence, it makes us normal in our culture and society.
This sounds simple enough, but do we all grow up with the same teachings and culture?
That answer is simply no.
So, can anybody see a potential problem that could arise when many different cultures get together to form one larger society?
This is where so many people mess up. They feel that what they believe to be normal is the universal definition of normalcy and the way things should be done.
This cannot be true, though.
In an attempt to stray away from any real issues other than what is normal and abnormal, let's focus merely on why we feel the way we do at times.
To be abnormal is to be not normal, right? That answer looks obvious, but isn't completely correct.
As humans, we have a hard time going outside of our comfort zone sometimes. This leads us to fear change and to shield away anything that we perceive as abnormal.
That is what leads us to believe anything not normal is abnormal. We have made a mistake in our thinking at this point.
To be abnormal in a clinical sense is really to say one's behavior, emotions or thoughts cause dysfunction or impairment, personal distress or a risk to self or others, in addition to being clearly outside societal norms.
Think about these things for just a minute. If a person is fully functional, mentally and physically, causing no risk to others, that is normal.
If that same person is causing no distress and not engaging in statistically unusual behavior, that is also normal.
So, if that person didn't have your same teachings and culture, are they abnormal with what they do?
No, they are not.
Let us look at one easy example now that we have a basic understanding of our definitions.
Dr. Chris Dula of the psychology department has been lobbying for everyone on campus to take part in formal Fridays. What is he thinking? That is very abnormal, isn't it?
Actually, the idea of formal Fridays is nothing but dressing up on a week day.
It is our way of thinking and our comfort zones that lead us to believe this is abnormal behavior.
Out of the prior-mentioned abnormal criteria, what would we be doing that was so abnormal?
Once we realize that abnormal behavior really isn't as common as we think, we can actually be more comfortable in society.
This normal versus abnormal debate doesn't mean to steer away from your morals and values. It is simply a way of looking at things in everyday life that we might perceive as normal or abnormal.
I believe that it is easy to stay in your comfort zone, but I encourage you to go outside of it at times.
I encourage all of us to not be so fast to deem something abnormal just because we aren't used to it.
So, the next time you feel like something is abnormal, ask yourself why you feel this way.
If it is just because it outside your comfort zone, it might just be normal.
Thus, the world isn't always as it appears, but that may be because we don't always look at things the way we should.
If there is anything you want to see me write about, follow me on Twitter @GatorZ25 and let me know about it. Also, check out Dula's music and updates @kryssdula. Stay safe and God bless!


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