What Is “Normal?”

Ask yourself, Have you ever corrected yourself for not being normal? Or, do you not feel normal?

“Normal” comes in quotation marks because it is very subjective and open to interpretation. Many people’s “normal” is based off a lifelong developed perspective that incorporates:

  • Observations of others

  • Life-experiences

  • Family

  • Gender

  • School/Work

  • Culture

  • Ethnicity

  • Media in general - Movies, TV-shows, Social media

Often it is an un-conscious process of conditioning in which a person’s inherent desire to be praised and avoid consequences leads them down a path of conformity. When one deviates from what is normal and receives negative feedback from someone or from themselves through negative self-talk, they can spiral into thoughts and feelings of negativity, guilt, shame, embarrassment, loneliness etc. They can instantly make an agreement with themselves that they’ll “never do that again” and then be extra cautious. It either gets set in stone or we torture ourselves for our in-ability to change.

Because of this inherent desire to be “normal,” most people do not share their true struggles, emotions and thoughts because of the fear of not being normal, not being accepted and being judged. Consequently, we can live with the belief that certain things are not normal when in actuality they are more widespread than we know.

Presently there is a hypothesis being tested by the scientific community that almost everyone struggles with a mental illness at some point in their life. A study from Adolescent Psychiatry concluded that by the age of 21, 82.5% of us would have had a diagnosable mental illness at some point in our lives. When gender was considered, the number increased to 89.1% for Males.¹

My perspective and beliefs are:

  • Sadness is normal

  • Anxiety is normal

  • Anger is normal

  • Irritability is normal

  • Incessant thinking is normal

  • Mental illness is normal

Even though it may be normal, it still can be a problem that can impact your ability to work, complete school and your relationships with your family / spouse / child / friend / sibling / co-worker. The purpose of this article is to create a new truth for you to know that you are not alone and that there are forms of treatment that can help. Roseburg Therapy offers a way to confidentially outlet these fears, thoughts and emotions so you don’t live a life of thinking there is something wrong with you when in fact, you're normal.

Robert Josh Lydon, LCSW

Licensed Counselor/Therapist



¹ Copeland W, Shanahan L, Costello EJ, Angold A. Cumulative prevalence of psychiatric disorders by young adulthood: a prospective cohort analysis from the Great Smoky Mountains Study. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2011 Mar;50(3):252-61. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2010.12.014. Epub 2011 Jan 26.