Notes From The Awareness: 204

Our normal is someone else’s f***ed up.

Please discuss. How does this play out in life?

I’ll start us out. Growing up, we tend to assume that everyone else’s life is similar in nature to our own. We don’t question our family dynamics too much. Aren’t things pretty much the same way for everyone? The angry parent, jealous sibling, family member with a substances abuse issue—we take them all in stride as best we can. It’s all we know, so it seems normal to us, and we assume other folks have similar issues.

In our formative years, we generate a behavioral template for being an adult, based on our family life. Once on our own, we may or may not recognize any dysfunction incorporated in that template. Even if we do, it can be challenging to shift ingrained behaviors.

The other adults we relate to as friends, partners, or co-workers also have their own personalized behavioral templates, sometimes radically different from ours. Their established thoughts, actions, and beliefs seem normal to them, although the may vary widely from ours. Their idea of what’s usual may seem quite weird to us and vice versa.

Today’s message reminds me that I won’t really be able to understand someone through the perceptual lens of my own experience. I don’t have all the background data needed to comprehend how they think and feel. If their behavior doesn’t make sense to me, I may need to ask them to provide context. With a clearer grasp of what life is about for them, I have a better chance of empathizing with their experience. My normal is only normal to me.

How about you? How do you relate to someone else’s normal?