One very simple idea comes very often in coaching conversations: the distinction between natural and normal. Sharing it at the right moment often opens my clients to some very profound insights.
There are many things that are natural for us as human beings.
For example, it is natural:
- to be at peace, at ease, to feel free and happy;
- to express yourself in the ways that are uniquely you;
- to have your inner wisdom;
- to be interested in things, people and places. to learn, to explore, to travel;
- to be close to water, to the nature;
- to be connected with people in your community;
- to reach out to a person in need and give them your love, help and support.
And then there are numerous things that come to us from the society, the culture we live in, and in many cases these things are very unnatural, but there are expectations to follow these norms, rules, regulations. Such things often become evident when you travel, when you visit a different country and realize that something completely normal at home is actually not so normal, sometimes even unacceptable away from it.
For example, it is normal:
- to be always-always-always present at the class or at the office – so much that some people keep coming even when they are exhausted and not able to do any productive work, when their body is ill and in need for some rest;
- to spend most of your day sitting on a chair in front of a computer;
- to do things that you don’t want to do;
- to measure success in stuff and status and money;
- to live in the concrete jungle;
- to wait on a red streetlight when you can clearly see in all directions and there is absolutely no vehicles or people in sight;
- to add a lot of chemicals when growing the vegetables and animals…
Normal, but most of these things are completely unnatural. It is no secret that we struggle with many of those things. If you understand the distinction, it no longer surprises you why.
I recommend my clients to spend some time with this idea. Not necessarily actively reflecting on it, but keeping it in mind as they go through their daily life. To see how much of their time each day is spent in activities which are natural for them individually. And understand how much time they and people around them give to activities and ideas that are expected from them by their environment, that do not feel right – while thoughts of stopping feel very uncomfortable as well, even if a push is required each time to engage with these activities and ideas.
And then, I mention a few things which may be a bit harder to realize.
It is natural:
- to think, to be lost in thoughts and feelings from time to time, possibly in negative and unpleasant ones – instead of always trying to be positive and hiding your true emotions;
- to live in a quiet and peaceful meditative state of mind – instead of constantly putting pressure and stress on yourself, having your thoughts racing in your head and rushing your body until your health breaks down and you can no longer push yourself;
- to not know something first, and then coming to know it at some point – instead of trying to always make it seem like you know, instead of making up false answers simply to be able to answer the questions immediately, and then feeling uncomfortable to change your response later, often sticking to some course of action simply because you said so first;
- to be guided by your intuition and impulses to do something even when you are not able to logically justify it – instead of always-always-always trying to figure out solutions and plan everything in advance.
And I am not saying “never do unnatural things”. Sometimes it might be helpful and useful for you. But I see how too often people stop themselves from opening to a possibility, from sharing their true feelings, from taking some quiet time with themselves and their loved ones, from staying in the unknown, from making a first step because they can’t figure out the whole path.
Stop for a moment and see for yourself: How many things in your daily life do you do only because they are normal and expected from you? What could be an alternative way that feels right and natural for you?
I don’t say to change anything in your life just yet, but as you learn to understand and see this simple distinction between the two, you will find it coming naturally to you from your wisdom and intuition to start saying “NO!” to some normal but unnatural things, and also start saying “YES!” to more natural ways of showing up in your life.