09 Apr Is this normal?
Is this normal?
It’s a question that often comes up in coaching.
So, what is normal?
According to Google the definition of ‘normal’ means conforming to a standard; being usual, typical, or expected.
But who says what the standard for normal is, or what is usual, typical, or expected?
I’ve got a couple of ways of answering the question in a coaching session.
There is no “normal” in coaching – we are all different. But is how you’re feeling usual for you?
Let me explain with some examples.
You might get emotional in a coaching session. You hadn’t expected to. It caught you by surprise. So you ask the question. Is this normal?
Getting emotional in a coaching session isn’t unusual – so I guess it is ‘normal’. But is getting emotional usual for you? That’s the answer that’s the most helpful and helps us know where to go next.
You aren’t happy with your life or your work although you feel you should be content with what you’ve got. So you ask the question. Is it normal to want more?
It’s not unusual for people to feel like that – it’s what brings a lot of people to coaching. But is it usual for you? Is this a new feeling? That’s the answer that’s the most helpful and helps us know where to go next.
You feel really stuck and are overthinking everything. So you ask the question. Is this normal – to feel this stuck?
Feeling stuck and overthinking are things I see in coaching quite often. But is it usual for you? Do you have a habit of overthinking? Have you felt stuck before? Or is this a new experience for you? That’s the answer that’s the most helpful and helps us know where to go next.
Why do we ask the question?
Why do we want to know if what we’re feeling or experiencing is normal?
We want to fit in. There’s safety in numbers – if other people feel this way then we feel more accepted.
So to reiterate – there is no ‘normal’ in coaching sessions. We work with whatever is usual or unusual for you and take it from there.
I recently subscribed to Seth Godin’s daily blog. He has an interesting take on the notion of ‘normal’
Seth says that “when it comes to people, normal is an artificial construct, the centre of a statistical bell curve but not a standard that we ought to seek to achieve, even if we could”.
Normal is a distribution, not a person.
You can read Seth’s full blog here