Emotional HealthPhilosophy

What is normal According to the society

6 Mins read
what is normal

What is normal in the society? What traits and behaviors cane we emulate to make ourselves seem normal? These are toxic questions if you ask me. We sometimes get stuck in the loop of trying to figure out if we are acting in the right way, doing the right things and making the right choices.

All of this is majorly predicated upon what our society and social circles think of us. We value acceptance and social status than anything else in this world, as Dalai Lama XIV said, we humans are social beings;

We human beings are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason, it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.

dalai lama xiv

Not a bad question though, since the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that more than 1 in 4 Americans have a mental disorder. Someone with a mental disorder has behaviors, feelings and thoughts that deviate from the norm.1

People suffering from mental disorders are more prone to feeling isolated and feeling abnormal as compared to those without. This is because our society is built on the backbone of isolating the unfamiliar and strange, we are more comfortable with what speaks to us rather than what demands our attention.

This is why most of us end up questioning our behaviors, characters and traits whether they speak to those around us or make them uncomfortable.

What we end up forgetting is that, as human beings, we are all built differently, most of what we call normal, is more of what the society uses for social acceptance more than what is deemed to be the standard of the society.

Due to the different personality traits, it is irrefutable that we all think differently, want different things and expect different things from others. I know, there are similarities in our wants and needs which leads to us being uniform and united in certain matters, but the bottom line is, we are all different and our similarities, though many, are not enough to justify what is normal in the society.

What is normal – in the society

Normal is a behavior, choice or pattern of decisions that is considered as usual, expected or typical and that conforms to a preexisting standard set in a community or society.

Researchers and experts in the social sciences have tried to establish the concept of normality when it comes to psychology, philosophy and society in general. The truth still remains that what is normal varies from society to society and from the time period involved.

This is evident in the very many varying cultures present, and how the society has gotten accustomed to things that were once shunned upon and ridiculed.

For August Comte and Emile Durkheim, early positivists, uncovering the existence of social norms was central to their early positivist sociology. However, contemporary sociologists are more likely to question whether or not there is such a thing as ‘normal’ in our postmodern society.

Who or what decides what is normal

Simple, society does.

Society is the only group that gets to decide what is normal. This means that what is normal varies according to which society you are in. 2

For example, wearing certain revealing outfits in the US is deemed normal and acceptable, where as wearing the same outfit in my country, Kenya, is deemed immoral and shameful to your people, except in a club or bar of course.

In the same way, making out in public and general PDA is normal in the US, but in Kenya it is seen as an outrageous act that is shunned upon, except in clubs and bars of course.

The society dictates who we are and what we do, only if we want to fit in. If you are to belong to a certain community then you are bound to change your ways in such a way that you conform to the norm of that community. This is where most of us end up loosing a grip on who we really are.

Part of emotional intelligence is self awareness and self management. Which is knowing your personality, individuality and emotions, after which you should be able to make decisions and govern your life in such a way that it conforms to your own being.

Since society can’t change for you, it would be a huge loss if you decide to change it, which brings me to my next point, you choose what is normal in the society by choosing your society.

You, also get to choose

If you are being your best and are yet being isolated and seen as abnormal, then you just might be in the wrong company, change it.

dominic nyabuto

You may sometimes get stuck in a toxic society because you feel like that is where you belong. You will feel as if you aren’t accepted by your own people when in reality they aren’t your people. Allow me to quote Jesus from the Bible for a second;

He was told,

“Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see You.”

But He replied,

“My mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and carry it out.”

luke 8:20-21

Jesus already knew who His family was, He chose His mother and brothers from those who heard the word of God and carried it out rather than from those with whom He shared blood with.

We always let our biological families and relatives drive us nuts by allowing them to dictate our lives and actions which leave us feeling bitter about ourselves. We need to get to the point where we realize that for us to grow, we need to align ourselves with like minded individuals who will help us in becoming our perfect selves rather than change us into something we are not.

Therefore, you will get to be emotionally mature when you decide to choose your society rather than letting a society choose you.

why we feel abnormal in the society

Why we feel abnormal in the society

We all feel weird sometimes, we feel neglected and isolated from the society sometimes. Maybe we feel this because of a tragedy, trauma and other pandemics that other people can’t relate with, or that we fear telling other people because we fear that they can’t relate with. You get?

This leads us to self isolation, loneliness, desperation and depression. This may be partly of our own making.

Mental disorders

Mental illness, disorders and personality disorders were highly neglected till this century where we have seen a huge increase in the attention given to mentally ill patients.

Culture and tradition has taught the society to neglect and isolate themselves from mentally ill patients as they are seen abnormal, unstable and unreliable.

Even though we are getting better at helping them, we are still stuck in the era where mental disorders are seen as unnatural and messed up circumstances. We are prone to be friends with mentally healthy individuals than mentally ill ones.

Hence, mentally ill individuals end up feeling isolated and neglected by the community. They feel left out because they do not conform to the norm of the society. They would prefer to hide and lie about themselves rather than have the society treat them differently.

Different choices

We get isolated by the choices we make, this is when the choices are different from what is expected of us. Let’s say you choose to be a rapper rather than a doctor, or when you choose to marry a white wife rather than a black wife.

We get distanced from the society when we make choices that do not align with what we have been taught by our community. When we choose to abandon these teachings, whether for the right reasons or wrong ones, we start becoming ‘abnormal’.

But the sweet spot about this is that we end up enacting change and revolutions. There is no development that ever took place because humans chose to remain the same, change is the start of growth.

Bottom line

We as human beings are social creatures bound to be affected and influenced by the world around us. Our emotions, feelings and decisions will be inevitably shaped by the society and families that we choose, therefore, it is important, for our own sense of peace and emotional stability, to choose which society we want to fit in.

We should not aim to fit into a society that will change us and make us hate what we may become, but we should rather choose one that will accept us and drive us to be the better versions of ourselves. We should aim for a society that makes us feel normal and confident in who we are.

The best family (society), is the one you choose.

I’d love to hear from you. Would you say you feel abnormal sometimes? How do you cope with it in your professional and personal life?

Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts.

Footnotes

  1. Donley, Carol C., Buckley, Sheryl. What’s Normal?: Narratives of mental & emotional disorders. Kent State University Press, 2000.
  2. Management Sciences for Health. Common Beliefs and Cultural Practices. (July 20, 2010)
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About author
I'm a psychology enthusiast and a fried chicken lover. I write bite sized articles unpacking the complexities of the human mind. The mission is to advocate for what's more important in life - the pursuit of the truth and the highest good one can do with that truth - for themselves, the people around them and the society as a whole.
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