12 May What is normal? by Lynne Harmon, Associate Counsellor Psychotherapist.
‘Let’s get back to normal’ is something you might be hearing quite frequently during the COVID-19 lockdown. But what if normal was the problem?
It was a phrase used by someone I spoke to recently. I was talking about getting back to normal and she said, “but Lynne, normal was the problem”. Normal. What did I mean?
The dictionary definition of normal is typical, expected and usual. Well…. How daunting that might be to expect the usual, typical, expected queue pushing. traffic jams polluting the air, acceptance of 0 hours’ contracts, of food banks, of low pay for key workers that have saved our lives, of people living on the streets at risk, of our anger, our low mood, our fear, our anxiety, our ………………………….
Normal may be exactly what we do not want for the world, our country, our towns, our families or ourselves.
Freud introduced the idea of unconscious drivers that regulate our decisions, behaviours and emotional responses. This was our normal. We all have these drivers that we need to bring to the conscious to prevent negative outcomes. They were our normal but they also were sabotaging our well – being at times and were problematic.
Had we been aware that we had always had to please people because of an unconscious fear of abandonment, we might have been able to prevent ourselves being ‘treated like a door mat’, treated disrespectfully and harshly. Had we have realised that our anger and temper shown in perverse ways, was unconsciously driven by a need to protect ourselves from any threats to our well- being, any attempt to abuse us again, we would not have felt such shame and guilt, destroyed so many relationships or faced loneliness, but rather felt a sadness for the impact of the abuse on us. That could help to enable us all to love and care for ourselves and not dislike, even hate and despise ourselves. Normal can kill the life in us all and the joy of living.
Let’s go back to normal?