Have you ever found yourself wishing you could have a normal life? You wish your kids were normal, your marriage was normal, your job was normal or your church was normal. What if the problem had to do with our view of normal? What if we actually have a twisted view of the typical things to expect? Here are 4 tips to help you redefine what is truly normal and live a more authentic life.
Recognize you really can’t have it all. Did I just say that? YES! Despite the messages from our culture to the contrary, you can’t have it all! You can’t have your kids be involved in every activity under the sun (even in the name of giving them a great life) and have time for unstructured activities or sabbath. You can’t say yes to every request and create margin and have rest. You can’t be so busy that you have no quality time with your spouse and have a healthy marriage. You…can’t…have…it…all. Priorities need to be set. Choices need to be made. Do a few things really well.
Go ahead and truthfully answer the infamous question, “How are you?” This has become one of the most meaningless questions in our repertoire. And you remember the standard answer don’t you…fine. Now, how many times have you been asked that question when the answer hasn’t been fine, but you’ve said it anyway? Maybe you’ve been battling a cold, had an argument with your spouse, are struggling with things at work or dealing with an unruly teenager. You’re tired, frustrated, overwhelmed…yet the word fine leaves your lips before you even realize it. We’ve been conditioned to answer this way. This may not seem like a big deal, but if you really aren’t fine, and you continue to say you are…it can be detrimental. You are conditioning yourself to pretend and not give voice to what’s really going on in your life. And while you may not want to bear your soul to anyone and everyone (nor should you), a bit of honesty can make all the difference.
It’s ok to not be ok. Why do we believe that it is normal to feel happy all of the time and if we’re not, then there must be something inherently wrong with our lives? The truth is, it’s not normal to always be happy, and anyone who tells you they always are…well, I don’t believe it. What is normal is to feel a variety of emotions and experience various seasons throughout our days. And while we hope and pray that we can be content in all circumstances, we need to give space to one another to not be ok. The tendency is to want to fix people. We want to fix people so things can go back to normal except for those of us who are hurting…we don’t want things to go back to normal…Normal is what got us here in the first place. Let yourself not be ok. Don’t apologize for it or offer excuses. Not only will you be surprised how freeing it is when you stop disguising your reality, it will actually help you move through it.
Proceed with caution when it comes to social media. We’ve all done it. We’re ready for a break so we check into social media and check out of our own life for a little while. We scan the pictures and stories of family, friends and our favorite celebrities. No harm there, right? Like anything, social media can be a blessing or a curse. It helps you stay connected with people, spread the word about a worthy cause, or help you grow your business. But the problem is, we tend to clean up real nice for social media and when we are staring at it day in and day out, it gives us a false perception about what is really happening in people’s lives. The other day was the last day of school here and while most people were posting pictures of their beautiful children, one brave mom wrote, “Just a keepin it real post: While you other moms are taking cute last day of school pics and comparing them to first day of school pics, I’m over here cleaning up a kitchen full of dog poop and got my kids to school 30 minutes late. I’m barely surviving y’all. Anyone else? Or is it just me? ” I love it! How refreshing to hear what happens on a normal day, during a normal week. Enjoy social media, but don’t let it skew your view of what is normal. If life looks too good to be true, well, it probably is.
Which practices do you need to integrate into your life? Keep me posted!