No matter who you are, at some point you’ve probably wondered, “Is what I’m feeling normal?”
Most of us don’t ever give a voice to that question. We just live with a nagging worry in the back of our minds that somehow we’re weird and what we’re experiencing isn’t normal at all.
Of course, there are many facets to “normalcy” and what it looks like, and it would next to impossible to address ALL it’s various incarnations.
There are, however, certain thoughts and feelings that are far more common than people realize and often are a source of private worry.
Common Things People Worry Aren’t Normal (But Actually Are)
If you think you’re alone with some of your more strange or contrary feelings, you’re not. Truly.
We all have occasional intrusive thoughts. They can throw us off our game and make us feel like something’s wrong with us. But most of these are actually very common and normal.
See if any of the thoughts below ring a private bell.
If you’ve sometimes …
Wondered what would happen if you just started to scream. When frustrations build or you’re feeling overwhelmed, wanting an outlet for that pent up energy and anxiety is normal. Sadly, we’re not always in a position to do that in a reasonable way.
Envisioning yourself letting go and just screaming toddler-style is something most of us have done at one point or another. Imagining both the release and resulting shock value can have a rewarding affect and reduce stress by a small amount.
Thankfully, most of us stick with the imagined version rather than trying it IRL.
Felt like you want to hide. I know someone who confessed that when work is stressful she feels an almost overwhelming desire to crawl under her desk and hide.
Would doing that help? No, not at all. But a desire to literally pull the covers over your head or shut the door on the world is completely normal.
Of course, it’s not an effective way to deal with things, but it may speak to your need to take a break.
Felt like you don’t like your family. This socially taboo feeling is far more common than people admit to. Rest assured, occasionally feeling like you don’t like your husband, wife, or shhhh – even your children – is normal.
This doesn’t mean you don’t love them or that you’re a bad person. No one likes everyone (or anyone) all the time – even if you love them and would do anything for them.
We are all unlikeable at different times and we all have moods that predispose us to simply not liking anything for a little while.
The important thing to remember is that this feeling is (should be) temporary and shouldn’t be a springboard for big decisions or unduly influence your behavior.
Wondered if you made the right choices in life. We have all second-guessed choices we’ve made. Job, marriage, number of kids we have, and so many more.
Speculating on the road-less-traveled is normal. This one can be a slippery slope, however. It’s possible to get way too caught up on idealizing what might-have-been and begin to sabotage what is likely a not so bad life.
If you’re secretly wondering if you’ve made the right choices, acknowledge those thoughts, and then put them away so you can refocus on the good things you have.
Feel like you’re faking it. Do you secretly worry that you’re just winging it? Or that somehow people are going to discover that you have no idea what you’re doing and have just been getting lucky so far?
Whether it’s your job, parenting, or just adulting in general, we’ve all occasionally had self-doubt.
All of us.
Think no one likes you. This is a very common hidden thought. At a party, PTA meeting, or work – we’ve all experienced times when we wonder if the people we’re with really like us.
Think you’re smarter than the people you’re with. This one won’t win you any friends if you voice it, but you’re not the only one who’s ever thought that your intellect is greater than those around you. Someone’s probably even thought that when you’re in the room!
Maybe you are, maybe you’re not – it doesn’t really matter. Everyone brings something to the table.
Think you’ve wasted your life. Feeling discontented with your life and as though you haven’t accomplished all you wanted to, is fairly common. Even people who’ve done a lot sometimes feel like they should have done more.
It might be more in different categories (time with family, travel, enjoying people around them), but if you feel you’ve wasted time, you’re not alone.
Daydream about being aggressive. Thinking about physical aggression can feel very disturbing and make you wonder what’s wrong with you. Rest assured, it’s far more common to have these thoughts than you realize.
Thinking about what it would be like to punch your boss in the nose when he makes you work late on a Friday or whacking the irritating guy who’s talking loudly on speaker phone upside the head, is one thing – doing those things is another.
It’s a big leap from occasional thoughts to violent actions. So long as your thoughts are occasional and not acted upon you can consider yourself normal.
Have sexual fantasies about someone. Everyone has sexual fantasies – everyone. And sometimes they’re unusual or about people you’d be mortified to admit.
Yes, husband – your wife has had them, and yes, wife – so has your husband. All normal.
What’s not normal is acting on anything that would be inappropriate or be considered cheating. Thoughts being normal doesn’t mean actions are okay.
If you can relate to any of these, consider yourself amongst the grand normal majority.
When Do My Thoughts Become Abnormal?
While experiencing these thoughts (and many more) are completely normal, they can get to a point of crossing the line.
These thoughts become uncontrollable and intrusive to the level of disrupting your life.
They become something you act upon or begin to influence your behavior.
You start to obsess about one or more of them.
Their presence causes you concern or anxiety.
Then you need to consider talking to a counselor. In these cases, the thoughts could be due to uncontrolled anxiety or deeper issues that need to be addressed.
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Author: Dr. Kurt SmithDr. Kurt Smith is the Clinical Director of Guy Stuff Counseling & Coaching, a Northern California counseling practice that specializes in helping men and the women who love them. His expertise is in understanding men, their partners, and the unique relationship challenges couples face today. Dr. Kurt is a lover of dogs, sarcasm, everything outdoors, and helping those seeking to make their relationships better.