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What to Do When You Wonder, Is It Normal to…

…feel the way I’m feeling? If you want to fall into an excellent “Google black hole,” type the following words into Google search: Is it normal to…

Google will fill in what other Google users have searched for, when they’ve been unsure of whether the way they’re feeling or the way they’re reacting to something is normal.

In psychology terms, this inquiry is called “reality testing.” It’s taking yourself out of a situation and looking at it objectively.

If you want to get a better sense of whether your feelings or your reaction to something is normal, ask yourself:

In a group of 100 people my age and my gender, how many would have the reaction I’m having?

or

In a group of 100 people my age and my gender, how many would feel the way I’m feeling?


Use a the visualization  that works best for you: a busy city street, a sports arena, an airplane, or Grand Central Terminal.  Anywhere where you can picture 100 people.

 

What’s really neat about this exercise is that it provides pretty instant clarity.

If you say, “In a room of 100 people my age and my gender, how many would feel the way I’m feeling?” usually, your brain will serve up a clear answer, such as:

“…Only the ones who have OCD.”

or

“…Only the ones who tend to be high-anxiety.”

or

“…Most of them!”

Try it, the next time you’re asking yourself, Is it normal to… Not only does this exercise help right away with your current situation, but it also builds this valuable muscle. With enough repetition, you may not need to ask, Is it normal to…?  Instead, you’ll instinctively know if what you’re feeling is appropriate for the situation you’re in.

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