Conquering Normal

Posted by Kristin Beale in Life After Paralysis on July 11, 2022 # Lifestyle

Kristin GuptaNormalization, or the phenomena of regarding behaviors and ideas that fall outside social norms as “normal,” is crucial to how we move about the world. Think about it: if we didn’t normalize, every new stimulus would be fresh and unfamiliar. Slapping a “normal” label on difficult or dreaded events can allow you to more easily step over their stress or strain and move along.

Bad things are more common and more useful to normalize but doing the same for the good parts of your life is also beneficial; if you normalize and automate the good things, you’ll get on track toward your contentment. Better yet, you’ll do those good things without having to think so much about them.

This past week, I’ve had fun thinking of some things I’ve normalized into my routine: brushing my teeth after dinner to prevent late-night snacking, riding my handcycle 2-4 times per week to keep my body in shape, using my water pick every night before bed, and eating protein at every meal. I’ll even admit some of the bad ones: searching the pantry for dessert after dinner, whether I’m hungry or not; replacing a good night’s sleep with a large cup of coffee; and, my favorite, getting Chick Fil A for dinner every Wednesday night.

I don’t feel one bit of shame about that last one, but I guess it could be called a “bad habit.” But it’s a bad habit I’m not at all willing to break.

Normalization leads to formed habits and, we know, habits can be tricky to break. So, why not form some good ones? “Good” and “bad” are so subjective, but there are a few undeniables:

  • Slouching
  • Procrastinating
  • Spending too much time on your phone
  • Compromising your sleep
  • Overeating
  • Overcommitting and overworking

Instead of accepting those things as part of who you are, let’s try replacing them with some good:

  • Sitting up way too straight
  • Making a “do” list and knocking out >3 a day
  • Disconnecting with technology from 7-8 pm every night
  • Going to bed early
  • Portion control
  • Saying “no”

While you’re at it, here are some extra credit suggestions to consider:

  • Eat breakfast
  • Read a chapter every day
  • Drink more water
  • Wash your hands
  • Keep your body moving
  • Don’t isolate yourself
  • Floss your teeth

Like most things, normalization can be a positive or negative phenomenon - depending on how you work it. You can get ahead by staying aware of the normalization happening and use it to incorporate some good into your routine. You might consider paying closer attention to your habits, then give some second thought to the way you’re moving around in your everyday.

Is there something that you’re normalizing?

Kristin Beale is a native of Richmond, Virginia. She is the author of two books, Greater Things and A Million Suns, and a comic book, Date Me. Check them out and read an excerpt at Her comics can be found on Instagram @Greater.Things.Comics.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.