That’s Totally Normal


“When you make a dieting mistake, it’s helpful to NOT use the word “cheat” because “cheating” can have very negative, sometimes moralistic undertones. If you make a mistake in dieting, it doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you a NORMAL person.”

Dr. Judith Beck

When you see someone falter, how does that make you feel? Does their getting back up and keep going inspire you and make you try harder? Does it fill you with glee that the person isn’t so perfect after all, and make you feel justified in not even trying? Does it just remind you that success is a process and their journey is normal for them?

Does your reaction say more about you or about the person who stumbled?

I recently had a fabulous reader tell me that they much preferred my posts where I share my faults and stumbles because they see me as perfect and intimidating and it makes them feel better.

In the past, comments like these used to really bother me. I’m so far from perfect—and don’t try to hide my imperfection—so how could anyone see me that way? This would mean to me that I needed to flay myself open even more and put all of my warts on display to show that if I can do it, anybody can.

In other words, I reacted to their reaction. (Don’t you love that I’m so normal?)

But as hard as I try, the message that “what I can do, so can you” doesn’t always gets through because a person’s response truly is about them. It may be that reader thinks everyone else has it easy and only they struggle. It may be that my faltering makes them feel better because it helps them justify why they aren’t working harder. Who knows?

The bottom line is they are looking outside of their own experience and are judging themselves by how well someone else is doing.

While that can be helpful in normalizing your experience and inspiring you to reach for greatness, more often than not, I think as a society we use any chink in someone’s armor to justify our own limitations. (Here’s a great editorial by Ashley Judd on how society judge’s people on their appearance.)

But the truth is, nobody’s journey looks the same, or follows the same path. How you do it will be as unique as you are. And your journey is perfectly normal for you. Including the stumbles, which are truly a valuable and helpful part of the process.

This was said perfectly in a recent blog from Life Coach Marta Beck where she cited “Success is the opposite of failure” as one of the “Ten Life Lessons You Should Unlearn.”

Fact: From quitting smoking to skiing, we succeed to the degree we try, fail, and learn. Studies show that people who worry about mistakes shut down, but those who are relaxed about doing badly soon learn to do well. Success is built on failure.

So what does it matter if you–or someone else—falters, or even falls? How might what you consider a stumble or failure actually be key to your ultimate success? How might you remember that success is a process and everyone’s journey is normal for them?

To create the life of your dreams, begin to only compare yourself to you. Celebrate all the successes you’ve had, and do more of that. Celebrate all the lessons you’ve learned that are helping guide you to new decisions and actions. Celebrate that you are exactly in the right place on your own journey–and allow others to be exactly in the right place, too.

Together we can do it!

Photo by Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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