Yes, talking in terms of emotional & mental health, ‘Normal is the new good”. And honestly, it is difficult to now get people who don’t have emotional reactions that are ‘out of place…out of context…out of proportion…and out of the blue’. In other words, it is difficult to get people whose emotional reactions are not disproportionate, exaggerated or based in oversensitivity.

Some of you might scoff at this concept straight away, picking a disagreement based on a simple question “How do you know what is normal?” Well! So before anything else, let me start with the explanation of normal. Normal for us – the social animals – is exactly what is normal for other animals.

Some of you may argue that it doesn’t make sense, as we are not ordinary animals, we are social animals. I agree absolutely. However, try telling this to your Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) – the nervous system that blends our emotions with their associated bodily responses. ANS works ‘beneath our conscious control’ by regulating the working of our internal organs like salivary gland, lungs, heart, liver, adrenal gland, Gastro Intestinal tract and pupils.

ANS typically makes these organs work according to the emotional state being felt. That’s precisely why you don’t have to instruct your heart to beat faster when you feel fear on the rollercoaster. It beats faster even before you know it. Our ANS does it because it has been programmed by evolution to do so in any ‘flight or fight’ response – when blood flow is needed throughout the body to flee or fight. And we share this fabric of ANS with zebras and lions.

So how does it typically go within an animal? Well! In case of an animal, whenever appears a situation that requires a reaction of the magnitude of ‘flight or fight’ then ANS gets their internal organs activated in the corresponding mode. And when that particular situation disappears then the ANS gets back to the ‘Rest & Digest…Feed & Breed’ mode.

And that’s where the fundamental irony of most of the humans comes into play. In most of us today, the ANS gets activated in the ‘flight or fight’ mode in situations which are so far from survival that even a bit of reappraisal of situation will make it look nearly laughable; and more importantly, inside most of us, the ANS stays activated in that mode way beyond the situation that activates it. And all this happens because we do not have the proper emotional & social intelligence to understand the mistakes we are making in our intrapersonal and interpersonal dynamics.

So, now is the time to put things into the right perspective, and get back to ‘normalness’ – I mean what qualifies as ‘good’ in the era we are a part of.

Dr. Sandeep Atre (Founder-Director, Socialigence)