By Susanna Mittermaier
Is Being Normal Making Us Mediocre?
Psychologist and global speaker says fear of judgement can lead to fear of exceptionalism. Downplaying personal characteristics to appear more ‘normal’ is a common practice in American culture. In fact, according to one recent survey, 61% of working Americans admit to “covering” at work; ie disguising or underplaying personal characteristics in order to appear more acceptably ‘normal’. (Deloitte: Uncovering Talent report, 2013)
Clinical psychologist, psychotherapist and global Right Voice for You facilitator, Susan Mittermaier, is eager for Americans to recognize the destructive nature of “covering” and is on a quest to help people celebrate exceptionalism – in others, and in themselves.
“When you choose to downplay the things that make you different – that make you special – you are not just creating an environment where everyone is normal, you are encouraging an environment where everyone is mediocre”, Mittermaier warns.
The main factors that people disguise in order to ‘fit in’ are often tied to ethnicity, religion and sexuality, but Mittermaier is also concerned about the subtler differences that people can downplay in order to feel more accepted – their exceptional talents, skills and abilities. “The need to feel normal is an incredibly powerful force; so much so that it can leave many people unconsciously trying to appear unremarkable. This means many Americans are often hesitant or unwilling to share the skills and talents that they are most gifted at.”
Mittermaier encourages Americans to look out for these four sure signs that they have fallen prey to mediocrity:
- Money troubles: When trying to be mediocre, you will undermine your own ability to earn. “Money is about receiving; if you are stopping yourself from ‘shining’, you cut off your ability to receive abundance. You make yourself non-relevant; you make others’ point of view more valuable than yours. With this mindset, even if you ask for more money in your life, you are not ready to receive it.”
- Constant struggle: If you are struggling with life – if nothing comes easy to you – it is often because you are being mediocre. “Once you go beyond the Tall Poppy syndrome and you don’t care about others’ demands on you to be mediocrity, you become unassailable. You feel an incredible level of freedom, ease and joy, and life tends to work in your favor.”
- Depression, anxiety and dissatisfaction: “if you are feeling depressed or depleted, it is common to turn to therapy or medication. But underneath these symptoms often lies the root cause that you’re not choosing the life you really want. You are choosing to remain mediocre.”
- Fear of future judgement: Fear and avoidance of future criticism can compel you to remain mediocre. “If you tend to focus on judgements that might come up in the future, if you are paranoid before judgements come, then this will stop you from shining in whatever way is possible for you.”
Mittermaier offers the following advice to anyone hesitant to share their talents and gifts, for fear of standing out too much. “If judgements come, the most effective tool is to ignore them. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it really is that simple”, she advises. “It takes a while to learn how to do this, but one simple tool is to realize that everything is simply a point of view.”
“When faced with judgement, just tell yourself ‘interesting point of view, they have this point of view’. Also, acknowledge your willingness to accept their judgement of you: ‘Interesting point of view, I have this point of view that their judgement is relevant’”, she adds.
Mittermaier believes that rising above mediocrity is good for the individual, and for the world in general. “Once you stop trying to be mediocre and making others’ limitations more relevant than the brilliance you are, that is when you can be a gift to the world. How many people can you inspire by choosing to be different; choosing to be exceptional?”
Susanna Mittermaier is a licensed clinical psychologist, psychotherapist and author of the #1 international bestselling book, Pragmatic Psychology: Practical Tools for Being Crazy Happy. As a global speaker, Susanna offers a new paradigm on psychology and therapy called Pragmatic Psychology. She is also a certified facilitator for Right Voice for You, a special program by Access Consciousness. She has been featured in publications such as TV Soap, Maria Shriver, Women’s Weekly, Empowerment Channel Voice America, Om Times, Motherpedia, Newstalk New Zealand and Holistic Bliss. She has hosted her own radio show and often appears on TV for expert comment. www.susannamittermaier.com