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Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Stop placing blame when things go wrong

Rika Kayama

One of the most common things that people coming to me for psychiatric help probably ask is, "Why?" In particular, they say it about things in their life that they can't accept, like "Why did my company collapse? I wanted to work there forever" or "Why was I dumped when I gave so much for my significant other?"

    Of course, I cannot give them an explanation for why these things happened. Usually, all I can do is agree with them and say, "I wonder why?" or "It is troubling, isn't it?"

    But, while I'm doing this, many people will start to say, "But, no matter how long I focus on 'why,' what happened has happened, right?"

    Once they've accepted their circumstances that much, it is only one more step to recovery. I say, "Maybe so. After all, we don't know the answer for 'why.'" They then sometimes smile a little bit and say, "From now on I will do what I can, and not spend all my time looking for whom to blame." I nod and say, "That's a good idea," strongly approving their decision.

    When something happens to us, we always want to know the reason for it. However, in many cases, even if we understood the reason, the result would not change. Instead, accepting what happened, saying, "What's done is done," and moving forward without looking to place blame, may be the quicker way to feeling better.

    The reason I thought of this subject may be because the season for university entrance exams has arrived. Long ago, during this time of year, I failed the entrance exam for my university of choice after a year of post-high school graduation preparation, and I started looking to place blame, wondering, "Why did I fail? Why can't I study where I want to?" This lasted a long time, and even after entering a different university, for a long time I continued blaming myself and cursing my luck. But, looking back now, I didn't gain anything from doing that.

    Sometimes, instead of continuing to ask "why," it may be necessary to say "I won't think about it anymore," and look forward. (By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)

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