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Kaleidoscope of the Heart: You are fine just the way you are

Rika Kayama

Something my patients often say when they come to my examination room; "I want to change myself."

    They say things like, "I am weak willed, and I can't properly say what I want to say at work. This business year, I want to change myself so I am able to clearly say whatever I want to say" or "I want to change the messy me that can't even tidy their room into a new me that can work efficiently."

    Of course, that kind of determination is admirable. However, I always find myself questioning these patients. The people before my eyes saying "I want to change myself" or "I want to become a new me" are already good enough as they are.

    When they say "I'm weak willed" in a small voice while glancing down, or "I'm messy" in a self-depreciating tone followed by a sigh, they are each showing off their own unique kindness and humor, and without thinking I want to answer, "Is that so? Tell me more!"

    What would happen if they could indeed change themselves like they are so determined to do? Once they become filled with confidence and can proclaim loudly, "I can say whatever I want to say" or "My strength is my ability to work efficiently," won't they lose the kindness and humor they had until now? In becoming the "bright and forward thinking" people that make up big companies these days, it is possible their individuality might also vanish. That, I think, would be a waste.

    Nothing about this is limited to just the examination room. Things that you think of as your weaknesses or shortcomings might be your strong points that warm the hearts of those around you, or there might be someone who admires your calmness. There should be no need to change oneself to the point of throwing away good points like that. Of course, for things like being able to speak clearly and keeping your room tidy, I think putting a little effort into fixing just those areas should be fine.

    You are good enough just as you are now. It's fine if you can't become a new you. I often tell my patients this, and when they hear those words, there is surprise on their faces. They reply with a happy expression, "Really? You mean I'm fine the way I am?" Yes, just the way you are. Each time the new business year begins in spring, I want to let as many people as possible know this: You are best just the way you are. (By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)

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