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Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Setting your relationship priorities straight

Rika Kayama

The recent detection of "gravitational waves" -- a phenomenon that creates the ripples in the fabric of space and time -- has sent shockwaves beyond the science world.

    I do not possess the knowledge or ability to correctly understand what exactly this phenomenon is, but I do understand that it is a major discovery in the world of science. What was more impressive to me was that Albert Einstein predicted the existence of these waves 100 years ago. Since his theory was unimaginable from the perspective of common knowledge of science at the time, he reportedly received lots of critical feedback claiming that no such thing could exist.

    I'm sure Einstein didn't care about the criticism though, because he had firm conviction that gravitational waves existed.

    But we are not Einstein. I see many patients at my clinic who have lost their psychological balance over criticism and rumors targeted at them. One of my patients said, "My co-workers think I'm useless ever since my boss yelled at me," while another one told me, "There has been a rumor about me among my mom friends and I don't have a place to belong."

    It is a common feeling for people to think that they do not want to be disliked by others.

    So, should we tell those people that in 100 years' time they will be proven right just like Einstein and they should bear the criticism for now?

    I don't think so.

    Most people who come to see me want to fix the situation today, like right now. Being under criticism or having a bad reputation among one's acquaintances is an urgent issue and it is really tough for those involved.

    I often ask my patients questions like, "How much does it mean for you to have those people think badly of you? Are they the most important individuals in your life?" And most of the time they say the most important thing in their lives is their family and they have some close friends who understand. So I tell them, "Let's not try too hard to be liked by those who don't like you, but focus on becoming closer to those who do like you."

    There should be a list of priorities in regard to relationships with other people. I believe you can make your life more enjoyable by having strong relationships with your family and close friends while having a few enemies, rather than having many people who think you are "just OK."

    We are not Einstein, and we need someone who says, "I believe in you now, not in 100 years' time." (By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)

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