TROUBLESHOOTER / Terrible things happen to me one after another

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a woman in my 40s. Recently, I’ve had a succession of unpleasant experiences, and I can’t stop wondering why these things always happen to me.

One day, when I was eating a meal at an udon restaurant, a dish fragment, which happened to be mixed in with my meal, touched my teeth. I had almost swallowed the fragment.

On a separate occasion, when I ordered a pizza at an Italian restaurant, I waited for as long as 90 minutes because the waiter forgot my order.

Once when I felt sick and was lying down in a departure lobby of an airport, an unfamiliar middle-aged woman made a sarcastic remark about me. When I passed someone on a street, they said, “Speed up!, idiot!” and I was hurt by the words.

I can’t get to sleep at night because such terrible things often come to mind one after another. I also have tough memories from the past and sometimes happen to recall them.

I’m trying to forget these things, but I can’t stop thinking about them. Could you please give me advice?

K, Hokkaido

Dear Ms. K:

As you seem to be always experiencing trouble, I think it cannot be helped if you come to dislike other people. But at the same time, I think such kinds of misfortune could happen to anybody at any time.

Under such circumstances, I recommend that you change your way of thinking a little bit.

For example, you should replace “the misfortune of almost swallowing a dish fragment” with “feeling fortunate that you managed to escape swallowing it,” and enjoy your luck.

About your waiting 90 minutes for a pizza, you could appreciate your wealth of patience as you were able to contain yourself.

For the incidents in which you were insulted in an airport lobby or verbally abused on a street, you should think, “People who say such things one-sidedly are much worse off than I, so I don’t need to feel hurt.”

Of course, even if you change your way of thinking in a positive way that makes you feel at ease, it doesn’t mean that everything is fine. But it might be better than being left in a depressed state of mind after hearing such one-sided comments.

You wrote that you also have painful memories from your past. Why don’t you try to think in different ways and see if you can feel somewhat better?

Soichiro Nomura, psychiatrist

(from Nov. 9, 2018, issue)Speech

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