November 8, 2004
Flexibility to Adapt to Reality
by Dr. Takehisa Kora
We cannot remove insecurity and pain from our lives. It is inevitable. The reason is that nature and society are not made to suit our convenience. Nature existed first and people come out of it, so of course nature is not made for people. If we leave plants without care, weeds will take over or insects may harm them, no matter how hard we may try to make a flower garden. That is why we have to pull weeds and exterminate harmful insects. Society was made by people, but not necessarily for the convenience of individuals. We cannot change our natural and social environment the way we want to, so we have to make efforts to adapt ourselves.
Therapy for neurosis means to learn to change and adapt according to the way nature is rather than thinking how it should be. Of course, it is fine to have ideals, wanting life to be a certain way. However, neurosis cannot be cured if one has a faulty idealism or perfectionism or if one has an attitude that hinders adjustment to reality because of obsessive concern for the way things should be.
Confucius said that a wise person is not a thing. Certainly a wise person is not a mere thing. Things are very convenient. For examples, spectacles are very convenient for us old people. Loudspeakers are convenient when we speak in fort of many people, and glasses are good for drinking water. However these devices are worthless for other purposes. Living beings have the characteristic of changing themselves according to the circumstances of the outside world. That is the difference between living beings and machines. We change according to changing circumstances, and neurotics can also free themselves from their obsession.
Essentially, having a neurotic personality is not a bad thing. Neurotics have a desire to improve, and their wills are not weak. However, they expend much of their energy protecting themselves, and they are oversensitive. If they develop an attitude toward life that emphasizes managing outside matter instead of paying so much attention to their own feelings, then they become free from their obsession.
Dr. Takehisa Kora is the author of How to Live Well from which this edited excerpt is taken.Posted on November 8, 2004 9:08 PM