The Book in a Few Sentences
This is an important book and confirms much of the ancient wisdom teachings, including the possibility of change, practice, interconnectedness, and freedom.
The Courage to Be Disliked summary
This is my book summary of The Courage to Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga. My summary and notes include the key lessons and most important insights from the book.
The First Night: Deny Trauma
How to Live Without Being Controlled by the Past
- Regardless of what may have happened in the past, it is the meaning that is attributed to it that determines the way someone’s present will be.
- If you end up staying in etiology, you will be bound by the past and never be able to find happiness.
Socrates and Adler
- You should arrive at answers on your own, not rely upon what you get from someone else.
Are You Okay Just As You Are?
- Right now, you are unable to feel really happy. This is because you have not learned to love yourself.
- To quote Adler again: “The important thing is not what one is born with but what use one makes of that equipment.
People Always Choose Not to Change
- When we try to change our lifestyles, we put our great courage to the test. There is the anxiety generated by changing…
- Your unhappiness cannot be blamed on your past or your environment.
- One might say you are lacking in the courage to be happy.
Your Life is Decided Here and Now
- …as Adler’s teleology tells us, “No matter what has occurred in your life up to this point, it should have no bearing at all on how you live from now on.
- That you, living in the here and now, are the one who determines your own life.
The Second Night: All Problems Are Interpersonal Relationship Problems
Why You Dislike Yourself
- You notice only your shortcomings because you’ve resolved to not start liking yourself.
- Why do you focus only on your shortcomings, and why have you decided to not start liking yourself? It’s because you are overly afraid of being disliked by other people and getting hurt in your interpersonal relationships.
- When you enter into interpersonal relationships, it is inevitable that to a greater or lesser extent you will get hurt, and you will hurt someone.
All Problems Are Interpersonal Relationship Problems
- Loneliness is having other people and society and community around you, and having a deep sense of being excluded from them.
- If all interpersonal relationships were gone from this world, which is to say if one were alone in the universe all other people were gone, all manner of problems would disappear.
Feelings of Inferiority Are Subjective Assumptions
- So “feeling of inferiority” has to do with one’s value judgment of oneself.
- It’s the feeling that one has no worth, or that one is worth only so much.
- My feelings about my height were all subjective feelings of inferiority, which arose entirely through my comparing myself to others. That is to say, in my interpersonal relationships.
- Because if there hand’t been anyone with whom to compare myself, I wouldn’t have had any occasion to think I was short.
- But please understand that what you are feeling is not an objective inferiority but a subjective feeling of inferiority.
An Inferiority Complex Is an Excuse
- Adler recognizes that feelings of inferiority are something everyone has.
- First of all, people enter this world helpless beings. And people have the universal desire to escape from that helpless state. Adler called this “pursuit of superiority.”
- Everyone is in this “condition of wanting to improve” that is the pursuit of superiority.
- However, on not being able to reach one’s ideals, one harbors a sense of being lesser.
- Adler is saying that the pursuit of superiority and the feeling of inferiority are not diseases by stimulants to normal, healthy striving and growth.
- There are, however, people who lose the courage to take a single step forward, who cannot accept the fact that they situation can be changed by making realistic efforts.
- The inferiority complex, on the other hand, refers to a condition of having begun to use one’s feeling of inferiority as a kind of excuse.
- So one thinks to oneself, I’m not sell educated, so I can’t succeed, or I’m not good-looking, so I can’t get married.
- You don’t want to change so much that you’d be willing to sacrifice the pleasures you enjoy now—for instance, the time you spend playing and engaged in hobbies. In other words, you’re not equipped with the courage to change your life-style. It’s easier with things just as they are now, even if you have some complaints or limitations.
Braggarts Have Feelings of Inferiority
- As Adler points out, no one is capable of putting up with having feelings of inferiority for a long period of time.
- Feelings of inferiority are something everyone has, but staying in that condition is too heavy to endure forever.
- One is suffering from strong feelings of inferiority, and, on top of that, one doesn’t have the courage to compensate through healthy modes of striving and growth.
- At that point, the person thinks of trying to compensate in some other fashion and looks for an easier way out.
- It’s to act as if one is indeed superior and to indulge in a fabricated feeling of superiority.
- Behaviors like misrepresenting one’s work experience or excessive allegiance to particular brands of clothing are forms of giving authority, and probably also have aspects of the superiority complex.
- In each case, it isn’t that the “I” is actually superior or special. It is only that one is making the “I” look superior by linking it to authority. In short, it’s a fabricated feeling of superiority.
- As Adler clearly indicates, “The one who boasts does so only out of a feeling of inferiority.”
- By declaring how unfortunate they [those who try to make themselves feel “special” by way of their experience of misfortune] are and how much they have suffered, they are trying to worry the people around them (their family and friends, for example), and to restrict their speech and behavior, and control them.
Life Is Not a Competition
- A healthy feeling of inferiority is not something that comes from comparing oneself to others; it comes from one’s comparison with one’s ideal self.
- …we are not the same, but we are equal.
- Humans are all equal but not the same.
- It is trying to progress past who one is now that there is value.
- When one is trying to be oneself, competition will inevitably get in the way.
You’re the Only One Worrying About Your Appearance
- If there is competition at the core of a person’s interpersonal relationships, he will not be able to escape interpersonal relationship problems or escape misfortune.
- When one is conscious of competition and victory and defeat, it is inevitable that feelings of inferiority will arise. Because one is constantly comparing oneself to others and thinking, I beat that person or I lost to that person.
- Before you know it, you start to see each and every person, everyone in the world, as your enemy.
- In short, that the world is a terrifying place.
- The reason so many people don’t really feel happy while they’re building up their success in the eyes of society is that they are living in competition.
- When you are able to truly feel that “people are my comrades,” your way of looking at the world will change utterly.
- No longer will you think of the world as a perilous place, or be plagued by needless doubts; the world will appear before you as a safe and pleasant place.
From Power Struggle to Revenge
- …when one is challenged to a power struggle, one must never allow oneself to be taken in.
Admitting Fault Is Not Defeat
- We can convey our thoughts and intentions and be accepted without any need for anger.
- If you learn to understand this experientially, the anger emotion will stop appearing all on its own.
- The moment one is convinced that “I am right” in an interpersonal relationship, one has already stepped into a power struggle.
- Admitting mistakes, conveying words of apology, and stepping down from power struggles—none of these things is defeat.
Overcoming the Tasks That Face You In Life
- First, there are two objectives for behavior: to be self-reliant and to be live in harmony with society.
- Then, the two objectives for the psychology that supports these behaviors are the consciousness that I have the ability and the consciousness that people are my comrades.
Red String and Rigid Chains
- There’s no value at all in the number of friends or acquaintances you have. And this is a subject that connects with the task of love, but what we should be thinking about is the distance and depth of the relationship.
- Adlerian psychology is a psychology for changing oneself, not a psychology for changing others.
- When one can think, Whenever I am with this person, I can behave very freely, one can really feel love.
- If romantic love is a relationship connected by red string, then the relationship between parents and children is bound in rigid chains. And a pair of small scissors is all you have.
Don’t Fall for the “Life-Lie”
- Adler called the state of coming up with all manner of pretexts in order to avoid the life tasks the “life-lie.”
- One is running away from one’s life tasks by saying that everything is the fault of other people, or the fault of one’s environment.
- You must not use the power of anger to look away.
From the Psychology of Possession to the Psychology of Practice
- From the standpoint of technology, we choose our lives and our lifestyles ourselves.
The Third Night: Discard Other People’s Tasks
Do Not Live to Satisfy the Expectations of Others
- Why is it that people seek the recognition from others? In many cases, it is due to the influence of reward-and-punishment education.
- Adler was very critical of education by reward and punishment.
- It leads to mistaken lifestyles in which people think, If no on is going to punish me, I’ll engage in in appropriate actions, too.
- When one seeks recognition from others, and concerns oneself only with how one is judged by others, in the end, one is living other people’s lives.
- In other words, you throw away who you really are and live other people’s lives.
How to Separate Tasks
- We need to think with the perspective of “Whose task is this?” and continually separate one’s own tasks fro other people’s tasks.
- In general, all interpersonal relationship troubles are caused by intruding on other people’s tasks, or having one’s own tasks intruded on.
- There is a simple way to tell whose task it is. Think, Who ultimately is going to receive the result brought about by the choice that is made?
Discard Other People’s Tasks
- That [discarding other people’s tasks] is the first step toward lightening the load and making life simpler.
How to Rid Yourself of Interpersonal Relationship Problems
- Calmly delineate up to what point one’s own tasks go, and from what point they become another person’s tasks. And do not intervene in other people’s tasks, or allow even a single person to intervene in one’s own tasks.
Cut the Gordian knot
- “Destiny is not something brought about by legend, but by clearing away with one’s own sword.”
- One should be ready to lend a hand when needed but not encroach on the person’s territory.
- As Adler says, “Children who have not been taught to confront challenges will try to avoid all challenges.”
Desire for Recognition Makes You Unfree
- But if one is deciding one’s path oneself, it’s only natural that one will get lost at times.
- If one is living in a [sic] such a way as to satisfy other people’s expectations, and one is entrusting one’s own life to others, that is a way of living in which one is lying to oneself and continuing that lying to include the people around them.
What Real Freedom Is
- … “freedom is being disliked by other people.”
- It is proof that you are exercising your freedom and living in freedom, and a sign that you are living in accordance with your own principles.
- But conducting oneself in such a way as to not be disliked by anyone is an extremely unfree way of living, and is also impossible.
- There is a cost incurred when one wants to exercise one’s freedom. And the cost of freedom in interpersonal relationships is the one is disliked by other people.
- The courage to be happy also includes the courage to be disliked.
- When you have gained that courage, your interpersonal relationships will at once change into things of lightness.
The Fourth Night: Where the Center of the World Is
Individual Psychology and Holism
- In Adlerian psychology, physical symptoms are not regarded separately from the mind (psyche). The mind and body are viewed as one, as a whole that cannot be divided into parts.
- Please do not think of the separation of tasks as something that is meant to keep other people away; instead, see it as a way of thinking with which to unravel the threads of the complex entanglement of one’s interpersonal relations.
The Goal of Interpersonal Relationships Is a Feeling of Community
- When Adler refers to community, he goes beyond the household, school, workplace, and local society, and treats it as all-inclusive, covering not only nations and all of humanity but also the entire axis of time from the past to the future—and he includes plants and animals and even inanimate objects.
You Are Not The Center of the World
- Feeling that one has one’s own place of refuge within the community, feeling that “it’s okay to be here,” and having a sense of belonging—these are basic human desires.
- While the “I” is life’s protagonist, it is never more than a member of the community and a part of the whole.
- One needs to think not, “What will this person give me? but rather, What can I give this person? This is commitment to the community.
- A sense of belonging is something that one acquires through one’s own efforts—it is not something one is endowed with at birth.
Listen to the Voice of a Larger Community
- Living in fear of one’s relationships facing apart is an unfree way to live, in which one is living for other people.
Do Not Rebuke or Praise
- It is because you are living in vertical relationships that you want to be praised.
- Adlerian psychology refutes all manner of vertical relationships and proposes that all interpersonal relationships be horizontal relationships.
The Encouragement Approach
- Concretely speaking, instead of commanding from above that the child must study, one acts on him in such a way that he can gain the confidence to take care of his own studies and face his tasks on his own.
- Being praised is what leads people to form the belief that they have no ability.
- When receiving praise becomes one’s goal, one is choosing a way of living that is in line with another person’s system of values.
- In Adler’s view, “It is only when a person is able to feel that he has worth that he can possess courage.”
- It is when one is able to feel “I am beneficial to the community” that one can have a true sense of one’s worth.
- Instead of feeling judged by another person as “good,” being able to feel, by way of one’s own subjective viewpoint, that “I can make contributions to other people.” It is at that point that, at last, we can have a true sense of our own worth.
- It is about having concern for others, building horizontal relationships, and taking the approach of encouragement.
- All these things connect to the deep life awareness of “I am of use to someone,” and in turn, to your courage to live.
Exist In the Present
- So let’s look at other people not on the “level of acts” but on the “level of being.”
- Without judging whether or not people did something, one rejoices in their being there, in their very existence, and one calls out to them with words of gratitude.
- If you consider things at the level of being, we are of use to others and have worth just by being here.
- So instead of thinking of oneself on the level of acts, first of all one accepts oneself on the level of being.
People Cannot Make Proper Use of Self
- If you are building even one vertical relationship with someone, before you even notice what is happening, you will be treating all your interpersonal relations as vertical.
- …if one has managed to build a horizontal relationship with at least one person—if one has been able to build a relationship of equals in the true sense of the term—that is a major lifestyle transformation.
- With that breakthrough, all one’s interpersonal relations will gradually become horizontal.
The Fifth Night: To Live in Earnest in the Here and Now
Not Self-Affirmation—Self Acceptance
- So in other words, you do not have confidence in your innocent self, in yourself just as you are, right?
- And you stay away from the kind of interpersonal relationship in which you would just be yourself.
- Anyone can behave like a king when they’re alone.
- It’s not self-affirmation that we are concerned with, but self-acceptance.
- Accept “this me” just as it is. And have the courage to change what one can change. That is self-acceptance.
- We do not lack ability. We lack courage. It all comes down to courage.
The Difference Between Trust and Confidence
- It is precisely because we lay a foundation of unconditional confidence that it is possible for us to build a deep relationship.
- But if you are afraid to have confidence in others, in the long run you will not be able to build deep relationships with anyone.
- When one is sad, one should be sad to one’s heart’s content.
- It is precisely when one tries to escape the pain and sadness that one gets stuck and ceases to be able to build deep relationships with anyone.
The Essence of Work Is a Contribution to the Common Good
- In effect, placing confidence in others is connected to seeing others as comrades.
- It is because they are one’s comrades that one can have confidence in them.
- And then, having other people as one’s comrades connects to finding refuge in the community one belongs to.
- So one can gain a sense of belonging, that “it’s okay to be here.”
- …people who think of others as enemies have not attained self-acceptance and do not have enough confidence in others.
Young People Walk Ahead of Adults
- It is even said that to truly understand Adlerian psychology and apply it to actually changing one’s way of living, one needs “half the number of years one has lived.”
Workaholism Is a Life-Lie
- People with neurotic lifestyles tend to sprinkle their speech with such words as “everyone” and “always” and “everything.”
- In Adlerian psychology, we think of this as a way of living that is lacking in “harmony of life.”
- In the teachings of Judaism, one finds the following anecdote: “If there are ten people, one will be someone who criticizes you no matter what you do. This person will come to dislike you, and you will not learn to like him either. Then, there will be two others who accept everything about you and whom you accept too, and you will become close friends with them. The remaining seven people will be neither of these types.”
You Can Be Happy Now
- For a human being, the greatest unhappiness is not being able to like oneself.
- In a word, happiness is the feeling of contribution. This is the definition of happiness.
- There is no freedom in a feeling of contribution that is gained through the desire for recognition.
- If one really has a feeling of contribution, one will no longer have any need for recognition from others.
The Courage to Be Normal
- If you are able to possess the courage to be normal, your way of looking at the world will change dramatically.
Life Is a Series of Moments
- Seemingly linear existence is actually a series of dots; in other words, life is a series of moments.
- And the road one takes to get to that destination is, in the sense that one’s goal has not yet been reached, incomplete.
- Energeia, on the other hand, is a kind of movement in which what is “now forming” is what “has been formed.”
- One might also think of it as movement in which the process itself is treated as the outcome. Dance is like that, and so is a journey.
Shine a Light on the Here and Now
- You are trying to give yourself a way out by focusing on the past and the future.
The Greatest Life-Lie
- You set objectives for the distant future, and think of now as your preparatory period. This is a way of living that postpones life.
- As long as we postpone life, we can never go anywhere and will pass our days only one after the next in dull monotony, because we think the here and now as just a preparatory period, as a time for patience.
- Living earnestly here and now is itself a dance.
- When one has adopted an energeial viewpoint, life is always complete.
Give Meaning to Seemingly Meaningless Life
- What is the meaning of life?
- When someone posed this question to Adler, this was his answer: “Life in general has no meaning.”
- An experience of hardship should be an opportunity to look ahead and think, What can I do from now on?
- “Whatever meaning life has must be assigned to it by the individual.”
- So life in general has no meaning whatsoever. But you can assign meaning to that life. And you are the only one who can assign meaning to your life.
- No matter what moments you are living, or if there are people who dislike you, as long as you do not lose sight of the guiding star of “I contribute to others,” you will not lose your way, and you can do whatever you like.
- Do not look at the past, and do not look at the future.
- One lives each complete moment like a dance. There is no need to compete with anyone, and one has no use for destination.
- And unable to communicate out of fear of hurting other people even when one has something to assert, one may end up abandoning what one really wants to do.