Highlights from "The Courage to Be Disliked"

By Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga

Cover of the book The Courage to Be Disliked

None of us live in an objective world, but instead in a subjective world that we ourselves have given meaning to. The world you see is different from the one I see, and it’s impossible to share your world with anyone else.

‘No experience is in itself a cause of our success or failure. We do not suffer from the shock of our experiences—the so-called trauma—but instead we make out of them whatever suits our purposes. We are not determined by our experiences, but the meaning we give them is self-determining.’

Your life is not something that someone gives you, but something you choose yourself, and you are the one who decides how you live.

in order to fulfil the goal of shouting, you created the emotion of anger.

But if you are going to tell me that people are beings who can’t resist emotion, I’d argue against that.

‘People are not driven by past causes, but move toward goals that they themselves set’—that

When we try to change our lifestyles, we put our great courage to the test. There is the anxiety generated by changing, and the disappointment attendant to not changing. I am sure you have selected the latter.

Adlerian psychology is a psychology of courage. Your unhappiness cannot be blamed on your past or your environment. And it isn’t that you lack competence. You just lack courage. One might say you are lacking in the courage to be happy.

‘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.

You were so afraid of interpersonal relationships that you came to dislike yourself. You’ve avoided interpersonal relationships by disliking yourself.

The real issue is how one confronts that reality. If what you are thinking is, I’m not well educated, so I can’t succeed, then instead of I can’t succeed, you should think, I don’t want to succeed.

If one really has confidence in oneself, one doesn’t feel the need to boast. It’s because one’s feeling of inferiority is strong that one boasts.

Quite a few people try to be a ‘special being’ by adopting this kind of attitude when they are sick or injured, or suffering the mental anguish of heartbreak.

The first thing that I want you to understand here is the fact that anger is a form of communication, and that communication is nevertheless possible without using anger. We can convey our thoughts and intentions and be accepted without any need for anger.

there are two objectives for behaviour: to be self-reliant and to live in harmony with society. Then, the objectives for the psychology that supports these behaviours are the consciousness that I have the ability and the consciousness that people are my comrades.

When one can think, Whenever I am with this person, I can behave very freely, one can really feel love. One can be in a calm and quite natural state, without having feelings of inferiority or being beset with the need to flaunt one’s superiority. That is what real love is like.

people are extremely selfish creatures who are capable of finding any number of flaws and shortcomings in others whenever the mood strikes them. A man of perfect character could come along, and one would have no difficulty in digging up some reason to dislike him. That’s exactly why the world can become a perilous place at any time, and it’s always possible to see everyone as one’s enemies.

If your lifestyle were determined by other people or your environment, it would certainly be possible to shift responsibility. But we choose our lifestyles ourselves. It’s clear where the responsibility lies.

There is no need to be recognised by others. Actually, one must not seek recognition. This point cannot be overstated.

If one takes appropriate action, one receives praise. If one takes inappropriate action, one receives punishment. Adler was very critical of education by reward and punishment. It leads to mistaken lifestyles in which people think, If no one is going to praise me, I won’t take appropriate action and If no one is going to punish me, I’ll engage in inappropriate actions, too. You already have the goal of wanting to be praised when you start picking up litter.

Wishing so hard to be recognised will lead to a life of following expectations held by other people who want you to be ‘this kind of person’. In other words, you throw away who you really are and live other people’s lives. And please remember this: if you are not living to satisfy other people’s expectations, it follows that other people are not living to satisfy your expectations.

In general, all interpersonal relationship troubles are caused by intruding on other people’s tasks, or having one’s own tasks intruded on. Carrying out the separation of tasks is enough to change one’s interpersonal relationships dramatically.

A parent suffering over the relationship with his or her child will tend to think, My child is my life. In other words, the parent is taking on the child’s task as his or her own, and is no longer able to think about anything but the child.

Look, the act of believing is also the separation of tasks. You believe in your partner; that is your task. But how that person acts with regard to your expectations and trust is other people’s tasks. When you push your wishes without having drawn that line, before you know it you’re engaging in stalker-like intervention.

If you are leading a life of worry and suffering—which stems from interpersonal relationships—first, learn the boundary of ‘from here on, that is not my task’. And discard other people’s tasks. That is the first step toward lightening the load and making life simpler.

Now, why are you worried about other people looking at you, anyway? Adlerian psychology has an easy answer. You haven’t done the separation of tasks yet.

First, one should ask ‘whose task is this?’ Then do the separation of tasks. 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.

As long as I use aetiology to think, It is because he hit me that I have a bad relationship with my father, it would be a matter that was impossible for me to do anything about. But if I can think, I brought out the memory of being hit because I don’t want my relationship with my father to get better, then I will be holding the card to repair relations. Because if I can just change the goal that fixes everything.

If other people are our comrades, and we live surrounded by them, we should be able to find in that life our own place of ‘refuge’. Moreover, in doing so, we should begin to have the desire to share with our comrades—to contribute to the community. This sense of others as comrades, this awareness of ‘having one’s own refuge’, is called ‘community feeling’.

Yes. In the sense that you are concerned solely with the ‘I’, you are self-centred. You want to be thought well of by others, and that is why you worry about the way they look at you. That is not concern for others. It is nothing but attachment to self.

In Adlerian psychology, however, a sense of belonging is something that one can attain only by making an active commitment to the community of one’s own accord, and not simply by being here.

Once you know how big the world is, you will see that all the hardship you went through in school was a storm in a teacup. The moment you leave the teacup, that raging storm will be gone, and a gentle breeze will greet you in its place.

Whether we praise or rebuke others, the only difference is one of the carrot or the stick, and the background goal is manipulation. The reason that Adlerian psychology is highly critical of reward-and-punishment education is that its intention is to manipulate children.

If one can build horizontal relationships that are ‘equal but not the same’ for all people, there will no longer be any room for inferiority complexes to emerge.

This is the act of intruding on other people’s tasks. So, why does a person intervene? Here, too, in the background, vertical relationships are at play. It is precisely because one perceives interpersonal relations as vertical, and sees the other party as beneath one, that one intervenes. Through intervention, one tries to lead the other party in the desired direction. One has convinced oneself that one is right, and that the other party is wrong. Of course, the intervention here is manipulation, pure and simple.

With self-acceptance, on the other hand, if one cannot do something, one is simply accepting ‘one’s incapable self’ as is, and moving forward so that one can do whatever one can. It is not a way of lying to oneself. To put it more simply, say you’ve got a score of sixty per cent, but you tell yourself I just happened to get unlucky this time around, and the real me is one hundred per cent. That is self-affirmation. By contrast, if one accepts oneself as one is, as sixty per cent, and thinks to oneself, How should I go about getting closer to one hundred per cent?—that is self-acceptance.

Accept what is irreplaceable. Accept ‘this me’ just as it is. And have the courage to change what one can change. That is self-acceptance.

It is precisely because we lay a foundation of unconditional confidence that it is possible for us to build a deep relationship.

Right now, you are thinking, If I were to have confidence in someone unconditionally, I would just get taken advantage of. However, you are not the one who decides whether or not to take advantage. That is the other person’s task. All you need to do is think, What should I do? If you are telling yourself, I’ll give it to him if he isn’t going take advantage of me, it is just a relationship of trust that is based on security or conditions.

If one can simply accept oneself as one is, and ascertain what one can do and what one cannot, one becomes able to understand that ‘taking advantage’ is the other person’s task, and getting to the core of ‘confidence in others’ becomes less difficult.

It is through labour that one makes contributions to others and commits to one’s community, and that one truly feels ‘I am of use to someone’ and even comes to accept one’s existential worth.

‘Work’ does not mean having a job at a company. Work in the home, childrearing, contributing to the local society, hobbies and all manner of other things are work. Companies and such are just one small part of that. A way of living that acknowledges only company work is one that is lacking in harmony of life.

He works all those hours, brings in enough money to support a family, and is recognised by society—and, on that basis, he views himself as having greater worth than the other members of his family. For each and every one of us, however, there comes a time when one can no longer serve as the provider.

In a word, happiness is the feeling of contribution. That is the definition of happiness.

There is no freedom in a feeling of contribution that is gained through the desire for recognition. We are beings who choose freedom while aspiring to happiness.

You are probably rejecting normality because you equate being normal with being incapable. Being normal is not being incapable. One does not need to flaunt one’s superiority.

If life were a line, then life planning would be possible. But our lives are only a series of dots. A well-planned life is not something to be treated as necessary or unnecessary, as it is impossible.

You should be on a journey the moment you step outside your home, and all the moments on the way to your destination should be a journey. Of course, there might be circumstances that prevent you from making it to the pyramid, but that does not mean you didn’t go on a journey. This is ‘energeial life’.

The greatest life-lie of all is to not live here and now. It is to look at the past and the future, cast a dim light on one’s entire life, and believe that one has been able to see something. Until now, you have turned away from the here and now, and only shone a light on invented pasts and futures. You have told a great lie to your life, to these irreplaceable moments.

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.

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