Julyan Davey
Supporting the emergence of life affirming, transformative cultures.

The Courage to be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga

The Courage to be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga

Date Read: 27/07/18

My rating: 10/10

(See my list of other books I've read)

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Great introduction to Adlerian Psychology! Adler was one of the 'three giants' of 19th century psychology with Freud and Jung. This is told through a series of conversations between a philosopher and student which makes it hard to put down. Lots of counter intuitive wisdom!


The First Night: Deny Trauma

  • Etiology (the study of causation)
  • Teleology (the study of the purpose of a given phenomenon)
  • Trauma does not exist.
  • "No experience is in itself a cause of our success or failure. We are not determined by our experiences, but the meaning we give them is self-determining"
  • Suppose your friend thinks: "I can't fit into society because I was abused by my parents". It's because it is his goal to think that way.
  • If I stay in my room all the time, without ever going out, my parents will worry. I can get all my parents' attention focused on me.
  • Teleology says that anger is also a means to achieve a goal.
  • The question isn't "What happened?" but "How was it resolved?"
  • One should always take the "people can change" premise.
  • "The important thing is not what one is born with but what use one makes of that equipment"
  • "Unhappiness is something you choose for yourself".
  • People always choose not to change.
  • There is the anxiety generated by changing, and the disappointment attendant to not changing.
  • In Adlerian psychology, we describe personality and disposition with the word "Lifestyle". People choose their lifestyle.
  • Saying "If only I could be like Y" is an excuse to yourself for not changing.

The Second Night: All Problems Are Interpersonal Relationship Problems

  • Your goal is to not get hurt in your relationships with other people.
  • How can that goal be realized? Find your shortcomings, start disliking yourself and become someone who doesn't enter into interpersonal relationships.
  • "To get rid of one's problems, all one can do is live in the universe all alone"
  • If you existed completely alone in the universe, you wouldn't feel lonely.
  • There is no such thing as worry that is completely defined by the individual. So called internal worry does not exist.
  • Feelings of inferiority are subjective interpretations rather than objective facts.
  • An inferiority complex is an excuse.
  • People enter the world as helpless beings. They have the universal desire to escape from that helpless state. Alder called this the "pursuit of superiority". This is "hoping to improve" or "pursuing an ideal state".
  • The pursuit of superiority and the feeling of inferiority are not diseases but stimulants to normal, healthy, string and growth.
  • An inferiority complex, on the other hand, is when we use one's feeling of inferiority as a kind of excuse.
  • Adler rejects arguments like "The reason I can't get married easily is that my parents got divorced when I was a child". He says they are examples of "apparent cause and effect".
  • The inferiority complex can also develop into another special mental state: The superiority complex! To act as if one is indeed superior even though they aren't.
  • 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.
  • Look at people as "comrades" rather than "rivals/enemies"
  • In Adlerian psychology, clear objectives are laid out for human behaviour and psychology.
  • There are two objectives for behaviour: to be self-reliant and to live in harmony with society.
  • There are two objectives for psychology that support these behaviours: I have the ability and people are my comrades.
  • These objectives can be achieved by facing what Adler calls "life tasks".
  • There are three categories of interpersonal relationship: tasks of work, tasks of friendship and tasks of love. All together as "life tasks".
  • Don't Fall for the "Life-Lie"
  • The state of coming up with all manner of pretexts in order to avoid the life tasks the "life-lie".
  • One shifts one's responsibility for the situation one is currently in to someone else.
  • Freudian etiology is a "psychology of possession". Adlerian psychology, on the other hand, is a "psychology of use".

The Third Night: Discard Other People's Tasks

  • Deny the desire for recognition.
  • Do not live to satisfy the expectations of others.
  • Reward and punishment education leads people to 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."
  • 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.
  • If you are not living your life for yourself, then who is going to live it for you?
  • Seperation of Tasks: always think with the perspective of "Whose task is this?" And continually separate one's own tasks from other people's tasks.
  • One should not intrude on other people's tasks.
  • All interpersonal relationship troubles are caused by intruding on other people's tasks, or having one's own tasks intruded on.
  • A simple way to tell whose task it is: who ultimately is going to receive the result brought about by the choice that is made?
  • Remember the old saying: "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink".
  • Suppose your own child had shut himself in, what would you do? I would think: this is the child's task. But send him a message to him to the effect that i am ready to assist him whenever he is in need.
  • Suppose you have done the seperation of tasks. No matter much your boss tries to bent his unreasonable anger at you, that is not your task. The unreasonable emotions are tasks for your boss to deal with himself. You should think: What i should do is face my own tasks in my own life without lying.
  • Alexander the Great: "Destiny is not something brought about by legend, but by clearing away with one's own sword."
  • When reward is at the base of an interpersonal relationship, there's a feeling that wells up in one that says: "I gave this much, so you should give me that much back".
  • Adler says: "Children who have not been taught to confront challenges will try to avoid all challenges".
  • Desire for recognition makes you unfree.
  • When one live's ones life in such a way as to satisfy other people's expectations. One is enthrusting one's own life to them.
  • "Freedom is being disliked by other people". It is proof that you are exercising your freedom and that you are living in accordance with your own principles.

The Fourth Night: Where the Center of the World Is

  • The Goal of Interpersonal Relationships is a Feeling of Community
  • If other people are our comrades, and we live surrounded by them, we should be able to find in life our own place of "refuge".
  • This sense of others as comrades, this awareness of "having one's own refuge" is called "community feeling".
  • For Adler community is literally everything - the entire universe from the past to the future.
  • Interpersonal relations as well as being the source of all problems are also the source of happiness. Community feeling is the most important thing for making happy interpersonal relations.
  • We must make the switch from attachment to self (self-interest) to concern for others (social interest).
  • A way of living in which one is constantly troubled by how one is seen by others is a self-centered lifestyle in which one's sole concern is with the "I".
  • All of us are searching for a sense of belonging, that "it's okay to be here".
  • A sense of belonging is something that one can attain only by making an active commitment to the community of one's own accord.
  • This active commitment is facing one's life tasks.
  • One needs to think not, "What will this person give me?" but rather, "What can I give to this person?".
  • It is because one gives something that one can find one's refuge.
  • Even a guy who's unmarried, who has lost his job and his friends and just lives off the money his parents left him, still has a community. When he goes to buy a loaf of bread he pays for it with a coin. That coin not only goes to the baker, but the producers of flour and butter, to the people who delivery those ingredients and so on. It's all connected. We all "belong to the universe".
  • When we run into difficulties in our interpersonal relations we should consider the principle that says, "Listen to the voice of the larger community".
  • If unreasonable demands are being thrust on you, it is fine to object to them directly.
  • Living in fear of one's relationships falling apart is an unfree way to live, in which one is living for other people.
  • In Adlerian psychology, we take the stance that in child-rearing, and in all other forms of communicating with other people, one must not praise. Rebuking is not accepted either of couse.
  • When you receive praise it feels like one is being talked down to.
  • When one person praises another, the goal is "to manipulate someone who has less ability that you". It is not done out of gratitude of respect.
  • These reward and punishment educations are examples of "vertical relationships".
  • Adlerian psychology refutes all manner of vertical relationships and proposes that all interpersonal relationships should be horizontal relationships.
  • People are "equal but not the same".
  • If one can build horizontal relationships that are "equal but not the same" for all pepole, there will no longer be any room for inferiority complexes to emerge.
  • When someone is suffering before you it is necessary to offer assistance that does not turn into intervention.
  • Instead of praising or rebuking we should offer assistance which is based on horizontal relationships. This is referred to in Adlerian psychology as "encouragement".
  • When one is not following through with one's tasks it is not because one is without ability. But because "one has lost the courage to face one's tasks.
  • Being praised is what leads people to form the belief that they have no ability. Because giving praise is a judgement that is passed by a person of ability onto a person without ability.
  • Instead of praising or rebuking. Give words of gratitude. Say thank you to the partner who has helped you with your work.
  • The most important thing is not to judge other people.
  • "Judgement" is a word that comes out of vertical relationships.
  • When one hears words of gratitude, one knows that one has made a contribution to another person.
  • "It is only when a person is able to feel that he has worth that he can possess courage".
  • It is only when one is able to feel "I am beneficial to the community" that one can have a true sense of one's worth.
  • But how can bedridden old people feel like they are of use to anyone.
  • We must look at other people not on the "level of acts" but on the "level of being".
  • Without judging whether or not other people did something, one rejoices in their being there, in their very existence, and one calls out to them with words of gratitude.

The Fifth Night: To Live in Earnest in the Here and Now

  • Three things are need: "self-acceptance", "confidence in others" and "contribution to others".
  • Self-Acceptance: Accept "this me" just as it is. And have the courage to change what one can change.
  • "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can can; and wisdom to know the difference."
  • Confidence in others: one believes in others unconditionally without any set conditions.
  • If one believes in others without setting any conditions whatsoever, there will be times when one gets taken advantage of. The attitude of continuing to believe in someone even in such instances is what we call confidence.
  • You are not the one who decides whether or not to take advantage.
  • If you do not have the desire to make your relationship with that person better, then go ahead and sever it. Because carrying out the severing is your task.
  • The essence of work is a contribution to the common good.
  • Contribution to others: to attempt to act, in some way, on one's comrades.
  • These three are connected in a cirucular structure: It is because one accepts oneself just as one is—one self-accepts—that one can have “confidence in others” without the fear of being taken advantage of. And it is because one can place unconditional confidence in others, and feel that people are one’s comrades, that one can engage in “contribution to others.” Further, it is because one contributes to others that one can have the deep awareness that “I am of use to someone” and accept oneself just as one is.
  • Workaholism is a life-lie.
  • Workaholism is living a life "lacking in harmony". It is a way of living in which one sees only a part of things but judges the whole.
  • The feeling of “I am beneficial to the community” or “I am of use to someone” is the only thing that can give one a true awareness that one has worth.
  • Happiness is the feeling of contribution. That is the definition of happiness.
  • The desire for recognition is an easy means for gaining a feeling of contribution. But if you gain a feeling of contribution through desiring recognition then you will be forced to walk through life in accordance with other people's wishes.
  • If one really has a feeling of contribution, one will no longer have any need for recognition from others. Because one will already have the real awareness that "I am of use to someone"
  • If life were climbing a mountain in order to reach the top, then the greater part of life would end up being "en route".
  • People who think of life as being like climbing a mountain are treating their own existences as lines. Instead think of life as a series of dots.
  • It is a series of moments called "now".
  • The kind of life which tries to reach a destination maybe be termed a "kinetic (dynamic) life." The kind of dancing life is an "energeial (actual-active-state) life.
  • Ordinary motion (kinesis) has a starting point and an end point.
  • Energeial is a kind of movement in which the process itself is treated as the outcome.
  • If the goal of mountain climbing was to get to the top, that would be a kinetic act. If the goal is the mountain climbing itself, one could say it is energeial.
  • Life is a series of moments, and neither the past nor the future exists.
  • If you set objectives for the distant future, and think of now as your prepatory period. You think, I really want to do this, and I'll do it when the time comes. This is a way of living that postpones life.
  • A "here and nw" in which one is studying for an entrance examination in the distant future, is the real thing.
  • If one has adopted an energeial viewpoint, life is always complete.
  • 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.
  • When people asked "What is the meaning of life?". Ader responded: "Life in general has no meaning". "Whatever meaning life has must be assigned to it by the individual."
  • No matter what moments you are living 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 life.
  • One has no use for destinations.
  • "Someone has to start. Other people might not be cooperative, but that is not connected to you. My advice is this: You should start. With no regard to whether others are cooperative or not"