Book notes — The Courage To Be Disliked: How to free yourself, change your life and achieve real happiness, by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga

Change is easy if you want to really change

You don't commit to anything because you want to leave the possibility open of "I can do it if I can try." You don't want to expose your work (like book or blog) to criticism because you don't want to produce inferior work and face rejection.

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

'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.'

People always choose not to change

A philosopher in this book says — 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.

People fabricate anger

Anger is an instantaneous emotion. One day, a mother and daughter were quarrelling loudly. Then, suddenly, the telephone rang. 'Hello?' The mother picked up the receiver hurriedly, her voice still thick with anger. The caller was her daughter's homeroom teacher. As soon as the mother realised who was phoning, the tone of her voice changed and she became very polite. Then, for the next five minutes or so, she carried on a conversation in her best telephone voice. Once she hung up, in a moment, her expression changed again and she went straight back to yelling at her daughter.

In a word, anger is a tool that can be taken out as needed. It can be put away the moment the phone rings, and pulled out again after one hangs up. The mother isn't yelling in anger she cannot control. She is simply using the anger to overpower her daughter with a loud voice, and thereby assert her opinions.

An inferiority complex is an excuse

One tries to get rid of one's feeling of inferiority, and keep moving forward. One's never satisfied with one's present situation—even if it's just a single step, one wants to make progress. One wants to be happier. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the state of this kind of feeling of inferiority. There are, however, people who lose the courage to take a single step forward, and who cannot accept the fact that the situation can be changed by making realistic efforts. People who, before even doing anything, simply give up and say things like, 'I'm not good enough anyway,' or 'Even if I tried, I wouldn't stand a chance.'

In Adler's native German, the word is Minderwertigkeitsgefühl, which means a feeling (Gefühl) of having less (minder) worth (Wert). So, 'feeling of inferiority' is a term that has to do with one's value judgement of oneself.

Life is not competition

It's enough to just keep moving in a forward direction, without competing with anyone. And, of course, there is no need to compare oneself with others.

Interpersonal relationship

All problems are interpersonal relationship problems. This is a concept that runs to the very root of Adlerian psychology. If all interpersonal relationships were gone from this world, which is to say if one were alone in the universe and all other people were gone, all manner of problems would disappear.

To over come those problems —

  • Build horizontal relationships instead of vertical
  • Do not praise or rebuke
  • Take encouragement approach

Do not live to satisfy the expectations of others

When trying to be recognised by others, almost all people treat satisfying other people's expectations as the means to that end. And that is in accordance with the stream of thought of reward-and-punishment education that says one will be praised if one takes appropriate action. If, for example, the main point of your job turns out to be satisfying other people's expectations, then that job is going to be very hard on you. Because you'll always be worried about other people looking at you and fear their judgement, and you are repressing your 'I-ness'. It might come as a surprise to you, but almost none of my clients who come for counselling are selfish people. Rather, they are suffering trying to meet the expectations of other people, the expectations of their parents and teachers. So, in a good way, they can't behave in a self-centred fashion.

Separation of tasks

Intervening in other people's tasks and taking on other people's tasks turns one's life into something heavy and full of hardship. 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.

A philosopher goes further by saying — you are worried about other people looking at you. You are worried about being judged by other people. That is why you are constantly craving recognition from others. 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.

Cut the Gordian knot

When Alexander the Great cut the Gordian knot, there were probably those who felt the same way; that the unravelling of the knot by hand had meaning, and that it was a mistake to cut it with a sword; that Alexander had misunderstood the meaning of the oracle's words. In Adlerian psychology, there are aspects that are antithetical to normal social thinking. It denies aetiology, denies trauma and adopts teleology. It treats people's problems as interpersonal relationship problems. And the not-seeking of recognition and the separation of tasks, too, are probably antithetical to normal social thinking.

Destiny is not something brought about by legend, but by clearing away with one's own sword.


A philosopher says, suppose that I had two choices in front of me — a life in which all people like me, and a life in which there are people who dislike me — and I was told to choose one. I would choose the latter without a second thought. Before being concerned with what others think of me, I want to follow through with my own being. That is to say, I want to live in freedom.