The Courage To be Disliked Summary

By Kishimi, Ichiro, Koga, Fumitake


Context: This book is a Japanese analysis of the work of 19th-century psychologist Alfred Adler. It s a young man having a conversation with a philosopher that practices Adlerian psychology.

Finished: Aug 19, 2020

Nuggets done by Daniel Yubi

Are you ok just as you are?


You want to be Y or someone else because you are utterly focused on what you were born with. Instead, focus on what you can make of your equipment.

  • The important thing is not what one is born with but what one makes of that equipment.

Your life is decided here and now


You must make a decision to stop your current lifestyle. Earlier you said "If only I could be someone like "X", I'd be happy." That is an excuse to yourself to not change.

  • I have a friend who dreams of becoming a novelist, but who never seems to be able to complete his work. According to him, his jobs keeps him too busy, and he can never find enough time to write novels, and that's why he can't complete his work and enter it for writing awards.
  • Is it that the real reason?
  • No! It's actually that he wants to leave the possibility of "I can do it if I try' open, but not committing to anything. He doesn't want to expose his work to criticism, and he certainly doesn't want to face the reality that he might produce an inferior piece of writing and face rejection. He wants to live inside that realm of possibilities, where he can say that he could to it if he only had the time, or that he could write if he just had the proper environment. In another then years, he will probably start using other excuses, like I have a family to live now.

All Problems are Interpersonal Relationship Problems


To feel lonely, we need other people. It is only in social contexts that a person becomes an "individual".

  • Being alone isn't what makes you feel lonely. Loneliness is having other people and society and community around you, and having a deep sense of being excluded from them.
  • If one could live in the universe all alone, one's problems would go away, as all problems are interpersonal relationship problems

Feelings of inferiority are subjective assumptions


The choice to view my height as either an advantage or a disadvantage is left open to me.

Subjective feeling of inferiority vs inferiority complex

  • If there hadn't been anyone with whom to compare myself with, I wouldn't have had any occasion to think I was short.
  • The feeling you are experiencing is not objective inferiority, but a subjective feeling of inferiority. Even with an issue like height, it's all reduced to its subjectivity.
  • Therefore, you can choose a new lifestyle around the advantages you can subjectively assign. We cannot alter objective facts ("height"). But subjective interpretations can be altered as much as one likes.
  • There's a difference between having the feeling of inferiority itself, that can promote growth and direction. For example, I'm not well educated, so I'll try harder to learn than everyone else.
  • Versus having the inferiority complex, where you say I'm not well educated so I can succeed. Or I'm not good looking, so I can't get married.
    • Adler rejects "apparent cause and effect" - You convinced yourself there is a causal relationship even though there is none.
    • From a Freudian Aetiology(the attributing of causes) view, the parents' divorce was a great trauma which connects in a clear causal relationship with one's views on marriage.
    • Adler challenges this by suggesting what's known as teleology (the purpose rather than the cause), it rejects the argument of apparent cause and effect.
  • When you say: "I can't succeed because of X (not educated) then say " I don't want to succeed".
    • It is scary to make a change, and leave your hobbies and pleasures that you enjoy today.
    • Superiority Complex


A superiority complex is a defense mechanism that develops over time to help a person cope with painful feelings of inferiority.


The superiority complex occurs when a person has the need to prove that he is more superior than he truly is.

  • People with this complex often have exaggerated opinions of themselves. They may believe their abilities and achievements surpass those of others.
  • However, a superiority complex may actually be hiding low self-esteem or a sense of inferiority.
  • Examples
    • Boastful claims that aren't backed up by reality
    • Boasting achievements of the past and increase the real value of the achievement
    • Continues to recount the times where their light shine the brightest, clinged to past glory
  • "The one who boasts does so only out of a feeling of inferiority" Adler
  • Boasting is an inverted feeling of inferiority.
  • “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. One feels the need to flaunt one's superiority all the more.

The superiority-complex and the inferiority-complex are strongly connected.


This reminds me about cognitive dissonance and Leon Festinger.

  • When someone boasts their misfortunes they are asking and needing attention.
  • People that overly boast about their upbringing, the tough life they had, and how life rained down upon them. And you tried to comfort them, and they say " you don't understand how I feel".
    • They try to make themselves "special" in how their experience of misfortune.
  • People who shut themselves up in their rooms, frequently indulge in feelings of superiority so they use misfortunes to their advantage.
  • But as long they use the misfortunes to feel superior and grab the attention of others (adults, parents) the subject will always require a misfortune.

Life is not a competition

  • It is enough to just keep moving in a forward direction, without competing with anyone. And no reason to compare oneself with others.
  • You might think the feeling of inferiority comes from comparing ourselves to others but the healthy feeling of inferiority is not something that comes from comparing oneself to others but from one's comparison with one's ideal self.
  • There's no need to use the tool of anger. People say "I just snapped". We end up relying on anger to communicate.

Do not live to satisfy the expectations of others


If you are not living your life for yourself, then who is going to live it for you?

  • The desire for recognition comes from a Reward-and-punishment education. If one takes an appropriate action it receives praise. If one takes inappropriate action, one receives punishment.
  • When one seeks recognition from others, and concerns oneself only worth by being judge by others, then you are living other people's lives.

How to get rid of interpersonal relationship problems


You assume that even things that should be other people's task are your own.

  • Why are you so worried about what people think of you? Adler would say you haven't done the separation of tasks.
    • You are the only one who's worried how you look.
    • When other people think when they see your face- that is the task of the other people and is not something you have any control over.
  • Let's say you have a boss that does not like you. Is not up to you to change your boss's feelings about you.
    • First one should ask "whose task is this"?
    • Then do a separation of tasks.
    • Delineate up to what point one's own task go and form what point they become another person's tasks.
    • And do not intervene in other's people's tasks or allow even a single person to intervene in one's own tasks.

The desire for recognition makes you unfree

What Freedom really is

  • To be liked by other people is a natural desire, it is an impulse, Immanuel Kant called this inclination. Now if one were to say that living like a stone tumbling downhill and allowing such inclinations or desires or impulses to take one wherever they will is "freedom", one would be incorrect.
  • To live in such a way is only to be a slave to one's desires and impulses.
  • Real freedom is an attitude akin to pushing up one's tumbling self from below.
  • A stone is powerless. Once it has begun to roll downhill, it will continue to roll until released from the natural laws of gravity and inertia. But we are not stones.
  • We are being who are capable of resisting inclination. We can stop our tumbling sleeves and climb uphill.
  • The desire for recognition is probably natural. So, are you going to keep rolling downhill to receive recognition from others? Are you going to wear yourself down like a rolling stone?
  • In short, freedom is being disliked by other people.

Why am I only interested in Myself?

  • Self-centred people are people who are incapable of carrying out the separation of tasks and who are obsessed with the desire for recognition are also extremely self-centred.
  • Even though it appears they are looking for others, the only thing they are thinking is in themselves.
  • The lack of concern for others, and concerned solely with the I.
  • 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 a concern for others. It is nothing but attachment to self.
  • The fact that there are people who do not think well of you is proof that you are living in freedom.

You are not the centre of the world.

  • Do not cling to the small community in front of you (the school) or the job. Do not cling to the small community in front of you. There will always be more you and I and more everyone, and larger communities that exist.

Exist in the present.

  • Let's look at other people not on the "level of acts" but the level of being. Without judging whether or not other people did something, one rejoices in their being there, in their very existence.
  • A child that does very well in school, and is really good at sports. Some parents will compare their child to such an image of an ideal child (which is impossible fiction) and then be filled with complains and dissatisfaction.
  • They treat the idealised image as one hundred points, and they gradually subtract from that.
  • This is a judgment of way if thinking. Instead, the parents could refrain from comparing to anyone else, and see him for who he actually is, and be glad and grateful for his being there.
  • Instead of taking away points from some idealised image, they could start from zero and if they do that, they should be able to call out to his existence itself.

In the teachings of Judaism, one finds the following anecdote:

  • If there are ten people one will be someone who criticises 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.
  • Now, do you focus on the one person who dislikes you
  • Do you pay more attention to the two who love you?
  • or would you focus on the crowd? the other seven?
  • A person who is lacking harmony of life will see only the person he dislikes and will make a judgment of the world from that.
  • If one is lacking in the harmony of life, one will focus only on that person and end up thinking everyone is laughing at me.

You can be happy now

  • When we speak of contribution to others, it doesn't matter if the contribution is not a visible one.
  • Why? You are not the one who decides if your contributions are of use that's the task of the other people, and it is not an issue you can intervene.
  • In principle, there is not even any way you can know whether you have really contributed.
  • The only thing we need is the subjective sense that "I am of use to someone" or a feeling of contribution but you will never know if the fact is you contributed someone.
  • Happiness is the feeling of contribution, That is the definition of happiness