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The Courage To Be Disliked

🔖How would I describe this book in 1 sentence?

Life-breathing and inspirational philosophy for those who feel lost.

🗺️What was the role of this book in my journey?

I came across this book pretty randomly and I am happy I did. I swallowed it almost instantly. The concepts in this book are stupidly simple, yet, they give a different perspective on things from what I used to have. Most noticeably, my attitude to interpersonal conflicts and responsibilities changed, as these are the practical things I could start applying the concepts to. But there are other subjects that the book offers great answers to, such as self-awareness problems and children's education.

This book served as a great foundation of forming my Attitude To Self and Attitude To People Around

I started promoting philosophies from the book to the people around me and so far received only positive feedback.

💡Key Insights

  1. That is not because the world is complicated. It’s because you are making the world complicated.
  2. None of us live in an objective world, but instead in a subjective world that we ourselves have given meaning to.
  3. At present, the world seems complicated and mysterious to you, but if you change, the world will appear more simple. The issue is not about how the world is, but about how you are.
  4. It is a common misbelief that our past experiences have a huge impact on our future behavior. As though a childhood trauma shapes the person's life forever. In reality, this type of deterministic thinking is for the birds. We’re actually free to do whatever we want. We don’t have to be defined by trauma.
  5. If we focus only on past causes and try to explain things solely through cause and effect, we end up with “determinisim”. Because what this says is that our present and our future have already been decided by past occurrences, and are unalterable. In reality, we determine our own lives according to the meaning we give to those past experiences.
  6. We do not suffer from the shock of our experiences — the so-called trauma — but instead, we make out of them whatever suits our purpose. We are not determined by our experiences, but the meaning we give them is self-determining.
  7. We are ruled by our vision of the world. People’s moods are not fixed by some deep-set constitution. Rather, they are articulations of their individual outlooks on the world. Think of all the people that you know who talk a lot about their unhappiness, and how they want their lives to be different. You might get the impression that they do want to change, but actually the reverse is true. If they really wanted things to be different, they would have done something about it already. They might detest their current situations, but at least there is a familiar comfort to knowing what they’re dealing with. Change, on the other hand, requires courage. You have to ready yourself for the unknown, and of course, the possibility that you might fail.
  8. Self-hatred based on perceived imperfections is just a strategy for pulling back from others. People who retreat into themselves often do so because they don’t want to be hurt by others. The irony is that by distancing themselves, they often come across as aloof and arrogant. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You have to accept that pain and exclusion are as much a part of life as joy and inclusion. Those that choose to retreat as some sort of tactic will solve nothing: they’ve created the wrong solution for a problem that they have ultimately misidentified
  9. We are not controlled by emotion. Why the mother raging onto her young daughter can pick up the phone call and speak in her normal voice? 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 can’t control. She is simply using the anger to overpower her daughter with a loud voice and thereby assert her opinions.
  10. Life is decided Here and Now. 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.
  11. All problems are interpersonal relationship problems. People worry about their appearance (height, weight, etc.) only because other people exist that can pay attention to it. In addition, people give value to things that would not have any value without other people existing. For example, the value given to a one dollar bill is not an objectively attributed value, though that might be a commonsense approach. If one considers its actual cost as printed material, the value is nowhere near a dollar. If I were the only person in this world and no one else existed, I’d probably be putting those one dollar bills in my fireplace in wintertime. Maybe I’d be using them to blow my nose. Following the exact same logic, there should have been no reason at all of me to worry about my appearance.
  12. Life is not a Competition. The pursuit of superiority — ones’ trying to be a more superior being — is a universal desire, but the pursuit is the mindset of taking a single step forward on one’s own feet, not the mindset of competition of the sort that necessitates aiming to be greater than other people. 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. It does not matter if one is trying to walk in front of others or walk behind them. It is as if we are moving through a flat space that has no vertical axis. Competitive societies are destructive, so just remember that you shouldn’t let external worries get in your way. Competitive mindsets are exceptionally harmful to mental well-being. A competitive outlook encourages us to think of people as either winners or losers. And of course, nobody wants to be a loser. Consequently, the tendency is that we start seeing our fellow humans as rivals, as threats and impediments to success. Needless to say, living in a world packed with rivals is highly stressful
  13. Compare yourself only to the past self, not the others. The healthy competition is when you are competing with your past self. That is when you can really achieve greatness and feeling of accomplishment.
  14. You’re the only one who’s worried how you look.
  15. 2 objectives of human behavior: 1) be self-reliant 2) to live in harmony of society. 2 consciousnesses that support these behaviors: 1) I have the ability 2) people are my comrades. Life tasks in which these objectives can be achieved: 1) Tasks of work. 2) Tasks of friendship 3) Tasks of love
  16. Separation of "Tasks". We need to think with the perspective of “Whose task is this?” and continually separate one’s own tasks from other people’s tasks. One does not intrude on 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. The act of believing is also a 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. 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 — learn the boundary. “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.
  17. 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 beings who are capable of resisting inclination. We can stop our tumbling selves and climb uphill. The desire for recognition is probably a natural desire. So you are going to keep rolling downhill in order to receive recognition from others? Are you going to wear yourself down like a rolling stone, until everything is smoothed away? When all that is left is a little round ball, would that be “the real I”? It cannot be.
  18. If you are not living your life for yourself, then who is going to live it for you? You are living only your own life.
  19. Carrots and Sticks do not work. There is a risk to the dynamic of seeking approval. Just think of our education culture. It’s almost entirely based on ideas of reward and punishment. Ever since we were very young, we were taught that if we did something well we would be rewarded. Equally, if we did something wrong, we would be punished. It's actually a very destructive way of thinking. It means we might find it difficult to motivate ourselves as adults, unless under duress or with the promise of the reward of recognition. You don’t need recognition or approval from others.
  20. In short, “freedom is being disliked by other people”. If you are disliked by someone - 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. 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 that one is disliked by other people. The moment we realize that nobody cares about our appearance, our life choices, or anything at all, then we can learn to accept freedom. After that, nothing can hold you back from doing what you really want, other than your own attitude
  21. My father hit me that time, and that is why our relationship went bad, is a Freudian etiological way of thinking. The Adlerian teleology position completely reverses the cause-and-effect interpretation. 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 change the goal, that fixes everything.
  22. Interpersonal relationship cards. Many people think that the interpersonal cards are held by the other person. That is why they wonder, How does that person feel about me? and end up living in such a way as to satisfy the wishes of other people. But if they can grasp the separation of tasks, they will notice that they are holding all cards. This is a new way of thinking. "When one is tied to the desire for recognition, the interpersonal relationship cards will always stay in the hands of other people."
  23. Self-affirmation is making suggestions to oneself, such as “I can do it” or “I am strong”, even when something is simply beyond one’s ability. It is a notion that can bring about a superiority complex and may even be termed a way of living in which one lies to oneself. With self-acceptance, if you 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 60%, by you tell yourself, I just happened to get unlucky this time around, and the real me is 100%. That is self-affirmation. By contrast, if one accepts oneself as one is, as 60%, and thinks to oneself, How should I go about getting closer to 100%? — that is self-acceptance.
  24. The basis or interpersonal relations is founded not on trust but on confidence. It is doing without any set conditions whatsoever when believing in others. Even if one does not have sufficient objective grounds for trusting someone, one believes. One believes unconditionally without concerning oneself with such things as security. That is confidence.
  25. Labor is not a means of earning money. It is through labor 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.
  26. Happiness is the feeling of contribution. The reason people seek recognition is that they want to like themselves. They want to feel that they have worth. In order to feel that, they want a feeling of contribution that tells them “I am of use to someone.” And they seek recognition from others as an easy means for gaining that feeling of contribution.
  27. 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. You set objectives for the distant future and think of now as your preparatory 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. 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 of here and now as just a preparatory period, as a time of patience.
  28. Meaning of Life. Life in general has no meaning. When confronted by the fact of children dying in the turmoil of war, there is no way one can go on about the meaning of life. In other words, there is no meaning in using generalizations to talk about life. Whatever meaning life has must be assigned to it by the individual. Why are you lost in life? You are lost because you are trying to choose freedom, that is to say, a path on which you are not afraid of being disliked by others and you are not living others’ lives — a path that is yours alone.

🦅Key Principles

  1. Control your emotions.
  2. Do not let your past experiences undermine or discourage you
  3. Live in the moment: here and now
  4. Do not engage in power struggles
  5. Life is not a competition
  6. Compare yourself only to the past self, not the others
  7. Don't be afraid to admit your mistakes
  8. Do not restrict your beloved partner
  9. Do not intrude in other peoples' "tasks". Know where is your task and where is not.
  10. Make it clear to people where are their areas of responsibility. Offer your help, but expect them to find the solution to the task/problem on their own
  11. You are not the center of the world
  12. Perceive relationships as horizontal, not vertical
  13. Limit yourself from giving the words of praise or rebuke. Simply say "Thank you" instead
  14. Do not judge people
  15. Accept your normal self
  16. Life is a series of moments
  17. Don’t try to fulfill the expectations of others. Live your own life

✍️Notes

  1. We tend to believe our past determines the future, but, in reality, we are always able to change
  2. We always choose what to do. We always have a freedom to change.
  3. People choose their own specific outlooks on life and are resistant to thinking otherwise.
  4. It’s best not to meddle in others’ lives; there are other ways to interact. Meddling in other people’s lives gets you nowhere. That’s because each and every one of us has to learn to take responsibility for our own actions in life. If a parent starts pushing a child to work harder in school, the child’s not going to learn to love studying. He’s just going to feel obliged to follow a routine. What parents should actually do is allow children their freedom but also demonstrate that they are always there to lend support. This sort of parenting will result in children who are more independent and mature, but who will come to love learning
  5. We’re all part of one big global community, so don’t inflate your ego as if you’re somehow bigger than that. It’s quite natural for people to see themselves as the main protagonist in their own lives. The problems emerge when we draw the false conclusion that we’re even bigger than that. If we do start thinking that we’re the grand high admiral of the cosmic expanse then inevitably we’ll interact with people only thinking in terms of what they can give or do for us. There’s no reciprocity. Attitudes like that will only lead to frustration, as nobody is actually that important; an ego that big can never be sated!
  6. Don’t think in terms of what the world can give to you. Expectations like that will get you nowhere. Think about what you can give to the world.
  7. Self-obsession results in a loss of perspective, leading to issues like becoming a workaholic. Work is one way that people get respect and attention in our society. So if people are putting work above family and friends that means they’d much rather have affirmation of their own abilities than engage with others. It’s actually pretty selfish
  8. If we want to achieve happiness, then we have to make some subtle changes in our way of thinking. First off, we need to become more independent, reduce competition and worry less about others’ approval. Conversely, we need to learn not to place ourselves at the center of everything, think about how we can contribute to the community at large, and stop selfishly self-obsessing
  9. You shouldn’t feel like you’re stuck being who you are. In fact, People can change and develop as much as they like. However, that can mean getting hurt and disappointed in the process. Success and enjoying life is not beyond reach. By learning not to care what other people think or about what they want us to do, and by focusing on our contribution to the global community, we can find fulfillment.

How to Separate Tasks

Do not behave without regard for others.

To understand this, it is necessary to understand the idea in Adlerian psychology known as “separation of tasks.”

We need to think with the perspective of “Whose task is this?” and continually separate one’s own tasks from other people’s tasks. One does not intrude on 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?

Adlerian psychology does not recommend the noninterference approach.

Noninterference is the attitude of not knowing, and not even being interested in knowing that the child is doing. Instead, it is by knowing what the child is doing that one protects him. If it’s studying that is the issue, one tells the child that is his task, and one lets him know that one is ready to assist him whenever he has the urge to study. But one must not intrude on the child’s task. When no requests are being made, it does not do to meddle in things.

The act of believing is also a 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.

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 — learn the boundary

“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.

All you can do with regard to your own life is choose the best path that you believe in. On the other hand, what kind of judgement do other people pass on that choice? That is the task of other people, and is not a matter you can do anything about.

One can build good relationships. The separation of tasks is not the objective for interpersonal relationships. Rather, it is the gateway.

The three life tasks are work, friendship and love.

Horizontal Relationships

Generally speaking, there are two approaches: praise and rebuke.

In the act of praise, there is the aspect of it being “the passing of judgment by a person of ability on a person of no ability”. By saying things like “Good job!”, “You’re such a good helper!” a mother is unconsciously creating a hierarchical relationship and seeing the child as beneath her. An animal training example has the same vertical relationship. When one praises another, the goal is “to manipulate someone who has less ability than you.” It is not done out of gratitude or respect.

Whether we praise or rebuke the background goal is manipulation.

Because one perceives the situation as vertical, and one sees the other party as beneath one, that one intervenes. Through intervention, one tries to lead the other party in the desired direction.

Intervention is this kind of intruding on other people’s tasks and directing them by saying things like “You have to study” or “Get into that uni.”

Assitance, on the other hand, presupposes the separation of tasks and horizontal relationships. 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 his tasks on his own.

One assists someone to solve the task with their own efforts:

It’s the approach of “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”

This kind of assistance is based on horizontal relationships, it is referred to in Adlerian psychology as “encouragement.”

When one is not following through on one’s task it’s not because they are without ability, but simply that “one has lost the courage to face one’s task.”

The more one is praised by another person, the more one forms the belief that one has no ability. Because giving praise is a judgment that is passed by a person of ability onto a person without ability.

When receiving praise becomes one’s goal, one is choosing a way of living that is in line with another person’ system of values.

For “encouragement” you convey words of gratitude, saying “thank you”, “I’m glad” or “that was a big help”.

The most important thing is not to judge people. “Judgment” is a word that comes out of vertical relationships. If one is building horizontal relationships, there will be words of more straightforward gratitude and respect and joy.

“Thank you” rather than being judgment, is a clear expression of gratitude. When one hears words of gratitude, one knows that one has made a contribution to another person.

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.

You can contribute in two ways “level of acts” but also on “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.

If you consider things at the level of being, we are of use to others and have worth just by being here.

You set objectives for the distant future, and think fo now as your preparatory 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. 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 of here and now as just a preparatory period, as a time of patience.

Life is always simple, not something that one needs to get too serious about. If one is living each moment earnestly, there is no need to get too serious.

When one adopts this 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.