Raad Ahmed
November 30, 2021

📖 Book Brief: The Courage to Be Disliked

“Book Brief” is a paid-subscribers only series where I share my notes on inspiring ideas from books I read.

The Courage to Be Disliked: The Japanese Phenomenon That Shows You How to Change Your Life and Achieve Real Happiness - by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga

ISBN: 176063073X

Length: 288 pages

Date read: February 5, 2020

Format: Kindle

How strongly I recommend it: 5/5

Published: 2013

Go to the Amazon Page for details and reviews.

My Notes & Highlights


Your friend had the goal of not going out beforehand, and he’s been manufacturing a state of anxiety and fear as a means to achieve that goal. In Adlerian psychology, this is called “teleology.”

“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.”*

We determine our own lives according to the meaning we give to those past experiences. Your life is not something that someone gives you, but something you choose yourself, and you are the one who decides how you live.

The goal of shouting came before anything else. That is to say, by shouting, you wanted to make the waiter submit to you and listen to what you had to say. As a means to do that, you fabricated the emotion of anger.

Regardless of what may have happened in the past, it is the meaning that is attributed to it that determines the way someone’s present will be.

“People are not driven by past causes but move toward goals that they themselves set”.

“The important thing is not what one is born with but what use one makes of that equipment.”

Meaning: You want to be someone else because you are utterly focused on what you were born with. Instead, you’ve got to focus on what you can make of your equipment.

But you are unhappy now because you yourself chose being unhappy. Not because you were born under an unlucky star.


Lifestyle is the tendencies of thought and action in life.

But what you do with it from here on is your responsibility. Whether you go on choosing the lifestyle you’ve had up till now, or you choose a new lifestyle altogether, it’s entirely up to you.

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.

It’s actually that he wants to leave the possibility of “I can do it if I try” open, by 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.

In another five or ten years, he will probably start using other excuses like “I’m not young anymore” or “I’ve got a family to think about now.”

If he did, he might grow, or discover that he should pursue something different.

Having simple tasks—things that should be done—while continually coming up with various reasons why one can’t do them sounds like a hard way to live, doesn’t it?

it is clearly the “I,” or the “self,” that is making life complicated and too difficult to live happily.

“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.

But as long as she has a fear of blushing, she can go on thinking, I can’t be with him because I have this fear of blushing. It could end without her ever working up the courage to confess her feelings to him, and she could convince herself that he would reject her anyway. And finally, she can live in the possibility that If only my fear of blushing had gotten better, I could have . . .

Students preparing for their exams think, If I pass, life will be rosy. Company workers think, If I get transferred, everything will go well. But even when those wishes are fulfilled, in many cases nothing about their situations changes at all.


You’re afraid of being treated disparagingly, being refused, and sustaining deep mental wounds. You think that instead of getting entangled in such situations, it would be better if you just didn’t have relations with anyone in the first place. In other words, your goal is to not get hurt in your relationships with other people.

“To get rid of one’s problems, all one can do is live in the universe all alone.” But one can’t do such a thing.

Loneliness is having other people and society and community around you, and having a deep sense of being excluded from them. To feel lonely, we need other people.

“All problems are interpersonal relationship problems.”

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

Because if there hadn’t been anyone with whom to compare myself, I wouldn’t have had any occasion to think I was short.

value is something that’s based on a social context.

One holds up various ideals or goals and heads toward them. However, on not being able to reach one’s ideals, one harbors a sense of being lesser.

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, 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.”

At base, “complex” refers to an abnormal mental state made up of a complicated group of emotions and ideas, and has nothing to do with the feeling of inferiority.

I’m not well educated, so I can’t succeed, or I’m not good-looking, so I can’t get married. When someone is insisting on the logic of “A is the situation, so B cannot be done” in such a way in everyday life, that is not something that fits in the feeling of inferiority category. It is an inferiority complex.

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.

you’re not equipped with the courage to change your lifestyle. It’s easier with things just as they are now, even if you have some complaints or limitations.

The healthiest way is to try to compensate through striving and growth.

people who wear rings with rubies and emeralds on all their fingers as having issues with feelings of inferiority, rather than issues of aesthetic sensibility. In other words, they have signs of a superiority complex.

those who make themselves look bigger on borrowed power are essentially living according to other people’s value systems—they are living other people’s lives.

PHILOSOPHER: Ah, but you are wrong. Those who go so far as to boast about things out loud actually have no confidence in themselves. As Adler clearly indicates, “The one who boasts does so only out of a 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.

There’s the fear that if one doesn’t do that, not a single person will accept one “the way I am.”

The pursuit of superiority is the mind-set of taking a single step forward on one’s own feet, not the mind-set 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.

Anger as an expression of a personal grudge is nothing but a tool for making others submit to you.

He wants to win. He wants to prove his power by winning.

when one is challenged to a power struggle, one must never allow oneself to be taken in.

When you are challenged to a fight, and you sense that it is a power struggle, step down from the conflict as soon as possible. Do not answer his action with a reaction.

Irascible people do not have short tempers—it is only that they do not know that there are effective communication tools other than anger.

The moment one is convinced that “I am right” in an interpersonal relationship, one has already stepped into a power struggle.

If you think you are right, regardless of what other people’s opinions might be, the matter should be closed then and there.

Because of one’s mind-set of not wanting to lose, one is unable to admit one’s mistake, the result being that one ends up choosing the wrong path.

The pursuit of superiority is not something that is carried out through competition with other people.

It’s only when we take away the lenses of competition and winning and losing that we can begin to correct and change ourselves.

Adlerian psychology is a psychology for changing oneself, not a psychology for changing others. Instead of waiting for others to change or waiting for the situation to change, you take the first step forward yourself.

One is running away from one’s life tasks by saying that everything is the fault of other people, or the fault of one’s environment.

One lies to oneself, and one lies to the people around one, too.


“It’s not what one is born with but what use one makes of that equipment.”

Dostoevsky: “Money is coined freedom.”

If one takes appropriate action, one receives praise. If one takes inappropriate action, one receives punishment.

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.

Wishing so hard to be recognized 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.

If you are not living to satisfy other people’s expectations, it follows that other people are not living to satisfy your expectations.

Because you’ll always be worried about other people looking at you and fear their judgment, and you are repressing your “I-ness.”

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.

“It’s for your own good.” But they are clearly doing so in order to fulfill their own goals, which could be their appearance in the eyes of society, their need to put on airs, or their desire for control, for example.

Forcing change while ignoring the person’s intentions will only lead to an intense reaction.

If you are leading a life of worry and suffering—which stems from interpersonal relationships—learn the boundary of “From here on, that is not my task.” And discard other people’s tasks.

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 judgment do other people pass on that choice? That is the task of other people, and is not a matter you can do anything about.


You think, I’ve got that boss, so I can’t work. This is complete etiology. But it’s really, I don’t want to work, so I’ll create an awful boss, or I don’t want to acknowledge my incapable self, so I’ll create an awful boss.

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.

Lend a hand when needed but not encroach on the person’s territory.

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.” We must not seek reward, and we must not be tied to it.


“freedom is being disliked by other people.”

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.

Unless one is unconcerned by other people’s judgments, has no fear of being disliked by other people, and pays the cost that one might never be recognized, one will never be able to follow through in.

How much do others pay attention to you, and what is their judgment of you? That is to say, how much do they satisfy your desire? You want to be thought well of by others, and that is why you worry about the way they look at you.

Being praised essentially means that one is receiving judgment from another person as “good.” And the measure of what is good or bad about that act is that person’s yardstick. If receiving praise is what one is after, one will have no choice but to adapt to that person’s yardstick and put the brakes on one’s own freedom.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

Does one accept oneself on the level of acts, or on the level of being? those who can accept themselves only on the level of acts are severely damaged.


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,” without needing to go out of one’s way to be acknowledged by others.

It doesn’t matter if the contribution one makes at such a time is without any visible form.

Why is it necessary to be special? Probably because one cannot accept one’s normal self.


Do not treat it as a line. Think of life as a series of dots.

life is a series of moments.

It is enough if one finds fulfillment in the here and now one is dancing. With dance, it is the dancing itself that is the goal, and no one is concerned with arriving somewhere by doing it.

movement in which the process itself is treated as the outcome.

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.

Unable to communicate out of fear of hurting other people even when one has something to assert, one may end up abandoning what one really wants to do.