The Courage to Be Disliked

by Ichiro Kishimi, Fumitake Koga

Troy Shu
Troy Shu
Updated at: May 01, 2024
The Courage to Be Disliked
The Courage to Be Disliked

Explore the key insights from "The Courage to Be Disliked" and learn how to reshape your reality through self-acceptance and courageous change. Uncover Adlerian psychology's empowering approach to personal growth and healthy relationships.

What are the big ideas?

Subjective Reality Shapes Our World

The book emphasizes the concept that the world is not an objective reality but is shaped by our subjective experiences and meanings we associate with it, as illustrated by the example of differing perceptions of well water.

Change Through Self-Acceptance and Courage

It advocates for the idea that individuals have the power to change and find happiness by first accepting themselves as they are and then choosing to courageously change their lifestyles.

Adlerian Teleology Over Etiology

Adlerian psychology focuses on teleology—emphasizing the goals and purposes behind actions—over traditional etiology that explores past causes, highlighting a forward-thinking approach to understanding human behavior.

Interpersonal Relationships and Personal Tasks

This approach stresses the importance of separating one's tasks from those of others, advocating for personal responsibility and autonomy to prevent conflating personal issues with external influences.

Horizontal Relationships Foster Equality

Adlerian psychology promotes building horizontal relationships that are based on equality and mutual respect rather than hierarchical or competitive relationships, which aims to cultivate a healthier social interaction.

Living in the Moment

The text encourages living earnestly in the 'here and now' by focusing on immediate experiences and contributions to others rather than being caught up in extensive planning or future-oriented goals.

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Subjective Reality Shapes Our World

The world is not an objective, fixed reality. Rather, it is a subjective world that we each create through our own unique experiences, perceptions, and meanings. Just as the temperature of the well water feels different depending on the season, our subjective reality shapes how we see and interpret the world around us.

We do not live in a shared, universal world, but in our own personal worlds shaped by our individual perspectives. The same events, people, and environments can appear vastly different to different people. What seems complex and chaotic to one person may seem simple and clear to another, not because the world has changed, but because their inner world has shifted.

The key is to recognize that the "problem" lies not in the external world, but in our own subjective experience of it. By becoming aware of our own role in constructing our reality, we gain the power to change our perspective and see the world in a new light. The world does not have to be a "chaotic mass of contradictions" - it can be simple and understandable, if we have the courage to look at it directly, without the distorting lens of our own preconceptions.

Here are examples from the context that support the key insight that subjective reality shapes our world:

  • The philosopher explains that the world we see is not an objective reality, but a subjective world that we ourselves have given meaning to. As he states, "None of us live in an objective world, but instead in a subjective world that we ourselves have given meaning to. The world you see is different from the one I see, and it's impossible to share your world with anyone else."

  • The philosopher uses the example of well water to illustrate this point. He explains that even though the well water is objectively the same temperature, it feels cool in the summer and warm in the winter based on the person's subjective experience and the surrounding environment. As he states, "You see, to you, in that moment, the coolness or warmth of the well water is an undeniable fact. That's what it means to live in your subjective world."

  • The philosopher further emphasizes that "the issue is not about how the world is, but about how you are." He uses the analogy of seeing the world through "dark glasses" - the world appears dark, but the issue is with the glasses, not the world itself. This highlights how our subjective perspective shapes our experience of reality.

  • The philosopher states that "If you change, the world will appear more simple" - suggesting that by changing our own subjective mindset and perspective, we can alter how we perceive the world around us.

In summary, the key examples illustrate how our subjective experiences, meanings, and perspectives shape the reality we see, rather than there being an objective external world that we all share. The well water example and the "dark glasses" analogy vividly demonstrate this key insight.

Change Through Self-Acceptance and Courage

The key insight is that self-acceptance and courage are the keys to changing one's life and finding happiness. The philosopher argues that people often make excuses and avoid change because they lack the courage to accept themselves as they truly are.

True self-acceptance means acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses without judgment or self-deception. It's about recognizing that no one is perfect, and focusing on how you can improve rather than trying to convince yourself you're flawless. This honest self-assessment is the foundation for meaningful change.

Once you have self-acceptance, the next step is summoning the courage to actually change your lifestyle and behaviors. This requires overcoming the anxiety and discomfort that comes with stepping outside your comfort zone. But by tapping into your inner courage, you can break free of excuses and make the choices that will lead to greater happiness.

The key is understanding that your life is not determined by your past or circumstances - it's decided in the present moment, through the choices you make. With self-acceptance and courage, you have the power to reshape your life and become the person you want to be.

Here are the key insights and supporting examples from the context:

  • Self-Acceptance: The philosopher emphasizes that true happiness comes from a feeling of self-worth and contribution, not external recognition. As they state, "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."

  • Courage to Change: The philosopher argues that the youth's unhappiness is not due to lack of ability, but rather "lack of courage." As they explain, "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."

  • Choosing a New Lifestyle: The philosopher advises the youth to stop making excuses and make the decision to change their current lifestyle. As they state, "What you should do now is make a decision to stop your current lifestyle... Because saying 'If only I could be like Y' is an excuse to yourself for not changing."

  • Horizontal Relationships: The philosopher emphasizes the importance of building "horizontal relationships" based on mutual respect, rather than "vertical relationships" where one person judges or manipulates the other. They argue that praise and rebuke come from a place of hierarchy, whereas "encouragement" based on gratitude and respect is the path forward.

  • Awareness of Contribution: The philosopher suggests that true happiness comes from an inner awareness of one's worth and contribution to others, not external recognition. As they state, "If one really has a feeling of contribution, one will no longer have any need for recognition from others."

Adlerian Teleology Over Etiology

Adlerian psychology rejects the notion of etiology - the study of past causes - and instead embraces teleology, which focuses on the goals and purposes behind human behavior. This represents a fundamental shift away from the traditional psychological view that our present is determined by our past experiences and traumas.

According to Adlerian thought, we are not passive victims of our circumstances. Rather, we actively create the meaning and direction of our lives through the goals we set for ourselves. The past does not control us; we control how we interpret and respond to the past. This empowering perspective allows us to take responsibility for our lives and make positive changes, rather than feeling trapped by previous events.

Adler's teleological approach emphasizes our inherent ability to change and find happiness, regardless of our background or past struggles. Instead of dwelling on what has happened, Adlerian psychology encourages us to focus on where we want to go and the steps we can take to get there. This future-oriented mindset opens up new possibilities and frees us from the constraints of determinism.

By shifting the psychological paradigm from etiology to teleology, Adlerian theory revolutionizes our understanding of human behavior and potential. It challenges us to take an active role in shaping our lives, rather than passively accepting the limitations imposed by our histories. This profound insight lies at the heart of Adler's groundbreaking and influential work.

Here are examples from the context that support the key insight about Adlerian teleology over etiology:

  • The philosopher states that in Adlerian psychology, they "do not think about past 'causes' but rather about present 'goals.'" This contrasts with the traditional etiology approach that focuses on past causes.

  • The philosopher explains the concept of "teleology" - the idea that the friend's anxiety and fear are not caused by past events, but rather are symptoms he has created in order to achieve the goal of not going out. This teleological perspective differs from an etiological view that would focus on past traumas as the cause.

  • The philosopher argues that the "Freudian view of trauma" and the idea that "a person's psychic wounds (traumas) cause his or her present unhappiness" is an etiological perspective, while Adler "in denial of the trauma argument, states" that we "make out of them whatever suits our purposes" - a teleological view.

  • The philosopher states that Adlerian psychology is "a way of thinking that lay in the same vein as Greek philosophy" and the dialogues of Socrates, which focus on the process of learning and arriving at wisdom, rather than specialized knowledge - aligning with a teleological, rather than etiological, approach.

  • The philosopher emphasizes that in Adlerian psychology, people are "not controlled by the past" and that focusing on etiology leads to "nihilism and pessimism that loses hope in the world and gives up on life" - in contrast to the forward-looking, goal-oriented teleological perspective.

Interpersonal Relationships and Personal Tasks

The key insight here is the importance of separating personal tasks from the tasks of others. This approach emphasizes personal responsibility and autonomy, preventing the conflation of one's own issues with external influences.

By drawing a clear line between your tasks and the tasks of others, you avoid intervening in matters that are not your responsibility. Conversely, you also prevent others from interfering with your own objectives. This separation allows you to focus on what you can control and accomplish, rather than getting caught up in the concerns of those around you.

Maintaining this distinction is crucial for building healthy interpersonal relationships. When you are not preoccupied with others' tasks, you can devote your energy to cooperating and acting in harmony with the people in your life. This lays the foundation for the "community feeling" that Adlerian psychology values so highly.

The key is to avoid the trap of trying to control or judge others. Instead, approach relationships with an attitude of gratitude, respect, and a genuine desire to contribute. This fosters a sense of mutual benefit and belonging, rather than a hierarchical dynamic of praise and rebuke.

Here are the key insights from the context about interpersonal relationships and personal tasks:

  • Separating Tasks: The context emphasizes the importance of separating one's own tasks from the tasks of others. This allows for personal responsibility and autonomy, and prevents conflating personal issues with external influences.

  • Horizontal Relationships: The philosopher discusses the concept of "horizontal relationships" in contrast to "vertical relationships". Horizontal relationships are built on cooperation and harmony, without judgment or manipulation.

  • Encouragement vs. Praise: The philosopher argues against the use of praise, which creates a hierarchical, "vertical" relationship. Instead, he advocates for an approach of encouragement and gratitude, which fosters "horizontal" relationships.

  • Contribution and Self-Worth: A key idea is that true self-worth comes from feeling that one is "of use to someone" and can make contributions to the community, rather than from seeking recognition or praise from others.

Examples from the context:

  • The philosopher states: "I don't intervene in other people's tasks, and I draw a line so that other people won't intervene in mine."

  • When discussing praise, the philosopher explains: "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.'"

  • The philosopher contrasts "words of gratitude and respect and joy" in horizontal relationships, versus "judgment" that comes from vertical relationships.

  • The youth struggles with the idea that one's worth comes solely from feeling "of use to someone", questioning whether this negates the value of those who cannot contribute, like the elderly or disabled.

Horizontal Relationships Foster Equality

Horizontal Relationships are the foundation for healthy interpersonal connections according to Adlerian psychology. These relationships are built on the principle of equality, where people view each other as equals rather than in a hierarchical manner.

In a horizontal relationship, there is no judgment, praise, or manipulation. Instead, the focus is on mutual respect and gratitude. When someone helps you, you simply say "thank you" to express your appreciation, rather than praising them as superior. This approach fosters a sense of community and shared purpose, rather than competition or resentment.

Cultivating horizontal relationships is key to developing a strong sense of self-worth. When you feel you are making a genuine contribution to others, you gain the courage and confidence to face life's challenges. This is in contrast to the insecurity and manipulation that can arise from vertical, hierarchical relationships.

The goal in Adlerian psychology is to shift away from vertical relationships and towards horizontal ones in all aspects of life - at work, with family, and in social circles. This transformation can be challenging, but it ultimately leads to more fulfilling and egalitarian interpersonal connections.

Here are some examples from the context that support the key insight about horizontal relationships in Adlerian psychology:

  • The philosopher explains that in a hierarchical "vertical relationship", when a mother praises her child by saying "You're such a good helper!", she is unconsciously creating a power dynamic and seeing the child as beneath her. This is in contrast to the horizontal relationship where there is no judgment or manipulation.

  • The philosopher states that Adlerian psychology "refutes all manner of vertical relationships and proposes that all interpersonal relationships be horizontal relationships." This means relationships based on equality rather than hierarchy.

  • The concept of "equal but not the same" is used to illustrate the horizontal relationship, where people have different roles and workplaces but are still equal in worth. For example, a company employee and a full-time housewife.

  • The philosopher explains that in horizontal relationships, there are "words of gratitude and respect and joy" rather than judgment or praise that creates a power dynamic. Saying "thank you" conveys appreciation without hierarchy.

  • The key is cultivating a sense of community feeling or "interest in society" where people feel they can contribute and be of use to others, rather than seeking praise or fearing judgment from a perceived superior.

Living in the Moment

The key insight is to live in the present moment. Rather than getting caught up in the past or worrying about the future, focus on what you can do right now to make a positive impact. Embrace the simplicity of the present and find meaning in your everyday actions and interactions, rather than seeking grand objectives or goals.

Avoid postponing life by constantly planning for the future. Instead, engage fully with the here and now. Even if you don't have big dreams or aspirations, living earnestly in the moment can bring a sense of completeness and happiness. Shed the "life-lie" of always looking to the past or future, and courageously shine a light on the present.

This doesn't mean being reckless or hedonistic. It's about doing what you can, conscientiously and with care, in each moment. By focusing on the dance of the everyday, you can find fulfillment without getting overly serious. The meaning of your life lies not in some grand purpose, but in the simple act of being present and engaged.

Here are some examples from the context that support the key insight of living in the moment:

  • The philosopher advises the youth to "cast away the life-lie and fearlessly shine a bright spotlight on here and now." This suggests focusing on the present moment rather than invented pasts or futures.

  • The philosopher contrasts living earnestly in the "here and now" versus postponing life and passing days in "dull monotony" by thinking of the present as just a "preparatory period" for future goals.

  • The philosopher states that "life is a series of dots, a series of moments" and that if the youth can grasp this, "you will not need a story any longer." This emphasizes living in the present rather than constructing a narrative about one's life.

  • The philosopher uses the example of a father who lived earnestly in his "everyday work" without needing to achieve some grand objective. This shows how living in the moment can make one's life "a happy one."

  • The philosopher contrasts this with the youth's tendency to "set objectives for the distant future" and view the present as just a "preparatory period." This postpones truly living.

Key terms and concepts:

  • Living earnestly in the 'here and now': Focusing on immediate experiences and contributions rather than being caught up in future-oriented goals or narratives about the past.

  • Life-lie: Avoiding living in the present moment by constructing stories or plans about the past or future.

  • Horizontal relationships: Relationships built on mutual respect and encouragement, rather than vertical relationships based on judgment and manipulation.


Let's take a look at some key quotes from "The Courage to Be Disliked" that resonated with readers.

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.

Feeling inferior can be a healthy and motivating force when it stems from recognizing the gap between our current self and our ideal self. This awareness inspires us to strive for growth and improvement, rather than comparing ourselves unfavorably to others. By focusing on our own potential, we can harness this sense of inferiority to drive positive change and self-development.

Do Not Live to Satisfy the Expectations of Others

True happiness and fulfillment come from living authentically, not from trying to meet the expectations of others. When we prioritize pleasing others, we risk losing ourselves in the process. Instead, we should focus on our own values, goals, and desires, and live a life that is true to who we are. By doing so, we can find genuine purpose and contentment.

It’s that 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.

When someone dislikes you, it's a sign that you're being true to yourself and living life on your own terms. You're not conforming to others' expectations or trying to fit in; instead, you're embracing your individuality and making choices that align with your values. This kind of self-acceptance and autonomy can be uncomfortable for others, leading them to dislike or even reject you. However, it's a small price to pay for the freedom to live authentically.

Comprehension Questions

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How well do you understand the key insights in "The Courage to Be Disliked"? Find out by answering the questions below. Try to answer the question yourself before revealing the answer! Mark the questions as done once you've answered them.

1. How does our perception of the world change based on individual experiences?
2. Why might the same situation appear different to two people?
3. What impact does recognizing our subjective interpretation of the world have on our understanding of reality?
4. What happens when we change our perspective on how we view the world?
5. What does true self-acceptance involve?
6. Why is courage necessary for making life changes?
7. What is the role of self-acceptance in achieving happiness?
8. How does courage impact one’s ability to be happy according to the philosophy discussed?
9. What are the benefits of choosing to change one's lifestyle?
10. What type of psychological approach focuses on the goals and purposes behind human behavior, rather than past causes?
11. How does Adlerian psychology view the role of past experiences in determining our present?
12. Why is the teleological approach considered empowering in Adlerian psychology?
13. In what way does the teleological perspective help individuals dealing with their past?
14. How does a shift from etiology to teleology change our understanding of human potential in psychology?
15. Why is it important to differentiate your own tasks from those of others in personal and professional relationships?
16. What benefits arise from avoiding intervention in other people's tasks?
17. How does fostering horizontal relationships differ from maintaining vertical relationships?
18. What are the drawbacks of using praise in interpersonal relationships, according to Adlerian psychology?
19. How does promoting encouragement and gratitude benefit personal and professional interactions?
20. What type of relationships are emphasized in Adlerian psychology for fostering healthy interpersonal connections?
21. What are the key characteristics of horizontal relationships?
22. How does saying 'thank you' in a horizontal relationship differ from praise in a vertical relationship?
23. What is the long-term goal of shifting towards horizontal relationships in Adlerian psychology?
24. How does cultivating horizontal relationships impact an individual's sense of self-worth?
25. What does it mean to live earnestly in the 'here and now'?
26. How can focusing on the 'dance of the everyday' lead to fulfillment?
27. What is the concept of a 'life-lie' and how does it hinder living in the present?

Action Questions

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"Knowledge without application is useless," Bruce Lee said. Answer the questions below to practice applying the key insights from "The Courage to Be Disliked". Mark the questions as done once you've answered them.

1. How can you challenge your current perceptions to see a familiar situation or person in a new light?
2. How can you practice self-acceptance in your daily life to better understand your strengths and weaknesses?
3. What steps can you take to demonstrate courage in pursuing changes that lead to personal growth and happiness?
4. What future goals can you set for yourself that embrace a forward-thinking approach to personal growth and happiness?
5. How can you reinterpret a challenging past experience to focus on how it has prepared you for future successes?
6. How can you create a personal system that helps distinguish between your responsibilities and those of others to enhance focus and efficiency?
7. How can you identify and transform a vertical relationship into a horizontal one in your daily interactions?
8. What simple action can you take today to engage more deeply with your current surroundings?
9. How can you shift your focus from future anxieties to appreciating what you have in the moment?

Chapter Notes


  • Subjective vs. Objective Reality: The philosopher argues that people do not live in an objective world, but rather in a subjective world that they have given meaning to. The example of the well water illustrates how the same objective reality can be perceived differently based on one's subjective experience.

  • Ability to Change: The philosopher believes that people can change and find happiness, while the youth argues that people cannot change. This becomes a central point of debate between the two.

  • Courage to Face Reality: The philosopher suggests that the youth's perception of the world as complicated and chaotic is due to the "dark glasses" they are wearing, and that it takes courage to remove these glasses and directly confront the world.

  • Philosophical Inquiry: The youth has come to the philosopher seeking to debate and potentially disprove the philosopher's views on the simplicity of the world and the ability of people to change. This sets the stage for a deeper philosophical discussion between the two.

  • Generational Differences: The philosopher draws a parallel between the youth's current state and his own experiences as a "hot-blooded young man searching for the truth," suggesting a generational difference in perspective and approach to philosophical inquiry.

  • Anticipation of Philosophical Discourse: The philosopher expresses that he has been waiting for a visit from a young person like the youth, indicating a desire to engage in a meaningful philosophical discussion and potentially learn from the youth's perspective.

The First Night: Deny Trauma

  • Denial of Trauma: The philosopher, representing Adlerian psychology, adamantly denies the existence of trauma, arguing that people's present circumstances are not determined by past experiences, but by the meaning they choose to give to those experiences.

  • Teleology vs. Etiology: Adlerian psychology is based on the concept of "teleology," which focuses on the purpose or goal of a person's actions, rather than the "etiology" or causal factors from the past that traditional psychology emphasizes.

  • People Can Change: The core tenet of Adlerian psychology is that people have the ability to change and choose their own "lifestyle" or way of being, rather than being bound by their past or their innate personality.

  • Emotions as Tools: The philosopher argues that emotions like anger are not uncontrollable reactions, but tools that people use to achieve their goals, rather than being driven by them.

  • Self-Acceptance: The philosopher suggests that the key to change is first accepting oneself as one is, rather than wishing to be someone else, and then having the courage to choose a new lifestyle.

  • Responsibility for Unhappiness: The philosopher contends that people's unhappiness is not due to their circumstances or past, but is a choice they make, and that they have the power to choose happiness instead.

  • Dialogue as a Path to Change: The philosopher uses the Socratic method of dialogue to guide the youth towards self-discovery and the realization that he can change his lifestyle, rather than providing him with ready-made answers.

The Second Night: All Problems Are Interpersonal Relationship Problems

  • Feelings of Inferiority are Subjective Assumptions: Feelings of inferiority are not objective facts, but rather subjective interpretations based on how one values oneself in comparison to others. The value assigned to things like height, appearance, or achievements is not inherent, but rather socially constructed.

  • An Inferiority Complex is an Excuse: An inferiority complex is distinct from a healthy feeling of inferiority. While a feeling of inferiority can motivate growth and improvement, an inferiority complex is using one's perceived shortcomings as an excuse to avoid taking action and confronting life tasks.

  • Braggarts Have Feelings of Inferiority: Those who boast excessively often do so out of a deep-seated feeling of inferiority, not genuine confidence. Boasting is a way to compensate for and cover up one's insecurities.

  • Life is Not a Competition: Viewing life as a competition against others leads to an adversarial mindset where everyone is seen as a potential threat or enemy. This prevents one from forming genuine, supportive relationships.

  • Admitting Fault is Not Defeat: The desire to "win" arguments and avoid admitting mistakes stems from a competitive mindset. Acknowledging one's faults is not a sign of weakness, but an opportunity for growth and improved relationships.

  • Life Tasks: Adlerian psychology identifies three key "life tasks" that all people must confront: work, friendship, and love/family. Avoiding these tasks through an "inferiority complex" or "life-lie" prevents personal growth and healthy relationships.

  • From Psychology of Possession to Psychology of Practice: Adlerian psychology is a "psychology of use" focused on how one chooses to utilize their abilities, rather than a "psychology of possession" that views one as determined by their innate traits or past experiences.

The Third Night: Discard Other People’s Tasks

  • Separation of Tasks: The core idea in Adlerian psychology that one should clearly delineate one's own tasks from other people's tasks, and not intervene in other people's tasks or allow others to intervene in one's own tasks. This is crucial for achieving freedom and resolving interpersonal relationship problems.

  • Desire for Recognition: The universal human desire to be recognized and approved by others. This desire can lead to a life of constantly trying to satisfy other people's expectations, which is an unfree way of living.

  • Etiology vs. Teleology: Etiology is the Freudian approach of looking at problems in terms of their causes, while teleology is the Adlerian approach of looking at problems in terms of the goals or purposes behind them. Adlerian psychology favors the teleological approach.

  • Courage to be Disliked: True freedom requires the courage to be disliked by others, as one cannot please everyone and still maintain one's own principles and way of living.

  • Holding the Interpersonal Relationship Cards: Contrary to common belief, the individual holds the cards in interpersonal relationships, not the other person. One can choose to repair a relationship, regardless of the other person's attitude.

  • Manipulation vs. Change: Changing oneself is not a means of manipulating others. When one changes, the other person may change as well, but that is not the goal. The goal is simply to change oneself.

  • Reward-Oriented Thinking: Seeking recognition and approval from others is a form of reward-oriented thinking, which is different from the separation of tasks and living according to one's own principles.

  • Parents and Children: Parents often intervene in their children's tasks out of a sense of responsibility, but this can rob the children of the opportunity to learn and grow. The separation of tasks is applicable even in parent-child relationships.

The Fourth Night: Where the Center of the World Is

  • Holistic View of the Human Being: Adlerian psychology views the human being as an "indivisible" whole, where the mind and body, reason and emotion, and the conscious and unconscious are not separate but interconnected. This holistic perspective is referred to as "holism."

  • Separation of Tasks and Interpersonal Relations: The separation of tasks is a way to unravel the complex entanglement of interpersonal relations, not a means of isolating oneself from others. It is the starting point for building healthy interpersonal relationships.

  • Community Feeling and Social Interest: The ultimate goal of interpersonal relations in Adlerian psychology is the development of "community feeling" or "social interest" - a sense of belonging and desire to contribute to the community, which extends beyond one's immediate social circles to encompass all of humanity and the universe.

  • Vertical vs. Horizontal Relationships: Adlerian psychology emphasizes the importance of building "horizontal relationships" of equality and mutual respect, rather than "vertical relationships" based on hierarchy, judgment, and manipulation.

  • Praise, Rebuke, and Encouragement: Adlerian psychology rejects the use of praise and rebuke, as these are rooted in vertical relationships and a desire to manipulate others. Instead, it advocates the "encouragement" approach, which involves expressing gratitude and appreciation without judgment.

  • Sense of Worth and Contribution: In Adlerian psychology, a person's sense of worth comes not from being judged as "good" by others, but from the awareness that they are contributing to and benefiting the community through their very existence and actions, no matter how small.

  • Responsibility and Assertiveness: Adlerian psychology emphasizes the importance of taking responsibility for one's actions and asserting one's views, even in the face of hierarchical structures or the expectations of others. This is seen as a key aspect of building horizontal relationships.

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

  • Self-Acceptance: Accepting one's irreplaceable "this me" just as it is, without the need for self-affirmation or trying to be "special." This involves acknowledging one's strengths and weaknesses, and focusing on what one can change rather than what one cannot.

  • Confidence in Others: Placing unconditional confidence in others, without the need for conditions or security. This is about believing in others and seeing them as comrades, rather than doubting them and seeing them as enemies.

  • Contribution to Others: Contributing to others is not about self-sacrifice, but about feeling that one's existence and behavior are beneficial to the community. This provides a sense of worth and belonging.

  • Harmony of Life: Avoiding the tendency to focus on a single aspect of life (e.g., work) and neglecting other important areas (e.g., family, hobbies). Living a balanced, harmonious life is key.

  • Life as a Series of Moments: Life should not be viewed as a linear path with a destination, but as a series of moments to be lived earnestly in the here and now. There is no need for extensive life planning or goal-setting.

  • Courage to be Normal: Rejecting the need to be "special" or superior, and having the courage to embrace one's "normal" self. Normality is not something to be ashamed of or to overcome.

  • Meaning in Life: While life in general may seem meaningless, individuals can assign their own meaning to their lives through contribution to others. This provides a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

  • Power of Individual Change: The belief that if "I" change, the world will change. Each person has the power to transform their own perspective and, in turn, their environment.


  • Encounter with Adlerian Psychology: The author, as a youth in his 20s, encountered Ichiro Kishimi's "Introduction to Adlerian Psychology" in a bookshop in Ikebukuro, Japan in 1999. This book completely altered his worldview, leading him to become deeply engrossed in Adlerian psychology.

  • Adlerian Psychology as Philosophy: The author realized that the Adlerian psychology conveyed by Kishimi was not just a psychological theory, but a form of philosophical thought, drawing inspiration from ancient Greek philosophers like Socrates, Plato, Nietzsche, Husserl, and Heidegger.

  • Lack of Awareness of Adlerian Psychology: The author noted that there was almost no one around him who had heard of Adlerian psychology, leading him to want to create a definitive edition of Adlerian psychology (Kishimi-Adler studies) with Kishimi.

  • Dialogue Format: The book adopts a dialogue format between a philosopher and a young man to focus on any doubts the reader might have about Adler's ideas, which can sometimes seem obvious or idealistic.

  • Transformative Power of Adlerian Ideas: The author states that Adler's ideas have the power to completely change a person's life, just as they did for him over a decade ago, but it requires the courage to take a step forward.

  • Adlerian Psychology and Philosophy: The author realized that Adlerian psychology and philosophy are closely intertwined, with Adler's ideas having roots in ancient Greek philosophy, particularly the dialogues of Socrates and Plato.

  • Adlerian Psychology as Practical Philosophy: The author wanted to engage in dialogues in the Socratic tradition and practice counseling, as he felt dissatisfied with the way of living of researchers who only read and interpret the writings of their predecessors.

  • Adlerian Psychology for Interpersonal Relationships: Adler's view that "all problems are interpersonal relationship problems" is particularly relevant for young people who struggle to live sincerely and build good interpersonal relationships.

  • Kishimi as a "Plato for Adler: The author sees his collaborator, Fumitake Koga, as a "Plato for Kishimi," just as Plato was for Socrates, in conveying Adler's ideas through their dialogues.

  • Adlerian Psychology as Accessible Philosophy: Like Plato's dialogues, Adler's ideas are conveyed in simple language, making philosophy accessible to the general reader, rather than being limited to specialists.


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