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Review: The Courage to Be Disliked

Sometimes as I scroll through social media, I wonder how on earth the algorithms thought I would be interested in a particular ad. When I saw the title of this book in my news feed, however, I stopped in my tracks. I’m a recovering people-pleaser. It’s a trait that manifests in many good ways- caring for others, working hard, pursuing excellence- but that at its worst leaves you feeling anxious and frustrated. With a title like this, and that seemed to address my fascination with the psychology of fear, I ordered it and started reading right away.

It was completely different than what I expected. I envisioned a traditional message of self-improvement and encouragement. This is over 260 pages of a dialogue between a philosopher and a youth, which can be tough to digest despite the meaningful points along the way.

I tend to prefer the practical over the theoretical (ENTJ right here for those Myers-Briggs fans!), so I was a bit disappointed that this didn’t include more examples that could carry into my everyday life. I should also give the disclaimer that while I love nonfiction that helps me work on myself, psychology and philosophy have never been among my personal interests (and may have been among my lower grades in college!). If contrasting the philosophies of Freud, Jung, and Adler doesn’t sound at least palatable, you may want to read elsewhere.

That being said, it was still a worthwhile book, just different. I didn’t know that Adler’s views on the world were so in line with my own. Perhaps that’s why I enjoyed the book, because it reflected back to feelings I sensed but hadn’t articulated. There were several times I identified my own tendencies and could clearly see how the recommendations were challenging my perspective. Here are a few of my favorite points:

  • “No experience is in itself a cause of our success or failure. We are not determined by our experiences, but the meaning we give them is self-determining.”

  • “The people of the world aren’t paying attention to you.”

  • “Admitting mistakes, conveying words of apology, and stepping from power struggles- none of these things is defeat. The pursuit of superiority is not something that is carried out through competition with other people.”

  • “If the main point of your job turns out to be satisfying other people’s expectations, 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.’”

  • “What should one do to not be disliked by anyone? There is only one answer; It is to constantly gauge other people’s feelings while swearing loyalty to all of them.”

  • “Freedom is being disliked by other people. 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.”

  • “It is only when a person is able to feel that he has worth that he can possess courage.”

Do any of these quotes resonate with you?

There’s a lot more to dig into here than I could capture with this post, especially topics of boundaries, mindfulness, and perspective. It might not be one of the most readily applicable books I’ve read, but the principles were still valuable and I’d recommend it to anyone who struggles with prioritizing others’ opinions over their own well-being.

What books do you recommend for overcoming other people’s opinions and getting out of your own head?

Overall score: 3/5

Amazon Listing here:

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