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The Courage to Be Disliked
By Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga
In my time spent being still this winter, I've been deeply reflecting on my beliefs, habits, flaws, traumas. I've been working on courage, and on unlearning some of the internalized beliefs about myself and my capabilities that have prevented me from being more courageous in my life. I've done really well for myself and yet my instinct to appease, avoid confrontation, and be liked have been pretty limiting in ways that may not be obvious from the outside. Now that I'm aware of these patterns, sometimes I find I'm a little too close to the other end of the spectrum so I'm being mindful about finding the balance, and remaining compassionate and patient towards others in the process.
It's not easy but I feel the urgency of mastering self-love, self-forgiveness, and independence of others' expectations and needs.
Reminder: one can't be good for the world (community feeling), unless one can be good to oneself—and that requires setting boundaries, speaking up, limiting comparison, and being brave.
"Philosopher: But if you change your lifestyle—the way of giving meaning to the world and yourself—then both your way of interacting with the world and your behavior will have to change as well. Do not forget this point: One will have to change. You, just as you are, have to choose your lifestyle." (p. 38)
"Philosopher: Admitting is a good attitude. But don't forget, it's basically impossible to not get hurt in your relations with other people. When you enter into interpersonal relationships, it is inevitable that to a greater or lesser extent you will get hurt, and you will hurt someone, too. Adler says, "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." (p. 51)
"Philosopher: Think about it this way. When we refer to the pursuit of superiority, there's a tendency to think of it as the desire to try to be superior to other people; to climb higher, even if it means kicking others down—you know, the image of ascending a stairway and pushing people out of the way to get to the top. Adler does not uphold such attitudes, of course. Rather, he's saying that on the same level playing field, there are people who are moving forward, and there are people who are moving forward behind them. Keep that image in mind. Though the distance covered and the speed of walking differ, everyone is walking equally in the same flat place. 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." (pp. 72-3)
"Philosopher: Does one choose recognition from others, or does one choose a path of freedom without recognition? It's an important question—let's think about it together. To live one's life trying to gauge other people's feelings and being worried about how they look at you. To live in such a way that others' wishes are granted. There may indeed be signposts to guide you this way, but it is a very unfree way to live. Now, why are you choosing such an unfree way to live? You are using the term "desire for recognition," but what you are really saying is that you don't want to be disliked by anyone." (p. 140)
"Philosopher: One neither prepares to be self-righteous nor becomes defiant. One just separates tasks. There may be a person who does not think well of you, but that is not your task. And again, thinking things like He should like me or I've done all this, so it's strange that he doesn't like me, is the reward-oriented way of thinking of having intervened in another person's tasks. One moves forward without fearing the possibility of being disliked. One does not live as if one were rolling downhill, but instead climbs the slope that lies ahead. That is freedom for a human being. Suppose that I had two choices in front of me—a life in which all people like me, and a life in which there are people who dislike me—and I was told to choose one. I would choose the latter without a second thought. Before being concerned with what others think of me, I want to follow through with my own being. That is to say, I want to live in freedom." (p. 145)
"Philosopher: When we speak of interpersonal relationships, it always seems to be two-person relationships and one's relationship to a large group that come to mind, but first it is oneself. When one is tied to the desire for recognition, the interpersonal relationship cards will always stay in the hands of other people. Does one entrust the cards of life to another person, or hold onto them oneself?" (p. 150)
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