I am reading “The Courage to Be Disliked,” by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga. In it, the authors describe an in-depth conversation between a youth and a philosopher discussing lessons on relationships and happiness through the ideas of psychologist Alfred Adler.
The book is presented as if it is dialogue in a script, with “Youth” and “Philosopher” listed before each character’s words. I did not know much (anything?) about Adler until now. Like most people (I imagine), I am more familiar with Jung and Freud, two of Adler’s contemporaries. Adler’s ideas remind me of personal empowerment messages from the likes of Tony Robbins and Stephen Covey. I am even reminded of the teachings of Abraham-Hicks.
One of the book’s recurring ideas is that interpersonal relationships are the source of everyone’s problems. That is, people experience problems primarily in relating with one another. More specifically, I was struck particularly by the moment when Youth and Philosopher discuss Freedom. The Philosopher says:
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 one’s own way of living. That is to say, one will not be able to be free.“The Courage to be Disliked,” p145
What a glorious statement, I thought when I read this.
And I thought of my blog. After all, writing this blog has been an act of courage. Even amidst my two 365 Day Blogging Projects, I sometimes grappled with concerns about my “lack of ambition” in writing a personal blog for myself, without trying to build a fanbase, generate revenue from ads etc. Sometimes my brain fed me the idea that I was a “loser” or a “failure” if I didn’t strive to make the blog a “success.”
Thinking about the book, another way to look at these worries is that I was afraid of being disliked!
When I first started writing this blog, and for awhile after, I was often self-conscious about sharing it on Facebook (I did it anyway). I worried what some of my Facebook friends might think. Actually, Facebook acquaintances is more like it. These weren’t trusted friends or people I considered close. I felt fear of being criticized, yet knew it was good for me to get over it. From the start I used this blog to inoculate myself from the pain of disapproval.
I was willing to write this blog knowing I “might never be recognized.” After all, I always blogged for myself, not for recognition.
Now, as I read the book, I feel vindicated, recognizing how helpful this blog has been in liberating me from needing to be liked.*
*To be clear, as the book points out, freedom from needing to be liked is not the same as wanting to be disliked! It’s not about intentionally alienating other people. Instead, it’s about not compromising one’s individuality for other people’s approval.