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Beyond Approval: Applying "The Courage to Be Disliked" in Your Daily Life

Insights from The Courage to be Disliked

“The Courage to Be Disliked,” written by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga, explores the principles of Adlerian psychology and philosophy through a unique dialogue format between a philosopher and a young man. 

If you've read and appreciated Brené Brown's “Braving the Wilderness,'” you will likely find resonance with the key theme of 'The Courage to Be Disliked': finding the courage to live true to yourself, despite potential disapproval or criticism from others.

One aspect that truly stood out is the concept, also rooted in Adlerian psychology, of treating each other horizontally instead of vertically— emphasizing equality and mutual respect in interpersonal relationships. 

Not too long ago, I came across a post encouraging people to “make friends with people who speak different languages, come from different ethnic backgrounds, and belong to different social classes.” I was all smiles until it got to social classes. My initial reaction was, who are any of us to determine social classes, and who gets to set the benchmark for isolation. 

That said, my intent of this content is to share several key points from “The Courage to Be Disliked” where we can apply to fostering a daily self-love lifestyle. For those of you who have read the book, I welcome your point of view! Be sure to share your perspective in the comment section. 

Freedom from the Past

None of us should be defined by our past, and when I say 'none of us,' I mean you as well. Most of the time, when we cling to the past—consciously or subconsciously—we use it as an excuse to avoid personal evolution.

Vulnerably, I will use myself as an example. My ongoing mindset of avoiding romantic relationships, rooted in not having great experiences in that department, is that I set a goal not to have romantic relationships and use the fact that I have not had any positive experience in the past as my excuse to support my goal. 

Taking Responsibility

Continuing with the personal example above, rather than placing blame on the negative experiences, I now take responsibility by admitting that it is I who chooses not to be involved in romantic relationships, not my past experiences. The consequence of this choice is being single for years.

Okay, that’s enough vulnerability for the day. Moving on… 

Living in the Present

Living in the present, here and now, is often talked about but tough to live by. It certainly requires constant awareness. We tend to get worried when thinking about the future and feel depressed when dwelling on past regrets. Neither behavior adds value to the quality of our lives. The next time you find yourself immersed in a negative thought, become an observer (referring to Michael Singer’s The Untethered Soul). Identify whether the thought is rooted in the past or the future. If it isn’t now, it needs to go. 

Treasure this Free-Will Life

Whether you are religious, spiritual, or neither, we can all agree that we’re living in a free-will life. We make hundreds of choices each day if not more. We can opt for the easy way out or what’s best for us in the long run. Making the right choices takes courage because it’s often more challenging.

Detachment from Others’ Opinions

Building self-love involves detaching yourself from the need for constant approval, acceptance, or destructive criticism. Social media, and even Medium, are somewhat guilty of emphasizing the importance of approval from others through features like claps, which validate how people value us. Oftentimes, I come across insightful articles with hardly any recognition. Detaching ourselves from these emojis is essential for maintaining our authenticity and personal well-being. 

And this leads to the next key point..

Defining Success for Yourself

The book encourages us to challenge conventional notions of success. Instead, as individuals, we should define success based on our own values and aspirations. For some, getting out of the bed and getting dressed could be a huge success. For others, it might be breaking a record fueled by endless hours of practice. 

Quote from another my favorite author, Adam Grant who stated the following: 

Courage to challenge how we define success

Holding accredited degrees can be defined as success to some, but not to all. Personally, I take pride in all the studies I’ve pursued beyond the degrees I earned. In fact, lessons learned outside of school are the ones I hold close to my heart.

And last but not least…

Our Daily Supplement - Courage

Throughout the book, you will see the word “Courage” written in Japanese. I consider courage my daily supplement. Think about it; it takes courage to stand up for what is right, to honor your personal values, to walk away from a toxic person or workplace, to defend someone being bullied, to stand up to the bully, and to decline when work asks you to do something unethical. The list goes on, and all of them are relatable. Some of the consequences might be negative, such as being fired, labeled as a traitor, or seen as cold-blooded. But at the end of the day, when you find yourself in that bubble bath, you should be proud of yourself.


While the principles mentioned in the book may vary from person to person, they certainly serve as valuable insights for cultivating a daily self-love lifestyle. As mentioned earlier, for those of you who have read the book, be sure to share your perspective in the comment section!