The Courage to be Disliked Book Cover
The Courage to be Disliked Non-fiction Diamond Inc. Paperback 272

This book is a dialogue conversation between the Youth and the Philosopher. It tackles the Youth’s insecurities and life problems he faces in his daily life, using psychology and the philosophy of Alfred Adler’s theories to guide the Youth to happiness.

My thoughts on “The Courage to be Disliked”. Is it a Yay or Nay?

Honestly, my thoughts are conflicted with regards to this book. A half part me of me liked the book and the other half part of me disliked it.

I liked that the book is well structured with its points to bring us to the main point of the book, which is guidance to attain happiness.

This book tried to take the stance to ‘simplify’ things for us and give the premise that ‘life is simple’, and we over complicate things by overthinking and dwelling in past events that turn to create anxiety and trauma in our minds.

Some of the advice really inspired a change in me and a change in my perceptions about interpersonal relationships with others, whilst another part of me is left unsure about the simplicity in the book because as I analyzed it, I was left a little confused and I  realize that the one size fits all approach in this book could not possibly solve all our problems which are stated to be ‘interpersonal relationship problems’.


This book is a dialogue conversation between a young man who is the Youth and the Philosopher. It tackles the insecurities and life problems the Youth faces in his life daily, using concepts from the psychology and philosophy of Alfred Adler’s theories to guide him to a path of happiness.

I enjoyed the dialogue and I  journeyed with the Youth, as he was confused, so was I, and even now as I write this article, I am still left with questions lingering in my mind trying to make sense of that dialogue. 

The book is advice to the Youth from the Philosopher to follow these steps below to attain happiness.

The book’s advice is:

1.Accept oneself and be content with what you can do and cannot do in your life.

2.Freedom is freeing oneself from other people’s “tasks” and understanding better what you can and cannot control, e.g. you cannot control other’s people’s thoughts or perceptions about you no matter what you do.

3.Do not do things to please others at your own expense.

4.Avoid doing anything for recognition from others and do things because you want to and can do it as part of your task/ choice.

5.Make a contribution and add value to other people’s lives. This is what gives us meaning in life and a sense of belonging.

6.Trust people like they are your comrades instead of enemies.

7.Live in the present/ now and appreciate present achievements and goals—the future is unknown, therefore we should not calculate success on future ‘goals’.

8.Live your life at your own pace and do not compete with the next person because: “on the same level playing field, there are people who are moving forward, and there are people who are moving forward behind them” (p 70: 2019)

9.And the past does not determine the future since it has passed, therefore, it should not be the cause of our present mental health issues problems.

10.People change when you change and adjust to who you become, according to the authors:

Adlerian psychology is a psychology for changing oneself, not a psychology for changing others. Instead of waiting for others to change or waiting for the situation to change, you take the first step forward yourself (p 95: 2019)


Some part of the book delves a little into parenting as well and offers advice to raising children. I liked this quote: “Children who have not been taught to confront challenges will try to avoid all challenges” (p 136: 2019). Children need special attention and care, I agree, however, a mixture of caring for them as fully developed adults also does good to inspire independence and better development. 

12.COURAGE is the answer to it all. We need the courage to change our lives, we need the courage to witness the freedom and become happy in our lives. We need the courage to accept freedom and be disliked by others for us to be happy.

The dislikes

As you can see from the above, the book has interesting concepts and advice, however, as you read it, it ends up confusing somewhere when you think about the points made.

After reading it, I was left feeling like that’s it? In the end.

What I disliked about this book is the over-simplicity stance it took, some concepts I feel like they do not apply to some situations.

As I analyzed the book, I was left so confused with the relationship between the concepts in the book.

‘Aetiology’ and ‘Teleology’.

In the book, we are presented with new concepts of “aetiology (the study of causation)” and “teleology (the study of a given phenomenon, rather than its cause)”.

The authors state that we create our problems, it is said in the book that all the problems we have such as anxiety and trauma, it is because we have created them by lingering in past failures or past unpleasant events, hence in the future or present, we have anxiety and trauma illnesses.

Though I do agree with this point that we would be happier focusing on present moments of our lives and celebrating that, I was left confused and I question myself that:

What does then this mean about the future? 🤔since the authors state that it does not exist. Do we just brush off future plans and concerns to create a better future? 

In this article here I wrote that life is as long as you live, so yes, plan for the future, be concerned about it and when you do not make it to the main goal, that’s still okay, just never forget to celebrate present wins and achievements to getting closer to your goal as the authors state.

And what about issues of inequality and hierarchy in life, segregation etc?

Though this topic is discussed between the Youth and the Philosopher, I feel it was not discussed enough.

If we ignore ‘aetiology’ (the causation) of things, patterns, and explanations of things, then how do we learn? because we learn from the past and causation of things, we either learn a life lesson to take precaution or learn about life, in general, to improve for the future.

This theory of ‘individualism has left me puzzled, you can tell by now things are not adding up in my head,  As a matter of fact, I am even confused with my writing here.

“Trauma does not exist”

Yes, I do agree that dwelling on past events at most times, it causes anxiety and trauma in our minds when we think about how we were not cared for or badly treated as children, this is something that could inspire someone to have trust issues over others.

And an incident of being hijacked and simultaneously losing a loved one with you could leave one traumatized and have anxiety about leaving the house perhaps and living life as normal.

But do we just simply brush these off and tell our brains: no brain, you are lying to me, this does not exist, or simply leave it in the past because it has happened and you cannot change it?

Just have the courage to move on?

 Just have the courage to trust others, and perceive them as comrades even without knowing them well?

Is this coping mechanism really enough to alleviate trauma and anxiety? 

And what about social injustices, segregation, inequality etc. Do we all just mind our business and everyone moves on just like that and each one of us fights their own battles alone? or is this advice to have fewer expectations from others, then we would be happier?

How does courage apply? only to oneself interpersonal relationships? 

Hmm I am contradicting myself, at the beginning of this article I said ‘be content with oneself capabilities and abilities’ 🤔


I personally believe sometimes the past holds value and it exists for a reason since that is how we are designed as humans; to remember.

I mean without the past, we would live without knowing present progress and each day would be a unique day of adventure, which is what the book tries advocating by advising we live in the present; we live in moments.

If there is one book that is similar to this one with the exact same ideas, it is Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson. I found it an incredible read, simple and less confusing.

If you would like a book review of it, check it out here.

Concluding words…

I recommend this book for you:

  1. If you are ready to be confused in this ‘simplicity theory’ on understanding life.
  2. If you are eager to discover different perceptions and coping mechanisms with regards to interpersonal relationships a.k.a. peopling.
  3. If you are ready to challenge yourself, your believes and perceptions about your life.

I was left confused after reading this book with the concepts and so I will try it again some other time, nonetheless, I consider it a good book for the above reasons.

Thank you for reading. 🤗

**Have you read the book or not? Share your thoughts in the comment section

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  • Posted November 22, 2020
    by Mona

    Thank you for the good writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it.

    Look advanced to more added agreeable from you! However,
    how could we communicate?

    • Posted November 24, 2020
      by Munene Mashaba

      Well, for me it is all about being thoughtful towards the next person and trying to understand the meaning of what they are saying from their point of view. That would make communication better, you would know how to respond to whatever situation properly.

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