Dare to Dislike Me

My mantra for 2024 started with a desire to be happier. To embrace more of the here and now, given tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. As a result, many of the non-fiction books I’ve devoured this year have centered around tactical tips on changing my mindset and slowing down. I must admit, I’m embracing this more balanced approach to life with plenty of boundaries.

A recent discovery really helped put this quest in context. The stoic Scandinavian in me was delighted when the book The Courage to Be Disliked popped up in my Facebook algorithm as a must-read for living a happier life. (Love or hate Facebook, their sponsored suggestions are surprisingly spot-on sometimes).

I’m not huge on philosophy – I could not cite the difference between Jung, Freud or Adler. But, for those who are, this book is centered around Adler. The authors break down Adler’s philosophy that our true happiness is lost in our desire to be loved by others, regardless of the cost. This notion that all conflict, struggle, and discontentment comes from interpersonal relationships and in our attempt to be loved, we sacrifice ourself.

Now, given we are wired for connection and are interdependent on each other, the notion that we can just eliminate all of these relationships is a stretch. That said, I’ve learned that when you modify who you are in hopes someone will like you, you hurt yourself. 

“Do not live to satisfy the expectations of others,” Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga explain. “The courage to be happy also includes the courage to be disliked. When you have gained that courage, your interpersonal relationships will all at once change into things of lightness.”

Think about it. How often do you edit your personality – your thoughts – your beliefs to keep the peace. Is it worth the cost of disappointing yourself to prove yourself to them? How often do we find ourselves editing who we are because we think someone out there might care. A faceless barrier to allowing us to evolve into our true selves, when in fact we are scared.

I know I’m guilty of this. It takes courage to allow someone to leave your life – even if they were never truly a part of the life you want. It stings. But on the other side is something beautiful – the life you want. I’m confident I’ve gained a few enemies this year in saying no to more and speaking my truth as kindly and directly as possible. But, in doing so, I’m regaining my identity. And, that is pretty powerful.

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