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I loved this book in the end. After my eyes settled on the words for long enough, following multiple eyerolls at the cringeworthy dialogue, it turned out amazing.

Although there are many gems in this book - the concept of identifying 'who's problem this is' is perhaps the single framework I have intentionally adapted into my life which has brought the biggest change.

The energy I've saved, free time in my days I automatically found, the explaining of things to people in my life, and the peace this has given me has truly been life changing.

This book is a must-read for anyone interested in freeing their mind and time :)


No experience is in itself a cause of our success or failure. We do not suffer from the shock of our experiences—the so-called trauma—but instead we make out of them whatever suits our purposes. We are not determined by our experiences, but the meaning we give them is self-determining.

People are not driven by past causes but move toward goals that they themselves set.

The important thing is not what one is born with but what use one makes of that equipment.

It’s actually that he wants to leave the possibility of “I can do it if I try” open, by not committing to anything. He doesn’t want to expose his work to criticism, and he certainly doesn’t want to face the reality that he might produce an inferior piece of writing and face rejection. He wants to live inside that realm of possibilities, where he can say that he could do it if he only had the time, or that he could write if he just had the proper environment, and that he really does have the talent for it.

You were so afraid of interpersonal relationships that you came to dislike yourself. You’ve avoided interpersonal relationships by disliking yourself.

The counterpart of this is the feeling of inferiority. Everyone is in this “condition of wanting to improve” that is the pursuit of superiority. One holds up various ideals or goals and heads toward them. However, on not being able to reach one’s ideals, one harbours a sense of being lesser.

There are, however, people who lose the courage to take a single step forward, who cannot accept the fact that the situation can be changed by making realistic efforts.

It’s simply that it’s scary to take even one step forward; also, that you don’t want to make realistic efforts. You don’t want to change so much that you’d be willing to sacrifice the pleasures you enjoy now—for instance, the time you spend playing and engaged in hobbies. In other words, you’re not equipped with the courage to change your lifestyle. It’s easier with things “just as they are now, even if you have some complaints or limitations.

But those who make themselves look bigger on borrowed power are essentially living according to other people’s value systems—they are living other people’s lives. This is a point that must be emphasised.

The one who boasts does so only out of a feeling of inferiority.

Such people try to make themselves “special” by way of their experience of misfortune, and with the single fact of their misfortune try to place themselves above others. Take the fact that I am short, for instance. Let’s say that kind-hearted people come up to me and say, “It’s nothing to worry about,” or “Such things have nothing to do with human values.” Now, if I were to reject them and say, “You think you know what short people go through, huh?” no one would say a thing to me anymore. I’m sure that everyone around me would start treating me just as if I were a boil about to burst and would handle me very carefully—or, I should say, circumspectly.

They use their misfortune to their advantage and try to control the other party with it. By declaring how unfortunate they are and how much they have suffered, they are trying to worry the people around them (their family and friends, for example), and to restrict their speech and behavior, and control them. The people I was talking about at the very beginning, who shut themselves up in their rooms, frequently indulge in feelings of superiority and use misfortune to their advantage. So much so that Adler himself pointed out, “In our culture weakness can be quite strong and powerful.

But as long as one continues to use one’s misfortune to one’s advantage in order to be “special,” one will always need that misfortune.

It’s not that you mustn’t get angry, but that there is no need to rely on the tool of anger. Irascible people do not have short tempers—it is only that they do not know that there are effective communication tools other than anger. That is why people end up saying things like “I just snapped” or, “He flew into a rage.” We end up relying on anger to communicate.

First, there are two objectives for behavior: to be self-reliant and to live in harmony with society. Then, the two objectives for the psychology that supports these behaviours are the consciousness that I have the ability and the consciousness that people are my comrades

The kind of relationship that feels somehow oppressive and strained when the two people are together cannot be called love, even if there is passion. When one can think, Whenever I am with this person, I can behave very freely, one can really feel love. One can be in a calm and quite natural state, without having feelings of inferiority or being beset with the need to flaunt one’s superiority. That is what real love is like. Restriction, on the other hand, is a manifestation of the mind-set of attempting to control one’s partner, and also an idea founded on a sense of distrust. Being in the same space with someone who distrusts you isn’t a natural situation that one can put up with, is it? As Adler says, “If two people want to live together on good terms, they must treat each other as equal personalities.

If you are not living your life for yourself, then who is going to live it for you?

But almost none of my clients who come for counseling are selfish people. Rather, they are suffering trying to meet the expectations of other people, the expectations of their parents and teachers. So, in a good way, they can’t behave in a self-centered fashion.

In general, all interpersonal relationship troubles are caused by intruding on other people’s tasks, or having one’s own tasks intruded on. Carrying out the separation of tasks is enough to change one’s interpersonal relationships dramatically.

Think, Who ultimately is going to receive the result brought about by the choice that is made?

“Forcing change while ignoring the person’s intentions will only lead to an intense reaction.

I am ready to assist him whenever he is in need. In that way, the child, having sensed a change in his parent, will have no choice but to make it his own task to think about what he should do. He’ll probably come and ask for assistance, and he’ll probably try to work some things out on his own.

A parent suffering over the relationship with his or her child will tend to think, My child is my life. In other words, the parent is taking on the child’s task as his or her own and is no longer able to think about anything but the child. When at last the parent notices it, the “I” is already gone from his or her life. However, no matter how much of the burden of the child’s task one carries, the child is still an independent individual. Children do not become what their parents want them to become. In their choices of university, place of employment, and partner in marriage, and even in the everyday subtleties of speech and conduct, they do not act according to their parents’ wishes. Naturally, the parents will worry about them, and probably want to intervene at times. But, as I said earlier, other people are not living to satisfy your expectations. Though the child is one’s own, he or she is not living to satisfy one’s expectations as a parent.

All you can do with regard to your own life is choose the best path that you believe in. On the other hand, what kind of judgment do other people pass on that choice? That is the task of other people, and is not a matter you can do anything about.

First, one should ask, “Whose task is this?” Then do the separation of tasks. Calmly delineate up to what point one’s own tasks go, and from what point they become another person’s tasks. And do not intervene in other people’s tasks, or allow even a single person to intervene in one’s own tasks.

Parents who scold their children too much become mentally very distant. When this happens, the child can no longer even consult the parents, and the parents can no longer give the proper assistance. One should be ready to lend a hand when needed but not encroach on the person’s territory. It is important to maintain this kind of moderate distance.

It is true that there is no person who wishes to be disliked. But look at it this way: What should one do to not be disliked by anyone? There is only one answer: It is to constantly gauge other people’s feelings while swearing loyalty to all of them. If there are ten people, one must swear loyalty to all ten. When one does that, for the time being one will have succeeded in not being disliked by anyone. But at this point, there is a great contradiction looming. One swears loyalty to all ten people out of the single-minded desire to not be disliked.

It is certainly distressful to be disliked. If possible, one would like to live without being disliked by anyone. One wants to satisfy one’s desire for recognition. But conducting oneself in such a way as to not be disliked by anyone is an extremely unfree way of living, and is also impossible. There is a cost incurred when one wants to exercise one’s freedom. And the cost of freedom in interpersonal relationships is that one is disliked by other people.

Not wanting to be disliked is probably my task, but whether or not so-and-so dislikes me is the other person’s task.

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.

I could use having a father like that as an excuse for why my own life wasn’t going well. That for me was a virtue. And there was also the aspect of taking revenge on a feudal father.

The fact that there are people who do not think well of you is proof that you are living in freedom.

A sense of belonging is something that one can attain only by making an active commitment to the community of one’s own accord, and not simply by being here.

When we run into difficulties in our interpersonal relations, or when we can no longer see a way out, what we should consider first and foremost is the principle that says, “Listen to the voice of the larger community."

Think back to our discussion of the separation of tasks, to the subject of a child’s schoolwork. As I stated then, this is a task that the child has to resolve himself, not something that parents or teachers can do for him. So intervention is this kind of intruding on other people’s tasks and directing them by saying things like “You have to study” or “Get into that university.” Whereas assistance, on the other hand, presupposes the separation of tasks, and also horizontal relationships. Having understood that studying is the child’s task, one considers what one can do for him. Concretely speaking, instead of commanding from above that the child must study, one acts on him in such a way that he can gain the confidence to take care of his own studies and face his tasks on his own.

Without forcing, and with the tasks always kept separate, one assists the child to resolve them by his own efforts.

The more one is praised by another person, the more one forms the belief that one has no ability.

Even if you do derive joy from being praised, it is the same as being dependent on vertical relationships and acknowledging that you have no ability. Because giving praise is a judgment that is passed by a person of ability onto a person without ability,

The most important thing is to not judge other people. “Judgment” is a word that comes out of vertical relationships.

It is when one is able to feel “I am beneficial to the community” that one can have a true sense of one’s worth.

Self-affirmation is making suggestions to oneself, such as “I can do it” or “I am strong,” even when something is simply beyond one’s ability. It is a notion that can bring about a superiority complex, and may even be termed a way of living in which one lies to oneself. With self-acceptance, on the other hand, if one cannot do something, one is simply accepting “one’s incapable self” as is and moving forward so that one can do whatever one can. It is not a way of lying to oneself. To put it more simply, say you’ve got a score of 60 percent, but you tell yourself, I just happened to get unlucky this time around, and the real me is 100 percent. That is self-affirmation. By contrast, if one accepts oneself as one is, as 60 percent, and thinks to oneself, How should I go about getting closer to 100 percent?—that is self-acceptance.

When one is sad, one should be sad to one’s heart’s content. It is precisely when one tries to escape the pain and sadness that one gets stuck and ceases to be able to build deep relationships with anyone. Think about it this way. We can believe. And we can doubt. But we are aspiring to see others as our comrades. To believe or to doubt—the choice should be clear.

And many of these people are continually busy with their work. Why do they work? Are they driven by boundless greed? No. They work so they are able to contribute to others, and also to confirm their sense of belonging, their feeling that “it’s okay to be here.” Wealthy people who, on having amassed a great fortune, focus their energies on charitable activities, are doing so in order to attain a sense of their own worth and confirm for themselves that “it’s okay to be here.

The two objectives for behavior: to be self-reliant and to live in harmony with society. The two objectives for the psychology that supports these behaviors: the consciousness that I have the ability and the consciousness that people are my comrades.

One ought to concern oneself with everything, from household chores and child-rearing to one’s friendships and hobbies and so on.

Does one accept oneself on the level of acts, or on the level of being? This is truly a question that relates to the courage to be happy.

For a human being, the greatest unhappiness is not being able to like oneself.

There is no freedom in a feeling of contribution that is gained through the desire for recognition. We are beings who choose freedom while aspiring to happiness.

Why is it necessary to be special? Probably because one cannot accept one’s normal self. And it is precisely for this reason that when being especially good becomes a lost cause, one makes the huge leap to being especially bad “—the opposite extreme. But is being normal, being ordinary, really such a bad thing? Is it something inferior? Or, in truth, isn’t everybody normal? It is necessary to think this through to its logical conclusion.

You are probably rejecting normality because you equate being normal with being incapable. Being normal is not being incapable. One does not need to flaunt one’s superiority.

And the same may be said with regard to your own life. You set objectives for the distant future, and think of now as your preparatory period. You think, I really want to do this, and I’ll do it when the time comes. This is a way of living that postpones life. As long as we postpone life, we can never go anywhere and will pass our days only one after the next in dull monotony, because we think of here and now as just a preparatory period, as a time for patience. But a “here and now” in which one is studying for an entrance examination in the distant future, for example, is the real thing.

That’s right. Life is always simple, not something that one needs to get too serious about. If one is living each moment earnestly, there is no need to get too serious.

The greatest life-lie of all is to not live here and now. It is to look at the past and the future, cast a dim light on one’s entire life, and believe that one has been able to see something.

Someone has to start. Other people might not be cooperative, but that is not connected to you. My advice is this: You should start. With no regard to whether others are cooperative or not.


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