Thanks to the book The Courage to be Disliked, I discovered Adler – the father of individual psychology. And read his The Science of Living. It resonated with me, especially considering that I have a background in psychoanalysis and integrative psychotherapy. This is heaven and earth. What if we are all not only under the same sun, but also under the same haze of inferiority? Or maybe it is a kind of a motivational tool?

Individual psychology and teleology

Although Adler initially collaborated with Freud and was a member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, he eventually moved away from Freud’s ideas and formed his own school of thought. Adler disagreed with Freud’s emphasis on sexual and aggressive drives as the main motivators of behavior, suggesting instead that inferiority and superiority play a central role in human psychology.

Adler’s individual psychology laid the foundation for a holistic approach to therapy that considers the person in the context of their social environment and life goals. Adlerian therapy aims to help clients understand their unique perspectives, overcome feelings of inferiority, and develop a sense of social interest and belonging to a community.

Adler introduced the concept of teleology: people are motivated by their future goals, not just by past experiences or unconscious drives. This view emphasizes the importance of aligning actions with personal aspirations, fostering a sense of purpose and direction in life.

Inferiority and superiority

Adler believed that the feeling of inferiority is universal and motivates people to strive for improvement and mastery in those areas where they feel lacking. In this way, you can no longer feel lonely with your sense of inferiority – according to Adler, we are all like that, it just manifests itself in different ways, sometimes in the most unexpected places – for example, someone beats his wife, and someone puts all his resources into eyelash extensions. This is how we try to rise above ourselves – to cope with the feeling of inferiority.

As children, we look for the strongest person in our environment and make him our role model and goal in personal growth. When we fail to effectively compensate for our perceived shortcomings, feelings of inferiority can develop into an inferiority complex. This complex can lead to various psychological problems, including anxiety, depression, and reluctance to participate in social or professional activities.

Useful and useless sides of life

In the pursuit of compensation, we are often unwilling to change anything, while at the same time rejecting inactivity. In this way, we create situations for ourselves in which our problem is solved automatically (for example, a woman cannot get rid of agarophobia as a way to keep a man with her, or a person creates a feeling of anger in order to subjugate others to themselves) or we imitate high activity by resorting to harmful things (for example, alcoholism). In this way, we fabricate a sense of superiority. Suicide, says Adler, is a kind of revenge – accusation of society – seeking superiority (this, of course, does not fully disclose the topic of suicide).

According to Adler, the useful side of life encompasses actions, efforts, and pursuits that contribute to personal growth, self-realization, and the improvement of society. This includes activities that align with personal values, aspirations, and meaningful goals.

At the same time, Adler warns against finding pleasure in superficial pleasures and activities that have no intrinsic value or do not contribute to personal growth and well-being. They represent the useless side of life: actions that bring temporary pleasure, but in the end do not bring long-term pleasure or do not make a positive contribution to the life of the person or others.

And we love to lie to ourselves.

They hold a high opinion of themselves and take the view that they could accomplish much on the useful side of life, if…! This is lying, of course—it’s fiction, but as we all know, mankind is very often satisfied with fiction. And this is especially true of persons who lack courage. They content themselves quite well with fiction. They do not feel very strong and so they always make detours—they always want to escape difficulties. Through this escape, through this avoiding of battle they get a feeling of being much stronger and cleverer than they really are.

Alfred Adler, The Science of Living

“All Problems Are Interpersonal Relationship Problems”

We are not possible without society in any sense, and therefore there is nothing more important than relationships. Adler believed that humans are inherently social creatures and that their psychological well-being is closely related to their interactions with others. He argued that how people perceive and manage their relationships affects their self-esteem, sense of belonging, and overall mental health. Therefore, when problems arise in life, they are manifestations of deep problems in interpersonal relationships.

If a person does not know how to build good interpersonal relationships, they can start living by trying to meet other people’s expectations. And the inability to communicate for fear of hurting other people can end up giving up what they really want to do. If a person constantly tries to prove their own rightness, they thus exalt themselves and break the relationship.

People who think of others as enemies have not attained self-acceptance and do not have enough confidence in others.

Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga, The Courage to Be Disliked

There are two goals of behavior: to be self-sufficient and to live in harmony with society. And there are two goals of psychology that support such behavior: awareness of one’s own capacity and awareness that people are allies, not enemies.

You must not run away. No matter how difficult a relationship is, you shouldn’t avoid or delay dealing with it. Even if you’re going to cut them with scissors eventually, you’ll have to face it first. The worst thing you can do is just stand still with the situation as it is. It is fundamentally impossible for a person to live life completely alone, and only in social contexts does a person become an “individual”.

Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga, The Courage to Be Disliked

Separation of tasks

Just ask yourself: is this my task or not? Mine – I take responsibility, not mine – I don’t take it and I don’t worry about it. What exactly someone thinks about me – is it my task or not? That is where all these wonderful pictures about what we control and what we don’t come from

The concept of separation of tasks involves accepting responsibility for one’s actions and choices and refusing responsibility for someone else’s. This approach helps you focus on your own goals and tasks, avoid distractions and unnecessary stress associated with trying to solve problems that are beyond your control. At the same time, it helps improve productivity and conserve energy for important tasks.

Family life and the equality of sexes

Love by itself does not settle things, for there are all kinds of love. It is only when there is a proper foundation of equality that love will take the right course and make marriage a success.

Alfred Adler, The Science of Living

I especially liked this part, because excuse me, “The Science of Life” was written by a man in 1929. And this man writes about the importance of equality between men and women. However, let’s start with this quote:

As we know it is a fact that girls develop more rapidly physically and mentally than boys—a girl of twelve, for instance, is much more developed than a boy of the same age. The boy sees this and cannot explain it. Hence he feels inferior and has a longing to give up. He does not progress any more. Instead he starts looking for escapes. Sometimes he develops ways of escape in the direction of art. At other times he becomes neurotic, criminal, or insane. He does not feel strong enough to go on with the race.

Alfred Adler, The Science of Living

This quote simply says it all. Why the majority of violence is committed by men, why the patriarchy, and why women have recently been statistically catching up with men in the ranking of addictions – they are constantly lacking something. Maybe this is speculation on my part, but I see what I see.

The equality of the sexes must be fitted into the natural scheme of things, while the masculine protest is a blind revolt against reality and is thus a superiority complex.

Alfred Adler, The Science of Living

The union of two partners faces the same problems that society faces. There are the same difficulties and the same tasks, and it is a mistake to think of love and marriage as a paradise where everything happens according to wishes. The task must be performed taking into account the interests of the other person. The union of the two, however, requires exceptional mutual sympathy and the ability to identify with the other person.

If few persons are properly prepared nowadays for family life it is that they have never learned to see with the eyes, hear with the ears, and feel with the heart of another. (…) despite our lack of education the marriage task can be handled properly if the two persons recognize the mistakes in their character and approach things in a spirit of equality.

Alfred Adler, The Science of Living

And perfectly about infidelity.

We can understand what happens when a person feels himself misunderstood and his activity curtailed. He feels inferior and wants to escape. Such feelings are especially bad in marriage, particularly if a sense of extreme hopelessness arises. When this happens revenge begins to creep in. One person wants to disturb the life of the other person. The most common way to do this is to be unfaithful. Infidelity is always a revenge. True, persons who are unfaithful always justify themselves by speaking of love and sentiments, but we know the value of feelings and sentiments. Feelings always agree with the goal of superiority, and should not be regarded as arguments.

Alfred Adler, The Science of Living

Adler mentions the Bible, where we find a story about how a woman had made mistake and from then on our family lives are troubled. Instead of preparing boys and girls to live together as a sin, it would be much wiser to train both in such a way that they feel equal, – he says.

The fact that women now feel inferior proves that, in this particular, our culture has failed.

Alfred Adler, The Science of Living

List of books

Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake KogaThe Courage to Be Disliked: The Japanese Phenomenon That Shows You How to Change Your Life and Achieve Real Happiness

Alfred Adler – The Science of Living

Залишити коментар

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

read new articles first