The phrase, “All problems are interpersonal relationship problems” rang in my ears as I finished listening to The Courage to be Disliked, a book by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga. I have listened to it on audio book at least three times and took away a new perspective each time. It is enjoyable to listen to as it is read as a dialogue between an older, wiser man and a younger adult, discussing on the theory of Adlerian Psychology. So, it feels like you are listening to a conversation.
Adlerian Psychology is a psychotherapy approach based upon the work of Alfred Adler. Adler is considered one of the big three founders of psychotherapy alongside Freud and Jung. One of the points that was made clear at the beginning was the difference in Etiology psychology Freud and Juan and Teleology psychology, Adler.
Here is a definition of each:
Etiology – the study of causation or origination. More completely, etiology is the study of the causes, origins, or reasons behind the way that things are, or the way they function, or it can refer to the causes themselves.
Teleology – Is a reason or explanation for something as a function of its end, purpose, or goal. A purpose that is imposed by a human use.
The book uses many examples to explain Teleology. One example was how 2 people from the same household, when now as adults, choose very different ways to view the world. In Etiology the results and outcome from cause and effect would be the same. Yet Teleology allows you to have the reason of why you decided to do or not to do something.
One point, that I would say as a whole, people might find harsh, was that trauma does not exist. That now, is now, and the past is only present in your thoughts now. He made some compelling arguments that made me really examine my past. Viewing habits, I have now that I might find myself justifying and saying, “That is why I am not where I want to be, because of this in my past.”
To paraphrase a point in the book, “We make out of them (our experiences in life) whatever suits our purpose. It’s not the experience itself but the meaning we give those past experiences.”
What I found very interesting about this statement was its similarity to a question I will use with clients from time to time, “What are you making that mean?” It’s a question I use on myself regularly, and it gives me some awareness about where my thinking is right now, as well as is that thinking serving my bigger purpose as a Wife, Mother, Coach, daughter, sister, friend, and community member?
Another topic that was explored in Kishimi and Koga’s book was that of the traits of inferiority, superiority, and competition. When we find these traits in our behaviors, we can see people and situations as winners and losers. We compare ourselves to others. What they have and what we don’t have, or the opposite, we have so much more, and they have not as much, or none.
Being in competition with someone we might show up feeling superior to them, or we might think they are better than us so we show up as inferior to them. When we can drop competition and allow ourselves to see those around us as comrades and people to learn from, the ego can have a rest and you find yourself realizing that “All problems are interpersonal relationship problems.”