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The Courage to be Disliked

Updated: May 5, 2020



My amazing sister-in-law told me to read The Courage to be Disliked (Kishimi, I & Koga, F). She knows me well. I think that subject is one of the worst thing for me. I have struggled since childhood with the thought of being disliked by others. I am not a pushover no, but I just like to be liked.

Some people affect us more than others, right? Those people we look up to and admire. Those people who truly impress and influence us. And we'll do everything we can to get their attention, be like them and be loved by them.⁠ ⁠ It's normal to feel this way. Feeling intimidated or judged by certain people is natural. Wanting to please, impress and be accepted is also natural.⁠

In Coaching, I try to pause here to fully understand why certain people are triggering this uncomfortable feeling of not being good enough, known as “impostor syndrome”.


I do, for instance, get this feeling when I coach someone who reminds me of my dad.

Feeling intimidated or judged by certain people is natural. However, what is not is wanting to please others so much that we forget what we do and we lose control of the situation, ending up working so much towards pleasing them that we forget ourselves.

I do a lot of work around these issues with my clients. A few questions I ask them are:

  • Is it your job to make the other person like you? And is it within your control?

It usually is not, the simple reason being that it is their own thoughts about you. You can do the best you can in this world, but you just simply cannot control their thinking process, you cannot change it, it is not within your control.

What is within your control is how you respond to it. What is happening with people around you that you are trying to impress or getting the attention of? Why is it so important to get the whole team’s approval? What does that do for you?


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  • Do we value our time less than the time of others? Are we positioning ourselves in a "vertical" relationship to others (i.e I feel my time is less valuable than his/her time) ?

What Kichimi’s book teaches us is the idea that it would help greatly to view relationships as being horizontal. You may have something to bring to this world that the other person may not be able to. We all contribute somehow to the bigger picture. We all do the best we can with what we have. Let’s re-think our relationships this way. It takes time to get to think horizontally with everyone, but it is the key to re-creating relationships.


If you’d like more tips on the subject of relationships and in particular marriages, I have a list that you can download here.




  • What is the worst that can happen if I behave in a different way?

It is important to accept that we all make mistakes, but that this does not define us. Very often a person trying to please others will be less likely to take risks, as it might not be what the other person wanted. Receiving criticism is hard, but avoiding it is harder. Avoiding criticism means we live the life of others, trying to please them and at the end of the day, we will probably get it wrong anyway. Trying, with the risk of getting criticized, is the way forward. We learn from mistakes and we keep on trying. Sometimes we will say the wrong thing, and we just need to acknowledge it and apologise.

  • How do we increase the “what people think of me” threshold?

Where are you in the scale below of caring what people think of you?

Don’t care = 0/10 => Excessively care = 10/10

I think I am close to 7/8 in the people pleasing spectrum. Try and ask yourself how would a person who is at 0 and comfortable at 0 behave. What can we learn from it?

I will never be able to get to 0 and I do not want to! But maybe my goal here is to be close to 5 or 6, where I keep trying to do my best, but I understand that the person’s opinion of me is not within my control or responsibility.

Let’s try to say what we think more often than what we are used to. Start small, with the people who scare you less. This is a homework task I have been setting my people-pleasing clients a lot.

  • Who do you admire? And why? Sometimes I ask myself: what would the person I respect and admire do in this situation?

That helps taking distance and maybe think of something we would not have thought otherwise.


Which of the above did you find useful. Please share with me here!

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