I recently read the important book called The Courage To Be Disliked. Its main idea is extremely controversial because it basically rejects the idea that trauma and suffering in our life have a powerful impact on our present and future. In today’s podcast I want to talk about the idea of reframing trauma and finding a new meaning in the moments of our lives that may have seemed darkest. I am really keen to get your feedback so don’t miss this episode.
Moving Beyond Setbacks In The Quest For A Different Life
Well, hey everybody. Jonathan Doyle with you as always for The Daily Podcast. Thank you for the pleasure of your company wherever you are in the world. Thank you for your good wishes, again, after the recent accident. I was back in hospital yesterday. And who would have thought that having sticky surgical tape ripped off open wounds could be painful? That was an eye opener. But Karen was with me yesterday and she got to see that the ideas that I talk about in the Daily Podcast were put into practice yesterday.
It was pretty challenging, but I really believe that no matter how difficult things are or how painful they can be at times in life, we do have the capacity to choose our response. And I got to practice that yesterday, so always be confident that whatever I’m sharing in The Daily Podcast, I am also putting into practice in real life.
Now let’s jump in. Today I want to introduce a pretty controversial and challenging idea that I just really interested to see your feedback on it. It comes from a book called The Courage to be Disliked, and it’s by a couple of authors called Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga. Now, I first came across this book when I read an article about a late sportsman, a famous sportsman who was struggling massively with depression, and part of his recovery was a very senior psychiatrist working with the team gave him this book. I’ve read it recently and I’ve got the audio version as well.
I want to explain this very simply and then I want to just talk about how we could apply the idea and then I’d be really interested in what you think. So whether you want to message me on Instagram at jonathandoyle47, Facebook at the Daily Podcast with Jonathan Doyle, or just email me direct firstname.lastname@example.org.
The idea at its most basic is this. We have a moment in our culture where we’re deeply shaped by, I guess still the ideas of Sigmund Freud. One of the key ideas is this idea about trauma. It’s the idea that things happen to us in life often as maybe children, and that this trauma that we experience then determines a lot of our experience of life. It determines our personality. It determines how we respond to things. So think for a moment about how deeply embedded that idea is.
I think much of our psychotherapy, our psychology, our mental health professions are quite built on that idea that things happen to us and that these events then really shape us in very powerful ways. The critique of that idea that kind of comes through the book is what we call determinism. So that it’s kind of like X happens and then it determines why. And if that’s true, well firstly we’re going to lose a lot of freedom, right? We’re going to lose freedom because if X happens, then we don’t have the capacity to choose. We lose a bit of freewill because these events just automatically shape our response.
The other thing it wouldn’t explain is how two people can have the same experience but then have very different responses to it. So basically if our past was going to be always shaping us, then all of us would basically have the same experiences, but we don’t. We often find some people come from real trauma who go on to build extraordinary lives.
I’m reading a book at the moment by Captain Johnny Mercer, who was a commando captain in Afghanistan. He did three tours with the British army. It’s a fascinating book, and what he goes through and the trauma and the suffering and the loss and the death, but he’s gone on to become a member of parliament and to write the book and to have a huge impact in people’s lives. But other people didn’t have that response.
So the first thing we want to think about is it seems that no matter what happens to us in life, we can choose our response. I keep coming back to that.
The other idea in the book comes from the psychology of a guy called Alfred Adler that’s called Adlerian Psychology. This is the idea that really what we have in life is goals, and we often use certain mental or emotional states to get the goal we want.
I want to keep this very simple, but Adlerian psychology would say actually be as … I guess in a way say that we choose things like depression. We choose things like anxiety. Now, that idea is really controversial because a lot of people would find it offensive or they’d go, “That’s not true. Why would I possibly choose anxiety? Why would I possibly choose depression?”
I can only speak for myself, and that’s what I’m saying here. These are such sensitive topics, right? So if anything comes up for me here, please make sure you’re talking to the right people and getting any support you need. But speaking for myself, when I read the book, I was really confronted because I was like, “Well, I’ve struggled with depression, I’ve struggled with anxiety. Why would I possibly choose those things in my life?” And the answer that I came up with was a lot of times for me, depression allows me to disengage from life. It allows me just to hide sometimes from the difficulties and the possible pain and discomfort of life. That’s my experience.
So this book was really confronting. I guess what I’m saying in this podcast is are we determined by our past or do we have real freewill to take the experiences we’ve had and give them a new meaning.
Johnny Mercer, again, that guy in Afghanistan, he took the loss of close friends and all the suffering and the meaning he applied was I’m going to make a difference. I’m going to become a politician. I’m going to get more support for veterans. I’m going to help as many people as I can. Whereas other people descended into alcoholism or self-harm or all sorts of really terrible things.
I’m just interested in the idea and interested in what you think about it. My gut feeling is I think there’s something here for all of us. I don’t want to believe that I’m determined by what happened to me. Even with the accident I had two weeks ago, which honestly was very traumatic, the more I replay it, I try not to replay it, but what I actually did to myself and how close I came to not being here anymore, it was quite traumatic. So I’m in this process right now of determining, finding a meaning to what happened. And that’s going to take a little while, but I’m not going to let it drive me into depression or anything else. I’m going to try and find a meaning in it that’s really helpful for myself and others.
So whatever you’ve been through in life, that’s the question. What meaning can you shape out of your experience? What meaning would you like to shape? We don’t have to hide or use negative emotions to disengage from the difficulties of life and life can be really challenging.
All right, I want to stop there; this is a short podcast. My heart for you is that whatever’s happening in your life, it would eventually be shaped into a meaning that blesses you and moves you forward rather than holding you back. Now, I just feel such a strong heart for so many people that are trapped in stories around their past that keep them locked in a very difficult place. And I don’t think we’re meant to spend our life locked in a prison like that.
So, all right, come and find me. Instagram; jonathandoyle47. Facebook; just type in The Daily Podcast with Jonathan Doyle. Come and say hi there. There’s a page and a group, so make sure you check those out. The website; jonathandoyle.co. Please make sure you’ve subscribed and I’d love you to share this episode with people. The numbers are just still growing all the time, so if you could grab this link and share it with a few people, that’d be awesome.
Well, God bless your friends. This has been The Daily Podcast. My name’s Jonathan Doyle. And I’m going to have another message for you tomorrow.