How You Create Your Destiny

Understanding Yourself With Adlerian Psychology


Photo by Danica Tanjutco on Unsplash

We can easily believe that life is something that just happens to us. That we are pawns played by fate or destiny and that there is really not much we can do.

While there are certainly givens in life, a certain hand we are dealt, and a family of origin we didn’t chose, there is still a lot in our own control.

We in fact play a big part in creating our own life, personality, and destiny — at least, that’s what Alfred Adler thought, one of the great psychodynamic thinkers of the last century.

He was convinced that our life and destiny are determined by the (unconscious) goal we pursue.

The Goals We Pursue

The first thing you need to know about Adler is that this guy was practical. He proposed that everything we do has a purpose and is directed towards a goal. The goal is to move from a natural state of inferiority to superiority, from minus to plus, achieving safety and significance. The concrete form this goal takes of course varies from person to person, according to Adler this depends on ones upbringing, family constellation, and physical inferiorities. But the desire to move from a lower to a higher state remains the same, we usually call it growth.

In its best form this process is grounded in what Adler called social interest, the notion that your progress doesn’t just benefit you but also your community.

Unconsciously, we then collapse all our attention, thinking, feeling, and doing around achieving this goal, more times than not without realizing what it is we pursue. An individual forms inner laws, world views, interests, feelings, thoughts, character traits to achieve the fictitious end goal. And whatever contradicts or hinders this movement is internally forgotten, denied, or ignored.

Taking together the beliefs about yourself, others, and the world you create to move closer to this goal, you arrive at a key Adlerian concept, which is the “lifestyle”.

Adler’s concept of the lifestyle is not the modern understanding of lifestyle as in income level, fancy experiences, and social prestige. For Adler your lifestyle is your beliefs about yourself, others…