Inferiority complex comes with huge waves and barely stops to give you breathing space. There is this loud voice in your head that tells you that you are always lacking something; you are just never as good as everyone else. It can put you into a shrinking universe, where you feel small and powerless. You suddenly find yourself in this field of uncertainty and without even noticing it, it becomes your reality.
The fear of being inferior completely paralyzed me. I managed to put myself into a world, which was entirely unrealistic. I used to see everyone as perfect, whereas I was convinced that my abilities are not valuable and everything I do is mediocre, which caused me to go into isolation avoiding any problems. However, this strategy didn’t help me at all; it just made my frustration even more intense, because I ended up feeling inferior and lonely as well, but in order to overcome the issue I admitted that it had to be dealt with.
Here are six steps that helped me and might be useful to you as well:
- 1. Find out what’s causing you to feel inferior.
- 2. Understand who you are.
- 3. Do not compare yourself to others.
- 4. Develop a new skill.
- 5. Surround yourself with people who support you.
- 6. Start telling yourself positive statements.
- Leave your vote
- 1. It’s you, not them.
- 2. Ever single human has faults, fears and insecurities.
- 3. Remember that people are just people.
- 4. Other people are nervous, too.
- 5. You are giving power to your ego when you worry and overthink.
- 6. Feeling inferior is banished with love and admiration
- 7. Do YOU!
- 8. When scared, think: what is the worst that can happen?
- 8. Don’t take life so seriously
- 9. What is the best that can happen?
- 10. Don’t take anything personally
- 11. Have some self compassion
- 12. Lose the perfection illusion
- 13. Master your mind
- What is an Inferiority Complex?
- History of the Term Inferiority Complex
- Definition of an Inferiority Complex
- Symptoms of an Inferiority Complex
- Treatment for Inferiority Complex
- Inferiority Complex
- 5 Tips for Treating Inferiority Complex
- On never feeling good enough
- Anatomy of the inferiority complex
- How to feel inadequate
- Peeking at the lives of others
- Tip one: Deal with emotional memories
- FREE Reframing Book! Just subscribe to my therapy techniques newsletter below.
- Tip two: Drop the mime
- Tip three: Get specific
- Tip four: Dare to be different
- Tip five: Oust the Utopian assumptions
- On being Tammy
- About Mark Tyrrell
- Do You Feel Worthless? How To Overcome An Inferiority Complex
- What Is An Inferiority Complex?
- Signs Of An Inferiority Complex
- How To Overcome An Inferiority Complex
- 5 Ways To Get Rid Of An Inferiority Complex
- Inferiority Complex: 5 Tips for Fighting Low Self-Esteem
- Inferiority Complex: What does it mean?
- What Could Cause Inferiority Complex?
- Inferiority Complex “Symptoms”
- Five Tips for Raising Self Esteem
- Should you seek outside Help?
- How to Find a Therapist
1. Find out what’s causing you to feel inferior.
The best way to deal with a problem is to know its nature and where’s it coming from in order to find a solution to the issue. For example, the feeling of inferiority might come only from your mind, you might be someone who worries a lot and tends to over think, thus you exaggerate and create a false reality. Sometimes it’s other people who put you in the position where you feel inferior by criticizing and emphasizing their superiority. Find what is causing your feeling of inferiority in order to find a solution.
2. Understand who you are.
To be able to overcome this complex, you must know what your abilities are by finding what you’re talented in and accept your flaws. Embrace yourself and remember that every detail about you adds to your character.
3. Do not compare yourself to others.
Accept that some people are always going to be better than you at something, but this doesn’t mean that you are not good at anything. Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on yourself and try to improve every day.
4. Develop a new skill.
Maybe you’ve been stuck for a while and you feel like everything you do is just worthless, you are not making progress and so on. Find something new, a new hobby or a skill that you could use in school or at your workplace. This might help you to realize that you are not entirely burnt out; you can gain some new perspective and boost your self-esteem.
5. Surround yourself with people who support you.
If someone makes you feel bad about yourself, do yourself a favor and remove them from your life and replace them with positive people. Some people can help you find yourself again and make you realize that you are valuable and just as important as everyone else. Find them and keep them close, but don’t forget that how you feel about yourself doesn’t depend entirely on them.
6. Start telling yourself positive statements.
If you are struggling with inferiority complex chances are that your mind is programmed to continually recite your negative thoughts in your head. Try to replace those negative ideas by consciously telling yourself positive statements. This will reprogram your thought process and you’ll be able to perceive yourself more positively.
- Adles, A. (1938). The Inferiority Complex. In A. Adler, Social Interest: A Challenge to Mankind (pp. 54-65). London: Faber and Faber Ltd.
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No one knows what they’re doing either
— Ricky Gervais
Ever walk into a party, a boardroom, heck – even your place of work and feel a since of intimidation? You’re not alone. Possessing an inferiority complex is surprisingly normal and common. According to psychiatrists, an inferiority complex is a feeling of inadequacy based upon either real or imaginary sources. And it just so happens – because our inner critic loves to be our own worst enemy – so much of it is imagined.
By definition, inferiority complex is:
An unrealistic feeling of general inadequacy caused by actual or supposed inferiority in one sphere, sometimes marked by behavior in compensation.
Sound like you? Here’s how you squash it. Because it’s possible!
“But I do feel inadequate!”
Sometime in life, other people often make us nervous, they make us feel inferior and not good enough. This covers the spectrum from higher ups at work, love interests, people we don’t know at parties, popular people from school or the office, even celebrities.
It is natural to feel like you have something to prove sometimes. Often people we look up to (or those who we just don’t know who seem cool) can bring up feelings we harbor about ourselves that we are not good enough, smart enough or interesting enough. The good news is, you are. We are all equal, my friends – the same way there is no superior animal, ocean or star in the sky.
Whatever your spiritual beliefs, we know that we all came from the same source. We are also beautifully different from one another, too – which means all of us have some unique value and flavor to add to a conversation or social setting (now, if only we really knew and believed this, right)?!
Here are some important truths to remember when your inferiority complex rears it’s ugly head:
1. It’s you, not them.
The fear of others is generated within us, not by the person in question. Realizing this helps us release it. We are so quick to jump to judgement when we feel inferior around someone. We build them up to be super human and think their life is perfect. That they are flawless. That they know everything. The best way to snap out of this is to understand this is created your thoughts. It’s actually nothing to do with them. Your inferiority complex is being generated by you and only you.
2. Ever single human has faults, fears and insecurities.
Jordan Belfort, the infamous Wolf of Wall Street, said in his memoir, “I’m insecure and humble, and I embarrass easily… But I refuse to show it. If I had to choose between embarrassment and death, I’d choose death. So, yeah, I’m a weak, imperfect person.” Even wolves get scared!
Feelings of inferiority plague all of us. It’s a large reason that so many famous people battle addiction. Their feelings of inferiority and imposter syndrome consume them hence seeking unhealthy forms of relief.
What’s imposter syndrome?
“Imposter Syndrome” is what we experience when we feel we don’t deserve our accomplishments. We feel we’ve fooled others into thinking we are capable and attribute our achievements to blind luck or good timing. Our inability to accept our gifts means that we feel like a fraud or an imposter—maybe even waiting to be exposed. It’s a horrible manifestation of the inferiority complex at work.
Most common in high achieving women, imposter syndrome not only prevents us from enjoying success, it also massively limits our current potential. Feeling non-deserving and like a fake, we turn down wonderful new opportunities and creative ideas. Imposter syndrome is the killer of many “what-might-have-beens.”
Does that sound like you? It sure sounds a lot like the excuses I hear all the time (including from myself).
3. Remember that people are just people.
I really found this to be true on three particular, separate occasions. Two were in New York City. One was when I met Kelsey Grammar. As a fan, something took over me and I introduced myself to him with little more than a smile, my name and some words of appreciation for his work. He was a gentleman! Kelsey stood up, asked me about myself, introduced me to his wife and thanked me sincerely from stopping by. His wife was nice, too.
The other was at a party where I met Rachael Ray. Similarly, I introduced myself and asked a bit about her and her work. She was very warm and chatty and shared her story with me as to how she got started in the culinary business – interesting she has no formal training – but no inferiority complex there! She still rocks her thang.
To me, it was fascinating. Most people — including famous people — are cool!
The third occasion was when I volunteered my number to a cute stranger at a concert in Sydney in 2007. He is now my husband! If my feeling inferior was in charge not only would I not be married to a great man now, I would be missing out in my life. That’s no way to live!
4. Other people are nervous, too.
Hey – you might be intimidating. Ever thought of that? Shyness is misunderstood as aloofness all the time. A friend of mine who appears standoffish confided in me one night at drinks that he is shy and loves it when people interact with him because he is not confident in taking the initiative.
When I shared that he comes across as a little aloof he was surprised as it is the opposite of his intention. Sometimes, if you make the first social move and say hello, you might be eradicating two people’s nerves!
You don’t have to make your mood and vible about your fear and feelings of inferiority. Sometimes the kind and generous thing to do is assume that other people feel the same way that you do. So focus on them. Make them feel comfortable. You’ll put yourself at ease in an instant. And notice your inferiority complex evaporate!
5. You are giving power to your ego when you worry and overthink.
Intimidation/nerves is your lower self talking. Or as Arianna Huffington calls it, the “obnoxious roommate in your head… give them an eviction notice!”
Who benefits from an ego mind? No one. When you find yourself in analysis paralysis – when your inferiority complex is bubbling up – something is richer, thinner, more interesting – divert your thoughts. Distract yourself. Even watch TV or call a loving a supportive friend. Don’t stay in that dangerous place! It can be switched in an instant by you whenever you choose something else.
As it says in A Course in Miracles, “I choose peace instead of this”.
6. Feeling inferior is banished with love and admiration
When we see other people through a lens of love and not fear – our inferiority complex fades, fast. So next time something happens that triggers you – a friend lands a killer job, takes that dream trip to Bali, buys a condo or get engaged sincerely congratulate them. When good stuff happens to other people it just means that it’s possible for you, too!
Someone else’s success does not take away from yours. You can even learn from others’ achievements. Success for others, when perceived correctly, shows us that getting what we want is achievable for anyone. My friend Alexis’ body was transformed with a barre workout — her colleague joined the studio too and benefited from months of Alexis’ research! If her colleague came from a place of comparison rather than a place of curiosity and openness, she would be closed off to this awesome benefit.
7. Do YOU!
You can always decide to use your energy productively by focusing on what you have, not on what others have. This puts an inferiority complex in it’s place – out of sight and outta mind. Consider – if you envy someone ask yourself, would you want the less desirable parts of their lives too? Probably not. When I can’t sleep, am waiting in line or my subway is delayed I love to think of things that I appreciate about my life in that present moment. Lately it has been the fall approaching. Seeing my mum in the UK next month. Game of Thrones (HBO) back on Sundays, re-reading Gay Hendricks life-changing book, The Big Leap, plus the new bulletproof coffee my husband just discovered that he makes for me every morning.
There is so much good in your life when you look for it! You can’t hold feelings of appreciation and inferiority at the same time. So kiss that inferiority complex goodbye!
8. When scared, think: what is the worst that can happen?
Someone might brush you. So what? ‘So what’ is one of the greatest things you can ask yourself in this world. In my decade long sales career I went to countless pitches and networking events and I have been blown off more times than I can recall. Hundreds of times in fact. As far as I am aware, I am still alive and well (and certainly more successful as a result of still going for it anyway). Being exceptional means making yourself vulnerable sometimes. And a huge part of success is just being willing to do things that other people aren’t. That includes putting your inferiority complex in check and taking it all a little less seriously!
Remember, the universe is abundant and wants you to have all that you want. You block the flow of opportunity, creation and miracles when you’re afraid. Instead, can you can use your energy to remind yourself who you are at your best and highest self?
8. Don’t take life so seriously
When I was a teenage waitress the café owner I worked for had a rule – when we smashed a plate or glass – we laugh! It was an excellent policy. But more recently I was pacing my apartment cursing the ceiling (loudly) because I accidentally sent an email out with an incorrect link and then had to mail the same almost 40,00 people in my community with an apology and the correct one.
If you were a fly on the wall, you would have thought I was having a heart attack. But what happened? Nothing. Someone even emailed me saying, “Good to know you’re human!”
Ha. Can you laugh a little more? Nothing banishes feelings of inferiority of self attack then a sense of freakin’ humour.
9. What is the best that can happen?
I love this question. That’s why I called my book, What if it DOES work out?
Ah, this is one of the most awesome questions we can ask ourselves! The possibilities are endless. You might make a new friend, a new career connection or even get a date! The opportunities are abundant when you stop allowing fear and that nagging inferiority complex get the better of us. Assume the power of positive expectation. What if all of your thoughts were directed to only the outcome you wanted? You’d get it!
10. Don’t take anything personally
If you are ready to experience some freedom, bliss and kick-ass heck yes! power in your life, check out Don Miguel Ruiz and his book, The Four Agreements. Because well, well, well. if you have an inferiority complex, nothing will change your life like this agreement: Take nothing personally.
Friend cancel last minute? Oh well. Job interview unsuccessful? Next. Get blown off by a date? That’s OK, too. Because it’s not about you.
Truth: Nothing other people do is because of you! What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own experience. We also have no idea what is going on with other people when we assume the victim role and feel rejected. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering and worrying. At all. There is a tremendous amount of personal freedom you access when you take nothing personally. It’s like taking the best drug on earth! You’re freeee!!!
11. Have some self compassion
Self compassion is the best form of self help. You can take it from me – a self help junkie. Say you made a mistake – big deal! What did you learn? It’s no reason that your inferiority complex should rear it’s ugly head again. Think: what did I learn? Most slip-ups (which are the vast majority of mistakes) can benefit us by teaching us something. There is no such thing as a life without mistakes, so take something useful from each minor mishap if you can. Can you apologize quickly if you think you maybe did something wrong and find out the truth? Otherwise – just let it go? Chalk it up to being human and focus on the next thing?
12. Lose the perfection illusion
Couldn’t we all just be a little nicer to ourselves? Why do we all have this expectation that we have to do everything perfectly—whether it’s eating healthy all the time or making sure there are zero spelling mistakes in our personal blog posts? Nothing sparks our inferiority complex more than this flawed belief that we need to be perfect somehow.
I was eating brunch with a friend recently who was dying to start blogging but her perfectionism had become an excuse. It prevented her from even beginning a blog.
She said, “You know what’s helping me push through my block? Reading your blog posts every week—even with the occasional spelling mistake in them. You just do it!”
Well, it’s true! I forgive myself when I make mistakes. Because being human is awesome. Heck—your screw ups may even inspire others (like my spelling mistakes)! Who cares? I love what Sheryl Sandberg says, “Done is better than perfect”. Amen.
13. Master your mind
Consuming uplifting content every day is a huge source of happiness for me.
Self-help books, educational podcasts, inspirational blog posts—how does anyone live without this stuff?!? If I miss a single day I notice it. This helps me live in the present moment, seize my personal power, and drop that inferiority complex. External inspiration also massively feeds internal inspiration. Ready to get started? Here’s my guide to the self-help aisle.
Nothing made the need for this blog post more clear to me than when last year someone told me that before they met me, they thought I was intimidating. Wait, me? Super friendly, petite, always smiling, girl-from-a-small-town, me? Like our values, the qualities that intimidate vary for everyone. Well here is one universal truth, well put by Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” And I don’t need to meet you to know that there is nothing inferior about you, my friend.
I’m so blessed to have you as part of my community! Tell me, has someone ever made you feel inferior? Or better yet, how do you combat these feelings?
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What is an Inferiority Complex?
We all have times when we feel inadequate. Maybe we even become consumed by a sense of failure or low self-esteem. It’s human to feel this way at times, and in some ways it’s necessary and humbling. After all, if you don’t make mistakes and learn from them, you will never be able to grow.
But sometimes we become “stuck” in those feelings of inferiority — which can become a major problem. When your feelings of inferiority seem to take over your life and make it difficult to function or accomplish your goals, you may be suffering from an inferiority complex.
Although the term “inferiority complex” is often tossed around jokingly in pop culture and is not a mental health diagnosis, it’s still a real phenomenon. This phenomenon can be debilitating for someone who experiences it.
History of the Term Inferiority Complex
The term “inferiority complex” was coined at the turn of the 20th century by Australian psychologist Alfred Adler. Adler believed that we are all born with some amount of inferiority, learned in childhood, and that we all have an inborn drive to overcome this sense of inferiority.
However, psychologists believe that full-fledged inferiority complexes aren’t just based on childhood experiences, they usually stem from a combination of factors, including:
- Childhood experiences
- Experiences we have as adults
- Personality traits
- Cultural messages we receive about our perceived inadequacies
Definition of an Inferiority Complex
The American Psychological Association (APA) defines an inferiority complex as “a basic feeling of inadequacy and insecurity, deriving from actual or imagined physical or psychological deficiency.” This can be compared to a “superiority complex,” where an individual has an “exaggerated opinion of one’s abilities and accomplishments.”
Of course, when it comes to feelings of inferiority and superiority, it’s a bit of a “chicken and the egg” situation. Superiority complexes are usually formed in reaction to feelings of inferiority — i.e., people who exhibit symptoms of superiority complexes are usually doing so to overcompensate for their deep feelings of inadequacy.
Symptoms of an Inferiority Complex
So how do you know you are experiencing an inferiority complex? Well, usually you would know pretty easily, because you could be consumed with feelings of low self-esteem and negative self-image.
But sometimes symptoms are not so obvious, especially if you have developed an overcompensating superiority mindset to off-set your feelings of inferiority.
If you have an inferiority complex, here are some of the common things you might experience:
- Insecurity and low self-esteem
- Inability to reach your goals, or feeling “stuck”
- Wanting to give up easily
- Feeling the need to withdraw in social situations
- Often feeling down on yourself
- Experiencing anxiety and depression
The following are also signs of an inferiority complex, though they are often mistaken for someone who seems overly confident:
- Highly competitive streak
- Very sensitive to criticism
- Constantly finding fault in others
- Finding it difficult to admit mistakes
Treatment for Inferiority Complex
Because the development of an inferiority complex can lead to mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression, it’s important to seek help if you feel you are struggling with inferiority.
Psychotherapy is a great place to start when you are looking to work through your inferiority complex. Your therapist can help guide you through your past experiences with criticism, low self-esteem, or any traumas that may have shaped your negative self-image.
You can look at what messages you received as a child about your inadequacies and how you coped in the past. You can discuss any damaging thought patterns, and brainstorm ways to reshape your self-image and rebuild your self-confidence.
Moving through all of this and facing some of the origins of your inferiority complex isn’t always an easy path, and it can take time to feel like you are making progress. Keep in mind that many people have suffered with inferiority complexes at times in their life, and that it is possible to feel more confident again.
Meditation and journaling
In addition to therapy, it can be helpful to try meditation and journaling, as these both can help you begin to understand what some of your thought patterns around your self-image have been — and you can begin to work toward a healthier and more affirming mindset.
Making a conscious goal to surround yourself with more positive and uplifting people can also make a huge difference. Negative or toxic relationships can at times set us up for failure, especially if you are particularly sensitive to people who constantly put you down or if you have a history of difficult relationships.
The bottom line is that living with an inferiority complex isn’t something you have to just put up with. It’s something that you can break free from — and you deserve to feel strong, happy, and confident once more.
Inferiority complex in psychological sense is a kind of inferiority that can be partially or wholly unconscious. The term was studied in detail at first by an early psychoanalyst, Alfred Adler. He believed that many neurotic symptoms were able to be traced to overcompensate for this sentiment. The concept of inferiority complexes was developed by Alfred Adler, and Napoleon was one of the earliest persons to have suffered from inferiority complex. The word “complex” began to be used later after it attained acceptance to signify a set of emotionally toned notions, something that is more or less repressed, and can be linked to similar emotions of inferiority. However, the term inferiority complex has been often attached with wrong connotations and has lost much of its significance.
Inferiority complex is a feeling of lack of self-confidence that stems either from real or imaginary sources. These emotions can mostly be subconscious and will coerce the ones suffering from it to overcompensate in their performance. It can result differently, either in the form of exceptional achievement or developing acute antisocial antics. In severe cases, the person can alter between the two extremes.
When a normal human goes through inferiority complex, it can motivate them toward success in a healthy manner, but a person who suffers from the complex can take it as intensified discouragement where these emotions can be of harm to themselves.Most of the studies conducted on inferiority complexes have primarily centered on the individuals. The medical community has demarcated differences between the known primary and secondary feelings of inferiority complex.
What are the signs of inferiority complex?
Alfred Adler studied extensively about inferiority complex and reasoned that several factors can develop inferiority complex. For example, when a person sees someone else accomplishing more in comparison to them or when a person receives criticism, it can cause inferiority complex in few people.
For some people, developing an inferiority complex can be completely draining and can have a severe impact on their health and wellbeing. Few major signs of inferiority complex are as follows:
- The person needs a constant validation.
If an individual needs other people’s opinion about everything he/she does or want to do, it can be because of inferiority complex. It can stem as early as when a child grows up seeking validation by pleasing his/her parents to provide a boost to his/her self-esteem. However, if individuals were ignored at this stage, it can trigger several mixed emotions leading to inferiority complex as well.
- The person is very sensitive about other people’s opinions.
It is when a person finds it difficult to handle people talking behind their back, finds it difficult to stand up for oneself, and begins to stress over the slightest thing.
- Taking constructive criticism is a difficulty for those suffering from inferiority complex.
- Only flattery in some form helps them to feel better about themselves.
- They can go on for endless procrastination about trivial issues.
- They have withdrawal symptoms from the society and also put their own needs last.
- They will find faults with others to draw away attention from them and self-boost themselves through finding faults in others.
How do you deal with an inferiority complex person?
There are several self-helping ways to overcome inferiority complex. Few ways are discussed below:
- The person must develop the ability to tackle with past difficulties in case of emotional distress.
- One must look deeply to understand the root cause behind the development of inferiority complex. Understanding oneself clearly and layer by layer can help to reason well and find a solution.
- To be empathic to oneself and not too harsh to one’s own feelings. The person must force to practise self-compassion. This can be done by choosing to be surrounded by people who can truly uplift the person.
- The person should be coached to say no and observe the art of “silence.” More focus should be on self and the person should be made to comprehend that their contentment matters the most. Thus, they should force themselves to be more assertive. They should not just think but should take proactive steps to do things that make them happy.
- The person should be made to identify their merits and work to hone them further. Negative talking can be very harmful and the person should engage in positive personality developing activities like talking to themselves to provide motivation. These can make a big impact on the reconstruction of self-image.
- One should be able to embrace himself/herself completely. They must develop the understanding that what they expect from themselves and what the society expects from them can be two different things, and they must choose what they want for themselves.
- Along with this, they must let go all unreasonable expectations that they have built around themselves, which can be in relationships, goals, or any capabilities.
- In extreme cases, a professional help must be sought, which can help a person overcome the difficulty with more ease.
What is an egomaniac with an inferiority complex?
An egomaniac is a person who has grown into self-obsession. The person builds an unrestrained compulsion that is delusional and makes him/her believe about his/her own greatness. This person can often feel left out when he/she is not appreciated by others and will make immense efforts to first make himself/herself happy even if it is at the expense of other’s happiness. The context to understand here is that it is an extreme behavior to provide self-satisfaction.
There are many key indications that can suggest that a person is an egomaniac and has developed inferiority complex.
These signs are given as follows:
- 1. They overemphasize on self-importance: The egomaniacs give more emphasis to themselves as compared to life skills or actual experiences.
- 2. They can ridicule or exploit others: These people draw satisfaction by pointing out fingers at others’ defects.
- 3. Over sensitive with a sense of self-entitlement: They crave for attention. They can be self-obsessed and can easily be addicted to social media. At the same time, they want people around them to realize their worth and give a superior treatment to them.
- 4. Difficult to accept any form of defeat: They have hard time if they lose on any argument, game, or anything trivial.
- 5. Actively seek positive compliments: It can be a general trait in every human being; however, an egomaniac will put everything at stake to seek that acknowledging compliment. They find hard to feel secure in case of relationships if they are not well complimented.
- 6. Poor listeners: It is because they are focussed on their own self with so much passion, and they will never pay attention to what others have to say.
Thus, egomaniacs share several features with narcissistic personality disorder but not all of their symptoms can be dubbed as personality disorders.
5 Tips for Treating Inferiority Complex
You can watch or listen to this article here
Reasons for feeling inferior can be difficult to articulate however they can still create strong emotions
“Never think that you’re not good enough. People will take you very much at your own reckoning.”
– Anthony Trollope
Tammy, 19, felt “inferior”. That’s what her mum told me when booking her appointment.
As I got up to answer the startling call of the doorbell, I mused that feeling inferior can only be done through comparison. We can only feel inferior in relation to something or someone else.
As I opened the door I further reflected that for feelings of inferiority to be “a complex” (as Tammy’s mother described it), we need to feel emotional about feeling inferior. I know I’m an inferior mathematician to, say, Manjul Bhargava, but I have no particular feelings about that. Good for him, I say. Feeling inferior, then, is different from objectively knowing that we might be inferior to someone in a particular way.
Time to stop my musings and focus outward. I smiled at Tammy and welcomed her. She was diffident but friendly. I wanted to know what the problem was from her perspective.
If you’re looking for personal help, I’ve created
On never feeling good enough
“I feel anxious a lot of the time.” Was that a subtle crack in her voice, a bottled-up sob?
“What do you feel anxious about?” I asked. The deep sadness I saw sitting dolefully within such young eyes left me feeling a little emotional myself.
“I feel as if I can never be good enough. When I see others… I know you’re not supposed to compare yourself… but I think I’m ugly and stupid…”
Feeling inferior is intrinsic to low self-esteem, but here I want to focus more specifically on what’s been called ‘comparanoia’ – constantly comparing yourself to others, and finding yourself lacking.
So how do people get to feeling less than others or less than they ‘should’ be?
Anatomy of the inferiority complex
Confidently knowing that Usain Bolt can run faster than you is not the same as feeling inferior unless you really, really care about that. A real inferiority complex has us feeling that:
- We should be as good as others.
- We are not as good as others, but we don’t really know why that is.
It’s a generalized feeling of inadequacy not based on rational judgements. Tammy found it hard to articulate why she felt inferior. It wasn’t a cognitive thing, it was an emotional sense she carried with her, privately and painfully. The emotions of feeling inferior comprise:
- Anxiety: A fear of somehow being ‘found out’ or unmasked as completely inadequate; a sense of imposter syndrome even when you are achieving good things in your work or social life.
- Hopelessness and helplessness (two key ingredients of depression): Feeling that whatever you do you just can’t be as good as you’re supposed to be, or as other people seem to be. No matter how well you do, it still won’t be good enough. Even high achievers can feel like failures.
- Anger, defensiveness, resentment and envy, and possibly guilt about those feelings.
Tammy said she often felt “ugly”. Objectively she certainly wasn’t, but that’s the nature of the beast. Feeling ugly can be totally disconnected from the objective perception others have of you, and of course any evidence to the contrary can easily be rejected or rationalized away – indeed, it must be if the inferiority complex is to survive.
But Tammy repeatedly told me she just felt “not good enough”. She found it hard to be specific at first, but then it’s always hard trying to articulate feelings when they have no real basis in thought.
So where might an inferiority complex originate?
How to feel inadequate
In a world that encourages us to buy stuff because we’re “worth it” while simultaneously force-feeding us airbrushed perfection, it’s easy for an inferiority complex to take hold.
We’re told it’s what’s inside that counts, but we’re saturated in the outside of people’s seemingly exciting, rewarding, beautiful lives. We are drowning in the fantasy while being told it doesn’t matter.
In a way, if we believe in lifelong self-improvement, none of us are good enough. We haven’t measured up to everything we could be – at least, not yet.
But self-objectivity, knowing our own shortcomings and seeking to improve them, is not the same as feeling emotional about ourselves or, as Tammy sometimes did, self-despising. She had self-harmed in the past and had also been through periods of bulimia.
Maybe a client has been told they weren’t good enough by a parent. One woman I know was repeatedly told by her mother that she was the “ugliest girl in the street” and no one liked her! Or maybe they have been constantly compared to other people: “Why can’t you be more like your sister?” Other people might feel inferior because they are perfectionists; they feel that anything less than perfection is inadequate.
Being at war with the self is painful. We always need to be on our own side. To be our own support and encouragement.
But there’s something else.
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Peeking at the lives of others
How good-looking are you? How tall? How rich? How smart? How popular? How deeply loved and adored?
We can only be tall or short, rich or poor, attractive or ugly in comparison to others. In a world with a population of one, ‘good-looking’ would have no meaning at all.
A hundred and fifty years ago, you would have known your neighbours and a few other locals, who would probably have been similar to you in many ways. You may have been vaguely aware of a few famous people, but that was it.
Today’s world is a very different place. Now, we can glide silently through the lives and status updates (‘status’ being the operative word) of much of the world, not least of all the rich and airbrushed.
Tammy was spending four to five hours a day on social media. She admitted it often made her feel sad, ugly and generally inferior but she felt pressured to be on there.
Researchers at Glasgow University have found that night-time usage of social media is associated with poor sleep, lower self-esteem and increased anxiety and depression(1).
And it’s no wonder. Constant monitoring of how many – or how few – ‘likes’ or positive responses they are getting on social media can train young people to become dependent on the approval of others and depressed when it isn’t forthcoming. Such dependence on outside approval is a recipe for unhappiness and poor emotional adjustment(2).
Of course, there are many advantages to social media, but like any tool, it can be misused, or even, in the case of cyberbullying, weaponized.
But we’re not defenceless. If we can only relax our expectations as to how we ‘should’ be and understand that the way others present themselves to the world is heavily edited, then we can relax about how others seem to be and how we seem to them. And I’m not just talking about online.
This was my challenge with Tammy.
So what can we do for a client with an inferiority complex?
Tip one: Deal with emotional memories
Having an inferiority complex means having an array of unhappy feelings, some of which will fuel thoughts. Helping people examine their own thoughts, widen their perspective and challenge emotional thinking (which is always restricted) can be valuable and effective.
But when the feelings are really strong, it can be easier to deal with them directly. When we do this, our thoughts tend to naturally become fairer and more moderate.
I asked Tammy to hone in on the feeling of “never being good enough”. With closed eyes, she focused on the feeling. It wasn’t hard for her to access it.
Next, I asked her if the feelings produced any particular memory in which she’d had similar feelings. This is known as the ‘Affect Bridge’ technique. She thought for a moment and said no, but eventually a painful memory of being teased and tormented at school when she was eight years old came to mind.
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Now I asked her to open her eyes and focus on a time she felt good. Once she had accessed these resourceful feelings, I had her go back to that day at school, watch it calmly from the outside, and, as her adult self, comfort her eight-year-old self and “sort that time out”. She reported feeling very calm with that memory after we used this ‘helping hand technique’.
We did this with all kinds of painful memories, and with time the pattern began to change. You can watch me do this technique with my low self esteem client Emily inside Uncommon Practitioners TV. In her case, the old memory was of having books thrown at her at school when she’d tried to speak.
Next, we can remind our clients that only they can be them. When this idea hits home as a feeling, not just a “yeah, yeah, I know” thought, the impact can be profound.
Tip two: Drop the mime
“Here lies Rachel. She was quite like Susan,” read no gravestone, ever. All Rachel can be is Rachel (or the best possible version of herself); she’s not ever going to be Susan. In the words of Oscar Wilde, “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”
Wanting to look like, sound like, live like, and be someone else is to abandon what makes us unique. How can an impersonator ever be true to themselves?
Plastic replica lives don’t make people happy. That’s not to say we can’t learn from others. But being inspired by someone means assimilating some of their traits into who you are. It doesn’t mean trying to have their exact same life.
Inferiority complexes thrive on people wanting to be someone they’re not. This doesn’t mean we have to limit ourselves as to what we can do or accomplish in life, but it does mean that we can get by much better when we don’t try to be someone else.
Inferiority complexes thrive on people wanting to be someone they’re notClick To Tweet
I talked about ‘plastic lives’ to Tammy, and I also used other metaphors, analogies and hypnotic storytelling to help her broaden her sense of herself as herself, not some inadequate copy of anyone else. We can also help our clients in another way.
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Tip three: Get specific
Tammy wasn’t too specific about why she felt inferior, other than feeling “ugly” even though she “knew” she wasn’t. But it can sometimes be useful to get specific with clients. What exactly have they been feeling inferior about?
Emotional thinking is always sloppy and all-or-nothing. So we can help our clients ‘tighten’ it up to make it less emotional. There are around seven billion people on this planet (last time I counted). Which ones does your client feel inferior to? Rich people? Good-looking people? Academic people? ‘Accomplished’ people (whatever that means)?
Most people aren’t these things, at least not in any extreme way. Is your client being too being selective as to whom they compare themselves with?
If I just compare myself to Nobel prize winners, I will certainly see a bit of a gulf between their achievements and mine. On the other hand, if I compare myself to people I feel have achieved less than me, maybe I could be a bit less harsh on myself. Or here’s a thought: maybe I could just drop it altogether.
Which leads me onto the next intervention.
Tip four: Dare to be different
Life is much less restrictive than it used to be in westernized countries. In the ’50s, you were expected to be married (in your early twenties at that!); to have kids and a ‘respectable career’ (grave robbers need not apply); to have short hair or long hair, depending on gender; to dress ‘properly’; to have all the right opinions. We haven’t cast aside all these norms, and I’m not even suggesting they are all bad, but people are much freer now to live a bit differently.
No one is a ‘failure’ if they are unmarried at forty (or eighty, for that matter), or if they don’t have kids or a traditionally professional career. Not in terms of current societal norms, though your parents may still have some backwards expectations.
The kind of thinking that prompts “Oh no! I’m forty-five now. I should have a mortgage, a partner, 2.4 children! I should be how other people are!” is a trap. If you really want these things, that’s one thing; but if you only ‘want’ them because you feel they are expected of you, then remember this: your life can only be lived by you.
So we can encourage our clients to explore what they want to do as distinct from what they feel they are or were supposed to do.
“What do you think?”
“What do you want?”
These are the questions I kept asking Tammy. I wanted to get to the bottom of what she wanted, not what she thought she should want or what other people expected. She said she felt “validated” by this, but really all I was doing was addressing her: the one and only Tammy.
It’s also useful to look at just what a client may be expecting.
Tip five: Oust the Utopian assumptions
People who feel inferior tend to think in all-or-nothing ways (actually, any emotion will drive us to do this). ‘Utopianism’ is one form of this simplified ‘if only’ thinking.
- “If only I was 20 pounds lighter, then I’d be confident and happy!”
- “If only I earned ten thousand more a year, then my life would be good!”
- “If only I could be exactly like Bob, then I’d feel great about my(him)self!”
Life doesn’t work like that. Sure, you might have more confidence if you lose 20 pounds, at least for a while. But because much of what we feel inferior about is relatively superficial, band-aid remedies will always leave the non-superficial part of us wanting.
Even if I earn a million a year, it won’t be long before I start thinking, “If only I earned two million…” Why? Because I still haven’t satisfied what I actually need as a human being.
We all have deeper needs, and until those needs are met there may be an aching disconnect between what we feel we want and what we really need. Whole lifetimes might be predicated on this mismatch and the bewilderment and lack of fulfilment it causes.
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On being Tammy
Chronic ‘comparanoia’ tends to drop away quite naturally when we begin to live in more sustainable ways. We do this by meeting our needs for real meaning, purpose, and genuine connection to others.
I worked long and hard with Tammy to help her overcome past emotional conditioning and to start meeting her primal emotional needs in balance. In hypnosis we rehearsed her caring less about what others might or might not think and challenged the learned thinking that had been causing her problems for so long.
I also encouraged and helped prepare Tammy for downtime from social media. She cut it down to no more than 90 minutes a day and sometimes much less. We mentally rehearsed her being much less bothered by what she read and saw when it seemed to reflect badly on her by comparison, and feeling and being more socially spontaneous.
Tammy has become happier and less anxious, and she says she “feels freer”. She has started to see differences between herself and others not in terms of ‘better’ or ‘worse’, but just as differences.
After my last session with Tammy she sent me a clip from Youtube: a song by The Kinks called ‘Plastic Man‘.
She says she will live her life as a flesh-and-blood, unique, “perfectly imperfect” person. She is the only Tammy there ever was, is, or will be. She will never be a plastic copy of what other people expect.
For more on treating low self esteem, see my course: How to Lift Low Self Esteem in Your Clients
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About Mark Tyrrell
Psychology is my passion. I’ve been a psychotherapist trainer since 1998, specializing in brief, solution focused approaches. I now teach practitioners all over the world via our online courses.
You can get my book FREE when you subscribe to my therapy techniques newsletter.
You can also get my articles on YouTube, find me on Instagram, Amazon, Twitter, and Facebook.
First published on: 16th May 2017
Do You Feel Worthless? How To Overcome An Inferiority Complex
Everyone feels down about themselves sometimes, especially after a significant disappointment or particularly rough interpersonal conflict. This is unpleasant, but it’s undeniably normal.
However, perhaps you’re reading this and thinking that you never feel good about yourself. If you constantly believe you lack value, doubt your abilities and fixate on the idea that the other people are better than you, then you may have an inferiority complex. But what does this mean, and how does a problem like this develop in the first place?
We’ll discuss the definition of this issue, explore various inferiority complex symptoms and then move on to tackle some of the most powerful strategies for building a better, more confident perspective.
While an inferiority complex feels truly horrible and can undermine your success in life, it is possible to move beyond it and create healthy, solid self-esteem that supports good relationships, satisfying careers, and daily happiness.
What Is An Inferiority Complex?
In a nutshell, having an inferiority complex means that you fixate on your perceived weaknesses and constantly compare yourself to others in an unfavorable light. While it’s true that we all have flaws, if you have an inferiority complex then these flaws will be all you see.
Studies on inferiority complex psychology suggest that this perspective on yourself leads to pervasive feelings of unhappiness.
The causes of inferiority complex problems are varied, but some of the most frequently occur in early life. For example, perhaps your parents gave you the message that you weren’t good enough, or maybe an experience of harsh criticism at school ended up lodging itself in your psyche. Often, this is then manifested in a range of adult behaviors, detailed below.
The opposite of inferiority complex is superiority complex, which convinces you that you are better than everyone else. A healthy perspective occupies a middle ground, and we’ll look at how to cultivate such a middle ground in the final section of this post.
Signs Of An Inferiority Complex
There’s no official inferiority complex test, but there is a range of extremely common symptoms that most inferiority complex sufferers experience.
In particular, look out for the following:
- Feeling worthless. This will often be felt in comparison to positive assessments of others. Instead of seeing people as fallible, you will hone in on their very best qualities and notice how you fall short in comparison.
- Sensitivity to criticism. Even constructive criticism will make you feel attacked and will lead to feelings of self-loathing or shame.
- Imagining negative judgment. Your default assumption will be that other people don’t like you or think you’re valuable, no matter what they say to the contrary.
- Negative feelings around social media. You will experience feelings of jealousy and melancholy when you see other people’s happy experiences.
- Submissiveness. You will rarely stand up for yourself (or your view), and have difficulty asserting your needs.
- Perfectionism. If something isn’t perfect, you think it’s a failure.
How To Overcome An Inferiority Complex
Inferiority complex treatment can be done in therapy, partly through exploring the origins of your negative beliefs and figuring out ways to rewrite them.
That said, the good news is that you don’t need to rack up huge therapy bills to get the job done here! There are always plenty of effective things you can do at home. If you’re asking yourself “How do I stop feeling worthless?”, try the following five strategies. Notice the impact they have on you at first, and try to sustain these new habits to see what changes they promote over weeks and months.
While you do so, however, be mindful of whether you might be struggling with a coexisting issue like depression or anxiety. If you suspect this might be the case, it’s worth speaking to your doctor as well as trying to implement these strategies for creating positive change.
5 Ways To Get Rid Of An Inferiority Complex
(As well as the 5 ways to get rid of an inferiority complex, detailed below, be sure to pick up your free copy of Joe Vitale’s ebook, Clearing Negativity From Your Life, now!)
1. Determine Who You Feel Inferior To
Instead of stopping at the realization that you have an inferiority complex, push through and figure out who you feel inferior to in the first place. Be as specific as you can in narrowing this down, and consider not only people you know but also celebrities and even imaginary concepts (e.g. “the perfect wife” or “the amazing renaissance man”).
If you find it difficult to figure out who you are comparing yourself to, consider the following list of types of people who most frequently inspire inferiority complex:
- Very physically attractive people
- Rich people with lavish lifestyles
- Smart people with multiple degrees
- Those who have impressive, dynamic careers
- Funny people who have large social groups
Once you have a better sense of the kinds of people who make you feel inferior, try to pick out specific people in your life who exemplify those traits.
Next, for each of these individuals, find at least one thing that you have and they don’t. There will be something!
2. Stop Worrying About What Others Think
Disconnecting from the perceived judgments of others is one of the most important things you can do to destroy an inferiority complex. After all, the bulk of such complexes come from obsessing over what other people think of you. Sometimes this will relate to things people have actually said to you, and at other times it will be all about what you imagine they think.
At the end of the day, only your opinion of yourself matters. Plus, research shows that when we feel good about ourselves, others feel better about ourselves in response.
So, how do you stop worrying about other people’s views?
Firstly, focus on what makes you happy. What brings passion, joy, and fulfillment into your life? When you’re spending time on this, you’ll spend far less energy on worrying about what other people think.
Secondly, try to remember that others are typically too concerned with their own appearances to devote much thought to negatively evaluating you. Similar to the ‘it’s more afraid of you than you are of it’ in regards to phobias, often people are just as worried or insecure as you are.
3. Build Your Self Confidence
When you learn how to feel better about yourself, this increased security will begin to make you feel worthy (rather than inferior).
There are many moving parts to the process of building self-esteem, but we’ll canvass a few of the major factors:
- Treat yourself better. When you do this, you cement subconscious beliefs that you are valuable and worth taking care of. Are you exercising regularly, eating well, and getting enough sleep? If not, work to build these aspects of self-care into your life.
- As mentioned above, you’ll also feel better about yourself if you’re living an authentic life, doing what you truly love. Ask yourself what’s holding you back from that, and make a plan to defeat those obstacles.
- Act confident. Project a deeper sense of self-worth, watch how others buy into it, and notice the feedback loop that actually creates more confidence in yourself.
Make a list of ten things you like about yourself, and pin it up where you’ll see it every day.
The term “self-talk” refers to how you speak to yourself in your own mind; the words you use, the tone you imagine, and the origins of your inner critic. This internal voice has an enormous impact on how you see yourself and your actions. When it’s negative, it feeds an inferiority complex and a sense of self-loathing. And when it’s positive, it encourages you to see yourself as worthy and helps you to sustain happiness in the longer term.
What you need to do is locate negative self-talk, eliminate it, and replace it with self-affirming talk.
There are different ways to approach it (some of which form the foundation of cognitive behavioral therapy), but an affirmation-based one is easiest to do at home. Try writing down some of the cruel and undermining things your inner voice says, then write down positive alternatives. Recite those positive affirmations daily, ideally into a mirror.
5. Surround Yourself With Positive People
Finally, it’s vital to recognize that your inferiority complex may be linked to the people you spend time around. Perform an inventory of your social circle, think about your interactions with family members, and consider how you get along with colleagues.
If you identify people who actively try to bring you down, who don’t reciprocate your caring behaviors or who draw you into unneeded drama, start thinking about how you can distance yourself from these individuals. Consider completely removing toxic people from your life in order to surround yourself with positivity.
To develop better self-esteem and a more positive sense of your identity, find people who build you and support you. Nurture the friendships in which reciprocal listening, kindness, and responsibility are present. And if you feel like your life currently lacks these sorts of positive people, today is the day to go out there and start trying to find them!
Consider signing up for new classes, joining clubs, or connect with people online. There are people out there who are just waiting to help you find the best version of yourself.
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Inferiority Complex: 5 Tips for Fighting Low Self-Esteem
Inferiority complex is beyond the occasional feelings of inadequacy and inferiority everyone feels at some points in life. It is a pathological state of being overwhelmed by a real or imagined inadequacy, causing an individual to be less confident and being overly critical of themselves.
Inferiority Complex: What does it mean?
Inferior Definition – Feeling inferior means feeling inadequate or below others in terms of social, physical, intellectual, or psychological attributes. For instance, a student may feel inferior to others he considers brilliant in his class because of his poor performance. Feeling inferior stems from comparing oneself with others and perceiving oneself as not being up to par with others on a certain scale.
While everyone, at some point in life, has felt inferior to someone else in terms of knowledge of a subject, ability to play a musical instrument, and so on, inferiority complex is a much broader and long-lasting feeling of inadequacy which stems from childhood and affects almost all aspects of an individual’s life. People with inferiority complex usually don’t feel good enough and they express extreme sensitivity.
Adlerian Psychology (as theorized by the Psychologist Alfred Adler) differentiates inferiority complex into two types: Primary inferiority and secondary inferiority. Primary inferiority occurs in childhood with the feelings persisting into adulthood. Primary inferiority is often caused by childhood stressors such as parental neglect, parental abuse, inadequate emotional support, and poor academic performance. It is often intensified by comparison to siblings, friends, and adults. Secondary inferiority begins in adulthood and results from an adult’s inability to achieve goals set to compensate for their original childhood feelings of inferiority.
According to Adler, everyone feels inferior to others in a certain way once in a while, and it is completely normal. Adler notes that this feeling is a stimulant to the healthy, normal developmental process of a human being. He differentiates it from inferiority complex as the latter being a pathological state where the feeling of inferiority dominates an individual and causes them to feel depressed and incapable of progressing to the desired stage.
Inferiority Complex vs. Low Self Esteem
Although contemporary psychologists (and a lot of people) interchange inferiority complex and low self-esteem, they have slightly different conceptual meanings. Low self-esteem is a feeling of doubt in oneself, sense of self-worth, or one’s ability to do something. It typically stems from a subconscious perception of oneself as below a certain physical, social, or intellectual standard. Inferiority complex stems from a low self-esteem. It is a manifestation of a low self-esteem and refers to how a person’s constant thoughts of inadequacy and self-doubt affect their emotions, interactions, relationships, and general worldview.
What Could Cause Inferiority Complex?
Inferiority complex results from an imagined or real feeling of inadequacy and inferiority. Some of these factors that cause inferiority complex include:
- Parental upbringing – Children who are brought up by caregivers who are disapproving and always critical of their actions and performance are at a high risk of developing a low self-esteem and inferiority complex.
- Social Limitations – Discrimination against an individual based on their family, race, sex, socio-economic status, educational level, religion, and sexual orientation may place them at a risk of inferiority complex.
- Physical defects – Some defects in appearance, such as weight issues, visual defects, skin diseases, burn wounds, may trigger feelings of self-doubt and low self-esteem in some individuals. Other physical features such as speech defects including stuttering may also lead to feelings of inferiority complex.
Inferiority Complex “Symptoms”
It is important for people to recognize the signs of inferiority complex so as to better understand themselves and how to seek help. These signs include:
1. Social Withdrawal
People with inferiority complex usually feel uncomfortable being around others, particularly in a crowded place. This is because of an imagined belief that others would soon find out that they don’t fit into the group, causing them to feel embarrassed. People with inferiority complex often have trouble making new friends or maintaining the ones they have, because they feel they are not good enough and the friends may not like them.
2. Fault Finding
A key sign of inferiority complex is the urge to make others feel inadequate or incompetent too. An individual with an inferiority complex is not driven by the need to achieve or succeed at something, therefore, they do not train their minds to recognize and compliment the positive attributes of others. To feel better about themselves, such individuals tend to make others feel bad about themselves too by finding faults and pointing out the wrong things about others. They also do not take responsibility for their failures and mistakes, blaming them on others.
3. Performance Anxiety
An individual with inferiority complex already feels they can’t achieve as much as others in a certain task, therefore, if placed in a situation where they have to complete a task, they may feel very apprehensive. You may find yourself feeling so anxious when asked to sing a song or operate a device, for instance. This occurs because of the fear of failure or the fear of being laughed at or criticized, resulting from your feeling of inadequacy and belief that you cannot perform the task.
4. Craving for Attention
An individual with an inferiority complex has a strong need to be loved and validated. Inferiority complex robs an individual of a healthy sense of self and sense of worth, so they seek to receive validation from others. These people usually need to be flattered and are dependent on such flattery for their happiness. They may pretend to be ill or unhappy so as to get attention or cheer from others.
5. Increased sensitivity
People with an inferiority complex are highly sensitive to what others do, think, or say about them. They do not take compliments or criticisms well and may become overly aggressive when they are criticized. This occurs because such critical comments about them reinforce their own thoughts about themselves, and in trying to defend or protect themselves, they become aggressive or overly emotional.
6. Easily Feeling Disrespected
Individuals with inferiority complex often neglect their needs and emotions in order to be liked by others. They put their needs last so as to continue receiving attention from others. You may find yourself tolerating several episodes of abuse from your relationship partner, for instance. This is usually a result of your lack of self-esteem and poor boundaries.
Five Tips for Raising Self Esteem
At the core of the manifestations of inferiority complex is low self-esteem and until this is addressed, you may continue to experience those thoughts and emotions of inadequacy. Here are some ways of building your self-esteem and becoming a more confident person:
1. Practice Self-Compassion
One of the key steps to feeling less inferior to others and more confident about yourself is being kind to yourself. Everyone makes mistakes, everyone fails and it takes getting back up and trying again to succeed. Having this at the back of your mind will reduce the anxiety and depression you feel when you make a mistake. Be happy when you make a mistake and learn from it so it can be avoided in the future. You need to realize that some weaknesses are not abnormal and are completely surmountable. If you define yourself by your mistakes or past failures, you may find it difficult surpassing those barriers to achieve further successes.
2. Recognize your strengths.
One thing low self-esteem does to an individual is to make their weaknesses overwhelming. People with inferiority complex usually focus a lot on what they can’t do well and less on what they are capable of doing. If you focus on the things you are good at, whether it is singing, writing, cooking, or talking, you will find that you get better at doing such things and you will feel much better and much more confident about yourself.
3. Form Positive Relationships
You should avoid people who tend to bring you down or who constantly say demeaning things about or to you. Choose to build friendships with people who identify and bring out the best in you. Move with people who build your strengths and who will help you become a better person.
4. Practice Assertiveness
Assertiveness involves setting boundaries in your relationship with others. It involves respecting other people’s needs and opinions and expecting that yours be respected as well. Some examples of being assertive include standing up for yourself, letting go of toxic friendships, and stating your needs confidently. The more assertive you are, the more people will respect you and the better you will feel about yourself.
5. Learning to say “No”
People with a poor self-esteem typically fall into the trap of agreeing to everyone’s demands. They do this, not because they want to, but because they do not want to lose their friendship with others. Learning to say “No” is a great way of being assertive and making your own needs clear to others. In time, others will learn to respect you, your time, your space, and so on because you clearly stated your boundaries. This will also make you feel better about yourself.
Should you seek outside Help?
While it is possible for you to manage your feelings of inferiority by changing your attitudes and behavior on your own, you may need the help of support groups and therapy.
Support groups provide you with the right environment and emotional support to overcome the feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness. In these groups, you will meet with and learn from people who have experienced the feelings of inferiority in the past.
Cognitive behavioral therapy may be initiated for you if you have an inferiority complex. The therapist will recommend strategies for you to modify your behavior, emotions, and thoughts for you to overcome the feelings of inferiority and become a more confident person.
How to Find a Therapist
Your primary care physician will refer you to a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist for therapy. You may also ask friends and family for good therapists, or check through online resources and directories to find the right therapist for you.
What should I be looking for in a Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP)?
Qualities you should look for in an LMHP include:
- Good Communication Skills: An effective LMHP should be able to effectively communicate their expert ideas about how you can overcome this feeling of inferiority.
- Empathy: You do not want a counselor who would rush through medical facts without considering your emotional needs. You need an LMHP that is considerate, patient, calm, and compassionate with you.
- Problem-Solving Skills: Your chosen LMHP must be knowledgeable enough to help you through to a satisfactory resolution of your symptoms. While the outcome is not entirely up to your counselor, they must demonstrate ample ability to help manage your symptoms effectively.
- Good multicultural Relationship: Your counselor must be able to strike a strong patient-therapist relationship with you irrespective of your racial, ethnic, or cultural differences. Therapy must be devoid of such prejudices which may hamper on the effectiveness of treatment.
Questions to ask a Potential Therapist
You should ask a potential therapist the following questions to help you gain more insight into your symptoms and the scope of your treatment options.
- Why do I feel and act the way I do?
- Am I having an inferiority complex?
- Are these behavioral patterns long-lasting or transient?
- Can I overcome this feeling of inferiority?
- Is therapy necessary?
- How long will therapy be for, it necessary?
- Are there any resources or websites you recommend?
Inferiority complex is a pathological feeling of inadequacy and self-doubt which stems from low self-esteem. People with inferiority complex usually have this imagined or real feeling of being below others in social, psychological, physical, or intellectual terms. You can overcome this feeling by deliberately changing your behavior, thoughts, and belief system. This will make you appreciate your uniqueness and feel more confident about yourself.