We all experience our own bouts of self-doubt and anxiety from time to time. Inferiority is a common feeling we share at some point in our lives. This is a struggle that we all face.
Without these feelings of inadequacy, we wouldn’t find the desire to better ourselves. It’s essential to personal growth.
In fact, as babies, we were born inferior and at the mercy of our caregivers.
But as we grow older, we learn to recognize, accept, and overcome our inadequacies and limitations.
However, to some people, the feeling of inferiority is so overwhelming that it affects almost everything in their lives.
These difficulties can stem from issues surrounding physical appearance, social and emotional responses, or anything relating to personal or career capabilities.
Many things can cause Inferiority Complex. But this often affects individuals who are constantly reminded of their shortcomings, either from harsh and authoritarian parenting or peer pressure.
Inferiority Complex goes beyond just feelings of inadequacy. Symptoms are complicated, serious, and something you always have to deal with.
In this article, we’ll tackle everything about Inferiority Complex, what it is, how to recognize its signs, and some easy and mindful steps to help you overcome it.
What is Inferiority Complex?
It was a French psychologist, Alfred Adler who first coined the term “Inferiority Complex.” Alder believed that all humans go through feelings of inferiority as children. In turn, they spend the rest of their lives trying to compensate for these feelings.
Normally, these feelings change from the dependence of childhood and evolve towards the independence of adulthood. Despite this change, these feelings of inferiority still exist – albeit at more persisting and varying levels.
For some people, this can become a motivating factor. They use feelings of inferiority to push them to become better-performing individuals.
However, some become dominated by it. The feelings of inferiority become so overwhelming that it cripples them.
They become so paralyzed that they become extremely shy and have the feeling of overwhelming unworthiness. Worse, they tend to prevent themselves from failure by not trying at all.
As a defense mechanism, people with Inferiority complex develop their own way of responding to situations that challenge them. These defense mechanisms can develop into their own Inferiority Complex symptoms.
Symptoms of Inferiority Complex
1. Extreme sensitivity towards other people’s opinions.
Is there anything more upsetting than other people talking about you? You might feel overly sensitive about other people’s opinions of you, to the point that it affects your every action.
2. Constructive criticism is particularly hard for you.
You can’t take any sort of constructive criticism well. But healthy criticism is good for everyone. We all need to hear certain things that can help us become better people. However, you just can’t stand people telling you you’re wrong.
3. You want to be flattered all the time.
In fact, you go out of your way so you can get flattered. Being told that you’re great gives you an unbelievable high. You rely on these words of praise so much, that when you don’t get them, you feel unworthy.
4. Social withdrawal.
You fear people’s opinions of you so much, that you don’t even want to socialize entirely. You’d rather be on your own rather than risk feeling inferior to others.
5. You’re constantly comparing yourself to other people.
This is one of the most telltale signs of inferiority complex. You just can’t help but keep comparing yourself to others. You always think you’re not as successful, or not as physically attractive, or not as popular.
6. You’re a perfectionist.
To you, nothing is ever good enough. Being a perfectionist can actually be great. It means you always do the best you can. But you take it to a whole other level. You focus and nitpick on every little thing that it actually hinders your work, not better it. And you never feel any sort of satisfaction with it.
7. Social media affects you quite negatively.
It’s normal to question your self-worth when you leave in an age where gratification is the meaning of happiness. Social media affects you in a way that it drastically triggers feelings of shame and inadequacy.
8. You constantly cover your flaws.
Everyone should see you as nothing less than perfect. You go out of your way just so the world can see you in the best light possible. And you never do anything that might make you less appealing, even forsaking your own feelings.
How To Overcome Inferiority Complex
Feelings of inferiority are so deeply-rooted that it can prove impossible to rid yourself of it. This goes way beyond simply not liking yourself. You believe that you’re inferior, and no one and nothing can convince you otherwise. It’s not rational, but it’s there anyway.
So how do you handle and overcome Inferiority Complex?
Is it even possible?
Yes, but it’s going to take a lot of hard work.
Here are 9 mindful ways to help you with your Inferiority Complex.
1. You have to deal with your past and tackle difficult emotional memories.
Are there one or more instances in the past when you felt particularly traumatized by feeling inferior to something or someone? Who do you really feel inferior to? You have to look into the deeper reason behind your inferiority complex. Understanding these layers can help you find the root of your problem. And once you understand your feelings better, you can take the necessary steps to overcome them.
2. You need to be kind to yourself.
Practicing self-compassion might be the hardest thing to do for a person like you. You’re always the first to think badly of yourself. But try to be kind, anyway. Practice self-care. And not just to your mind. But to your body and soul as well. Eat healthier food. Practice meditation. Go out and enjoy things that you love doing. Take care of your needs, and hopefully, everything else will get easier.
3. Try to surround yourself with people who uplift you.
Do you have any toxic relationships? Then you need to cut them. Yes, even if it means they’re with your closest family members or friends. In fact, inferiority complex can mostly be linked to difficult parenting or challenging circumstances while we grow up. Instead, choose the kind of relationships that make you feel good. Be with the people who make you feel that you’re enough. You will notice a big change in your life.
4. Learn to say no and practice the art of “silence.”
You want to please people so much that you never say no to them. But you should. It might be hard for you, especially with your extreme desire to want to prove yourself. But saying “no” is another form of self-care. Don’t do anything that is not helpful or enjoyable to you just so other people might like you. In addition, you don’t always have to tell everyone everything just to seek validation. This only distracts you from focusing on yourself. Instead, learn to appreciate the art of being silent. It doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to people, but you also don’t need their validation to make yourself feel better.
5. Be more assertive.
If you’re too afraid to try things because you fear of failure, then this is something you need to work on. You’re missing out on possibly the best opportunities because you think too much. The first person that is stopping you from being happy or successful is you. It’s hard to be brave. But you can choose to act now and be brave later instead. The important thing is you go out there and try.
6. You have strengths. Recognize them.
It’s easy to get caught up with all of the things you’re not. But those things don’t define all of you. There are so many good things about you. Take out a piece of paper and write everything you are good at. You’ll find that you have more strengths than you believe.
7. Talk to yourself better.
Do you berate yourself a lot? The way we mentally “talk” to ourselves affect how we communicate outside of it. Learn to have an inner voice that encourages you as worthy. When do you “negatively self-talk?” Try to change it and cultivate an inner voice that affirms your strengths instead of negating them.
8. Embrace what makes you different.
Instead of trying to conform to society’s ill-conceived images of happiness or success, learn to embrace your authentic self. So what if you’re a little different? Who cares? There’s a difference between knowing what you want to do as opposed to knowing what you think society wants you to do.
9. Let go of any unreasonable expectations.
There are certain things out of your control. You can’t always will yourself to be something you’re not. If it’s something that feels unnatural to who you are or something that makes you worse rather than better, then it’s not worth it. This can apply to your relationships, goals, or capabilities. At some point, you have to recognize that you’re better off moving on.
When feelings of inferiority affect how you live your life, then you need to do something about it. Don’t live the rest of your life feeling like this when you can become a better and happier person. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. It might seem like a drastic step, but your mental health is essential.
But you should also find what’s comfortable for you. If you think asking for professional help might increase your self-deprecation or doubt, then don’t do it. You can practice these mindful steps yourself. But perhaps the best option is to find the kind of help that can drastically improve your symptoms.
Are you mentally tough?
Resilience and mental toughness are key attributes to living your best life. They determine how high we rise above what threatens to wear us down, from battling an illness, to dealing with challenging emotions, to carrying on after a relationship has ended.
In The Art of Resilience: A Practical Guide to Developing Mental Toughness, we outline exactly what it means to be mentally tough and equip you with 10 resilience-building tools that you can start using today.
Sign up to Hack Spirit's daily emails
Learn how to reduce stress, cultivate healthy relationships, handle people you don't like and find your place in the world.