Inferiority Complex

It is common to feel down about our self from time to time, especially if you feel like others are doing better in life than you are.  But constant thought that you are not good enough which can harm your mental and social life, experts say, you may have an inferiority complex. You feel your accomplishments, attractiveness, or happiness are no match when compared to others. The term inferiority complex is also called chronic low self-esteem.

What is this complex?

  • When experiencing an inferiority complex, you may find yourself automatically comparing yourself to other people, especially those who seem to have done better than you in some way.
  • You may feel like a failure, and you may become overly self-conscious about your current situation.
  • Fear of being judged
  • You may also find yourself wanting to be better than everyone else, which can sometimes lead to a state of being a perfectionist.
  • Unacceptance of criticisms
  • Lack of confidence and underestimating yourself
  • A constant feeling of insecurity

What are the causes and triggers?

Experts believe that the certain factors in combination cause inferiority complex.

  1. Childhood experiences: Children are sensitive; they highly acknowledge the opinions of their parents. If a child is often scolded for his behaviors or ability, may develop negative beliefs about himself that worsen over time. They have an increased risk of growing up with insecurities and broken self-esteem. Hence, parenting style is an important factor.
  2. Mental health status: Certain people may be more prone to developing an inferiority complex. For example, people with a history of depression, anxiety, abuse or trauma are more susceptible to developing an inferiority complex.
  3. Social factor: For instance, someone with a low socioeconomic status may be more likely to develop an inferiority complex.
  4. Cultural background: Cultural ideals can trigger an inferiority complex. For example, the perception that women should maintain a perfect and slender physique may prompt feelings of inadequacy in some.
  5. Personality traits: If you are a pessimistic (negative) person, you are prone to develop low self-esteem.
  6. Family history: Having family members with this kind of mental health condition

Signs and symptoms1:

  • You always have a poor mood, are constantly depressed, and have no will to change.
  • You have a low self-image, self-esteem, and self-confidence.
  • You feel helpless or mentally weak.
  • You have low motivation.
  • You are often worried, anxious, or feel inadequate.
  • You feel guilty about your choices and actions.
  • You are easily hurt when people criticize you in social situations.
  • You can’t establish proper eye contact.
  • You often speak in a low and soft voice tone.
  • You belittle your accomplishments and positive qualities.
  • You find it hard to give yourself compliments.
  • You suffer from a poor and unpredictable sleep pattern.
  • You can’t stay long in any relationship.
  • You seek attention by pretending to be ill or through aggression.

Effects of inferiority complex:

  • You are unable to function in school, at home or at work.
  • In your romantic relationships, you may end up sacrificing your own personal needs and wants.
  • You do not take credit of your hard work, abilities and accomplishments at work. Because of this, you don’t get promoted or receive a pay increase.
  • Suicidal ideation is common. They think they are better off killing themselves instead of being alive but suffering.

Inferiority Complex vs Superiority Complex : 

The psychologist defined superiority complexes as a reaction to a deep feeling of inferiority. The idea behind this is that everyone is trying to overcome a sense of inferiority. People with very strong feelings of inferiority have a hard time convincing themselves that they have actually achieved enough. To compensate that they play up their accomplishments to make themselves feel better.

Other psychologists believe that some people with superiority complexes may not be hiding low self-esteem. Instead, these people genuinely believe that they are more successful than others, despite a lack of evidence. This is different from the confidence where they actually had past successes to support their beliefs.

Inferiority and superiority complexes overlap one another. Whether a superiority complex is a way of covering up your own feelings of inferiority or just an unsupported belief that you are better than other people, having one is not good for your mental health. You should have a realistic sense of self-esteem, not a low self-esteem or an exaggerated self-esteem.

Treatment for inferiority complex:

Inferiority complex is not recognized as an official mental health disorder. Inferiority complexes can not only hurt you, but those around you as well. Additionally, an inferiority complex can lead to mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression.

  1. Therapy : Therapy is always the best choice to address inferiority complex. Your therapist or a mental health professional can help guide you through your past experiences with criticism, low self-esteem, or any traumas that may have shaped your negative self-image.
  2. Meditation is a good way to relax and direct your focus to yourself.
  3. Journaling: Journaling has been proven to be very effective in managing symptoms of inferiority complex. Write down your feelings on a paper. This is a good start and beneficial before going for therapy. It will help you begin to understand what some of your thought patterns around your self-image have been and where your feelings of inferiority originate.
  4. Positive self-talk and self-love: Connecting with yourself through positive words of affirmation and positive self-talk can help you uplift yourself.
  5. Be surrounded by positive people: Making a conscious goal to surround yourself with more positive and uplifting people can make a huge difference. Negative or toxic relationships can at times set us up for failure.
  6. Medication is not needed if the inferior complex is not related to mental health.

Take home message:

Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses; there is no reason why anyone should feel less confident than others. You do not have to live with an inferiority or superiority complex. Identify it, take steps and overcome it. Never hesitate to reach out to mental health professionals if you feel like a superiority or inferiority complex is affecting your mental health. You deserve to have healthy self-esteem that lets you feel strong, happy, and confident again.

Referrences: 1.


2 Replies to “Inferiority Complex”

  1. Thank you Dr. Bandari. I am sure this article is very timely for us all. You took the time to make this an “ easy read “ and this, I’m sure, is greatly appreciated. I hope we can identify ourselves where applicable, and accept the appropriate advice. Thank you for caring for us and for taking the time to prepare this article. Blessings always Dr. Bandari!

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