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 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.
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.
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:
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.
(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!)
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:
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!
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 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.
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:
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 the 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.
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!