A constant and nagging fear that you are worth less than anyone else is what is generally referred to as an inferiority complex. This could emanate from your physical appearance, your mental acuity, your financial or social status, your personality or sometimes all of the aforementioned. It is a truly unpleasant psychological state of being and affects how you interact not only with others but also with yourself. Most people at some point in their life will have feelings of inferiority but some people have them for year upon year and one shortcoming becomes two and then multiplies to almost every aspect of their personality and life in general.
If you explain to others why you feel inferior be it because you are too thin, too fat or too ‘anything’ then usually they will compare you to themselves or just look at the fear objectively and think ‘that’s a silly fear.’ And, we all do it. Many of us have the fear of not ‘fitting in’ with a social group whatever it may be and we outwardly don a mask to cover up the screams inside of us. It’s normal to be nervous or uncomfortable. No one is perfect. I defy you to think that there is anyone in the world who thinks they are perfect as it is impossible. There are of course those who outwardly have the demeanour of being cock-sure and confident about everything they say or do but in others’ eyes they are viewed as self-righteous and arrogant. Ergo, if we continuously concern ourselves with the way others see us we will never win.
The trick to overcoming crippling feelings of inferiority however is to ‘accept’ certain factors about yourself if you are not able to achieve an alternative – and who is to say that the alternative would be any sort of improvement anyway? Many of us have a kind of ‘If only I was taller/slimmer/prettier then I would be happy’ attitude – you can maybe alter physique in many ways but it is not necessarily going to make you feel that much better than you do now. I know a woman who has been too fat then had weight issues and got too thin, has had obsessive behaviours in all manner of her life from partners, lifestyle, drugs, alcohol, compulsive self-invoked superstitious rituals and so on. Twenty five years later she still cannot figure out why she has such extremes in her personality (which remain) as there is no obvious reason for any of it. It is just the way it is for her. She self-analyses in the extreme but now, as a result, has begun to more readily ‘accept’ that this is the way she is and attempts to stop over-analysis about trivia and past transgressions with a ‘I never did care about the little things’ approach – to literally to stop her emotional thought dead in its tracks and refuse to allow it entry.
As I mentioned earlier, we all have flaws. It is only when we overtly dramatise a specific flaw or flaws and give them meaning that it results in an inferiority complex. It is the thought that people belittle you for your ineptitude and call you an idiot or are calling you derogatory names about your appearance that force you into feeling miserable and inferior. However, there are a few techniques to help you overcome these feelings. It is your thinking that has led you to this state and thus it is thinking that will be the answer to overcoming such feelings. What you need to do is to fight against the thinking patterns that you have twisted out of shape. You have to restart yourself by realising that your flaws are not as bad as you think and that it or them do not remove all the good qualities you have. Comparing yourself to others and wishing to be the same as them rather than learning from them is pointless. It is coming to realise that an inferiority complex only occurs when you feel bad about the fact that you may be inferior to others in some way.
One of the most beneficial systems to help overcome your attitude towards yourself is that of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) whereby you assess your feelings, analyse them and make a dedicated change to your thinking on a step-by-step basis. Try to reduce your emotional thinking. Rather than simply feeling ‘down’ you need to be specific about what areas in life you feel inferior. If it is of a particular group of people to whom you feel inferior then try and list a few of the names of particular people within that group. People who feel inferior to others thrive on trying to be anyone that they aren’t. For example, members within a gym. We look and judge others all the time whether we are male or female. We ‘section’ them into categories and often stereotype certain types of people: the slim, toned, tattoo decorated women may fall into your ‘hmm, independent, mentally strong, determined and don’t mess with me type of women.’ And, the nervous or shy parts of your personality, may yearn to have one or two of what you perceive to be their qualities. Your own assumption is, of course, your perception of them – if you actually know the woman in question you may realise that she is just as insecure as you and, like you, hides it pretty well from other people!
Remember that it is you who is making yourself feel inferior by emphasizing what you think others are thinking about you. Eleanor Roosevelt once said ‘no-one can make you feel inferior without your permission’ which pretty much succinctly sums it up. In other words refuse to allow yourself to become depressed by how you perceive others may be judging you. In order to achieve higher self esteem and to gain confidence is to start to try and love yourself. Easier said than done I hear you say – indeed, many of us with an inferiority complex or depressive tendencies are hardly able to bring ourselves to even like ourselves let alone love ourselves. At some point in life we have either been told or assumed we were just not good enough to do something and have been carrying that heavy baggage throughout life. Take heed from Christian in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress who tumbled alone into the Slough of Despond and was unable to remove the Burden from his back. Whereas Christian needed Help to be lifted out, you need to pull yourself away from your own negativity and shed the burden of worrying about how people view you – feel how much lighter your journey will become as you start to celebrate your own identity and and rejoice in it!