Worrying about our worthiness or challenging our existing capabilities is something extremely common and practised by all. It’s normal to question or assess our true potentials and compare ourselves with others. However, it’s occasional. You brood about your flaws and then get over it, focusing on your strengths. But chronic low self-esteem signifies inferiority complex. Inferiority complex is a feeling of inadequacy or insecurity that the sufferer derives from actual or imagined physical or psychological deficiency. 

People with an inferiority complex are crippled by their insecurities. They only focus on their shortcomings, go through intense self-criticism, constantly blame themselves for not giving their best. They refuse to even take part in certain activities, fearing that they will disappoint themselves and others. The fear of failure is so profound that it prevents them from even trying. And this vicious cycle hinders their growth in both personal and professional spheres. 

Causes Of Inferiority Complex

1. Childhood Experiences And Genetic Predisposition

Some researchers argue that certain personality traits are passed on to us by our parents through the inherited genes. Such traits give shape to our personality. However, other studies have strongly stated that inferiority complex stems from unfavourable childhood experiences, where the child was looked down upon by teachers or elders, constantly judged or disapproved of his abilities. This built a negative self-image in the child’s mind, which makes him doubt his abilities constantly. As he grows up, he gets habituated in practising negative self-talk, which could be quite destructive to their growth and progress. Extremely negative, neglecting or critical parents, biased upbringing, or sibling rivalry makes the child feel inadequate and a deep-rooted sense of failure rises, which governs his adulthood.

2. Mental Outlook

People who typically suffer from depression are more susceptible to developing an inferiority complex. They already have a negative and pessimistic outlook on life. They only recognize their incompetencies and flaws, ignoring to see developmental opportunities. The feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness are majorly found among people who go through major depressive episodes.

3. Unrealistic Societal Expectations 

In recent years, the unrealistic and artificial standards set by media advertisers, social media, celebrities, and other influential figures have completely distorted one’s self-perception. Many constantly have the need to mould themselves into the latest trends. This leaves people dissatisfied with their natural features and abilities. The social media has recently been bombarding us with opinions on how our life should be, how you must look and dress, and ultimately setting very artificial standards of reality. It does not appreciate the natural beauty and organic worth of a person. You internalize such irrational expectations and feel reduced by it.  

4. Physical Defects

It has been found that people, who have undergone or are still struggling with some kind of physical defect, are more likely to develop an inferiority complex. These physical defects include body image issues, being over or underweight, problems with vision, height, speech, facial and body features. 

5. Socio-Economic Status

Low-socio economic status gives rise to feelings of helplessness and deprivation. Unfavourable economic conditions make people resign to their fate, and over the years, they stop trying to better their conditions altogether. 

Signs And Symptoms Of Inferiority Complex

Here are the predominant inferiority complex symptoms and signs:

  • Unable to accept compliments
  • A lingering feeling of worthlessness, shame, and self-loathing
  • Isolating themselves from social situations
  • Sensitive to healthy and constructive criticism
  • Insecurity and low self-esteem
  • Assuming the worst and giving up easily
  • Comparing themselves with others
  • Insomnia 
  • Constantly blaming themselves for any and every mistake
  • Inability to complete tasks 
  • Signs of depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders 
  • Focussing on upsetting thoughts
  • Practising unhealthy coping mechanisms like seeking pleasure by demeaning others and transferring their feelings of isolation and failure

How to deal with inferiority complex has been a nagging question that the sufferers ask time and again to put themselves out of misery. Inferiority complex treatment initially involves some mindful techniques.

8 Ways To Overcome Inferiority Complex

1. Come Into Terms With Traumatic Past And Difficult Memories

Inferiority complex has its inception from a painful childhood. It could be one traumatic incident or a series of it. Start with introspection. Accept and acknowledge the emotions that you felt in the past. That’s exactly how you will be able to come into terms with them. Try looking deeper into the primary cause of your inferiority complex. Keep reminding yourself that it wasn’t your fault, it was rather the unfavourable circumstances that are the root of the problem. You cannot let your past dictate, control, and stop you from enjoying a beautiful present and future. Once you acknowledge your past and analyse the main cause for your inferiority complex, you will be surprised to see how burden free and relaxed you feel.

2. Practice Being Kind To Yourself Everyday

It’s almost next to impossible for people who suffer from an inferiority complex to practice self-compassion and self-care. Because you are conditioned to see yourself in a negative light. And this goes for both your mental and physical health. Consume a balanced diet, meditate, exercise regularly, and indulge in the things that you like doing. Pamper yourself and stop compromising on your happiness and well-being. Being kind to yourself won’t come to you naturally. Be persistent and with time, you will see the difference.

3. Be Around Positive People

Move away from any toxic relationships. Be it your partner, friends or family members. Bring yourself out of anything that negatively affects your life. Try gauging who brings you positivity and peace, and just be around them. You are better off the people who pull you down and drain you mentally. Be with the people who make you feel optimistic, motivated, and do not boost your already established negative self-image. Hold them close who nurture, cherish and make you see your worth. They are the ones who will help you to bring out the best version of yourself.

4. Gain Back The Confidence And Assertiveness

All this while you have been obsessed with your flaws. It’s time that you look beyond them. Changing your perspective and practising positive thinking will just do the trick. Studies have shown that when you feel confident about ourselves, you give out the same energy to others. Hence, you come off as confident, positive, and determined individuals to others. Don’t stop yourself from trying something new because of your past failures. You will not learn and gain experience otherwise. Understand that you cannot miss out on opportunities because of your refusal to try. This will also not let you gauge and work on your flaws.

5. Recognize Your Strengths

You are truly defined by your strengths. Focus on your strengths, find out how you can improve them, and use them for your advantage. Start with simply jotting down 10 strengths of yours. Believe in your strengths and don’t let your negative self-image dominate them.

6. Do Away With Negative Self-Talk

Humans have an inner voice that has the power to make and break us. Over the years, you have mechanised your inner voice to have a negative outlook about yourself. You need to redirect this inner voice and make it encourage you. Do away with self-pity, negative self-talk, and pessimism. The inner voice has a gigantic impact on your subconscious. Stop bullying yourself. Replace negative self-talk with self-affirming talk. Repeat positive affirmations in your head, motivate your subconscious, and see your conscious actions replicate the same.

7. Embrace Your Flaws

Nobody is without any flaws. Just like our strengths, they make us who we are. Everyone is a mixture of positive and negative attributes. This is the realistic approach that one can adapt to. Learn about your flaws and find out ways to improve them. Don’t get bogged down by them as it will only fuel your inferiority complex. 

8. Avoid Setting Unreasonable Expectations

Understand that certain things are beyond our control. Analyse your strengths and weaknesses. Thereafter, set goals accordingly. Start with smaller targets, and once you are able to achieve them, set harder ones. Try reading journals about positive outlook and mental health. Self-help books, educational podcasts, inspirational blog posts, TED talks might act as motivating measures. They will help you to discard this uncalled for inferiority complex and embrace your authentic self.

Key Takeaways

  • Self-loathing and feelings of worthlessness are a part of life. These feelings are shared by everyone. They keep cropping up time and again
  • However, an inferiority complex is a constant battle, where you will find yourself on the opposite end. Look out for the inferiority complex symptoms in you and try monitoring your thoughts and behaviour
  • Learn how to deal with inferiority complex by practising these 8 mindful steps and notice how your symptoms improve
  • Most importantly, don’t stop yourself from seeking professional help

Focus on the brighter side and motivate yourself to become a better version of yourself. Take it as an opportunity and work on your flaws, be driven by your rigour and tenacity. And most importantly, remember not to make your shortcomings the highlight of your life. Your strengths define your existence and your zeal to improve your flaws pushes you towards growth and progress.

Anurekha Chakraborty
Anurekha Chakraborty

Anurekha Chakraborty holds a degree in Psychology and experience in digital content management. A creative content writer and editor, she enjoys penning articles about lifestyle, psychology, beauty, health & wellness, fashion, entertainment and similar creative niches.