We’re all ‘inferior’ to others in some way. Everyone is different. However, there’s a difference between not having all the talents and skills you wish to possess and holding the belief that you’re fundamentally flawed. How does an inferiority complex develop and what’s the solution?
Creating an inferiority complex requires a lot of effort. It’s not easy to take a couple of perceived shortcomings and convince yourself that you’re totally incapable and ineffective. Even though it might take effort and energy to develop an inferiority complex, as humans, we’re quite capable of limiting ourselves in this way.
The good news is that you can reverse this process. So how do you overcome such an ingrained tendency to put yourself down?
Use these strategies to conquer your inferiority complex and boost your confidence:
1. Avoid generalisations. It might be true that you’re short, fat or messy. Nevertheless, that hardly suggests that you’re unintelligent or lack a sense of humour. Make a list of your characteristics that make you feel inferior.
- To whom do you feel inferior? Successful people? Your co-worker, Jenny? In what ways is Jenny better than you?
2. Inferiority complexes arise from wanting to be like someone else. You’re unique and you can never be a better “Jenny” than Jenny is. Avoid trying. You can’t impersonate someone else while being true to yourself.
- As soon as you try to be someone you’re not, you send yourself the message that you’re not good enough.
3. Be realistic. It’s common to fall into the trap of believing that one perceived flaw is causing all of your challenges. All or nothing thinking is dangerous. Your life won’t magically improve in every way because you find a girlfriend, lose 20 lbs. or eliminate your bald spot.
4. Consider what you need to stop feeling inferior. Is overcoming the flaw that concerns you under your control? If you’re over 18, you’re not likely to get any taller. However, you can increase your income or enhance your social skills.
- Imagine that you have that new characteristic. Does it feel natural? Do you feel as if you’re pretending to be someone else? Redefine and clarify your vision until you feel comfortable in it.
5. Have a friend list your best qualities. You don’t have an accurate opinion of yourself, but a good friend could list your strengths. Ask for examples if you don’t believe them. It’s hard to be accurate when judging yourself.
6. Control your self-talk. The low self-esteem and pessimism that are rampant in an inferiority complex are affected by the words you say to yourself. You can say things that support the belief that you’re inferior, or you can be your own best cheerleader. It’s your choice! Monitor your self-talk and keep it positive.
- Try saying the opposite to yourself than what you first tend to think: “I can’t do anything right” becomes, “I can do anything I set my mind to.”
7. Focus on your victories. There are things that you successfully accomplish each day. Many of them are small. Getting to work on time or remembering your friend’s birthday are worthy accomplishments. Give yourself a pat on the back for everything you do well each day. It’s not easy to get through the day successfully. You’re doing better than you think.
8. Realise that others aren’t focusing on your shortcomings. Inferiority is rooted in the idea that others are judging us. The truth is that most people aren’t thinking about you at all.
- It’s easy to prove to yourself. Go to the mall and visit several stores. Act in an unusual way (for you) in each store. Limp in one store. Stutter while in another store. You get the idea. Notice that no one reacts.
- Everyone else is too busy with their own issues to concern themselves with yours. You’re much freer than you realize.
Feeling ‘inferior’ in some ways is common and might even be accurate to a certain degree. However, you’re not inferior in a way that limits your life unless you allow your imagination to get the best of you.
Focus on your strengths, control your self-talk and understand that no one is watching. Letting go of your inferiority complex will unburden you and allow you to develop greater confidence and freedom.