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Inferiority complex is quite unlike the sporadic feelings of inadequacy and inferiority all of us feel at some point in life. It is a wide-ranging and long-lasting feeling of inadequacy which stems from childhood and affects almost all the aspects of an individual’s life: physical, emotional, social, intellectual and psychological.
It is a pathological state of mind whence one is overwhelmed by his real or imagined inadequacy. Inferiority complex sprouts from comparing oneself with others and perceiving him inferior to others in terms of knowledge, dealings, abilities or any other behavioral aspect. It makes them lose their confidence and esteem. They use quite derogatory terms for themselves, viz. ‘I’m like that only’, ‘I can’t ever surpass her’ or ‘I’m not worth a penny’. Thus, inferiority complex develops due to our inability to compete with others and prove ourselves equal to them.
While comparing ‘Primary and Secondary inferiority’, great psychoanalyst Alfred Adler opined that the ‘primary inferiority’ develops in childhood and persists unto adulthood and is caused by some childhood stressors like parental neglect/abuse, poor emotional support and poor academic performance. It is often strengthened by comparison with siblings, friends, and adults. But the ‘secondary inferiority’ starts in adulthood and results from an adult’s inability to achieve goals meant for compensating their childhood feelings of inferiority.
Friends; occasionally feeling inferior to others is not only normal and natural but also a crucial motive for our normal developmental process. But this transitory or secondary inferiority is quite different from your ‘ubiquitous inferiority complex’. It is a pathological state which stems from one’s low esteem and shaken confidence. It overpowers and incapacitates us to do anything properly. Anyone can become a victim of inferiority complex due to consistently and repeatedly hurting of his self- esteem & confidence. High inferiority complex terribly affects our emotions, attitudes, relationships, self-image and our social transactions badly.
How Inferiority Complex develops: Parental upbringing, social discrimination based on their family, race, sex, socio-economic status, religion or language; some physical defects in appearance or certain speech disorders including stuttering may also trigger feelings of self-doubt and low self-esteem in some individuals.
Symptoms of Inferiority Complex: With the help of counsellor and some support groups, we can get rid of our inferiority complex by timely recognizing the symptoms of inferiority complex given below:
1. They avoid mixing with social groups: Due to their imagined fear of a social group, people with high inferiority complex generally feel uneasy especially in a larger group, as they’re afraid that others might observe their weaknesses soon and make them feel embarrassed. So people with inferiority complex often have trouble in building new friendships or sustaining the older ones.
2. Fear of failure: They suffer from a sub-conscious fear that they can’t do a particular work as nicely or efficiently as others. So they feel embarrassed and anxious to perform anything in a social gathering, viz. many women feel terrified in singing or dancing before others despite the fact that they can do the same nicely in privacy because they suffer from a subconscious fear of being mocked at by the people.
3. Judging and humiliating others: People with inferiority complex have the subconscious urge to make others feel low because they are more driven by the need to make others feel bad and low about themselves by pointing out their mistakes rather than achieving something on their own. So they’re the people with high inferiority-cum-superiority complex who neither try to acknowledge others qualities nor prepare or train themselves for that. Rather than accepting their own mistakes, they try to attribute their failures and mistakes to others.
4. Longing for others Attention: Inferiority complex robs an individual of his sense of self worth and ability to such an extent that he always longs for approval from others. So, individuals with inferiority complex have a strong need to be loved and substantiated. They often rely on others’ approval for their happiness to such an extent that they may even pretend to be ill or in trouble so as to get their attention.
5. They ignore their sentiments and needs to please others: Individuals with inferiority complex often overlook their own rights, needs and sentiments to please others or seek their attention and get their approval and love. Not only this, they keep on strangling their needs and endure the ill temper, harassment & humiliation from their spouse or other relations just to have their love and acceptance.
6. They can’t tolerate criticism or compliments: Being sensitive to criticism and praise both, they may become hostile even on their slightest criticism because their criticism reinforces their own thoughts of inferiority about themselves, while their praise appears to them as a big taunt. In order to defend themselves, they become aggressive or overly emotional.
Let’s raise our self-esteem: We should realize that the root cause of inferiority complex is our low self- esteem. So, to get rid of our emotions of inferiority and inadequacy, we have to deal with our low esteem first. Find some ways of building your self-esteem and confidence, below:
• Learn to forgive yourself: To raise you self esteem and confidence and overpower your feelings of inferiority, it is essential to be kind to yourself and forgive you for your follies. Everyone is bound to commit mistakes and get failure but one can try again and succeed. You also try it. If you learn by your failures and mistakes, you can avoid those mistakes in future. This will reduce your anxiety and depression over making some mistakes in future. You need to appreciate that your weaknesses are normal and you can surely overcome them. For God sake, get rid of defining and evaluating yourself by your past mistakes or failures and try to surpass those barriers in the way of your success as you can never achieve success by reminding yourself of your past failures.
• Recognize and focus on your strengths: Try to understand that no one can compete with others in every matter. God has bestowed you with many qualities along with certain weaknesses. Ignore all your weaknesses and try to concentrate on your positive points. Instead of cursing yourself for your weaknesses, focus on your strengths like cooking, singing, dancing, painting or art of speech so that you feel much better and elated by doing such things.
• Keep away from people who humiliate you: Rather than having relations with the people who tend to debase and humiliate you, choose to build friendships with people who encourage you by appreciating your strengths and helping you in developing them.
• Learn to say “No” assertively: Many people with poor self-esteem fall a prey to everyone’s demands because they do not want to lose their friendship with them. So learning to say “No” is a great way of being assertive and making your own needs clear to others. here)
• Decide and state your boundaries: While taking care of others needs and sentiments make sure that they also reciprocate you in the same way. So in order to safeguard your self-respect and feel elated, try to state your boundaries so that people learn to respect you, your time, your space etc.
• Seeking Support Groups help: You need the help of certain support groups and therapy despite the fact that you might be able to manage your feelings of inferiority by changing your attitudes and behavior on your own. But, support groups provide you with the right kind of environment and emotional support to overcome the feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness as you meet and learn from people who have experienced similar feelings of inferiority in the past.
To conclude, people with inferiority complex suffer from evaluating themselves inferior to others in terms of physical, social, emotional or intellectual attributes. Such people should focus on their positive qualities and strengths, be proud of their strengths and get rid of this terrible feeling by their conscious efforts.