Inferiority complex is characterised by the feelings of inferiority experienced by a person when they encounter people that they consider to be more accomplished, capable and worthy than them.
The feelings of inferiority are sent by the subconscious mind of a person to motivate him to improve the areas of life that ‘he’ believes he is lagging behind in.
Feeling inferior is the opposite of feeling confident. When someone is not confident, he believes that he is unimportant, unworthy and inadequate.
It’s perfectly normal to feel inferior from time to time but when someone feels inferior to such an extent that these feelings become unbearable and destroy his confidence completely, then he may be said to have developed an inferiority complex.
Inferiority complex makes a person believe that something’s wrong with him or that he lacks something and as a result, he feels inadequate.
The roots of inferiority
A common reason for feeling inferior is that an event happened in your past that made you believe that you are defective.
For example, a short guy won’t feel inferior if no one made him believe that he is defective because of his height.
Also, a child who was labelled stupid by his parents and teachers might carry these labels with him into his adulthood and therefore feel inferior.
In most cases, we feel inferior because others made us feel so by their judgments, critical comments, labels, etc.
Since these feelings of inferiority are painful they are buried deep in our subconscious mind and are brought to the surface only when external events remind us of them.
Right now, you might think that you don’t feel inferior but when you encounter a situation that reminds you of your inferiority, then your inferiority feelings might suddenly get triggered.
For example, a person with poor social skills might feel inferior all of a sudden when he sees someone interacting confidently with people.
Inferiority and perception
A person who feels inferior perceives a distorted version of reality.
For instance, if a dark-skinned person who feels inferior because of his skin colour walks beside a group of white people and notices them laughing, then he might think that they are laughing at him.
In fact, the real reason why they laughed may have nothing to do with him.
It’s so common to see people who feel inferior accusing others of making fun of them just because they saw reality incorrectly.
The accused people never understand what they did wrong and the accuser only ends up reinforcing his inferiority because of his distorted worldview.
How inferior people behave
According to Newton’s third law of motion, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. This law is useful in understanding how people feeling inferior behave.
Since the feelings of inferiority make people think that they are less worthy than others, they have to do some ‘opposite action’ in order to feel worthy again.
The most common way this is done is by acting superior (superiority complex) in front of others and putting them down. Their mind thinks that if they appear superior, no one will ever think they are inferior.
Similarly, a person who feels inferior may strive for superiority by aiming for success, wealth, power, status, etc. just to hide his inferiority from others because he unconsciously thinks that if he obtained these things, no one would ever think that he is inferior and question his worth.
In fact, people who have made great achievements have always had some inferiority as a driving force.
Most billionaires felt inferior because of the poor circumstances they grew up in. Michael Jordan was kicked out of his school basketball team.
When he went home he locked himself up in his room and cried. Obviously, he must have felt very inferior but he came back and conquered his inferiority by becoming a basketball champion.
This way of dealing with inferiority is obviously much better and productive than trying to put others down.
An inferior person may become very anxious when he encounters people who he considers better than him. In this case, the anxiety is triggered by his mind in order to let him avoid these people and protect his ego.
He may also become very sensitive to criticism. Since an inferior does his best to display superiority, anything that attacks his sense of superiority is perceived as a threat.
So if someone criticizes him, he won’t be able to handle it because to his mind it would mean that his ‘inferiority’ has been exposed.
Extreme showiness can be another sign of inferiority. It’s just another way to appear worthy and superior.
Had there been no inferiority people wouldn’t have been motivated to achieve great success. There’s nothing wrong with feeling inferior as long as you understand what it means and don’t allow it to harm your self-esteem.