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Overcoming Inferiority Complex


Guest articles > Overcoming Inferiority Complex


by: Saif Farooqi


Each and every person has certain needs and desires, which he/she would like to fulfil. Many a times some of these needs become difficult to accomplish due to a number of reasons. This develops a sense of helplessness and makes the person feel powerless to a certain degree. When this happens, the individual is very likely to feel inferior.

This feeling of inferiority occurs in everybody, some time or the other. It is quite normal and natural to have this feeling. There is nothing wrong in it. There are times when an individual may be able to overcome the feeling of inferiority, but it may also be resurfaced once certain new needs develop.

According to Alfred Adler, the feeling of inferiority develops due to the innate human tendency of striving for superiority. Each and every individual strives for superiority. This tendency is so overwhelming that as soon as there is some obstruction that comes in between the person and his/her needs then he/she begins to feel inferior.

It is a blessing in disguise to feel inferior because in a way it can help to move forward in life. The striving for superiority makes sure that the person puts in all his/her effort and work harder to fulfill his/her needs and overcome the sense of helplessness and powerlessness. Thus, the striving for superiority causes inferiority as well as helps in overcoming it.

It is alright if there is some control over the feeling of inferiority and it occurs within a certain limit. The problem arises when it becomes too pervasive. When the feeling of inferiority occurs too often and becomes persistent, then it may lead the person to develop into inferiority complex.

Inferiority complex makes an individual feel worthless and instills within him/her a sense of hopelessness. The person begins to feel that he/she lacks certain qualities and is inferior to others with respect to those qualities. Due to an inferiority complex, the normal feelings of incompetence get exaggerated, which makes the individual feel that it is impossible to achieve goals and/or have certain abilities.

For instance, an average or below average student might try hard to score well in his/her examination. Due to his/her continuous failure in doing that he/she might feel inferior to others and think that it is impossible to compete with his/her peers, which in turn makes him/her feel worthless.

Inferiority complex may not necessarily develop in the context of specific tasks or goals. It may develop for more general or abstract things also. For example, a person might feel that he/she is not very good looking compared to others and this might become the cause for inferiority complex for that person.

Likewise, if a person is unable to make friends then that person might feel that nobody likes him/her and that he/she lacks the qualities of having good friends. Also, if a person, compared to others, is confused about his/her goals in life then he/she might begin to feel insecure and think that he/she is good for nothing. This continuous feeling can cause an inferiority complex.

Inferiority complex can become a menace for the individual and can lead to many other problems. The person might develop a feeling of inadequacy. He/she might also have disappointment, dissatisfaction, depression, fearfulness, shyness, worrisome, self-pity, insecurity, loneliness, withdrawal, etc.

If inferiority complex becomes too overwhelming and lasts for a longer period of time, there is a possibility that it may engulf the person in such a strong way that it gets fabricated into superiority complex. Superiority complex is nothing but an exaggerated form of inferiority complex. When a person develops too much of inferiority complex, then it turns into superiority complex.

In superiority complex, the individual feels that a good way to overcome inferiority is to make others feel inferior and thus become superior. For this, the person might become arrogant and aggressive in his/her mannerisms. He/she might try to show off and indulge into too much of self-praise and bragging. The person might also try to bully others to gain a sense of satisfaction.

The person does all this in an effort to regain his/her lost self-worth. He/she tries to seek the attention of others and pretends to be something that he/she actually is not. The individual tries to convince and prove himself/herself as well as others that he/she is not inferior. He/she also tries to think of himself/herself as someone who is highly valuable and probably the best.

Such a person might seem to be very confident from the outside. He/she might appear to hold a very high opinion of himself/herself. But, this may not be the case in actuality. The person is just trying to hide his/her shortcomings and tries to overcome his/her excessive feelings of inferiority.

This attitude is perceived as obnoxious and rude by others. By getting into such behaviour, the person might also be making a fool out of him/her. Others begin to extremely dislike him/her and try to stay away. This further exacerbates the feeling of worthlessness within that person. It may also lead to more and more aggressive behaviour or even chronic loneliness and depression.

The best way to overcome inferiority complex, according to Adler, is compensation. If a person feels that he/she lacks in a certain ability, then that person can try to develop strength in some other ability. The individual can enhance such skills that make him/her feel good about himself/herself and develop self-confidence. In this way, the person feels that it does not matter if he/she lacks in a particular ability because he/she is very good in some other ability.

For instance, a person who feels that he/she is not good in studies can become good in sports. A person who feels that he/she is not good looking can become very good in studies and other intellectual endeavours. A person who feels that he/she does not have a good speaking ability can develop good skills in writing or painting. In this way an individual can compensate his/her lack of ability by developing and enhancing some other ability.

Another way to overcome inferiority complex is to have a high level of self-awareness. A high level of self-awareness will enable the person to know himself/herself in a much better way. Due to this an individual can recognize his/her strengths and weaknesses and work accordingly. If the person realizes his/her strengths and true abilities, then there is no way that the person could develop an inferiority complex.

Many people become too much sensitive about what other people feel or think about them. They begin to worry a lot about how others see them. This is completely unnecessary and a waste of time. Rather than worrying about what others are thinking, it is much better to focus on what we want to do.

An individual knows himself/herself better. If a person goes according to others then there is a possibility that the person might get into things in which he/she lacks proper ability. This may cause constant failures and eventually lead to inferiority complex.

Comparing oneself to others also does no good to the person. If a person is good in something that does not mean that another individual also has to be good in that. The individual might have his/her own strengths and should focus on that. Trying to ape others can be misguiding and lead to insecurity, which may further develop into inferiority complex.

The feeling of inferiority can be a good thing for an individual until and unless it is not exaggerated. Inferiority complex is obviously something that can cause a lot of troubles to a person.

The longer inferiority complex stays the worse it gets. Therefore, a person should do his/her best to overcome it once he/she develops it. Rather than overcoming it would be much better if an individual uses his/her thought processes in an appropriate manner and try to dissociate himself/herself from inferiority complex as much as possible.


Saif Farooqi is a PhD in Psychology, in the area of Intimate Relationships, from the Department of Psychology, University of Delhi, India. He is involved in writing psychology-based articles. He is also involved in a number of independent researches in varying areas such as Loneliness, Interpersonal Relationships, Educational Psychology, Culture, Health Psychology, and Parapsychology. He also conducts workshops and awareness programs on career development, personality, and communication, in schools and colleges.

Saif's blog "Life, Psychology, and A Lot More”, comprising of articles on a wide range of topics has accomplished worldwide popularity. He also has a facebook page called, "Interesting Facts About Psychology" , in which he posts relevant information on a regular basis.

Contributor: Saif Farooqi

Published here on: 06-Jan-13

Classification: Development



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