Overcoming an Inferiority Complex

An inferiority complex is a persistent feeling of being inferior to others in some way. It is usually connected with a real or imaginary shortcoming in physical appearance, intelligence, personality, education, social status or economic status.

I believe that an inferiority complex is one of the nastiest psychological traits you can have. Seriously, it will mess your life up in a sadistic way, as well as your social skills.

Many people struggle with a feeling of inferiority for years, even their whole lives, and this has ramifications in most aspects of their existence. As a communication coach with an attitude-based approach, I have something to say about overcoming an inferiority complex, and this article is it.

First, My Story

inferiorIn high-school, I used to have an inferiority complex because I was very thin. Yeah, I know many people have the opposite problem of being too fat. Well, I was skinny as a rail and I felt embarrassed by it.

Actually, I still am skinny as a rail, but it no longer bothers me in any way. It’s something I’ve learned not only to get over, but also to embrace wholeheartedly. Now, when I see people who have an inferiority complex, I totally understand where they’re coming from, but their state also seems silly from where I’m standing right now.

This is probably one of the reasons I find it fulfilling to do attitude and confidence coaching and help people who feel inferior to others in some way.

The Real Cause of an Inferiority Complex

There’s a big catch to overcoming an inferiority complex: you have to understand its genuine cause.

The apparent cause seem to be the fact you are inferior to others around you in a particular manner: you’re short, you’re fat, you’re bold, you’re poor, you’re less educated, you have an extra nipple etc. However, that’s not the real cause.

You see, we are all inferior to other people in some ways, and superior in others. We all have our combinations of qualities and flaws and overall we’re not that different from each other. My point is that a certain flaw is not a realistically sufficient reason to have an inferiority complex.

The real cause of an inferiority complex has little to do with reality and it has a lot to do with how we process it. In order to get an inferiority of a complex, you have to dramatize in your head the meaning of a certain flaw.

You have to tell yourself that, for example, you are so short you look like a midget, that everybody is making fun of you and that this in intolerable. Thus, you make yourself feel shitty (but the scientific phrasing is that you develop a complex of inferiority).

How to Overcome an Inferiority Complex

Since an inferiority complex is created through your thinking, it is through your thinking as well that you can overcome it.

If you want to learn how to shift from feeling inferior to being confident in interactions with other people, I encourage you to check out my instructional presentation on building social confidence. It will show you my practical formula for boosting your confidence. You can find it over here.

I have worked with clients with inferiority complexes and the way they’ve made real progress was to systemically combat their distorted thinking patterns. This is also what has worked for me.

Basically, overcoming an inferiority complex implies a set of key shifts in thinking:

  • Realizing that any flaw you have is not as bad as you think;
  • Realizing that having a certain flaw does not equal with not having any personal qualities;
  • Realizing that all people have their flaws and most people have major flaws.

And when I say ‘realizing’ all of these, I’m referring to taking them in and making them a part of your automatic, everyday thinking.

Probably the most meaningful shift in thinking is understanding that there is a huge difference between being inferior to others in some way and feeling bad about it (a.k.a. having an inferiority complex).

What Does It Take?

All the stuff you may hear about just being yourself, meditating or visualizing yourself in a better way is in my experience hyped up self-help bullshit and it will do little good in dealing with a complex of inferiority.

Overcoming an inferiority complex requires a scientific and pragmatic approach. The techniques I use in my work on attitude change are mostly from the areas of Cognitive Behavioral Coaching (CBC) and Therapy (CBT), which I encourage you to research.

CBC is not a miracle cure; it is a psychological change system which involves repetitive action, consistent practice and taking things in small steps. If you do the work, you will get the results.

I’ll teach you the most powerful CBT techniques to overcome inferiority and gain conversation confidence in this presentation. Don’t miss out on it.

Equip yourself with the right tools and a lot of perseverance, and I promise you that you’ll free yourself from an inferiority complex. Then, when you’ll look back and remember how you used to feel about certain parts of yourself, it will seem sooooo silly!

Image courtesy of Jarostaw Pocztarski

Savior Complex Anyone?

Here’s a fairytale gone badly, as it sometimes happens in real life: There was once a little girl who believed that all good things will come to her if she is really nice and always helps other people.

She was always there for her aging parents; she even refused a dream job because it was in another town and she didn’t want to move too far from her parents. She would always help her friends, lend them money, give them advice and get them out of trouble.

Her colleagues at work could always rely on her and she would often get behind on her projects to give them a hand with theirs. She also had this affinity towards guys with serious problems (jobless, alcohol abusing, emotionally imbalanced), the kind of guys that desperately needed help.

After about ten years of doing this, she felt miserably. She wasn’t getting the love, appreciation and recognition she wanted, most people had started taking all her help for granted, her life did not look the way she’d hoped it would.

When I discussed with her in our first communication coaching session, focused on identifying the key social skills to improve, after about 15 minutes of conversation, bells started ringing in my head going: “Savior complex full throttle!”

What Is The Savior Complex?

The savior complex is a psychological construct which makes a person feel the need to save other people. This person has a strong tendency to seek people who desperately need help and to assist them, often sacrificing their own needs for these people.

There are many sides to a savior complex and it has many roots. One of its fundamental roots, in my experience, consists in a limiting belief the savior person has that goes something like this:

“If I always help people in need, I will get their love and approval, and have a happy life.”

This is of course, a nice sounding fairytale.

Houston We Have a Problem

Often, in real life, a savior will have such an unassertive way of helping others that instead of becoming grateful, they get used to it and they expect it. They feel entitled to receive help from this person, simply because they need it and they’ve always got it.

On top of this, always putting other people’s needs first makes a savior not take care of their own needs. So while they may feel happy because they are helping others, at some level, they feel bitter and frustrated at the same time.

Reframing Nobility

Here’s where things get worse: many people with a savior complex I’ve met, although they realize at some point that they have a savior complex and it is not worth it for them, they will not try to combat it.

They’re not masochistic; they have another belief that even if being a savior will not get them the recognition they want and will not make them happy, it is the noble thing to do. They believe they are somehow better than others because they help people all the time without getting anything back.

Do you have any idea how dim-witted this is? There is nothing noble in sacrificing yourself for others while you are starving at a psychological level. If our ancestors would have willingly done so 50.000 years ago, our species would be extinct.

If you think you have a savior complex or at least something close to it, I believe the best thing you can do is to face up to the practical consequences in has in your life. Being a savior is neither noble nor practical.

Learn to give and to ask for what you want, to help and to be helped. This is the healthy way to use your people skills and to interact with others.

Image courtesy of Eneas