How to Overcome My Inferiority Complex

By Max. D Gray. Updated: December 16, 2021
How to Overcome My Inferiority Complex

Suffering from an inferiority complex is more common than you may think. Inferiority can't exist on its own. It happens when you compare yourself to other people and rate yourself insufficient. It is as much about how you view other people as it is yourself. As we don't live in a vacuum, it is natural to think about how we relate to others. If you find yourself with feelings of anxiety, frustration or insignificance when you make this comparison, it's likely you have an inferiority complex. It can be there from an early age or be brought on by a specific person or circumstance. If you want to know how to overcome my inferiority complex, oneHOWTO can help you get your perspective back on track.

What is an inferiority complex?

Like many of the complexes which afflict our human minds, some early light was shed on the inferiority complex by psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. One of Freud's contemporaries in psychology and early proponents of the movement of psychoanalysis was Alfred Adler[1], who was particularly interested in the inferiority complex.

Adler's ideas helped us to understand how we relate to our social surroundings and made a great impact on how we see ourselves in the context of others. An inferiority complex is when we feel like our personality and abilities are not as good (inferior) as compared to others. This can lead to a lack of confidence and feelings of low self-esteem. These are difficult emotions to get rid of.

This doesn't mean that everyone with an inferiority complex comes across as week and subservient. Some people overcompensate for their feelings of inferiority by putting on a pretence of confidence, by being ultra competitive or by belittling others out of insecurity.

Whether you come across as shy or as bold, having an inferiority complex can have a drastic impact on your life, in particular your inner-life. It can lead to the breakdown of relationships, unhealthy approaches to life and depression. To live a more satisfying and emotionally full life, following these tips to overcome (or adjust to) an inferiority complex might be the first step.

How to Overcome My Inferiority Complex - What is an inferiority complex?

You must admit that you feel inferior

Before we tackle how to overcome your inferiority complex, we should say that self-diagnosis for mental health issues isn't always going to be accurate. If you are really struggling with depression or related feelings, then please seek help from a qualified mental health professional. If you are simply looking for practical help with your inferiority complex, then we can provide a few pointers.

Like addiction or other behavioral issues, the first step to dealing with an inferiority complex is admitting you have a problem. Perhaps you have had feelings of anxiety or frustration, but not realized that feelings of inferiority have been their cause. Admitting that you feel inferior to others will not make you a worse person. It is the first step to getting rid of your inferiority complex or managing this feeling appropriately.

It is important to remember that everybody feels inferior at some point in time. Certainly some do more than others (and others still might have a superiority complex), but our self-esteem can get knocked for many different reasons. Acknowledging your inferiority complex will help shift you in to gear and be better equipped to deal with it practically as well as mentally.

It is also important that certain levels of feeling inferior can be useful, although we say this cautiously. It is useful during adolescence as you need to push yourself to grow properly. A healthy spirit of competition and a desire to do well can put you in good stead. However, this feeling of inferiority should leave as you mature and be replaced with something more egalitarian. It is when this feeling of inferiority remains and seems to define you (it doesn't) when problems can arise.

Identify the symptoms

Now that you recognize you might have an inferiority complex, you can find ways to restructure your thinking and help to overcome it. One important stage is to identify your symptoms. It is possible you have all of these symptoms of an inferiority complex, it is equally possible you only have some. The extent to which you might carry out these behaviors might also vary. It is unlikely, however, that you don't have some of them. This is because we all have feelings of insecurity from time to time.

Inferiority complex and success

Inferiority complexes often have an unfortunate dichotomy when it comes to success. The problem is that those who feel inferiority affecting their lives often value success highly. They also might have an unrealistic idea of what success entails.

When you look at other people and see their achievements, you might be thinking about their career, their romantic and social relationships or even outstanding achievements in other fields (e.g. sport, music, etc.). This can make you look at your own standing in these areas and feel less than.

It might make you feel paranoid about how well you are doing in work, maybe giving you a sense that your employment is always in jeopardy. This can be the case even if you are a respected worker.

Feelings of inferiority can also affect your approach to work. The problem is that you are most likely capable of doing well in certain areas, but your inferiority complex tells you otherwise. This means that you might not push yourself in terms of a career. Instead, you might find yourself staying in the same job and eventually feeling constrained and frustrated by it. However, you don't have the confidence in yourself to move forward like you should. This creates a circle of frustration which can be hard to get out of.

Equally, an inferiority complex might make you overcompensate. You might push yourself to achieve something which is unrealistic. It can give you the trappings of success without giving you the feeling. If you always feel inferior, then you won't matter how well you do. You can end up perceiving the positive elements of your life negatively.

Whether underachieving or overachieving, your feelings of inferiority can make you feel disappointment whatever level of success you attain. It might feel like nothing is good enough because you are not good enough.

How to Overcome My Inferiority Complex - Identify the symptoms

Inferiority complex and relationships

It might make you look at your love life in a skewed way. If you are single, you may believe that you are not good enough to maintain a relationship. If you are in a relationship it can greatly affect how you treat the other person. You might put them on a pedestal or see them in an unrealistic light. While it is good to honor your partner and be with someone you think highly of, having an unrealistic view can also put distance between you.

Inferiority can also build resentment. If you give your partners unrealistic attributes then they are inevitably going to disappoint you when they don't meet these unreasonable standards. For single people with an inferiority complex, it can skew how you view potential partners. It can make you resentful when you see attractive people you might want to be with (or think you want to be with). All you see in them is happiness and healthiness, so you compare yourself negatively.

Inferiority complexes don't just affect romantic or sexual relationships. In fact, they usually begin in childhood, making familial relations even more important. Your relationship to your parents has such an important bearing on your development that feeling inferior in this environment can provide many problems.

Whether your relationship to your parents is close, distant or nonexistent, inferiority complexes can arise. If you are close, you might feel unrealistic pressure to make them happy and not meet certain standards. If your relationship is distant or nonexistent, it can lead to feelings of never being good enough for your parents, even if they are at fault for such a distance.

From Cain and Abel to Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine, sibling rivalries have affected inferiority throughout the ages. We often look up to certain siblings or feel as if they are more deserving of parental love, even when this is not accurate. Even only children can feel inferior by the mere fact they don't have any siblings.

Unfortunately, behaviors we learn at a young age are difficult to reverse in later life. This is why trying to overcome an inferiority complex isn't so much about stopping these thoughts, but managing them.

How to Overcome My Inferiority Complex - Inferiority complex and relationships

Inferiority complex and the self

Inferiority complexes are all about how one sees oneself, especially in terms of others. However, it can affect how we behave even when in isolation.

One common aspect of an inferiority complex is body image. Have you ever been around a physically attractive person who points out some perceived flaw about themselves? Even those who are generally seen as attractive have inferiority complexes, particularly due to the value society puts on physical attractiveness.

Inferiority complexes often send you one of two ways when it comes to physicality. Like work, some may overcompensate and work hard to achieve a physical perfection which is elusive to everybody on the planet. It can lead to overexercise and reliance on fad diets. This can give you the air of physical confidence, but it often feels like the opposite.

Others might feel like they deserve to be ugly as it reflects how they feel about themselves. It can lead to unhealthy eating habits, negative thinking and even be a factor in addiction.

When it comes to mental and emotional capabilities, similar rules apply. An inferiority complex can make it difficult to deal with praise. If you are given a compliment, it is often hard for you to reconcile another person's view with your own self-image. Equally, it often makes you feel combative if someone says something negatively about you. This is because you are constantly thinking about your own self-worth, so when people critique you it can lead you to being oversensitive to their comments. Adler himself put it like this, "Exaggerated sensitiveness is an expression of the feeling of inferiority"[2].

Inferiority complex and social interactions

Another common character trait of those who feel inferior is anxiety. If you feel inferior, but this causes you to compensate by activity and trying to achieve, you can create a false sense of requirement. This means that you are hard on yourself for not being better, in whatever sphere of life. In turn, it can lead to an anxiety over keeping this constant drive for betterment going. This is particularly the case when you see people who act out in social situations.

If you feel the need to be the center of attention all the time, it could be due to feelings of inadequacy. People who are self-assured and capable often don't feel the need to attract attention to themselves. They don't feel the need to attract attention because their confidence is intact.

People with an inferiority complex might seem confident and outgoing, but often it is a false confidence. It is because they have a feeling of missing out or not matching the standards of their social group. They might overcompensate to seem outwardly engaging, but inwardly, they are a ball of nerves and anxiety.

How to Overcome My Inferiority Complex - Inferiority complex and social interactions

How to overcome an inferiority complex

Once you have identified your symptoms of inferiority (the ones listed above are not an exhaustive list), then you are in a better place to change your behavior and thought patterns. You should also know that this is not an easy thing to do and many people find themselves in a struggle against it, even after they have made progress.

If your inferiority complex manifests itself in how you look physically, then you can start by reassuring yourself about self-worth in general. It would be untrue to say that physical attractiveness doesn't have its cachet (there is a reason we often equate physical attractiveness with success), but it is fleeting. Beauty might get your foot in the door, but it won't keep you in the room.

The value of a person's character is something which we value more as we get older. This is because it intrinsically has more value. Good character affords you respect in your workplace, helps you befriend people who will boost your self-love and find happiness in mutual kindness. Physical attractiveness can get you things too, but you will see they are often superficial and of no real value.

If you are feeling so negative towards yourself that you have gotten into bad habits with food and exercise, you should find practical ways to get out of them. This doesn't mean replacing these habits with more bad ones. Many people find their inferiority complex creates an obsessive relationship with food, whereas what you really need is a healthy one. Join a gym and ask friends for help. Don't, however, talk about self-improvement and then not do it. It makes others distrust you and can make you feel even worse in the long run.

Find allies and discuss your problems

As we said before, if your inferiority complex is making you emotionally distressed, then professional help is probably required. If it is a more general feeling of inferiority or inadequacy, then you may want to start by speaking to people in the same boat.

You often find people with inferiority complexes keep it to themselves. They are so obsessed with not coming across in a positive light, they try to hide their negativity. This could go as far as not feeling like you deserve self-improvement if your self-esteem has become sufficiently low.

Taking to people who value character rather than superficiality will help you see yourself in a more realistic light. You will likely find that most people share at least certain traits as you do about their own self-worth. You will also find that relationships you establish through these discussions might become the most worthwhile.

Equally, don't surround yourself with people who will negatively affect how you see yourself. As we stated earlier, many people act out thanks to their inferiority complexes, trying to bring others down to their level. These people either need help themselves or should be excluded from your life. Surround yourself with positive and realistic people who know how difficult it can be, but work hard for self-improvement.

How to Overcome My Inferiority Complex - Find allies and discuss your problems

Don't have unrealistic expectations

When we say to surround yourself with positive people, we don't mean unrealistically positive. If you have an inferiority complex, it is likely because you have an impractical or pessimistic relationship with reality. Pretending like everything is roses or that you can do anything in the world you want to is equally unrealistic.

What is better is to acknowledge humanity in all its flawed spectacle. If you boil down your life to what is important, you often find you gain better perspective on your anxieties. We all are capable of good and evil, we all make daily choices over what we choose to do. You may have made bad choices in the past, but this doesn't mean it has to continue into the future.

Many sources will try to make you believe that all you need are some trite truisms to overcome your inferiority complex. While inspirational quotations or maxims might help encourage you, they can often also be so positive that they don't even make sense. Overcoming inferiority cannot be done by replacing it with inaccurate superiority.

A holistic and reasonable approach to your self-worth is much more advisable. It means acknowledging your strengths and weakness and accepting the limitations of circumstance. Equally, it doesn't mean accepting oppression from others or tolerating those who want to continue to take away from your self-worth.


Being able to overcome an inferiority complex isn't easy. What is easy is to fall into cyclical bad habits which support feelings of inferiority rather than counteract them. Spend some time on yourself, engage in positive activity and try to eradicate the negative influences in your life.

Sometimes we have people or circumstances in our life which are negative, but we can't get rid of completely. This is usually due to a personal or social commitment. What we can do in these situations is find ways to manage and cope with them. It is unlikely an inferiority complex will go away completely, but it is certainly possible to not let it ruin your life.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Overcome My Inferiority Complex, we recommend you visit our Mental health category.


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md.shafiqul Islam
i don't know about myself,always thinking about myself due to my stuttering.
How to control trembling when go for interview
OneHowTo Editor
Hi Rina,
The best thing to do is to be confident in yourself and stay calm, you are applying for a job that you know you can actually do, so the questions the person will ask should not make you nervous, the interviewer just wants to get to know you better. If you need more tips, take a look at this article you will find useful:
How to Overcome My Inferiority Complex
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