Do I Have An Inferiority Complex?’ | Know Its Signs, Causes, Effects & More

Last Update on April 10, 2023 : Published on August 10, 2021
Do I Have An Inferiority Complex

There are at least a handful of times in our lives when we feel self-doubt, self-negativity, and uncertainty, right? This persistent self-negativity and self-doubt can be described as an inferiority complex.

Failed to reach your target at work? Scored lower than your friend on a test? Didn’t accomplish the things your peers did? All these instances can cause us to second guess ourselves and can give rise to self-doubt and uncertainty about our capabilities.

Feeling inadequate sometimes is normal but if these feelings of inadequacy continue and persist for long, it can give way to inferiority complex or self-deprecation. If your feelings of inferiority take over your life and cause difficulty in accomplishing your daily tasks, then it can be termed as ‘Inferiority Complex Disorder’.

What Is Inferiority Complex?

In pop culture and media, this term ‘inferiority complex’ is tossed around lightly and while it is not an official mental health disorder, it is still a real and serious condition.

People with inferiority complex experience chronic low self-esteem, overwhelming emotions, self-deprecation, etc.

The term ‘inferiority complex’ was first used by Australian psychologist Alfred Adler. The need to know why people lack the motivation they need drove him to understand that humans are born with a sense of inferiority. Many psychologists believe that inferiority complexes arise because of many factors including; Childhood experiences, adulthood experiences, and personality traits.

Inferiority complex is more than just unhappiness and feeling of self-doubt. Because of this complexity, people may withdraw from others who are more accomplished than them, try to overcompensate for their inferiority in competitive ways, or may act aggressively.

‘Do I Have An Inferiority Complex?’ Below are the signs of inferiority complexes that you should be aware of!

Signs Of Inferiority Complex

The most common signs of inferiority complex can be:

  • Having or showing signs of poor self-esteem
  • Overanalyzing every comment
  • Looking for validation from others
  • Withdrawing from others in social situations
  • Making others feel insecure to make up for their feelings
  • Refuse to participate in competitive events
  • Having a fear of being judged or compared to others
  • Being aggressive and hostile towards others

If you or someone you know shows these inferiority complex symptoms, it is suggested that you seek self-esteem therapy or counseling from a trained mental health counselor.

What Causes Inferiority Complex?

As I mentioned in the beginning, inferiority complex can stem from childhood experiences, personality traits, and social challenges. If you’re constantly worried about measuring your self-worth with others, there is a chance your feelings of inferiority are because of a deeper reason.

A combination of these factors can cause an inferiority complex.

  • Previous Experiences

Any negative experiences from childhood (or even adulthood) can contribute to a person having an inferiority complex. If someone grows up feeling inadequate, weak, or incapable of taking care of themselves, it can make them feel inferior in front of others.

  • Personality Traits

Certain personality traits can also affect a person’s self-esteem. If your personality is not outspoken and if you lack leadership skills, it can make you feel small compared to others. Even physical traits such as speech disorders can also contribute to feelings of inferiority.

  • Social Challenges

Financial problems, social setbacks, etc can also play a major role in contributing to the inferiority complex. Such economic and social challenges can cause a person to doubt their self-worth. Difficulty finding a partner when others around you have? Or not being able to speak in public? These kinds of situations can bring a sense of embarrassment leading to feelings of inferiority too.

Effects Of Having An Inferiority Complex?

When you’re constantly thinking of yourself as less than and inadequate, it can lead you to develop some complex conditions such as:

  • Addictions

Being around people who are more accomplished than you can also result in you finding an escape in the form of addiction. People constantly worrying about or living with an inferiority complex can, in some cases, may turn to substances not healthy for them. Feelings of inadequacy may drive some people to alcohol consumption.

Many may even look at using such dangerous substances as a coping mechanism. Dependency on alcohol and drugs can cause major health complications.

  • Poor Social & Work Life

When a person is constantly worrying about their incompetence, it can cause them to lose focus on work and social activities. When you’re constantly concerned about inadequacy at work and/or your status in your social circles, it can make you withdraw from interacting with others altogether.

Sometimes, feelings of inadequacy may also come out as aggression and being rude to others. Having an inferiority complex can also increase the risk of developing a sleep disorder, eating disorder, or even having suicidal thoughts.

  • Depression

When a person doesn’t feel worthy enough and stops interacting with others, it can affect their mental health greatly. Also, constant self-doubt and second-guessing can lead to feeling depressed. Having low self-esteem can also increase feelings of insecurity, frustration, and nervousness.

If you or your loved one is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please immediately reach out to your nearest helpline and request assistance. You can also contact these helpline numbers here.

How To Deal With An Inferiority Complex?

You are a unique individual with different sets of skills and talents but sometimes it can be difficult to see that. While changing an inferiority complex mindset is not easy, it can be managed in the following ways.

Inferiority complex treatment can be:

1. Therapy

Talking about your feelings of inferiority with a counselor may not sound like a good thing but getting in touch with the right professional can be easy. With approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, you can learn to challenge your negative thoughts and change them into positive ones.

Therapy can also act as a guiding hand in improving your self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence.

2. Journaling

Writing your feelings in a journal and what triggers the feelings of inferiority can also help you! Identify the factors that cause your negative thoughts. Then write down the ways you know you are worthy of recognition, respect, and love.

By writing down your feelings in a journal you can easily keep track of your feelings of inadequacy, when they are triggered, how to avoid the triggers, and how you are worthy.

3. Practicing Positive Self-Affirmations

Regularly telling yourself how worthy, lovable, confident you are can also bring a positive change in your thinking and how you look at yourself. This practicing positive self-affirmations will also help you change your self-talk.

Make it a habit of practicing positive self-affirmations as much as possible. It will help you strengthen your belief in yourself, your worthiness, and your abilities.

Final Thoughts

While it’s normal to feel inadequate, uncertain, and insecure now and then, persistent feelings of inferiority can make completing your daily activities difficult. Fear of what others may think, low self-esteem, poor self-worth, etc are all signs of inferiority complex.

Overcoming an inferiority complex may not be easy but with the right professional help and some self-help, it can be done. If you’re still struggling to find your footing when it comes to an inferiority complex, you can check top online therapy program.

I hope the above information on what is an inferiority complex helped you understand the signs of inferiority complex, its effects, and how to deal with an inferiority complex. For more, you can write to us at or connect with us on social media.

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About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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