I would be completely lying and doing everyone a disfavor if I said, "The inferiority complex is all in the mind, dude. Just stop thinking you're inferior because you're not." It isn't. If it were so simple then billions, yes billions, wouldn't experience it sometime in their life.
I know of personal development teachers who teach such things. I did some brief browsing on the web to see what information was available on the inferiority complex, and most of the advice offered is harmful. "Experts" were telling people "things will get better", "be more positive", or "it's not so bad". If you have the inferiority complex and someone says that to you, then you'll understand the massive frustration caused from the huge misunderstanding when someone gives you such poor advice. This type of positive thinking is nicely understood in a Bible verse.
In Luke chapter 5 (NKJV), Jesus was talking to some Pharisees who were complaining. Jesus replied to them in a parable so that they would be more likely to understand:
"No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined."
The garment and the wineskins examples are what positive thinking does to our self-image. A new patch over the bad garment improves the garment a little bit yet it is still its same old self. If new wine (positive thinking) is poured into old wineskins (your poor self-image of feeling inferior) then nothing good will result. It is a battle of willpower and what is known as creative imagination which you'll learn more about below. Positive thinking can slightly improve the situation but in the end it usually results in frustration as our willpower becomes exhausted. Whenever there is a fight between willpower and creative imagination, you can bet creative imagination will be the victor.
From personal experience and coaching others, I know first hand that a better self-image where you do not feel inferior cannot be achieved through positive self-talk, affirmations, and the like. Unfortunately, thousands of people have taught and continue to teach that using positive self-talk will overcome your problems. Positive self-talk is often nothing more than an attempt to live deliriously from reality and ignore what is really taking place.
We are conditioned by society to believe that being positive during our own problems and when comforting others is a good thing. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you are interested in becoming a strong pillar in someone's life where you are able to emotionally support people, gain their respect, friendship, and remain stable, composed, and poised without feeling depressed or insane, then I highly recommend you get my program here.
The primary factors of the conditioning aspect that determines whether you become inferior or rise above the circumstance is your attitude towards criticism and failure. Don’t forget that there is the creative imagination aspect which is a more powerful influence towards feeling inferior yet criticism and failure are the powerful influences within the conditioning aspect.
Criticism and failure will always be banging at your door to success. Unfortunately, most of us let the two get a foot hold within our lives and from there the problems expand themselves. Criticism compounds criticism and failure demotivates you resulting in more failure. You will never be able to eliminate criticism or failure. Therefore, to overcome the inferiority complex you cannot expect yourself to not fail or to not receive criticism.
Overcoming the conditioning aspect of the inferiority complex is a matter of learning and moving on while maintaining a goal-focused attitude. Anyone who has achieved anything notable sooner or later receives criticism. The great Greek philosopher, Aristotle, said "Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing."
When you feel criticism is a signal of your unworthiness then it begins to stimulate inferiority, shame, and failure. Don’t take criticism personally and think you are a failure. If criticism is justly deserved then use it as feedback to adjust your course of action as it guides you back on the path of not feeling inferior.
You need to know that other’s criticism towards you will either be an attempt to improve your life, be a release of frustration, or a sign of the person’s own problems. Sometimes you can take the criticism as a sign of you progressing forward in life!
We all have been criticized. Some people suffer while other's flourish and experience great levels of confidence, success, happiness, and intimate relationships. Why is this and what can you do to overcome your inferiority complex?
Think of a time when the power of the sender, intensity of the criticism, and the frequency you were criticized made you feel inferior. If you can and I suggest you do, make your selected memory one related to your current feelings of inferiority. If you are a shy person then perhaps think of a time when someone told you to stop talking because you have nothing good to say.
Once you have come up with one or several memories, ask yourself these questions:
- What were you thinking when the person made you feel inferior?
- What emotions did you experience?
- What self-talk followed the person's negative feedback?
- How long did these feelings and thoughts last?
- How intense were these feelings and thoughts?
After answering these questions, if you reacted poorly to the negative feedback given to you in these situations, you should now be more aware of how your feeling of inferiority developed. You see, the person’s criticism and other types of negative feedback has no power over you. It isn't the events which make you inferior. Rather, it is your reaction to the events. It is the thoughts and feelings you experience after the event that determine whether your inferiority grows or dies. The conditioning aspect of inferiority partly manifests through the criticism of others if we let it, yet our reaction to the event usually determines who we become.
Referring back to the three components (power of sender, intensity, and frequency) which shape us, if you severely beat your emotional self up and frequently do it (for self-talk, I say the power of the sender factor varies depending how strong your self-image is in the specific area you are criticizing yourself over), then the self-criticism will have a bigger impact on your inferiority.
You condition yourself to feel inferior through self-criticism. You become your own worst enemy. Your "self" gets smacked by your thoughts and self-talk. The failures become a part of who you are. You are unable to disassociate events and experiences from your identity and so you begin to verbally bash your mind. You feel inferior like a failure.
Once you've initiated the thoughts, the feelings begin to follow. You begin to feel inferior. You use your creative imagination poorly and begin to evoke images of failure, misery, shame, unworthiness, and low self-esteem. All these negative messages that you've come to accept over time mold your self-image and make you feel inferior. You eventually believe that you are in fact inferior.