Inferiority complex – Signs and Symptoms

What is an inferiority complex?

We all fall into situations where we end up comparing ourselves. We often question our abilities and end up being vulnerable. This is not only stressful but also demotivating at times. The feeling of insufficiency and insecurity which means being unable to reach your targeted goal can be highly occasional.

This self-doubt and uncertainty that we create within ourselves cause a negative self-image which is termed as “inferiority complex”.

This feeling of not being able to match up to your and society’s expectations is recognized as a potential source of dissatisfaction and distress by psychologists.

Inferiority complex is a common problem not to be termed as a “disease”. This is a natural human tendency and a physiological phenomenon of feeling less valuable than others.

Inferiority complexes can hamper one’s mental health and can cause vulnerability and the feeling of being unworthy.

Inferiority complex definition could be the feeling of insecurity & inability to complete tasks and reach desired goals.

This can happen with any age group and generation. However, it is seen that mostly teenage people and youngsters are the victims of insecurity & inferiority.

Let’s understand this by an example-

Although you are a bright student and you score good marks in exams, just in case your batchmate scores more than you, you feel inferior to them despite being a good student. Similarly, considering the relationships of today’s era, according to the present scenario, most people believe in hookup culture. People get attached easily but when the same love, affection, and respect are not reciprocated because your partners have different priorities you tend to feel insecure and this, in turn, results in an inferiority complex. You start feeling that you’re not good enough for your partner as they find someone else better than you.

People with dusky or dark skin tones can experience inferiority complex looking at people with fair skin tones or, people who are overweight or underweight also end up feeling insecure about their appearance.

Now let’s discuss some most common symptoms of inferiority complex.

Common symptoms of inferiority complex are as follows-

  • Insecurity
  • Insomnia
  • Inability to complete tasks and desired goals
  • Constant comparison
  • Feeling of vulnerability
  • Feeling incomplete & unworthy
  • Frequent frustration, nervousness, and discomfort
  • Aggression and rude behavior
  • Avoidance of social gatherings and conversations
  • Signs of anxiety or depression
  • Feeling sad for no reason
  • Under confidence in one’s personality
  • Unhappiness and dissatisfaction

These were a few common symptoms of inferiority complex and it may vary from person to person.

It has also been seen that people who have an inferiority complex try to show signs of being narcissistic and overconfident to hide their true emotions. Instead of being underconfident and quiet, they try to show a different personality in front of others which is considered as a way of masking themselves. These symptoms could be like-

  • Not admitting one’s mistakes
  • Arguing on small issues
  • Trying to be highly competitive
  • Being extremely sensitive to criticism and compliments
  • Unable to handle suggestions or constructive criticism
  • Being a perfectionist
  • Seeking attention all the time
  • Pointing out fault in others to hide one’s faults
  • Being very opinionated in all aspects

These feelings of inferiority complex are also experienced a lot in children of the school age. Initially few children try to isolate themselves and hide their true emotions and hesitate to share them with their parents and family and get triggered by others’ statements easily. This in turn becomes a long-term mental disorder.

People can feel inferior in various aspects including –  One’s appearance like their skin complexion, body weight, and height, their family background, financial situation, underconfidence, diseases & other disorders, acne breakouts, scars, body marks, body hair, intoned figure, not being able to be updated with the technology, unable to speak fluent English or any other language, etc.

In simple words, anything you are unable to cope up with creates a feeling of inferiority complex.

Now that we know signs, symptoms, and causes of inferiority complex let’s discuss its types-

Types of inferiority complex-

Primary inferiority- Primary inferiority starts in your childhood where you feel helpless and you are unintentionally being compared by others by your own family members or friends which can lead to inferiority complex adulthood as well.

Secondary inferiority- Secondary inferiority occurs during adulthood when you are unable to reach your subjective goals and as a result, you end up comparing yourself with your colleagues and friends. This adds to the leftover feelings of inferiority from childhood and intensifies the entire emotion.

How to recognize someone who has an inferiority complex? 

Well, people might behave a certain way when they feel inferior or insecure. This behavior may include-

  • Constant complaints
  • Seeking validation from others
  • Try making others feel insecure
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Making themselves center of attention or not talking to others at all
  • Sense of defeat and shame
  • Focusing on upsetting thoughts and incidents
  • Feeling responsible for others failures and shortcomings
  • Focusing on negative aspects all the time
  • Shutting down out of embarrassment or guilt
  • Self-isolation
  • They end up missing out on opportunities
  • Rude or sad behavior etc.

Treatment options, medications, and tips to overcome inferiority complex

Cognitive-behavioral therapy- CBT is considered to be very effective in treating inferiority complexes. This teaches people to examine past achievements and forget all the negative thoughts. It helps in boosting one’s self esteem and builds up.

Practicing gratitude- One of the best methods and therapy to deal with an inferiority complex is to practice gratitude every day. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have or what you can’t achieve, focus on your achievements and things you are capable of doing. Everybody is unique in their way and so we must be proud of ourselves instead of feeling insecure.

Daily affirmations- As it is a proven fact that what you read and see daily can build up in your personality as well. So it is a very good way of dealing with inferiority complexes. You can read and repeat these daily affirmations before going to bed- every day

“I’ve got this”

“I’m worthy”

“I’m the best in my way”

“I don’t need validation from others”

“I’m unique”.. etc.


Try these simple and easy steps and you will notice improvement and remarkable changes in your personality and attitude.

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