How To Be Free From Inferiority Complex And Boost Your Self-Esteem

How To Be Free From Inferiority Complex And Boost Your Self-Esteem – Inferiority complex is a problem among the youth as they tend to have a low self-esteem. This happens as a result of some issues which may be related to their background, mental health, physical health or even social status. Inferiority complex is a feeling of seeing yourself less than others or inferior to others. Inferiority complex is a belief that you are deficient in some kind of way, not up to the standard or not in the position to be recognized. Inferiority complex can cause you to be conscious of your appearance so as to get accepted by others. Inferiority complex is not really a mental health disorder, it is just a feeling of inadequacy you may have as a result of some abuses in the past or present situations.

We have the feeling of optimism and pessimism within us. We tend to get positive in some aspects of our lives while some other times, the negativity sets in, making us feel inferior to others. This negativity unleashes our low self-esteem. It is normal to worry about your abilities and capabilities but when you start doubting your abilities and self-worth, insecurity sets in. The feeling of insecurity, inadequacy and insufficiency shouldn’t cloud your thinking. When the feeling comes which is normal, we can always find refuge in our strengths and deal with the feeling of insecurity and self-doubt. Someone with an inferiority complex or low self-esteem like Dr. James E. Maddux called it tend to expect little and accept anything they get even when it is not favorable to them. They would say, “It is better than getting nothing”; “I can’t get more than this”, “this is what my ability can carry”. Inferiority complex is a cycle that consistently holds you back in every aspect of your life.

In this article, we will be dividing our discussion into:

  • What is inferiority complex?
  • Causes of inferiority complex
  • Signs of inferiority complex
  • What is self-esteem?
  • 3 Types of self-esteem
  • 10 Tips to boost your self-esteem and be free from inferiority complex


It has been said that inferiority complex is a feeling of inadequacy and seeing yourself as less to others. It is the feeling of seeing yourself as being little when compared to others (peers, relatives, and siblings). The feeling of inferiority complex comes with the feeling of insecurity, mediocrity, jealousy, avoiding competition; introversion etc. Inferiority complex comes with a pessimistic attitude. You just feel like you cannot amount to something great, this feeling makes you question your ability to perform and meet up with standard resulting to a feeling of social withdrawal (introversion), attention seeking behavior and high consciousness of appearance.

Inferiority complex was coined in the 20th century by Australian psychoanalyst Albert Adler in 1907 and he saw it “as a feeling of valuing yourself less as a result of upbringing as a child (for example being consistently compared unfavorably to a sibling), physical and mental limitations or being treated unfavorably by peers or people around”. Inferiority complex will cause you to always want to seek others opinion or approval. In this case, you always want to do things to please others even if it means displeasing yourself.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary of psychology, inferiority complex is seen as “a combination of erroneous belief of an individual that he or she is unable to cope with some aspect of life because of a real or imagined physical or psychological deficiency, feelings of depression and a cessation of coping efforts in that area”. 

Everyone has a feeling of inferiority. It shows that you are healthy and normal and it helps to stimulate you to strive and develop. It becomes alarming and negative when it now overwhelms and controls you as an individual, making you depressed and feeling worthless.


Like it has been said that everyone has some level of inferiority but there are some signs that shows that an individual(s) has been overwhelmed by this inferiority as these signs undermine your productivity. As a youth, you have to build a self-worth. Below are some signs that show you have inferiority complex.

  • The feeling of insecurity and unworthiness.
  • Feeling the urge to be socially withdrawn.
  • Feeling aggressive, nervous and frustrated.
  • You always compare yourself with others and feel intimidated.
  • You find it difficult to complete tasks either out of laziness or due to procrastination.
  • Inferiority complex makes you always want to criticize others.
  • You always want to seek other’s approval or validation.
  • You tend to complain a lot.
  • You get depressed over criticism.
  • You become an introvert.
  • You always want attention as you exhibit some attention seeking behavior like being unhappy or moody, being overly or excessively friendly or even pretending to be sick.

Sometimes, some people with inferiority complex might show signs of overconfidence and free spirit but it is just a way of covering the negative attitude of being inferior. These persons might exhibit an attitude of being very competitive, never want to accept mistakes and always want to find faults in other people’s work.


For everyone that has inferiority complex, it may be because of some reasons. Many people are seen to have developed a sense of less worth as they see themselves as inferior to others and are filled with negative thoughts. I have carefully highlighted some factors that have contributed to the feeling of inferiority complex.


The problem most people faced while growing up as a child have ignited the feeling of inferiority complex they now live with. For someone who grew up hearing negative remarks like “you are good for nothing”, “you are stupid” and all sort of demoralizing speeches tends to feel inferior and be bad at expressing themselves because their self-image has been reduced to nothing. They feel they can never get appreciated even when they have done their best. These disapproving remarks build a negative behavior and inferiority complex becomes virtual in the life of the affected person.


The family in which one grows in has a long way to go in shaping the individual. A child that grows in a home with a strict or authoritarian parent who never appreciates the child’s effort and looks for every little opportunity to snap at the child, such parents are breeding inferiority complex in that child. As a child, you want to feel accepted, loved and appreciated but if the reverse is the case, the child tends to become powerless, socially withdrawn, ashamed, and worthless and would lack zeal with time. The family has a role to play in shaping a child’s zeal and efforts into something meaningful.

In another scenario where everything is being done for a child, the child tends to grow up to become lazy and naïve. This will spur inferiority complex as the child. The type of family is a major factor in a child’s upbringing and life.


Let us look at a divorced home, a child from this kind of home in most cases tend to be reserved in the midst of peers especially when they are talking about their families. A child born out of wedlock, without knowing his or her parents or tied to a particular family stigma most times develops inferiority complex while interacting with peers as they feel worthless or less fortunate and this result in introversion.


Most people feel inferior due to their body features, strengths, speaking abilities, height, size and many more. These problems make some people feel inferior to others. In most cases, they feel cheated by nature. It is said that a person’s physical appearance plays a role in boosting your self-confidence and self-worth and this is why anybody or most people having any form of physical challenge look down on themselves and have a low self-esteem.

Albert Alder used Napoleon Bonaparte to describe someone who developed inferiority complex because of his short stature (physical trait). It is now commonly referred to as “Napoleon Syndrome”.


This can be seen in different ways ranging from financial status to socio-economic status. The financial status of a person can cause the person to develop an inferiority complex as he or she might feel they have nothing to offer when called upon due to their financial status. Also the socio-economic status of a person has a role to play here.

For instance, a poor person or middle class citizen will find it difficult to express him or herself in the midst of the high class or first class citizens. Also a child that grows up with this social disadvantage tends to develop an inferiority complex especially when he or she goes to a school of well-to-do people.


This is common among the always depressed set of people. Someone that is known for depression and nervousness will certainly develop the feeling of incompetence. Someone with a low self-esteem will always feel depressed and susceptible to developing inferiority complex. Someone with a negative attitude will spend most of the time counting the things they cannot do and finding faults instead of looking for ways to boost their self-esteem.

It has been seen in some cases that inferiority complex can be related to genetic predisposition. A study in the proceedings of the National Academy of Services found that people could inherit some traits that will cause them to have a low self-esteem and feel less optimistic. The self-esteem of a person has a long way to go in fighting the feeling of inferiority complex. It is the type of self-esteem you have that would cause you to develop the feeling of inferiority complex.


Self-esteem can be defined as a feeling of self-worth. Self-esteem is used to describe a person’s sense of self-worth or personal value. This shows how much you appreciate and value yourself. Some contexts see self-esteem as self-respect. All the same, self-esteem points to a person’s self-worth. How much do you value yourself as a person? How important do you think you are?

Self-esteem has a lot to do with your feeling of being worthy or unworthy. It is very important in decision making as it influences your choices. Your self-esteem acts as a motivator that helps you take care of yourself and exhibit your potential to the fullest. Your sense of self-value will gear you towards self-development and attaining your personal and professional goals.

Smith and Mackle (2007) defined self-esteem as “the self-concept is what we think about the self; self-esteem is the positive and negative evaluations of the self”. Your type of self-esteem projects different actions; what I mean by this is that the kind of self-esteem you possess will drive the kind of character you exhibit (happiness, satisfaction, pride, envy, criminal behavior etc.). Self-esteem means your self-worth, self-value, self-importance, self-dignity, self-integrity, self-regard and self-respect.

According to David Hume a Scottish enlightenment thinker, in one of his writing shows the idea that it is important to value and think well of yourself because it serves as a motivation that enables you explore your full potential. Some psychologist has suggested that self-esteem is a basic human need and a motivation that promotes self-love and self-confidence. Some factors have been seen to influence self-esteem or the extent to which you value yourself. These factors could be your achievements, your family, physical appearance and so on.

“Too many people overvalue what they are and undervalue what they are”

-Malcom S. Forbes


Everyone has a different type of self-esteem depending on your life. Your self-esteem directs your actions and we will be dealing with some types of self-esteem.


This can also be called superiority complex. People with this type of self-esteem always feel right. It is a negative type of self-esteem as people in this category feel superior to others and always wants to be on top. It is good to be or want to be the best and always compete but this type of self-esteem does not admit or accept that they make mistakes. They do not take corrections and are engaged in unhealthy competition. People with this self-esteem always criticize and undervalue others, exhibiting harsh or hostile behaviors. It is good to value you but also create room for faults or mistakes because nobody is perfect. People with this complex often have exaggerated opinions of themselves. These set of people see everyone and every situation as a competition.


This can also be called moderate complex. The people with this type of self-esteem accept and value themselves moderately.  They are not mediocre but they “know their worth”. This is a positive self-esteem. These set of people believe and trust in themselves and are not arrogant or very competitive. They tend to leave room for mistakes and learn from them thereby improving their strengths and abilities.

This type of self-esteem will help you to balance your life as you are opened to corrections and ready to improve. The people with high self-esteem tend to have leadership qualities as people will always want to follow their lead. They have a great personality and self-confidence.

“Persons with high self-esteem are not driven to make themselves superior to others; they do not seek to prove their value by measuring themselves against a comparative standard. Their joy is being who they are, not in being better than someone else”   – Nathaniel Branden


The people with low self-esteem are seen to have inferiority complex. Dr. James E. Maddux called inferiority complex low self-esteem. It is the point where you undermine or under value yourself. You begin to feel worthless or unworthy. These people do not trust in their abilities and tend to have insecurity. They are unhappy people as they easily fall into depression and give up. The fear of failure weakens them and they see themselves as inferior and not up to the standard of the people around them. People with low self-esteem have the problem of indecision.

These are the types of self-esteem common among people. Which category do you fall into? The best self-esteem is high self-esteem. Even when you have an inferiority issue sometimes which is normal, a high self-esteem will make you look for a way forward and come out of your shell.

If you have a low self-esteem (inferiority complex) or inflated self-esteem, this article is a guide to identifying yourself and work on ways to balance your inferiority and superiority complex because self-value and self-worth has a lot to do in the success of your life.


There are some ways in which you can be free from inferiority complex. The treatment of inferiority complex lies in your hands though some people will advise a medical approach but it does not mean that medications (drugs) will be administered to boost your self-esteem. Guidelines will be given and therapy sessions. Below are some of the tips I highlighted to help you overcome inferiority complex.

  1. Be around people that lift your spirit and make you better

It has been said that inferiority complex is sometimes associated with the people we move with or roll with. It might be your siblings, peers at college or home or colleagues ate work. Identify the people that dampen your spirit and disassociate from their company. Look for people that boost your self-esteem and are positive minded, develop your relationship with them and see yourself transforming into a person with high self-esteem overtime.

  • Define yourself and do not worry about what other people think

This is a major problem among the youths. They are always after the opinion of others, wanting to please others. This indicates low self-esteem. Stop trying to seek validation from others. Define yourself, let your opinion matter; let what you think about yourself guide and lead you. You are who you are not what people think you are. When we value ourselves, others will value us.

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself”                                                          – Harvey Fierstein

  • Always think positive and talk positive

A positive mind and thinker changes things around them. Negative thoughts will come but try converting them into positive thoughts. The inner voice has a way of impacting you and your actions. Do not be harsh on yourself. Do not allow negative thoughts and talks cloud your mind. Be positive and think positively.

  • Stop wanting to be like others

Everyone is created differently and with their own level of uniqueness. The desire to be like someone, maybe a peer, would always kill your joy or make you unhappy when you fail. You begin to compare yourself thereby setting a standard and creating a room for unhealthy competition. You shouldn’t always want to beat others or see everyone as a competition. Be the best version of you and live up to your standard.

  • Build your self-confidence

We shouldn’t mistake self-esteem for self-confidence. Self-esteem is about your self-worth and self-respect. Self-confidence on the other hand is about your abilities and strength to perform tasks. Self-confidence results in high self-esteem. When you believe in your abilities and strength, you begin to see yourself as important and worthy. So you should find a way to work on your self-confidence and increase your trust in yourself.

  • Always learn

This is a great way to boost your self-esteem and self-confidence. Someone that is open to learning finds new knowledge and knows many things. Learning opens you to a whole new world of possibilities and in some way boost your self-confidence and interaction with people. Learning changes your perspective and makes you remain relevant and important. You learn from mistakes, experiences and failures.

  • Learn to say “NO” when you are not comfortable

People with inferiority complex are in the position of always saying “yes” because they feel lesser than others and feel that their opinion doesn’t count. You should try to be assertive, understand when to say “yes and no”. Do not say yes to every task given to you so as to avoid being overloaded and stressed out. Saying no doesn’t really make you a bad person and saying yes doesn’t make you a better person either. Remember “you are what matters not what others think”.

  • Confront your fears

Shying away from your fears will only pile them up and unleash them later and at this point, you will be thrown off balance. Do not be afraid to make mistake and learn from the mistakes, this is a way to grow and improve. Remember that when you accomplish something or overcome an obstacle, you tend to have this sense of fulfillment and confidence, this boosts your self-esteem.

  • Find the good in others

Do not always see people as a competition. Do not always criticize or find faults. Try to admire people that are doing well with love and congratulate them on their achievement. The good stuffs that happen to other people is a pointer that it is possible for you to achieve it and even more.

  1. Go for therapy session

This is another great way to work on your inferiority complex. Seek medical advice. Therapy service goes a long way in guiding you and your actions. The doctors know how to help you understand yourself and your importance.


So for anyone out there living with inferiority complex, you need to identify the causes of your inferiority complex, the signs and start working on how to overcome them. Value yourself as this is a way others will value you. Your level of self-worth and self-respect reflects in your actions be it at school or at work.

Inferiority complex is not a disease. It develops overtime due to some factors and so working or overcoming it will take time but it is definitely possible. In  you are in this category, try giving it a try with the tips I mentioned.

Good luck in your endeavors.           

   “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”                                                        – Eleanor Roosevelt

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