Overcoming the Swings of Superiority and Inferiority Complexes
Updated: Jun 8
It is helpful to understand and to be able to identify a superiority and inferiority complex. Once you know what it is, you gain self-awareness to address it in yourself and be able to navigate it in relationships.
I often catch myself over-compensating in situations, trying to put myself in a more positive light. In other moments, I have these feelings of insecurity, and I hear my internal voice whisper thoughts of self-doubt and insecurity, "I can't do this", "I'm not good enough." And back and forth I go, waffling between superiority and inferiority complexes.
The solution to this has been to work on addressing my superiority and inferiority complexes and taking the time to introspect and to know myself accurately and accept who I am. I no longer swing from being arrogant and an elitist to being defeated and wallowing in self-pity. I have learned to accept who I am, both my strengths and my flaws, and to live out of my true self.
A superiority complex is thinking that you are better than others. You belittle, condescend, and talk down to people. It is one thing to be confident in yourself, but it's excessive when you arrogantly look down on others. If you have a superiority complex, the goal is to treat people with respect and to see yourself more accurately.
Signs of a Superiority Complex
1. You don't admit your faults.
You can't admit it when you do something wrong. You stand behind a "perfect" version of yourself.
2. You compare yourself to others.
You have a habit of comparing yourself to others. It may be a subconscious, internal thoughts, or verbalized, "I'm smarter, prettier, faster, richer, more successful than you", which makes you feel better.
3. You are self-centered.
You think your answers are right. You always want to give your opinion.
4. You have a sense of entitlement.
You think you can treat anyone however you want. You think you deserve to get whatever you want.
5. You are controlling.
You want to do things your way.
6. You are unaware of emotions.
You lack emotional intelligence, empathy, and the ability to self-reflect. You tend to be moody, stuck in your feelings, and swing from one mood to another.
7. Relationally cold.
You can cut off people easily. You are blunt, not considering how what you say affects others.
How to overcome a superiority complex
1. Admit your faults.
Say, "I made a mistake" when you make a mistake. Say, "I forgot", when you forget something. Say, "I don't know", when you don't know. Say, "I'm sorry, I apologize, I won't do that anymore", when you hurt someone. Take a tangible step to make it right. Understand the consequences of your actions. Feel remorse when you hurt someone.
2. Value people.
Listen to people when they talk. Consider their perspective. Cherish their relationship.
It is normal to feel self-doubt from time to time. Feelings of inadequacy means that we have the desire to grow and better ourselves. These feelings change from the dependency we have in childhood, and they evolve into the independence we have in adulthood. As we grow older, we learn to recognize, accept, and overcome our inadequacies and limitations. But for some, the feeling of inferiority is overwhelming and it negatively affects everything in their lives.
An inferiority complex is seeing yourself as inferior. If you have an inferiority complex, the goal is to no longer be crippled by your inadequacies and to see yourself as equal to others and that you are valuable.
Signs of an Inferiority Complex
1. Extremely sensitive to people’s opinions.
Someone giving you constructive feedback can send you spiraling.
2. You want to be flattered all the time.
You go out of your way to fish for compliments. Being told that you’re great gives you a high. You rely on these words of praise to build yourself up.
3. Social withdrawal.
You are afraid of people’s opinions of you, so you don't want to socialize at all. You’d rather be alone than feel inferior in the presence of others.
4. You compare yourself to other people.
5. You’re a perfectionist.
Nothing is ever good enough. You nitpick on every little thing. And you never feel any sort of satisfaction.
6. Social media affects you negatively.
You feel anxious and depressed posting and reading your news feeds.
7. You cover up your flaws.
You go out of your way to make yourself look good. It may be just white lies but it can turn into perpetual lying.
How to overcome an Inferiority Complex
1. Deal with your past.
Make a list of the times you felt inferior. Process through each of these memories: 1) Understand how the event affected you, 2) How you internalized the event, and 3) How you project that event in your life today.
2. Practice self-care.
Take care of your body, mind, and soul. Eat healthier food. Sleep. Practice meditation. Go out and enjoy things that you like doing.
3. Build your social support system.
Put boundaries from and cut off toxic relationships. Choose and reach out to people you want to have a relationship with. Invest your time and energy in connecting with people.
4. Stop trying to seek people's approval.
Your inferiority complex fuels your desire to please people to earn their approval. Filter what you say, don’t always say things to seek validation from people. Instead, practice communication skills of speaking assertively (I statements) and active listening.
5. Take risks.
You may be missing out on a lot of good opportunities because you are over thinking and stuck in analysis paralysis. Be brave. Find courage and hope. Stand up for yourself. Make decisions to go out there and try.
6. Recognize your strengths.
There are many good things about you. Write down everything you are good at.
7. Practice a positive internal voice
Confront your negative internal voice. Try to change it and develop an inner voice that affirms your strengths instead of negating them. Learn to have an inner voice that encourages you as valuable.
8. Let go.
There are certain things out of your control. At some point, you have to recognize that you’re better off moving on from it instead of trying to control it and being defined by it.
Knowing and Accepting your True Self
It takes a lifetime to know ourselves as we are dynamic and changing, so here are a few activities to identify who you are.
1. Be still and self-reflect.
You can't know yourself until you intentionally step away from the busyness of life and get to know your thoughts, feelings, desires, abilities, personality, and all the ways that make you you.
Take the time to answer: Who am I?
Take the time to answer: What makes me happy?
3. Life story
Take the time to remember your life experiences. Make a timeline of your life and recall the significant life events.
Take the time to answer: What am I living for?
Take time to answer: How are my relationships with my family and friends?