Overcoming Inferiority

Do any of the following symptoms exist in your life?

  • performance orientation
  • drivenness
  • anxiety
  • insecurity
  • over-competitiveness
  • gossip
  • putting others down (tall poppy syndrome)
  • retreating from life
  • a sense of ‘not measuring up’
  • a false sense of superiority

If so, you may be struggling with inferiority. The Cambridge Dictionary describes this as a feeling that you are not as good, as intelligent, as attractive, etc. as other people.


There can be a number of reasons why a person may struggle with inferiority.

Childhood Wounds This can be anything from experiencing rejection from a parent figure or experiencing bullying in the school playground. It can come from sibling rivalry or experiencing trauma or relational breakdown with a primary care giver. A child’s subconscious brain and spirit is like a sponge. It is constantly ‘feeding’ on it’s surroundings. If those surroundings aren’t positive, affirming, encouraging and supportive… negative patterns of thinking and functioning will develop.

Comparisons We all compare ourselves to others at times, but developing an excessive habit of comparing yourself to others is a dead end street paved with disappointment and disillusionment. It can reinforce a sense of inferiority.

Failure to Identify Personal Strengths and Talents If a child isn’t encouraged to identify and develop their unique strengths and talents, they can struggle to find their vocation or calling. They then often try to do things that are not ‘gifted’ in, and then wonder why they aren’t good at it. This kills confidence.

Modelling From Parents Like many traits and character patterns, inferiority can be ‘caught’ from parents by children. Inferiority can be a familiar disposition that will be passed down through the generations.

Cultural/ Racial Even in today’s world of incredible advances in technology and science, prejudice is alive and well. This can be racism, sexism or any kind of judgement that undermines respect and the reality that all people are created equal.


To thoroughly deal with inferiority, I would suggest a holistic approach that deals with the past, the present and future

The Past To deal with the past you must address childhood wounds. To do this, talk to a counsellor who you can trust, who is professionally trained to assist people in working through childhood wounding, trauma, resentment, guilt/ shame and negative conditioning. Personally, I would recommend therapy that combines Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Psychotherapysuch as  Re-Wiring Head and Heart

The Present To deal with the present, begin to change to the habits and patterns in your life that are a conscious choice. An example of this can be to stop comparing yourself to others. Choose to consciously enjoy being ‘you’. Sometimes we simply need to practice a new habit long enough, to make it stick. This includes new habits of thinking and speaking. Remember, you are not a victim. You have choices.

The Future Invest in your future and your confidence by identifying and developing your strengths and talents. Confidence can be can be a bi-product of doing something that you do ‘well’. The other side of this, is that you can also choose to treat other people in ways that encourage and build esteem. Whether it’s in your marriage, friendships, work colleagues or with your children, you can nurture a relational culture that breaks inferiority.

You don’t have to live with inferiority. It is a mindset that robs you of joy and fulfilment. Make the choice today to kick it out of your life and others.

Nick Gwynn

Breathe Counselling