Do you sometimes feel like you don’t measure up in different areas of life? Are there times you consider others better off than you? Or have there been occasions when you wish you could perform better than a friend, a family member or a coworker?

Undoubtedly, these scenarios are quite familiar to everyone on earth. There are times when you see yourself as unable to match the level of achievement, competence and qualifications of others. This comparison syndrome usually begins early in childhood. We find our mates surpassing our performance in academics, athletics, social stamina and physical stature. At this point, we silently wish we were better than them.

Occasionally having these feelings of not measuring up is not much of a problem. The problem lies in constantly comparing ourselves with others, always seeking external validation and approval, disliking what we have and falling into despair and depression because of what we do not have.

If the preceding description matches your state currently, you may be suffering from a psychological condition called inferiority complex. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines the inferiority complex as “a basic feeling of inadequacy and insecurity, deriving from actual or imagined physical or psychological deficiency”. This goes to show that most of the time, we felt inadequate; we had only erroneously undervalued our capabilities in such situations.

Before we learn some helpful ways to overcome inferiority complex, it’s important we understand the basis of this psychological condition.


Where did the inferiority complex originate from?

If you are plagued by inferiority complex, I bet you weren’t born with it. You must have picked it up along your growing lane through life, whether from home, environment, acquaintances or society at large. Inferiority complex can come by:

  1. Home abuse

Growing up in an abusive home, whether physical, emotional or psychological can have a damaging effect on your self esteem, the root of inferiority complex. You may have grown up with a parent(s) that constantly beat you up at the slightest provocation. Worse still is falling victim to verbal abuse — your parents often hurled denigrating statements at you, running you down and telling you how you can hardly do anything right. Over the years, these abusive comments and treatments will batter your self-esteem, consigning you to the doldrums of inferiority complex.

  1. Unhealthy comparison

You will be giving free expression to inferiority complex in your life if you perpetually juxtapose yourself, your achievement, net worth, living standard etc. against another person’s. Comparing yourself with others, especially those seemingly better than you, will only breed low self esteem. Social media has heightened this situation with celebrities’ public display of material possessions: exotic cars, overseas trips, luxury houses, clothes, shoes, bags, cash, social attainments, academic qualification and so on.

  1. Blowing up the weaknesses

You may have some physical defects from childhood or a result of an accident or health condition. Focusing on your defects and weaknesses will amplify your feeling of inferiority complex. With the knowledge of a few causes of inferiority complex, we shall now see how you can overcome it.

How to overcome inferiority complex

  1. Desist from making unhealthy comparisons

You need to stop comparing yourself with other people: friends, family members, colleagues or acquaintances, and start appreciating your achievement, strengths, abilities, skills and goals. It’s important for you to understand that everyone cannot be the same. You cannot be someone else, and no other person can be like you. Remember this fact at all times.

  1. Practice loving yourself

Instead of being judgmental, be kind to yourself. Love yourself, deeply. Take time out to celebrate your feats, no matter how insignificant. Doing this over time will build your self-confidence. Try to change the things you can about yourself and accept the ones you cannot.

  1. Dump the wrong circles

The impact that toxic people around us has on our self esteem cannot be relegated. You may have surrounded yourself with supposed friends and associates that do nothing but run you down. There is nothing you do that ever gets a thumb up from them. You must determinedly separate yourself from such a company. Instead, keep friends that encourage you, lift you up and support your growth.

  1. Pay no heed to people’s opinions

One of the main signs of inferiority complex is always getting worried about what other people think or say. If you find yourself constantly seeking validation from friends, colleagues at work or even members of your family, then you are entangled in inferiority complex. So, the way out of this rut is not to give a hoot about other people’s comments. When you’ve done your best, just pop your collar and walk tall with your head up high. Literally, shut out undermining remarks.

  1. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a conscious act that involves observation and analysis of our thoughts and judgments (especially negative ones) about ourselves.

During CBT, you need to ask yourself questions that border on the validity of your negative impressions about yourself. For instance, “do I always fall short of expectations because I am incompetent in this task or because I can never really do anything right?”

Talk yourself out of making hasty conclusions that are detrimental to your self confidence even with insufficient evidence. You need to accept the reality that you cannot always get things some perfectly. So, ditch the ‘all-or-nothing’ mentality that demands perfection from you.

Lastly, you must understand that the truth about having an inferiority complex stems from the disposition of your mind. Over a long period, you have been able to deceive yourself about your lack of worth successfully. Other people will only follow the precedence you set. Eleanor Roosevelt rightly posited that “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. Discover your strengths, capabilities, and gifts and develop them. Love yourself unconditionally and be proud of who you are.

Always surround yourself with people who are interested in your growth and success.


To speak with any of our counsellors at Light House Counselling, call or whatsapp +2348060286476.

We provide 5 different types of Counseling ranging from Marriage and Family Counselling, Educational Counselling, Rehabilitation Counselling, Mental Health Counselling, and Substance Abuse Counselling.

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