“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken” – Oscar Wilde
Feeling inferior is intrinsic to low self-esteem. It comes from comparing yourself to others and finding yourself “less than”. Knowing that Stephen Hawkins knows more about science than you do is not the same as feeling inferior unless you really care about that. Objectively knowing that you might be inferior to someone in a particular way is very different than feeling inferior. A generalized feeling of inferiority is not based on rational thoughts. Feeling inferior is not a cognitive thought. It is an emotional feeling that can be extremely painful.
Some of the emotional elements of feeling inferior are anxiety, hopelessness, helplessness, and anger. These are also elements of depression. Knowing your own shortcomings and seeking to improve yourself is not the same as emotionally feeling inferior. In today’s world of social media, it is easy to look into the lives of the rich, the famous and the airbrushed. Even monitoring the lives of people you know can lead to thoughts of being “less than” because people only post the good – never the negative. Social media is anything but balanced. Research shows that high usage of social media is associated with low self-esteem, high anxiety and depression.
Wanting to look like, live like, and sound like someone else is giving up on those things that make you unique. Constantly comparing yourself to someone else is a recipe for creating an inferiority complex. Feelings of inferiority are fed by wanting to be someone or something that you are not. It doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself or that you don’t strive to improve yourself or accomplish more in your life. It does mean that you will get by much better when you don’t try to be someone else or something that you are not.
If you compare yourself to Nobel Prize winners, you will probably see a big difference in their achievements and yours. However, if you compare yourself to someone who has achieved less than you, you might be less critical of yourself. Or, you could just drop the comparison altogether. Now that is a thought worth considering.
People who feel inferior tend to think in terms of all-or-nothing, good or bad, black or white. This is emotional thinking, not realistic, rational thinking. Learning to think differently, learning to change your perspective can be life changing. Being at war with yourself is a painful existence. It isn’t about thinking optimistically. It is about thinking realistically. You always need to be on your own side; to be your own best friend – loving, encouraging and supportive.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques focus on brining your awareness to your thoughts, feelings and behaviors and how they intertwine. If you have difficulty in achieving your goals regarding overcoming feelings of inferiority on your own, working with a therapist trained in CBT techniques can be an investment in yourself that lasts a lifetime.