Help! I am troubled by feelings of inferiority…
Why do I feel inferior?
We often feel inadequate when we compare ourselves with others. For instance, if someone else is better than us in academics, looks or popularity, we feel insecure. When we see others seeming happy, successful and popular, this may result in the feeling that we somehow don’t match up. Some of us may experience a constant inner critic driving all the thoughts and passing judgement. If you constantly listen to this harsh inner critic without questioning these thoughts, you may well start believing whatever it says, however irrational. Sometimes the feeling of inadequacy could also be triggered by a cutting remark passed by significant adults in your life or a stray comment by your friends on Facebook that hurt you. Media also compounds the problems for some of us by adding to the sense of inferiority with advertisements promoting unrealistic depictions of beauty, fame, wealth etc that are not attainable for most of us. These feelings of inferiority may be triggered by different cues but generally stem from a low self-esteem and thinking errors.
How do I deal with such feelings?
You need to understand that each of us is a unique person with different traits, strengths and weaknesses. Can you imagine how boring this world would be if all of us were similar?
Challenge your negative, unrealistic self-talk and don’t allow it to become a belief. It helps if you reflect on what your unique capabilities and qualities are. Make a list of your strengths and resources and also ask a trusted friend or family member for their perspective on your unique qualities. Work on your areas of concern and take help wherever necessary.
You also need to remember that you really do not know what people are actually going through in their lives. So try not to overlook or devalue your own strengths and achievements. People’s circumstances are different; so avoid making comparisons with others that are unfair. Also don’t judge yourself by the number of likes on your Facebook page!
Discover your strengths and apply them wisely in your day to day life and feel good about making such efforts. Set goals that help you develop ‘as a person’ and enjoy the process of life-long learning and growing.
It is equally important to be in touch with your negative emotions. Acknowledge them and talk to someone you trust so that you get a broader perspective. If you think the inner critical- voice in you is very harsh/strong and often affects your mood and functioning, reach out for professional help. Seeking help when we need it- is a sign of courage and not a sign of weakness. So let that not make you feel inferior.
As Albert Einstein said – “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid!”
Consultant Therapist (Columbia Asia Hospital, Bangalore) and Independent practitioner
Stress Management Coach and a Writer