Inferiority complex is a state of mind, which makes the person feel that he/she is inferior to others. Almighty God is the only person who can have no inferiority complex. All the rest of us can and do have a certain measure of inferiority complex. It is not a matter of concern as long as this complex does not affect our normal life and happiness. However, when its intensity increases it starts affecting our own life and the life of those around us. Persons with a serious manifestation of inferiority complex can be a true pain in the neck.
The cause of inferiority complex varies. It could be your height, colour, physical handicaps, personality, school grades, intelligence, knowledge, capability or some humiliation that you experienced before others. It could even be based purely on your wrong assumptions.
The feeling of inferiority is often sown, watered and nurtured by the people around us including our own siblings, parents, relatives, schoolmates and school teachers. Some innate temperaments are more prone to acquiring inferiority complex. Inferiority complex can affect your school life, career, marriage prospects, family life and social life.
One case study
There was a gentleman who was the last of several siblings in a well-to do family. The bread-winner died when he was still a toddler. While the rest of the siblings received good education, he did not. He was an intelligent person with a warm and kind heart, and a charming personality. But his lack of education ate into his mind. He suspected, all the time, that others meted out injustice to him and were scheming against him behind his back because of this deficiency.
In the work place, he tried to dominate and hurt his colleagues all the time. His inferiority complex led him to seek and relish high-status contacts. He needed constant reassurance through praise. Yet he would suspect motives even when someone praised him genuinely. He would suspect when they talked good of him, had a hearty joke or even discussed a totally unrelated matter in his absence and he happened to overhear part of it. His friends were hard put to please him.
When the time came for Cupid to strike, girls had no difficulty falling in love with him because of his charismatic personality, intelligence and endearing disposition. But his morbid inferiority complex affected his progressive relationship with those poor girls, one after the other. In his heart, he suspected that they thought low of him because of his educational background. One girl even said he was ‘like an impenetrable rock’ because of his massive inferiority complex. Another girl ‘shuddered at the thought of him’.
The end result of his romantic life was, he never married. The mental torture and apprehension he created, through his aggressive possessiveness, forced those girls whom he dated, to break off at the last moment.
His inferiority complex also led him to suffer false pride. So he always befriended girls from socially high background and boasted about their status. He also did this with other ‘high’ contacts (friends, officials, families) he had acquired. If only he had attempted to neutralize his inferiority complex with acceptance of the ground facts and trust in others, his educational handicap would have had very little impact on the successful life of this otherwise highly empowered man. He was a wonderful person with a great capability to achieve, a compassionate soul and a true friend in need. Yet, he died an unhappy, angry and unforgiving person.
Some suggestions to overcome this complex
i. To you
Do not think the world is after you, all the time. You are not ‘so important’ that people would want to go after you. But you can ‘invite’ them to do so by your own behaviour. Chasing something that flees is a natural instinct. Do not flee. Do not be aggressive, either, to cover your inferiority complex. Face the facts calmly. Your handicaps, your failures or the corrosive words of those above or equal to you should not bother you. Your genetic or social make up or skin colour is not your making. Neither is your physical handicap, if any.
Brush their remarks aside and do not retaliate. Forgive those who offend you and express acts of kindness towards them. Follow this golden advice. Some of those around you may even be trying to cover their own inadequacies by trying to put you down. But ignoring their onslaughts and building friendship with even them would make this world a better place for you and them to live in. Thank God that you are given this wonderful privilege to play a positive role in their lives through this situation. You have a bright future. Know that many successful persons in the world had to go through worse situations than what you are facing right now.
ii. Parents and elders
Every word you utter about your son/daughter/juniors has to have positive implications. Negative statements such as, ‘you are good for nothing’, ‘you will not shine in life’, ‘you are so ugly’, ‘he/she is smarter than you’, etc. Never compare your wards negatively against someone else. How about yourself? Were you the smartest and most handsome kid in town?
Everyone has a place in the world. Your role is to bring them up as disciplined and morally upright children with lots of self-esteem (as against pride). Bring them up in God’s wisdom and grace. Parents, refrain from disparaging your children before others. Appreciate them when they do something good.
Do not be abusive when they come home with a low progress report from the school. Children who are already suffering mental agony because of low grades and contemptuous remarks may resort to self-destruction when they expect physical or verbal thrashing from the parents. Attempting suicide or running away from home is often in the news with such children in India. Parents should be wiser. Every child has its intellectual limit. Do not try to push them too hard. However, make sure that they are well-disciplined in their studies and are well-behaved.
iii. Superiors in work place
Reprimand your employees privately in your cabin, not in the public, when they commit a mistake. You, too, were inexperienced and committed mistakes once. Encourage them to learn from their failures.
Do not show partiality towards some students and despise the others. You, too were a student, once. Do not denigrate a student in public, however incompetent that student may be. Students want to be corrected and even punished with love, but that does not give you licence to damage the personality of the student.
A case study, and one more.
i. A teenage student who had a serious suicide intention was brought into our home by her friends, once. She had a vision problem from childhood and, imagining that she was acting smart, a teacher would punish her by making her sit on the floor at the entrance of the classroom every time. This continued for nearly two years. Evidently this also led her classmates to look down upon her. When she reported this matter to the parents, they never bothered to enquire. Both parents were career people and only the mother, a school teacher in another school, could be seen at home but busy cooking meals and correcting answer papers of her students.
This girl lost her self-esteem. Her focus on studies was affected and her grades fell, which led to more discrimination. It took a while to talk her out of her inferiority complex and make her feel that she was someone precious in the sight of God. It was a joy to see her beaming face from then on. I strongly believe that every prospective parent should receive adequate counselling on bringing up children. Your child is your responsibility, dear parents.
ii. It is common in southern India for people to be inquisitive about the colour of the child when someone has a baby. With a myriad combination of genes, every child in a family may have a different complexion. So, if there are five children in a family almost everyone will have a different complexion. Fair complexion is considered superior.
This boy was born in a family of many children and he was darker than the rest. While the parents and siblings lavished affection on him, they were often not careful with their choice of words regarding his colour. When angry with him for some reason, it was not unusual for them to mention his colour. That made him sulk once in a while.
In the farm-house where he grew up, the well was about 50 metres away from home and the ladies drew water from this well for all the household needs. As far bathing, the kids bathed from a huge stone bathtub that was placed beside the well.
This boy was around four then, and his big sister was giving him a bath. She was scrubbing him from head to foot with a thick lather of soap and he saw his entire body shining white in the morning sun. I still remember him beaming and shouting “Don’t wash me akka (older sister). I have become white!”. And he ran home to show this colour transformation to his mother. His colour complex continued until he became a senior teenager and attended the UG class. What a pleasant surprise it was, the girl students looked at him as fondly as they would look at any fair boy!
Parents and siblings, be careful and considerate with the choice of your words. Negative remarks cause deep wounds in tender minds.
Other mind-related pages of this website include the following. The time you spend on each of these will be a gain for your life.
- Body and Soul Superimposed
- Mind and Emotions
- Overcoming Jealousy
- Overcoming Lust
- Overcoming Hatred
- Overcoming Feeling of Guilt
- Overcoming Anger
- Overcoming Pride
- Overcoming Prejudice
- Overcoming Fear
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