Do You Think You Might Have Inferiority Complex Syndrome?

Mindset Mind Coaching Logo

Mindset Mind Coaching

Find out if your self-esteem needs a boost.

Take this quiz

A concept of the Austrian psychiatrist Alfred Adler (1870–1937) indicating a general sense of unworthiness resulting from repressed perception of one’s bodily defects.

In popular usage the term simply implies a generally self-critical attitude or a boastful, self-exalting manner that compensates for feelings of inferiority.

Having healthy Self-Esteem, Self-Worth and Self-Confidence doesn’t mean you never experience moments of doubt, guilt, embarrassment, and regret.

However, if these feelings keep recurring and are persistent, they could be signs of an inferiority complex.

While inferiority complex is not a term that today’s mental health professionals use, we all know that it generally means having such low self-esteem, self-doubt, and constant feelings of inadequacy that it’s difficult to function and accomplish one’s goals.

How’s your self-esteem?

Try giving it a mini check-up with this six-question quiz.

While it won’t provide a professional diagnosis, it may suggest that your self-esteem — defined by the American Psychological Association as “a person’s physical self-image or self-view of his or her accomplishments and capabilities, and values and perceived success in living up to them” — could use a boost.

How you interpret the results is up to you.

This is because it is just a small snapshot of your personality.

But your “B” responses can point to areas that could use shoring up.

If you find that to be true, don’t despair:

Being aware is the first step toward developing a healthier mindset.

The next step is to get help, either with the aid of a self-help book, such as The Undervalued Self  by Elaine Aron, PhD, or by consulting a mental health professional.

As poet E. E. Cummings so wisely put it, “Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”

Take This Quiz

1. If I’m invited to a party, I’m more likely to:

A. RSVP yes immediately.

B. Find an excuse to stay home.

Many people with chronic low self-esteem experience social anxiety disorder, a diagnosable condition per the American Psychiatric Association’s current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Also known as social phobia, it’s marked by extreme discomfort in classes, parties, work gatherings, and similar situations due to an intense fear of being judged or rejected by others.

A more deep-rooted condition, avoidant personality disorder, similarly causes intense feelings of nervousness and fear of disapproval, embarrassment, or ridicule that lead a person to avoid group activities and contact with others, according to research published in March 2018, in the journal Psychological Research and Behavior Management.

People with Avoidant Personality Disorder (APD) may experience severe social anxiety, exclusion, and feelings of inadequacy that can prevent them from forming meaningful relationships and achieving their goals

Living with APD can be a lonely and isolating experience for those who feel ashamed of their condition and have no one to turn to for help. On top of that, there is a lack of knowledge and understanding in society about APD which often leads to stigma around the disorder.

The good news is that help is available! With the right support and guidance, people with APD can learn to manage their symptoms and gain the confidence they need to embark on the long journey towards recovery.

2. When it comes to good fortune, I’d describe myself as:

A. Extremely lucky.

B. A bad luck magnet.

People with chronic low self-esteem often feel helpless and disempowered by their negative thought patterns.

Instead of taking ownership of their own problems, they blame external factors like bad luck for any perceived mistakes or failures.

This could lead to long-term consequences, such as a lack of personal growth or progress, which can cause even more frustration and despair.

The irony is that research by experimental psychologist Richard Wiseman, PhD, author of The Luck Factor: The Scientific Study of the Lucky Mind, shows that believing you’re unlucky tends to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In other words, the unluckiest people of all are those who — like someone with an inferiority complex — expect to be unlucky. 

Taking steps to improve self-esteem can be difficult, but it’s essential for overall wellbeing.

With the right guidance and support, anyone can break free from the cycle of low self-esteem and learn how to turn negative experiences into positive ones.

Take control of your life now — start building your self-esteem today!

3. My preferred method for staying in shape is:

A. Signing up for a class or joining a team.

B. Going solo by taking a walk or using a workout video.

According to “The Comparison Trap,” by Rebecca Webber, published in November 2017 in Psychology Today, “Unsurprisingly, those with low self-esteem are more likely to feel that they don’t stack up.” They often avoid any type of activity where their abilities will be compared with others.

But Rebecca notes that it’s not “all bad news,” referring to a study published in 2015 in The British Journal of Social Psychology researchers showed that the tendency to engage in comparison processes declines as we age, and suggested this could be because as we get older, the more likely we are to evaluate ourselves against our own past rather than the present of others.

Living with low self-esteem can be incredibly detrimental to an individual.

This lack of confidence can leave them feeling like they don't measure up and unable to participate in activities that involve comparison or judgment.

The fear of failure and comparison can keep them from taking risks, learning new skills, and pushing themselves.

Low self-esteem can lead to feelings of despair, helplessness, or worthlessness, which is why it's important to find ways to combat these feelings.

It's essential to work on building your self-esteem in order to lead a happier and healthier life.

With the right tools and techniques, you can learn how to boost your confidence, tackle challenges with optimism, and take back control of your life!

4. When someone criticises me, I typically:

A. Defend myself, if appropriate, or use the feedback in a positive way to improve my future performance.

B. Feel like a failure and replay the criticism over and over in my mind.

“For people with low self-esteem, the inner voice becomes a harsh critic, punishing one’s mistakes and belittling one’s accomplishments,” according to the University of Texas at Austin Counseling and Mental Health Center.

Change doesn't necessarily happen quickly or easily, but it can happen. You are not powerless! Once you have accepted, or are at least willing to entertain the possibility that you can change, there are three steps you can take to begin to improve the way you feel about yourself:

Step 1: Rebut the Inner Critic

The first important step in improving self-esteem is to begin to challenge the negative messages of the critical inner voice. Here are some typical examples of the inner critic and some strategies to rebut that critical voice.
  • Unfairly harsh inner critic: "People said they liked my presentation, but it was nowhere near as good as it should have been. I can't believe no-one noticed all the places I messed up. I'm such an imposter." Acknowledge strengths: "Wow, they really liked it! Maybe it wasn't perfect, but I worked hard on that presentation and did a good job. I'm proud of myself."
  • An inner voice that generalizes unrealistically: "I got an F on the test. I don't understand anything in this class. I'm such an idiot. Who am I fooling? I shouldn't be taking this class. I'm stupid, and I don't belong in college." Be specific: "I did poorly on this test, but I've done O.K. on all the homework. There are some things here that I don't understand as well as I thought I did, but now I have a better idea of how to prepare and what I need to work on. I've done fine in other tough classes; I'm confident I can do this."
  • An inner critic that makes illogic leaps: "He's frowning. He didn't say anything, but I know it means that he doesn't like me!"
    Challenge illogic: "O.K., he's frowning, but I don't know why. It could have nothing to do with me. Maybe I should ask."
  • An inner voice that catastrophizes: "She turned me down for a date! I'm so embarrassed and humiliated. No one likes or cares about me. I'll never find a girlfriend. I'll always be alone." Be objective: "Ouch! That hurt. Ok, she doesn't want to go out with me. That doesn't mean no one does. I know I'm a nice person. I'm confident that in time I'll find someone who's as interested in me as I am in her."

Step 2: Practice Self-Compassion

Rebutting your critical inner voice is an important first step, but it is not enough. Practicing self-compassion (hyperlink self compassion to http://www.self-compassion.org/) means treating yourself with the same empathy you would show others. If a friend were having a hard time, you'd be likely to be extra caring and supportive. You deserve the same treatment! Rather than focusing on evaluating yourself, instead you can acknowledge when things are difficult and try to nurture and care for yourself in these times especially. For example:
  • Forgive yourself when you don't do all you'd hoped. Try to be gentle with yourself rather than critical of yourself when things don't go as you had hoped. This can be surprisingly hard if you are not used to doing it, but recognizing that such experiences are inevitable can help.
  • Recognize your humanness. As humans we all make mistakes, and we are all impacted by external factors that we can't control. Accepting our "humanness" helps us to feel more connected to others rather than feeling we are enduring these types of experiences all alone. Recognizing that mistakes are an inevitable part of being human helps us to be more compassionate with ourselves and others.
  • Be mindful of your emotions. If you do feel upset about a situation, try to allow yourself to experience that emotion in a balanced way, without suppressing it or getting completely swept up in the feeling. When practicing mindfulness, try not to judge yourself for having negative emotions. If you can remember that emotions come and go and eventually pass, it will help you to not become overwhelmed by your feelings.

Step 3: Get Help from Others

Getting help from others is often the most important step a person can take to improve his or her self-esteem, but it can also be the most difficult. People with low self-esteem often don't ask for help because they feel they don't deserve it, but other people can help to challenge the critical messages that come from negative past experiences. Here are some ways to reach out to others:
  • Ask for support from friends. Ask friends to tell you what they like about you or think you do well. Ask someone who cares about you to just listen to you vent for a little while without trying to fix things. Ask for a hug. Ask someone who loves you to remind you that they do.
  • Get help from teachers & other helpers. Go to professors, advisors, or tutors to ask for help in classes if you need it. Remember: they are there to help you learn! If you lack self-confidence in certain areas, take classes or try out new activities to increase your sense of competence. For example, take a math class, join a dance club, take swimming lessons, etc.
  • Talk to a therapist or counselor. Sometimes low self-esteem can feel so painful or difficult to overcome that the professional help of a therapist or counselor is needed. Talking to a counselor is a good way to explore these feelings and begin to improve your self-esteem.

5. Offered a chance to head a new project at work, I’d probably:

A. Be proud, excited, and eager to start.

B. Try to turn it down by saying I’m too busy.

As psychologist Lois Frankel, PhD, president of Corporate Coaching International and author of the bestselling Nice Girls Don’t Get The Corner Office, explained to Forbes, “People with low self-esteem often try to remain under the radar screen because they don’t think they’re capable of success.”

As a result of believing that they are not capable of success, people with low self-esteem may avoid taking risks or pursuing their goals.

They may also struggle with asserting themselves in social situations, avoiding confrontation and shying away from leadership roles.

Additionally, people with low self-esteem may be more likely to engage in negative self-talk and self-sabotage.

They may talk themselves out of opportunities or convince themselves that they are not good enough to succeed, which can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Over time, these patterns can reinforce feelings of low self-worth and create a cycle of avoidance and self-doubt.

It's important for individuals with low self-esteem to work on building their confidence and self-belief, which can involve setting achievable goals, practicing self-care or if things seem really bad seeking therapy with a coach.

RELATED: 4 Ways to Overcome Low Self-Esteem at Work.

6. If a friend cancels on me at the last minute, I’m most apt to:

A. Check my calendar to schedule a new meetup.

B. Feel hurt, even angry, and avoid setting up another date because I’m sure they don’t really want to see me.

One telltale sign of an inferiority complex is misinterpreting the behavior of others, which then sets off feelings of anxiety, frustration, depression and even anger.

Mental health professionals call these unhelpful, inaccurate thoughts “cognitive distortions.”

One example of a cognitive distortion is mind reading (aka jumping to conclusions):

You assume you know what someone else is thinking and feeling — in this case that your friend is feeling negatively toward you — without any proof.

That is correct.

Mind reading, also known as jumping to conclusions, is a cognitive distortion where someone assumes they know what another person is thinking or feeling without any evidence to support their assumption.

This can often lead to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and conflicts.

It is important to practice effective communication and ask for clarification rather than assuming what someone else is thinking or feeling.

Thank you for reading "Do You Think You Might Have Inferiority Complex Syndrome?".

I really hope that you enjoyed it and take action on the advice given in this article.

I wish you good luck and I hope its contents have been a good help to you.

Developed by Carl Dunn - Mindset Mind.

May 3, 2023 in Mindset Mind

About the author

Carl Dunn

Hi I’m Carl Dunn and I’m super excited to offer you a warm and meaningful welcome to Mindset Mind.
I’m here to help you { No kidding }
My job is to ONLY provide you with relevant information and valuable content that will help you find your strengths to change your mindset by removing old beliefs & habits, so you can live the life you want and be able to stay on your chosen path and move forward to the fulfillment of your ambitions.
I review everything you need to keep you on that path, no matter what your background is.
By continually reviewing apps, books, programs, courses and coaches, I can offer my clients the most comprehensive and valuable tools with information that’s personally suited to them.