How to Overcome an Inferiority Complex: Different Tips & Solutions

Megan Smith
 min read

To overcome an inferiority complex, first seek to understand the origin of the problem, for it will help you solve it.

How to Overcome an Inferiority Complex: Different Tips & SolutionsThis principle also applies to our complexes which make us focus on our faults more than our qualities.

But why do we feel inferior and uncomfortable in front of other people? Is it a physical or psychological discomfort? In any case, it is crucial to determine the source of the complex to remedy it.

How to overcome an inferiority complex: Introduction

Doubting oneself and not being totally satisfied with all of one’s characteristics is a perfectly normal phenomenon. However, the complex goes far beyond the stage of occasional dissatisfaction.

Indeed, a complex can be defined as the painful and obsessive focus, constant or very frequent, of all one’s thoughts on:

  • A part of the body that is considered unsightly,
  • A portion of one’s personality that is regarded as insufficient or inadequate.

The (inferiority) complex will disrupt our moral well-being and social behavior. Moreover, our self-esteem suffers, and the malaise is concentrated on the complex.

This article will present you with different tricks to fight against your complexes.

It is possible to have a complex about everything!

Complexes are frequent but also very varied phenomena. A survey was conducted with several people to find out what they doubted the most.

The results showed that these people doubted the most about their:

  • culture,
  • ability to express themselves,
  • intellectual capacity, and
  • physical appearance.

Concerning our physical appearance, we focus on what is wrong (according to us, of course, this is subjective) instead of focusing on a positive self presentation.

We can be confronted with the following complexes:

  • “too much”: fat or hair
  • “not enough”: hair, height, muscles
  • “not as it should be”: whether it is our skin, nose, breasts
  • “I-don’t-know-what-exactly-but-it’s-not-right”: like grace or gait, etc.

Generally, being unsatisfied with the body is a significant factor in destabilizing self-esteem.

But apart from the physical complexes, we can also focus on the defects of our “mental characteristics,” for example, the lack of intelligence, culture, charisma, vivacity of spirit, etc.

One can also focus on a sneaky, general sense of inadequacy. In this case, one suffers from a global inferiority complex that will be activated about everything and anything.

It is a kind of universal inferiority complex, which is hyper-reactive and can be triggered even when one is not judged by the eyes of others.

For example, it can be triggered simply by admiring someone else’s qualities. Then, negative thoughts and pessimistic self-talk come very quickly: one cannot merely admire another but has to compare oneself unfavorably.

Therefore, these inferiority complexes can be seen as an endless source of suffering. They are less noticeable than the physical complexes but sometimes even more harmful because they painfully remind us of our obscure self-dissatisfaction.

Source: Johnson & Wardle, Dietary Restraint, Body Dissatisfaction, and Psychological Distress: A Prospective Analysis, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 2005

Social comparison and feelings of inferiority

Complexes can also arise from social comparison, and people may experience feelings of inferiority.

For example, in a group of people, one may feel inferior to a medical professional such as a doctor or psychologist because they seem at ease with others.

Because of their social status and work, we could compare ourselves to them and feel inferior. However, we mustn’t see it that way!

It may seem normal that this type of person feels comfortable around others because their job requires them to be around other people constantly.

These people are not superior to others. They just have more experience in the presence of others. All this can be learned and acquired if one wishes. So it’s just a matter of time and work.

Complexes are linked to an overall lack of self-esteem

The overall decrease in self-esteem is related to the belief that others only see our complexes and that this will lead to negative consequences.

For example, with the same physique, some people will wear a bathing suit, and others will not; with the same culture, some will dare to speak during meals, others will not.

Therefore, the subject of the complex itself is only a tiny part of the problems related to the complex.

What to avoid to overcome an inferiority complex

Complexes are more than a minor concern because they are likely to cause great suffering. For example, in psychiatry, the sickly dissatisfaction with one’s physical appearance is called “dysmorphophobia.”

Like all problems related to self-esteem, complexes (regardless of origin) are aggravated and become chronic through submission and resignation to the fears conveyed by self-dissatisfaction.

Therefore, everything that gives way to the complex is to be fought:

Waiting for the complex to be “compensated” and under control

Don’t wait until your complex is under control before you can go out and live in society.

Some people will only dare to speak on subjects they have studied beforehand, or they will only go out wearing make-up. Avoid these behaviors!

Sacrificing your freedom or dignity to be accepted

Many fates of sufferers are linked to complexes that make them fear rejection.

As a result, these people will do anything to be accepted, even if it means being bullied and humiliated.

Sacrificing one’s freedom and dignity is one of the sources of many addictive or submissive behaviors in relationships, sex, etc.

Obeying the complex

To obey the complex could also be defined as refusing to expose oneself to looks or judgments and running away from potential situations when one’s supposed defect could be revealed.

For example, one will not speak anymore so that others won’t realize one’s lack of culture, one will not wear a bathing suit, etc.

Tips that work to overcome an inferiority complex

No “one” solution inevitably cures complexes. Instead, it is a whole set of efforts, which, put together, will make the complex disappear or at least diminish it.

Here are some tips for accepting your complexes:

Observe others

By looking at others, we can see how similar “flaws” do not prevent other people from living freely.

Watch them and try to see how they live with their flaws. You will see that they are not trying to hide them at all costs.

You must understand that this apparent freedom results from adapted mental and behavioral attitudes.

Understand where your complexes come from

As with any problem, it is crucial to know the source:

  • Is it due to a generally devaluing educational atmosphere, even if it was not intended to be demeaning?
  • Is it a memory of humiliating messages from parents? Or simply the complexes of the parents themselves?
  • Do you have emotional deficiencies?
  • Are there any events in your life where you have experienced rejection because you’ve shown what you’re ashamed of?

Knowing why we have complexes is an excellent way to fight them.

Listen more carefully to the opinions of others

If those around you tell you you have no reason to doubt so much, listen to them!

Often, people with complexes say:

“I know that for others, it’s okay. But for me, the dissatisfaction with myself is just there and won’t go away.”

Therefore, it is vital to make an effort to regularly remind yourself of positive external opinions, as this is beneficial for your self-esteem.

Discuss and exchange with others

Complexes are fed by shame and isolation. Talking about it to loved ones does not cure them but can weaken them.

If others say: “I have complexes, too.” It is interesting to listen to them, make them talk, and question them about it.

Fight against the “paranoia” of the complex

It is important to remember that not all our failures come from the flaws that make us feel inferior and that not everyone is out to determine our weak points.

The intensity of the complexes is sometimes such that it pushes us to attribute all our difficulties to them.

We must therefore avoid this “paranoia” of believing that our complexes are responsible for all of our failures.

Expand your view of yourself

It is recommended to see yourself as a holistic person, to broaden your vision of yourself, and not to reduce yourself to your weaknesses, limitations, and defects. Don’t focus on your shortcomings!

The most severe complexes can result in eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.

People with this type of problem will be obsessed with parts of their bodies that are considered unsightly.

Source: Jansen, et al., Selective visual attention for ugly and beautiful body parts in eating disorders, Behaviour Research and Therapy, 2005

Experience confrontation to overcome an inferiority complex

Confronting complexes seems to be the best way to erode them little by little.

In fact, you can willingly put yourself in the situation of being ashamed. By doing it progressively, you can gradually get used to the emotional response and challenge the thoughts linked to the complex more easily.

Cosmetic surgery to overcome an inferiority complex

It would seem that cosmetic surgery can “cure” complexes but only if it modifies behavior.

Nowadays, more and more people have recourse to cosmetic surgery, also called “plastic” surgery.

It is not unlikely that this number will increase steadily if social pressures on body image continue to build.

However, there is no clear data on whether cosmetic surgery improves psychological well-being and self-esteem in the long term.

The few studies that have been done, which are quite positive, come from American plastic surgeons’ associations. Because these studies are supported by their funds, their objectivity is questioned.

Source: Sarwer, et al., A Prospective, Multi-Site Investigation of Patient Satisfaction and Psychosocial Status Following Cosmetic Surgery, Aesthetic Surgery Journal, 2005

Cosmetic surgery is effective on physical defects, but is it effective on self-esteem?

It may be effective on self-esteem by facilitating specific behavioral changes. In the case of a complex, we know it is crucial to try to go towards others instead of withdrawing into oneself.

Generally, complexes push to withdrawal, which feeds the complex because it prevents verifying the limits and realizing that one can be accepted despite their defects.

If we look at how successful cosmetic surgery is, it would seem that it is not only thanks to changes in physical appearance but also to self-acceptance.

People who have used this intervention are convinced they are free of their defects and will be better accepted. As a result, these people will behave more freely, more naturally.

In addition, they will be more socially “successful.” They will actually be more accepted than when they were cautious, suspicious, fearful, watching themselves instead of moving forward.

But these benefits are more thanks to changes in behavior than changes in appearance. In fact, when cosmetic surgery such as liposuction is successful, it acts mainly on the psyche and consequently on self-esteem.

Source: Dittmann, Plastic surgery: Beauty or beast?, Monitor on Psychology, 2005

It is a long journey from severe complex to simple doubt

We should strive more for “zero complex” than “zero defect.” Moreover, one should not aim at “zero complex” but simply try to have only simple doubts about oneself that one can choose not to (or rarely) listen to.

It is recommended to keep in mind the goal of restoring freedom rather than approaching perfect function. The objective is to have the choice to show or not to show your defects.

Unfortunately, complexes do not offer us this choice: they force us to hide.

Generally, fighting against one’s complexes is a long struggle whose evolution goes through the following phases:

  • First, we will always think about it, even in normal situations. We don’t try to face them. It would be too painful.
  • Afterward, we don’t think about it all the time, but only in triggering situations. Here, we will try to face them, and that is painful.
  • Little by little, we remain affected by the triggering situations. However, we still manage, at times, to forget our complexes and free ourselves from this painful self-consciousness.
  • Eventually, we manage to not be touched by them anymore, except when confronted with superheroes who are very beautiful or intelligent. And since this doesn’t happen daily, it can often be left at that.

The hardest thing about complexes is “coming out of the woodwork.” Indeed, when you have hidden a piece of yourself all your life, even when you finally understand that you should no longer hide it, how can you take the step?

How to stop dyeing your hair and accept your grey hair? And risk drawing attention to yourself, which you are not used to.

How can we stop falling silent as soon as a “more-educated-brilliant-intelligent-than-us” person enters the room? And perhaps allow ourselves to say something silly once in a while? After all, who doesn’t?

Often, this is where the efforts to change are the most difficult to conduct in therapy. In fact, we have to risk being looked at and judged again. Indeed, it will allow us to find freedom and its immense advantages.

However, it can also be inconvenient at times. Namely, the more one pretends to change while not actually effecting change, the more one will find himself trapped by his complexes, like a liar by his lies.

It is essential to know this because it is often what stops you once you have decided and motivated yourself to get out. In this case, working with a therapist can help.

Moral: Avoid hiding all of yourself in an attempt to hide only a tiny part of yourself

In the end, the two main directions to follow how to overcome an inferiority complex are:

  • On the one hand, accepting this supposedly inadequate part of oneself.
  • On the other hand, the widening of the view of oneself.

We must not believe that this part of ourselves we do not like is at the heart of ourselves. Remember that it is only a part of you, and it deserves neither the overexposure that our imagination gives it nor the concealment that our shame imposes on it.

How to overcome an inferiority complex: Conclusion

Being a person with a complex can be very disabling. Indeed, it can impact our social life and make us unhappy.

It is possible to have a complex about everything: a physical part of oneself, a “psychological” defect, or simply a feeling of overall inferiority.

To overcome an inferiority complex, you must know that there is a series of tips you can apply and that this process (as with any change in self-esteem) is a process that will be done slowly.

There is no “one” miracle solution to overcome your complexes. Instead, there are several behaviors you can adopt to better accept your complexes.

It is therefore recommended to learn to overcome your complexes effectively and find the freedom you deserve!

About Megan Smith

Megan has been fighting overweight and her plus size since her teenage years. After trying all types of remedies without success, she started doing her own research. Megan founded Plus Size Zeal to share her findings. She also developed various detailed buying guides for plus-size people in order to make their lives easier and more comfortable. Read More