No one knows what they’re doing either
Ever walk into a party, a boardroom, heck – even your place of work and feel a since of intimidation? You’re not alone. Possessing an inferiority complex is surprisingly normal and common. According to psychiatrists, an inferiority complex is a feeling of inadequacy based upon either real or imaginary sources. And it just so happens – because our inner critic loves to be our own worst enemy – so much of it is imagined.
By definition, inferiority complex is:
An unrealistic feeling of general inadequacy caused by actual or supposed inferiority in one sphere, sometimes marked by behavior in compensation.
— Source: Google Dictionary
Sound like you? Here’s how you squash it. Because it’s possible!
“But I do feel inadequate!”
Sometime in life, other people often make us nervous, they make us feel inferior and not good enough. This covers the spectrum from higher ups at work, love interests, people we don’t know at parties, popular people from school or the office, even celebrities.
It is natural to feel like you have something to prove sometimes. Often people we look up to (or those who we just don’t know who seem cool) can bring up feelings we harbor about ourselves that we are not good enough, smart enough or interesting enough. The good news is, you are. We are all equal, my friends – the same way there is no superior animal, ocean or star in the sky.
Whatever your spiritual beliefs, we know that we all came from the same source. We are also beautifully different from one another, too – which means all of us have some unique value and flavor to add to a conversation or social setting (now, if only we really knew and believed this, right)?!
Here are some important truths to remember when your inferiority complex rears it’s ugly head:
1. It’s you, not them.
The fear of others is generated within us, not by the person in question. Realizing this helps us release it. We are so quick to jump to judgement when we feel inferior around someone. We build them up to be super human and think their life is perfect. That they are flawless. That they know everything. The best way to snap out of this is to understand this is created your thoughts. It’s actually nothing to do with them. Your inferiority complex is being generated by you and only you.
2. Ever single human has faults, fears and insecurities.
Jordan Belfort, the infamous Wolf of Wall Street, said in his memoir, “I’m insecure and humble, and I embarrass easily… But I refuse to show it. If I had to choose between embarrassment and death, I’d choose death. So, yeah, I’m a weak, imperfect person.” Even wolves get scared!
Feelings of inferiority plague all of us. It’s a large reason that so many famous people battle addiction. Their feelings of inferiority and imposter syndrome consume them hence seeking unhealthy forms of relief.
What’s imposter syndrome?
“Imposter Syndrome” is what we experience when we feel we don’t deserve our accomplishments. We feel we’ve fooled others into thinking we are capable and attribute our achievements to blind luck or good timing. Our inability to accept our gifts means that we feel like a fraud or an imposter—maybe even waiting to be exposed. It’s a horrible manifestation of the inferiority complex at work.
Most common in high achieving women, imposter syndrome not only prevents us from enjoying success, it also massively limits our current potential. Feeling non-deserving and like a fake, we turn down wonderful new opportunities and creative ideas. Imposter syndrome is the killer of many “what-might-have-beens.”
Does that sound like you? It sure sounds a lot like the excuses I hear all the time (including from myself).
3. Remember that people are just people.
I really found this to be true on three particular, separate occasions. Two were in New York City. One was when I met Kelsey Grammar. As a fan, something took over me and I introduced myself to him with little more than a smile, my name and some words of appreciation for his work. He was a gentleman! Kelsey stood up, asked me about myself, introduced me to his wife and thanked me sincerely from stopping by. His wife was nice, too.
The other was at a party where I met Rachael Ray. Similarly, I introduced myself and asked a bit about her and her work. She was very warm and chatty and shared her story with me as to how she got started in the culinary business – interesting she has no formal training – but no inferiority complex there! She still rocks her thang.
To me, it was fascinating. Most people — including famous people — are cool!
The third occasion was when I volunteered my number to a cute stranger at a concert in Sydney in 2007. He is now my husband! If my feeling inferior was in charge not only would I not be married to a great man now, I would be missing out in my life. That’s no way to live!
4. Other people are nervous, too.
Hey – you might be intimidating. Ever thought of that? Shyness is misunderstood as aloofness all the time. A friend of mine who appears standoffish confided in me one night at drinks that he is shy and loves it when people interact with him because he is not confident in taking the initiative.
When I shared that he comes across as a little aloof he was surprised as it is the opposite of his intention. Sometimes, if you make the first social move and say hello, you might be eradicating two people’s nerves!
You don’t have to make your mood and vible about your fear and feelings of inferiority. Sometimes the kind and generous thing to do is assume that other people feel the same way that you do. So focus on them. Make them feel comfortable. You’ll put yourself at ease in an instant. And notice your inferiority complex evaporate!
5. You are giving power to your ego when you worry and overthink.
Intimidation/nerves is your lower self talking. Or as Arianna Huffington calls it, the “obnoxious roommate in your head… give them an eviction notice!”
Who benefits from an ego mind? No one. When you find yourself in analysis paralysis – when your inferiority complex is bubbling up – something is richer, thinner, more interesting – divert your thoughts. Distract yourself. Even watch TV or call a loving a supportive friend. Don’t stay in that dangerous place! It can be switched in an instant by you whenever you choose something else.
As it says in A Course in Miracles, “I choose peace instead of this”.
6. Feeling inferior is banished with love and admiration
When we see other people through a lens of love and not fear – our inferiority complex fades, fast. So next time something happens that triggers you – a friend lands a killer job, takes that dream trip to Bali, buys a condo or get engaged sincerely congratulate them. When good stuff happens to other people it just means that it’s possible for you, too!
Someone else’s success does not take away from yours. You can even learn from others’ achievements. Success for others, when perceived correctly, shows us that getting what we want is achievable for anyone. My friend Alexis’ body was transformed with a barre workout — her colleague joined the studio too and benefited from months of Alexis’ research! If her colleague came from a place of comparison rather than a place of curiosity and openness, she would be closed off to this awesome benefit.
7. Do YOU!
You can always decide to use your energy productively by focusing on what you have, not on what others have. This puts an inferiority complex in it’s place – out of sight and outta mind. Consider – if you envy someone ask yourself, would you want the less desirable parts of their lives too? Probably not. When I can’t sleep, am waiting in line or my subway is delayed I love to think of things that I appreciate about my life in that present moment. Lately it has been the fall approaching. Seeing my mum in the UK next month. Game of Thrones (HBO) back on Sundays, re-reading Gay Hendricks life-changing book, The Big Leap, plus the new bulletproof coffee my husband just discovered that he makes for me every morning.
There is so much good in your life when you look for it! You can’t hold feelings of appreciation and inferiority at the same time. So kiss that inferiority complex goodbye!
8. When scared, think: what is the worst that can happen?
Someone might brush you. So what? ‘So what’ is one of the greatest things you can ask yourself in this world. In my decade long sales career I went to countless pitches and networking events and I have been blown off more times than I can recall. Hundreds of times in fact. As far as I am aware, I am still alive and well (and certainly more successful as a result of still going for it anyway). Being exceptional means making yourself vulnerable sometimes. And a huge part of success is just being willing to do things that other people aren’t. That includes putting your inferiority complex in check and taking it all a little less seriously!
Remember, the universe is abundant and wants you to have all that you want. You block the flow of opportunity, creation and miracles when you’re afraid. Instead, can you can use your energy to remind yourself who you are at your best and highest self?
8. Don’t take life so seriously
When I was a teenage waitress the café owner I worked for had a rule – when we smashed a plate or glass – we laugh! It was an excellent policy. But more recently I was pacing my apartment cursing the ceiling (loudly) because I accidentally sent an email out with an incorrect link and then had to mail the same almost 40,00 people in my community with an apology and the correct one.
If you were a fly on the wall, you would have thought I was having a heart attack. But what happened? Nothing. Someone even emailed me saying, “Good to know you’re human!”
Ha. Can you laugh a little more? Nothing banishes feelings of inferiority of self attack then a sense of freakin’ humour.
9. What is the best that can happen?
I love this question. That’s why I called my book, What if it DOES work out?
Ah, this is one of the most awesome questions we can ask ourselves! The possibilities are endless. You might make a new friend, a new career connection or even get a date! The opportunities are abundant when you stop allowing fear and that nagging inferiority complex get the better of us. Assume the power of positive expectation. What if all of your thoughts were directed to only the outcome you wanted? You’d get it!
10. Don’t take anything personally
If you are ready to experience some freedom, bliss and kick-ass heck yes! power in your life, check out Don Miguel Ruiz and his book, The Four Agreements. Because well, well, well. if you have an inferiority complex, nothing will change your life like this agreement: Take nothing personally.
Friend cancel last minute? Oh well. Job interview unsuccessful? Next. Get blown off by a date? That’s OK, too. Because it’s not about you.
Truth: Nothing other people do is because of you! What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own experience. We also have no idea what is going on with other people when we assume the victim role and feel rejected. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering and worrying. At all. There is a tremendous amount of personal freedom you access when you take nothing personally. It’s like taking the best drug on earth! You’re freeee!!!
11. Have some self compassion
Self compassion is the best form of self help. You can take it from me – a self help junkie. Say you made a mistake – big deal! What did you learn? It’s no reason that your inferiority complex should rear it’s ugly head again. Think: what did I learn? Most slip-ups (which are the vast majority of mistakes) can benefit us by teaching us something. There is no such thing as a life without mistakes, so take something useful from each minor mishap if you can. Can you apologize quickly if you think you maybe did something wrong and find out the truth? Otherwise – just let it go? Chalk it up to being human and focus on the next thing?
12. Lose the perfection illusion
Couldn’t we all just be a little nicer to ourselves? Why do we all have this expectation that we have to do everything perfectly—whether it’s eating healthy all the time or making sure there are zero spelling mistakes in our personal blog posts? Nothing sparks our inferiority complex more than this flawed belief that we need to be perfect somehow.
I was eating brunch with a friend recently who was dying to start blogging but her perfectionism had become an excuse. It prevented her from even beginning a blog.
She said, “You know what’s helping me push through my block? Reading your blog posts every week—even with the occasional spelling mistake in them. You just do it!”
Well, it’s true! I forgive myself when I make mistakes. Because being human is awesome. Heck—your screw ups may even inspire others (like my spelling mistakes)! Who cares? I love what Sheryl Sandberg says, “Done is better than perfect”. Amen.
13. Master your mind
Consuming uplifting content every day is a huge source of happiness for me.
Self-help books, educational podcasts, inspirational blog posts—how does anyone live without this stuff?!? If I miss a single day I notice it. This helps me live in the present moment, seize my personal power, and drop that inferiority complex. External inspiration also massively feeds internal inspiration. Ready to get started? Here’s my guide to the self-help aisle.
Nothing made the need for this blog post more clear to me than when last year someone told me that before they met me, they thought I was intimidating. Wait, me? Super friendly, petite, always smiling, girl-from-a-small-town, me? Like our values, the qualities that intimidate vary for everyone. Well here is one universal truth, well put by Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” And I don’t need to meet you to know that there is nothing inferior about you, my friend.
I’m so blessed to have you as part of my community! Tell me, has someone ever made you feel inferior? Or better yet, how do you combat these feelings?