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Are Chronic Low Self-esteem and Inferiority Complex the same?

Experiencing random feelings of inadequacy occasionally is normal human behaviour. We all go through a few incidents in life where we need to improve. But when these feelings constantly start affecting you, it can lead to chronic low self-esteem issues. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines an Inferiority complex as “a basic feeling of inadequacy and insecurity deriving from actual or imagined physical or psychological deficiency”. The Australian psychologist Alfred Adler coined the term “Inferiority Complex”. At Present, the term Inferiority complex is now clinically referred to as Chronic low self-esteem.

Source: Kat Smith


Prominent symptoms of Inferiority Complex:

  • Constant feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem

  • Extreme sensitivity to self-criticism

  • Having self-doubt and feelings of unworthiness

  • Not taking compliments seriously

  • Comparing yourself with others

  • Social withdrawal

  • Seeking attention

  • Tendency to excessively please others

  • Difficulty making decisions


What causes Inferiority Complex?

Inferiority complex can be caused by multiple ranges of negative life experiences triggered by the environment like childhood trauma, constant comparison with peers, excessive use of social media as a growing adult, being bullied and called names, or even body shaming, etc. Sometimes, the symptoms could be counterproductive because the individual feels a needs to cover up their insecurities through seeking attention, having excessive competitiveness, and blaming others for their fault.

Source: Ivan Samkov


Why addressing chronic low self-esteem issues at the right time is essential?

Although “Inferiority complex” is not a diagnosable mental disorder, developing an inferiority complex can lead to mental health disorders like Anxiety and Depression. In fact, it could be the other way around in some cases.


Today’s generation’s excessive use of social media is like the fuel on the fire to pre-existing low self-esteem issues. They are creating new age disorders like FOMO, Negative Body image issues. Access to millions of lives through social media is an overwhelming process. This triggers the natural human tendency to keep comparing their lives with others, putting them in the constant challenging environment of grass being greener on the other side of the virtual world.

FOMO refers to the “Fear of Missing Out”, a feeling or a perception that you are missing out on something important. In contrast, others are having more fun and experiencing better things than you. These feelings involve a deep sense of envy and low self-esteem. This term was first coined in 2004 to describe the unique phenomenon observed on social media networks causing stress and anxiety in people’s lives.


Body image issues stem from a person’s negative perceptions of their own body and appearance. The roots of these perceptions lie in their negative experiences during their growing years as an adult, which instils a firm belief in themselves, reflecting low self-esteem. In addition, constant exposure to high societal standards on social media of having a perfect body instantly puts them in the self-denial mode. Individuals find t challenging to accept their imperfections the way they are.

Further, body image issues could also lead to various eating disorders like Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa, creating a never-ending spiral of new disorders. From the above definitions of these new conditions magnified by social media, it’s pretty apparent that there is a common core symptom of pre-existing low self-esteem in all these conditions. If addressed at the right time, it could stop someone from becoming a victim of mental health disorders in the future.

In the current day and age where competitiveness and provocation are propelled by social media, practising good self-esteem becomes one of the essential life skills one should acquire. Unfortunately, despite human beings being technologically advanced enormously, we are constantly also being reminded of how inferior we are compared to others. We are never reminded that all human beings have unique footprints. We all have our own unique worth and value, with an exclusively unique purpose attached to our existence.

The harsh truth is that we are never taught how to regulate our emotions back to normal at the right time through positive psychology during our early years. Nonetheless, it’s never too late. Below are a few practical tips for preserving your self-esteem no matter what situations you go through.


10 Effective tips to overcome Chronic low self-esteem:

  1. Change your environment: Being born and bought up in a hostile environment is out of your control, but choosing not to get affected by them or maintaining your distance is up to you. You can choose to surround yourself with people who make you feel worthy and valuable.

  2. Accept your flaws and strengths the way they are: Everyone has them. Only the quantity differs. In fact, working on your flaws is 100 % your responsibility. If you work on it sincerely, you will definitely overcome them smartly. No one is born smart they just know how to make themselves more competent than others by supporting their strengths and weaknesses.

  3. Turn your negatives into positives: After changing your environment, there is no way you will be escaped from ‘emotional vampires or unavoidable circumstances. Here, you need to take that extra self-effort to regulate your emotions and convert them into positive psychology. Notwithstanding how bad anyone or any situation has made you feel. Starting your day with positive affirmations by believing in every word you say aloud works wonders for your thinking pattern.

  4. Practise Gratitude: Practising gratitude will always remind you of good times and help you elevate your natural strengths.

  5. Invest in yourself: Invest time in your Personal growth. Exploring and enrolling in new hobbies and informative courses will add value and a sense of fulfilment to your existence as a human. This will surely build your confidence.

  6. Be Beautiful inside out: In the long run, no matter how high standards you set for your bodily appearance by being unfair to yourself, your character and personality will always outshine simple matters. Build your character so that your outer appearances really don’t make any difference to you anymore.

  7. Set Boundaries: One of the reasons you keep attracting low self-esteem is that you don’t set appropriate boundaries at the right time. Allowing anyone to infringe on your personal space that makes you feel valued and accepted is wrong. Remember your time and energy as a human being are precious, whichever role you play in society.

  8. Look for Inspiration: Inspiration is all around us, hidden in small things. We just fail to notice it. Numerous real-life dreadful stories turned their misfortune into a good fortune. They can be accessible in many forms through books, television, talk shows etc. They not only inspire you to bounce back but remind you that you are still in a better place in life and that things can be changed if you work towards it.

  9. Fight your fears: When you think inferior of yourself, you automatically close doors to fight any kind of fear coming into your life. In fact, the same close doors can become your reason to see yourself beyond fear and who the real you are only if you dare to fight your fears.

  10. Believe in yourself: Above all, continue to believe in yourself even if the entire world is against you. Remember, you are unique human composition with unique insights and approaches to life. Sometimes what you can see from your approach, others can’t see it. You don’t have to prove yourself until the right time comes. You have complete freedom to be yourself. The day you will be the best version of yourself, these same people will say they always believed in you.


Destroying this negative image of your own belief from the past experience will take some time and effort as they have become a part of your subconscious pattern. Therefore, holding on to your patience and belief is undoubtedly challenging. But believing in yourself despite all the odds will surely make you fall in love with the person you are again.


Believing in yourself and surrendering to the universe at the right time is the most challenging thing to do. But until you do it, you will never experience the magic it can shower in your way. Genuine faith is built in faithless stories. So believe in your hopeless story anyway…


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