Believing in yourself is not always easy. Time and again, you might be tempted to compare yourself to others.
Hence we asked 13 experts, how to stop feeling inferior to others?
Below are their top insights.
Fabiola Paul LCSW, CCTP
Therapist | Founder, Enlightening Counseling & Educational Services
Be open to personal development and process your negative thoughts
Feeling inferior stems from a lack of self-worth and self-esteem. The main message that a person may have is “I’m not enough”, and you can fill it in with whatever is a trigger for example: I’m not good enough or smart enough, thin enough, etc.
Read related article: The 30 Best Books on Confidence and Self-Esteem
A key part to stopping feeling inferior to others involves being open to personal development and processing your negative thoughts and where they stem from. This is done in therapy with a mental health professional.
However, there are 3 things that you can do to move forward in the process.
Affirmations are powerful I Am statements that speak encouragement and strength to your mind. After all, our thoughts impact our feelings, which impact our behavior.
Spend time and write 3-5 positive affirmations and make it a point to repeat them out loud to yourself in the morning and before bed. Before long you will begin to see the shifts in your attitude and beliefs about yourself and your abilities.
Surround yourself with positive people
As it is said, “Birds of a feather flock together”. This is true when it comes to dealing with inferiority issues. When you have a group of supportive friends, they are able to point out certain abilities and characteristics that you have which benefit the group.
In addition to involved in those positive circles, they become the sort of a model for you which you can mimic. This will allow you to grow and become confident of who you are in a safe environment where you feel accepted to not only take but give as well.
Take small risk daily
Taking a chance to take small risks provides evidence that you can use for other challenges if it goes well, and lessons you can learn going forward if it does not.
Either way, when you take small risks it build up your confidence and opens you up to challenging other blockers that you may have in your life.
Coach | Speaker | Author
Know who you are
For someone to feel inferior assumes that someone else is superior. Know that you are not a replica, a knock-off, or a duplicate. You are a unique, one of a kind human being that in your present state, has not existed before nor ever will again.
There is more to your uniqueness than just your fingerprints and retinas. No one could ever possibly be a superior version of you, ever, no matter how hard they tried or how much money they may have.
The add to that, you are here for a reason. You have been designed for a purpose. Your life experiences have influenced and shaped you to carry out a mission that only you can accomplish. One that only you can choose not to execute.
Advice often given to nervous presenters required to speak in public is to imagine the audience in their underwear. A similar mindset can also be of aid if you find yourself so immersed in thinking someone (or everyone else) is perfect and beyond reproach.
Remind yourself that no matter how flawless, smart, savvy or polished they may ‘appear,’ they too are human.
There is a book titled Everyone Poops that was written to help potty-train small children. It aims to teach them that it’s not a bad thing, everyone does it and there is nothing to be ashamed of.
Well, at least until later in life where you learn that certain body functions are taboo subjects most people like to ignore and act like they don’t have. Sometimes because it makes them feel – yes, inferior to admit, as ridiculous as that may sound.
This highly natural and necessary function is often seen as embarrassing, viewed squeamishly, and deemed highly impolite to even discuss. Unless it’s with your health care provider; where your ability to do the business is the first order of business right after “Hello!
But I digress.
The point is, no-one is so high and mighty as to not make poop. If someone implies they don’t, just know that they are full of….you get the point.
Taking into account your uniqueness, your qualities, skills, aptitude, passion, goals, focus, assertiveness and ambition, who are you trying to be?
Are you aiming to fulfill your God-given purpose in life, using your God-gifted talents? Or, are you trying to be someone else/someone you are not?
Tiger and Phil are far better golfers than I will ever be. However, both of them combined don’t hold a string compared to me when it comes to being my children’s dad.
Put differently, do you exist as a facade of someone else? Someone, you wish to be other than your real self because you believe it may feel safer, be less difficult or that you think you will be more well-liked?
If so, you will find yourself almost always feeling inferior when you are trying to be someone/something that you are not.
If you are your true self, serving your real purpose in life, you will find that the feeling of being inferior dissipates because it’s not even a consideration. Of course, no one is superior to you at being you! So why does that even matter?
Check yourself next time you may feel inferior and remind yourself, you were fearfully and wonderfully made, for a purpose, that not one of the other seven and a half billion people on this planet can accomplish.
Then, after briefly patting yourself on the back, get back to work! You have gifts to use and a uniquely wonderful person to be while you live your best life, now!
Associate Professional Counselor | Mental Health Educator | Self-Care Advocate
Self-compassion will help you to not beat up on yourself
Feeling inferior to others really has less to do with the other person and more to do with how we think and feel about ourselves.
I challenge my clients to really observe their internal dialogue. What do you believe about yourself? What conversations are you holding in your head about yourself? More than likely, these mental tapes that hold your beliefs about yourself have been playing in the background of your mind for decades.
It’s not surprising that when you encounter someone that you admire or hold in any type of high regard, that you feel “less” than.
The following tips can help when you find yourself feeling inferior to others:
Become aware of your thoughts about yourself. You could do this by simply sitting for 10 minutes and observing your thoughts, non-judgmentally. Just watch your thoughts in the same way that you would watch a movie. What comes up? It’s helpful to write these thoughts down if you can.
#2 Is it true?
Now that you are aware of any negative thought patterns, hold them up to the light of truth. Are you really ugly, stupid, or boring? What evidence do you have to support those beliefs? Remember thoughts, feelings, and emotions aren’t proof! They are simply thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
#3 Stay within the realm of your control.
If you find that there are things that you don’t like about yourself, aim to improve the things that are within your control. Can you take steps toward eating and living healthier? Are there relationships that make you feel bad that you need to re-evaluate?
Is it possible to take steps toward venturing out more? If there is something you can do to improve the things you can change, go for it! You’ll likely feel better for having done so.
#4 Be kind to yourself.
Remember, you’ve been believing negative things about yourself for a long time. It will take practice and time, to believe otherwise. In the process, extend love and kindness to yourself. Self-compassion will help you to not beat up on yourself when you continue to compare yourself with others and will also allow you the room and space to grow in a loving way.
Co-Creator, Art & Alchemy
There are two immediate steps you can take to reduce your feelings of inferiority to others:
Stop comparing yourself to other people
Inferiority is a result of you minimizing your power and erroneously attributing positive characteristics to another.
It is important to note: If you have ever tried to just stop doing something, then you know just how tricky it can be. A classic example to illustrate this is if you are told to not think about monkeys.
It is guaranteed that your mind will be flooded with its images. When you try to stop doing something, undoubtedly you will do it.
So instead, stop comparing. It is easy to look at the details of someone’s life from the outside and come to conclusions. In reality, the story we come up with is our creation. We find that what we have created usually bears no truth when you place the person’s life under a microscope.
Realize that when you compare you are rarely comparing apples to apples or oranges to oranges. The details and circumstances of our lives are always different.
Remember who you are
At your core, you are Love and Light. At the core of the person, you are comparing yourself to is also Love and Light. Behind the roles and facades, are spirits expressing their uniqueness and having an experience.
How can one’s experience be inferior to another? By placing limitations on your greatness. Remove all limitations and recognize the value of your own life experiences.
Parenting Expert Blogger, Mommy Enlightened
Feeling inferior to others is a completely natural phenomenon.
We all tend to fall into the comparison trap, where we spend time agonizing over the things/personality aspects that others have that we’re lacking.
As humans, we find it easier to see the world in black or white. Looking at the world with grey area creates a complexity in our minds that we don’t always have the mental capacity to handle.
Often the negative things in our life stick out to us more than the positive. Knowing this, it’s easy to understand why someone would easily feel inferior.
A quick way to help overcome this is to stop looking at others as better or worse than you. Do some soul searching and dig deep within yourself to find what good traits and abilities you have.
When you look at another person, see them as an individual. See that they have their own traits and experiences that make them the way that they are. The same is true of you. Everyone adds value, but we all offer a different kind of value.
Feeling inferior is usually rooted much deeper than a simple comparison. It’s about learning how to love yourself the way that you are.
Although it sounds silly, consider writing down the things you like about yourself and carry that around with you. If you have a moment where you are feeling insecure, take the paper out and remember the reasons that you are a valuable person.
Know that this feeling of being inferior will not be solved overnight. It’s a lifelong process of self-awareness and challenging your beliefs.
Certified Relationship Coach, Maze of Love
Feeling inferior is a matter of self-love and there are four general reasons why people do not love themselves:
- They compare themselves to other.
- They are judged or criticized by others.
- They strive for perfection.
- They constantly adjust who they are.
In order for anyone to stop feeling inferior, they must realize and take in four realities:
Reality 1 – Judgment or criticism from others is almost always a matter of low confidence from the person judging. It can be easy to take in judgments and begin to feel inferior until you realize that the person judging is doing so from their own lens of self-doubt.
When we are down on ourselves, it becomes easy to criticize and judge others as a way to feel better about ourselves.
Reality 2 – So long as we are comparing ourselves to others, we are not spending time focusing on ourselves. This is simple math.
Reality 3 – No one perfect and the more we strive for perfection, the more we use energy focusing on something that is unattainable. We tend to accept the imperfections in others but when the mirror is pointed inward, our expectations grow.
Reality 4 – So long as we adjust to others, they will never have to adjust to us. As well, so long as we adjust to others, we are never forming a true and consistent version of ourselves. Adjustment is an unfortunately common thing for people, even as they tend to be more open to the flaws of others.
Not feeling inferior is difficult for these very specific reasons but it is not impossible. Focusing inward and accepting imperfection is the start. Refraining from adjusting yourself to fit a mold is the next step.
Wellness Coach and Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Expert, Feeling is Healing
In terms of how to stop feeling inferior to others, it can help to realize that there are certain individuals, such as narcissists, who specifically set out to make sure that you feel as though you are inferior to them.
They do this in order to boost their own self-importance to compensate for their own inner sense of shame and unworthiness. It also gives them a feeling of control over others.
With this knowledge, when you next feel as though you’re not good enough for someone, you can stop and analyze the situation.
Is the other person doing something that is causing you to feel inferior to them? For example, if the person is a romantic interest, are they telling you about other men/women in their life? Is the person telling you how busy they are and implying that they do not have time for you and that other things are more important to them?
Do they compare you to others? Do they point out your flaws in subtle ways? For example, they may talk about someone who has the same views as you and comment that they believe this person is selfish.
This could be a tactic to leave you feeling as though you are selfish and defective. However, they have done it in such a way as that it makes it difficult for you to be sure of what they mean and therefore they know it will be difficult for you to call them out on their behavior.
Realize that if someone is employing these tactics it is because they feel the need to make you feel small. This is proof that they must fear that they are in fact inferior to you, not the other way around!
Health and Wellness Expert, Maple Holistics
Be your own person
The best way to stop feeling inferior to others is to stop comparing yourself to others in the first place. Embrace who you are and your unique qualities, and recognize that you bring value to the world. See how some of the things which you are insecure about can actually be incredibly advantageous to others, and utilize them accordingly.
However, it’s true that not everything about us is great.
So, how do you not feel inferior when you think that something about you is objectively negative? Own it!
For instance, if you have a stutter and are very self-conscious about it, feel free to be upfront when meeting someone new and make a joke about it to address the elephant in the room and make people feel comfortable. Once you acknowledge what you are most scared of, it no longer has such power over you.
Financial Planner | Life Coach, Traveler Info Hub
Take action by improving yourself little by little each day
Take up a class or online course to learn new skills. Work on your fitness goals and change your fashion style. One thing that worked great for me is starting a side hustle or business that can eventually give you financial freedom or just some extra cash.
By working on your goals, how can you feel inferior to the majority of people who would rather drink, party, and sleep all weekend? Do you have a good support network or know people that you look up to? If you know any negative friends (it only takes one), you might want to rethink your relationships. Remember that your vibe attracts your tribe!
Career Change Coach
When the feeling comes on, ask yourself when the very first time was that you remember feeling this way- most likely the memory is from your childhood.
Remind yourself that your current feeling of inferiority is actually just your original feelings being triggered and re-experienced.
The perspective shift this brings about is enough to relieve some of the discomforts in the present moment. Sending love and understanding to your younger self is also helpful.
Designer | Developer and Digital Marketer, Mazepress
If you want to stop feeling inferior to your peers then stop comparing yourself.
“Comparison is the enemy of Joy”, at least if you follow the advice of Franklin D. Roosevelt however I prefer the expression “Comparison is the enemy of progress” because once you frame yourself in a negative light compared to others it quickly leads to procrastination and self-loathing, two things we would all rather avoid.
Remind yourself that you are on your own unique journey and not everyone needs to progress at the same rate.
People you might be comparing yourself with, in a professional setting may have spent a lot more time honing their skills or might have years on you, and so it’s a hopeless exercise to compare yourself to them.
I know because I used to do this often and it just prevented me from taking action. Focus on the internal and not the external things you can’t control.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I feel inferior to others?
Feeling inferior to others can result from several factors, and understanding the root cause is the first step towards addressing the issue. Some common reasons for feeling inferior include:
• Childhood experiences: Being constantly compared to others or criticized during your upbringing might contribute to feelings of inferiority.
• Social conditioning: Society often promotes competition and comparison, fueling feelings of inadequacy or inferiority.
• Perfectionism: If you have unrealistically high expectations for yourself, you’ll likely feel inferior when you don’t meet those standards.
• Low self-esteem: A lack of self-confidence or a negative self-image can lead to feelings of inferiority.
• Past failures or setbacks: Experiencing failure or setbacks can contribute to feeling inferior, especially if you don’t process them healthily.
What are common signs that I feel inferior to others?
• Constant comparison: You often compare yourself to others, focusing on their achievements and qualities while downplaying your own.
• Self-doubt: You frequently doubt your abilities and question whether you’re good enough, even when you achieve success.
• Social withdrawal: You may avoid social situations or engagement because of fear of being judged or feeling like you don’t belong.
• Overcompensation: You might work excessively hard or obsess over details to prove your worth to yourself and others.
• Seeking validation: You may look for reassurance and approval from others to feel better about yourself.
• Negative self-talk: You engage in a pattern of harsh self-criticism, often internalizing your perceived shortcomings.
What is the difference between feeling inferior and having low self-esteem?
Feeling inferior and having low self-esteem are related yet distinct concepts. Inferiority refers to the feeling of being “less than” others, often resulting from comparison and a focus on perceived shortcomings.
Low self-esteem, on the other hand, involves a broader and more general negative evaluation of one’s self-worth. While feelings of inferiority can contribute to low self-esteem, it is possible to feel inferior in certain situations or contexts without necessarily having a global negative view of oneself.
What is a healthy approach to comparison?
A healthy approach to comparison involves recognizing that everyone has unique strengths, weaknesses, and life paths. Here are some strategies to cultivate a more balanced perspective:
• Focus on self-improvement: Shift your focus from comparing yourself to others to setting personal goals and working on self-growth.
• Practice gratitude: Appreciate the qualities, skills, and achievements you already have. Gratitude can help shift your focus from what you lack to what you have.
• Acknowledge differences: Understand that each person’s journey is unique, and comparing yourself to others isn’t always fair or productive.
• Limit social media consumption: Social media can exacerbate the tendency to compare ourselves to others. Be mindful of your usage and focus on more uplifting content.
• Develop self-compassion: Treat yourself with kindness and understanding when you’re feeling inferior, rather than being overly critical.
• Surround yourself with positive influences: Cultivate relationships with people who uplift and support you, and distance yourself from those who contribute to feelings of inferiority.
How can I deal with criticism without feeling inferior?
Dealing with criticism can be challenging, but it’s essential to remember that every one faces it at some point. Here are some strategies to help you cope without feeling inferior:
• Reframe your mindset: Understand that criticism is an opportunity for growth and learning. Embrace it as a chance to improve yourself and your skills.
• Separate the message from the messenger: Keep in mind that criticism is about your actions or work, not you as a person. Don’t take it personally.
• Consider the source: Evaluate the credibility of the person providing the feedback. If they’re knowledgeable and experienced, their criticism might be valuable. If not, it may be less significant.
• Ask for specifics: If you receive vague criticism, request more information to help you understand the issue and address it effectively.
• Focus on the positives: Remind yourself of your strengths and accomplishments. This will help you maintain a balanced perspective and prevent feelings of inferiority.
Can therapy assist in overcoming feelings of inferiority?
Yes, therapy can be an effective tool for overcoming feelings of inferiority. A professional therapist can help you identify the underlying causes of these feelings. Through therapy, you can explore your thought patterns, challenge negative beliefs, and develop a healthier self-esteem.
How long does it take to stop feeling inferior?
The time it takes to stop feeling inferior varies from person to person, as it depends on factors such as the severity of the feelings, individual resilience, and the level of support available.
It’s essential to recognize that overcoming feelings of inferiority is a process that requires consistent effort, self-reflection, and patience.
Working with a therapist or engaging in self-help techniques can accelerate the process, but it’s important to be patient with yourself and understand that change takes time.
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