How to Overcome an Inferiority Complex

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Power of Positive Thinking" by Norman Vincent Peale. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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How does inferiority complex affect one’s personality? How do people develop inferiority complexes? And what can be done to overcome one?

Inferiority complexes create barriers in our personalities, stopping us from achieving our full potential. They are often the result of emotional damage done to us in childhood or the result of childhood circumstances. 

Below are some tips on how to overcome an inferiority complex and grow belief in yourself.

Overcoming an Inferiority Complex

Having self-confidence is important to a happy and successful life. Self-confidence leads to successful achievement and self-realization, helping you release your inner power. But not everyone has the power to believe in themselves. Too many people are hampered by feelings of inadequacy, often called an “inferiority complex” or a lack of self-confidence.

Here are some suggestions on how to overcome an inferiority complex and start believing in yourself:

  • Deeply analyze the root cause of your inferiority complex. Say you believe you’ll never amount to anything. Look at your life to find the root cause of this inferiority complex. Perhaps your older brother got straight A’s in school, but you only got C’s and felt like a disappointment to your family. You end up believing that you’re destined to get C’s for your whole life, and your brother is the one who will be a great success.
  • Fill your mind with “confidence concepts.” We build up our security or insecurity by how we think. When our thoughts are filled with fears of what might happen, the result is a feeling of constant insecurity. We can even create what we fear. But when our thoughts are filled with faith, courage, security and confidence, all thoughts of doubt are expelled and we allow our potential power to be set free. You can train yourself to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. This is called “thought-disciplining.” It re-educates the mind and boosts your power.
  • Develop a confident and optimistic attitude. A confident and optimistic attitude can help you overcome difficulties. Psychiatrist Karl Menninger said it best: “Attitudes are more important than facts.“ It doesn’t matter what awful thing you’re going through; your attitude about it can modify or even overcome the experience. To help develop a confident attitude, try making a list of all the things you see as positive about yourself— your assets. This helps you stop thinking about all the forces that are against you and steers your thoughts toward the forces working for you.
  • Know that God is with you and helping you. This is a simple, yet powerful belief that, when practiced, can boost your self-confidence. To do this, practice saying this affirmation: “God is with me; God is helping me; God is guiding me.” Repeat this affirmation, visualize God’s presence, and practice believing this affirmation.

10 Simple Rules for Building Self-Confidence

Follow these suggestions to grow your belief in yourself.

  1. Visualize yourself succeeding. Hold onto this picture and never let it fade. Don’t ever think of yourself as failing; always picture success no matter how bad things get.
  2. When you feel a negative thought about yourself creeping in, immediately stamp it out with a positive thought.
  3. Don’t inflate your problems in your mind; minimize them instead.
  4. Don’t be impressed by other people and try to copy them. Behind a confident exterior, most people are as scared as you are.
  5. Repeat this Bible verse 10 times a day: “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
  6. Get counseling to understand the root cause of your feelings of inferiority.
  7. Repeat this Bible verse as an affirmation 10 times a day (out loud is best): “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Phillippians 4:13)
  8. Assess your own ability honestly—and then raise that estimation by 10 percent. 
  9. Say and feel the words, “I am putting myself in God’s hands.”
  10. Understand that because God is with you, you can overcome any obstacle. 
How to Overcome an Inferiority Complex

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Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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