In simpler terms, the inferiority complex is when one feels small in front of others. That feeling could be imagined or actual and it dwells in the subconscious. No one is born into the world with inferiority complex but most people learn to feel that way from their childhood. It occurs when this feeling intensifies due to personal, social or various other factors. At times people suffer from Inferiority complex but they display superiority complex. This happens when they actually have deep-rooted feelings of inferiority. Some of the factors that lead to this complex can be:

1. Negative remarks in childhood 

The primary environment where a child learns about oneself and the world around them is their home that consists of one’s parents and siblings. Disapproving and negative remarks of behaviour which emphasizes mistakes and shortcomings by the primary caregivers tend to determine the attitude of the child and that becomes an integral part of their personality.

2. Bullying and criticism

Growing up a child may face bullying, harassment and hurtful teasing related to their facial and body features, weight, height, strength, speech defects and defective vision by other peers, adults or even teachers at school. At times, self-afflicted criticism related to one’s features can also cause some sort of complex in a person.

3. Comparison by self and others

Everyone is not born in this world with equal intelligence or talents. Each person has their own qualities, strengths, abilities and aptitude to develop certain specific skills. One individual may be good at calculations while another may be good at memorizing and recalling dates in the history class. It is important to recognize one’s strengths and strive to achieve something in those areas only. When unfavourable comparisons are made with the superior achievements of others, especially when satisfactory performance is expected one can develop low self-esteem and feelings of inferiority.

4. Societal discrimination

Many times we tend to find ourselves in difficult situations not because of our personal reasons but because of those that are built by society or our circumstances. A person can be discriminated on the basis of their family, race, caste, creed, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, or religion that can be the reason for inferiority feelings.

5. Discouragement from others 

Whether we fail or we succeed, everyone tends to feel good when they are appreciated for their efforts. Discouragement can come from a variety of social areas and can be of two types- destructive and constructive. While constructive criticism can encourage a person to perform better, work harder and feel more motivated to excel, destructive criticism, on the other hand, can break someone’s self-confidence and make them question their abilities and self-worth. This discouragement can develop an inferiority complex in a person.

6. Failure

We should not let failure define who we are as an individual. We all tend to fail at some point in our lives, but to become stagnant and not do anything about it is the biggest failure of all. We are bound to go through feelings of inferiority complex if we attach a negative meaning to failure.

7. Stress

The level of stress increases with time and as we progress in our lives. Each and every individual faces a variety of different stressors ranging from work to children to managing finances. These stressors, many times put us in situations where it exceeds our ability to cope with them. We tend to evaluate ourselves not from our own perspective but from the perspective of other people and their expectations from us. As a result, feelings of inferiority and of not being able to perform up to a certain level are inevitable.

8. Unrealistic expectations

We live in competitive times where each person is trying to outgrow the other individual. As a result, we try to do more than our actual potential. Many times, due to lack of self-confidence and also because we don’t realize our self-worth we feel hurt and demoralized when someone criticizes us or gives negative remarks for something. It is essential that each individual has knowledge about their strengths and weaknesses and moves forward keeping all of them in mind. Hard work is required to achieve the desired goals but having realistic ones and keeping one’s head in the right direction will help one grow for the better.

We may fail at times and succeed at times. Both are learning experiences. It’s our various strengths and imperfections that make us who we are. Thus, as an individual, it is very essential to believe in ourselves. But many times the situation gets beyond our capabilities and seeking help from a Professional psychologist can help you find ways to deal with your inadequacies.