You have probably met someone like that, people who need to feel important at the cost of making others feel inferior. When you are by their side, they often look down on you, and you end up feeling bad and wondering what is true in their disdainful look and condescending tone of voice. They make you doubt yourself.

The Viennese psychoanalyst Alfred Adler was one of the first to address this phenomenon by referring to the “struggle for superiority” in interpersonal relationships. In fact, it was he who coined the term “inferiority complex” to refer to people who have difficulty integrating their weaknesses and mistakes into a balanced image of their “self.”

Inferiority complex and compensatory strategies

The inferiority complex is the feeling of not being up to the situation or the people with whom we are comparing ourselves. The person constantly has doubts about himself and his abilities, he feels inferior because he believes that he is not within the standards.

The problem, according to Adler, is that “instead of motivating him to improve, the inferiority complex paralyzes him.” This tendency to constantly compare ourselves to others creates anxiety and distress, so the person usually tries, unconsciously, to compensate for these unpleasant feelings.

These compensatory strategies have two objectives. On the one hand, they are a defense mechanism that makes them feel superior to others, in order to protect a fragile “me”. On the other hand, it helps them to defend themselves , so that others do not discover what they consider their “weak points”.

The problem is that by building this “outer layer” with which they intend to present themselves in a more favorable light, they end up isolating themselves. The person suffering from an inferiority complex will have a difficult time trusting others because he does not want them to discover his weaknesses, so instead of letting them help him, he will put up a barrier and not connect emotionally. Therefore, it is not surprising that a study conducted at the University of Anatolia has shown that those who feel inferior and insecure also feel more alone.

Of course, bad compensatory strategies they may use also contribute to this social isolation , which often consists of undermining the self-esteem of others by making them feel inferior. In practice, these people will not try to grow and exceed their limits, but will try to climb on the shoulders of others to see further and appear taller. They do not try to shine more, but to extinguish the light of others.

You feel inferior but the important ones are done

Obviously, it is very difficult to maintain a relationship of any kind with a person who constantly competes with us and tries to “crush us”. In the end, breaking off the relationship is a kind of psychological survival mechanism.

 1. They are always in a hurry

They made us believe that a busy person is an important person. Therefore, those who feel inferior always seem to be in a hurry. When you are in the company of this person, you may even feel anxious because you constantly look at the clock, walk faster, or always say that you have little time. His goal is to make it seem like he’s doing you a huge favor by spending his time, to the point where you might feel uncomfortable.

 2. Classify ordinary events to make them seem more important.

People who need to feel important often use “special” language to name everyday life events in such a way that they seem to be more important. For example, they may refer to a simple customer call as a “conference call.” These people never do normal things, their life is always full of important commitments and activities.

 3. They are constantly worried

Busy people are preoccupied with what, to be important, these people avoid looking relaxed. Therefore, they will always tell you their concerns and problems, amplifying their repercussions to the maximum. In fact, they are true specialists in presenting situations that would almost be blessings to others, such as big problems or worries.

 4. They make others wait

Important people don’t get a free minute, so they will never be the first to arrive. They calculate the time to make you wait a bit, and then they will apologize saying that “they had an important and urgent commitment.” In this way, they try to show you that they are more important than you. In general, it is very difficult to meet with them, because they say that they always have a full agenda and have to find a “hole” for you.

 5. They exaggerate their results

People suffering from an inferiority complex will try to compensate for their “flaws” or “weaknesses” by exaggerating their results. It is normal for them to look for elaborate words to describe their work, so that it seems a position of greater importance and responsibility. At the same time, they will try to minimize your successes by saying that they are not that great or will point out your past mistakes or failures.

 6. They think they are smarter and more capable

When insecure people feel threatened, they activate their compensatory protection mechanisms. If they believe that you can overshadow their intelligence and ability, they will focus on discrediting by pointing out your mistakes and weaknesses. In a group, it is normal for them to try to take the topic of conversation to their own ground, to return to the center of attention.

 7. They are hypercritical

Insecure people continually clash with others, but because they cannot bear to feel inferior, they try to denigrate them. For this reason, they often develop a hypercritical attitude that can end up making you feel bad, because nothing you say or do will be commendable. Sometimes you feel like you are part of a rigged competition since you can never win.

These are some of the main points to keep in mind about the attitudes that people who feel inferior or insecure, but who are shown as important in order to hide their weaknesses, may have.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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