Tag Archives: Self Criticism

Overcoming An Inferiority Complex Caused By Childhood Trauma

There are many ways that during our childhood our risk of developing an inferiority complex as adults can be increased. For example, certain types of parenting can increase this risk, such as over- controlling, over- critical, over-protective, over- demanding and/or emotionally neglectful parenting. Being brought up by such parents, or in a way which is psychologically destructive, can result in the young person developing: feelings of self-hatred, a defeatist thinking style, a generally negative attitude towards life, self-destructiveness, excessive and irrational self-blame, fear of failure, excessive sensitivity to failure and self-doubt in social situations.

Research also shows that any serious traumatic emotional distress experienced during childhood can, potentially, have similar effects.

The psychologist, Gilmor, identified six specific signs that an individual may have developed an inferiority complex. These six signs are as follows:

1- oversensitivity to criticism

2- a propensity to perceive oneself as being criticised, even when this is not the case

3- excessive reaction to flattery/’fishing for compliments’ or the opposite, namely having great difficulty accepting compliments/flattery

4- avoidance of others (due to not feeling good enough/interesting enough/ likeable enough etc to be in their company)

5- an inability to be a ‘gracious’ loser

6- a fondness for/ urges to ‘put others down’

 

Additionally, the psychologist, Nanka, suggested that that those with an inferiority complex had a tendency to believe/ claim/declare that they are ‘always right’ as well as a habit for always insisting that others agree with them.

Other research shows they may try to mask their feelings of inferiority behind a façade of arrogance, crave and seek high social status, be very materialistic (wanting to impress others by owning expensive cars, jewellery etc), crave and seek power/control/dominance over others, constantly seek approval and behave in a self-righteous manner.

The Compounding Effect Of Depression:

If an individual has developed an inferiority complex as a result of a difficult and traumatic childhood, such a person is also at an elevated risk of developing a depressive illness. Unfortunately, this can intensify feelings of inferiority as it is known that depressed people tend to develop a distorted and unrealistically low opinion of themselves; in a depressed person’s mind his/her shortcomings become exaggerated whilst his/her skills and abilities are minimised, dismissed or ignored.

Due to the above a vicious circle can easily develop: the depression leads to feelings of low self-worth, self-hatred etc which in turn serves to accentuate the depression…and so on…and so on…

 

Possible Subconscious Reasons For Self -Criticism:

The idea has also been put forward that there can be subconscious reasons or ulterior momotives why we criticise ourselves in ways often associated with having an inferiority complex. These include:

1  – to gain sympathy

2 – to appear humble/modest

3 – because we think self-deprecation is somehow charming or endearing

4 – as an expression of guilt

5 – to avoid responsibility (e.g. by saying: ‘I’d really love to help, but I’m useless at that kind of thing’)

6 – to discourage others from criticising us (‘getting in there first’)

7 – to encourage others to admit their faults too

8 – avoid disappointment (e.g. ‘I’ll never pass that exam’)

9 – to motivate ourselves to do better (think John McEnroe berating himself on the tennis court). Indeed, being highly self-critical and/or having feelings of inferiority drives some people on to achieving great success – such people are driven by an overwhelming need to prove themselves to others.

 

Possible Remedies For An Inferiority Complex:

1) Stop being a perfectionist and accept weaknesses as part of our humanity

2) Work hard to improve particular areas of weakness

3) Become very good at one particular thing to compensate for weaknesses or feel less bad about having them

4) Understand the source of our feelings of inferiority (eg.  grew up being ridiculed by parents) and seek appropriate therapy (eg. CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy)/ utilize self-help

 

Resources:

CONFIDENCE ONLINE TRAINER COURSE : Click here for further details.

STOP FEELING INFERIOR PACK :  Click here for further details.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

Childhood Trauma Leading to Intense Self-Criticism

childhood_trauma_questionnaire

If we suffered significant childhood trauma it is likely we were not instilled with an adequate sense of self-acceptance or self-assurance when we were young. Perhaps we were made to feel inadequate and inherently flawed as individuals.

Such feelings can extend well into our adult lives, or, without therapy, last the whole of our lives.

As a result, we may have been led to over-focus, and exaggerate in our own minds, any weaknesses we have and any mistakes we make, perhaps, even, to the point of obsession.

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Now, as adults, as a result of such a childhood, it is possible we have developed a highly self-deprecating personality – this can mean, for example, we find it very hard to accept compliments. Furthermore, we may :

– downplay our achievements and accomplishments

– feel embarrassed if someone refers to our achievements and accomplishments

– become obsessed by mistakes we make

– believe that if someone praises us they do not really mean it but are just trying to be kind

– feel that compliments given to us are not really warranted and that we don’t really deserve them

– even if we do very well at something, we may very well tend to focus on why we did not achieve perfection ; this leads us onto the next section :

PERFECTIONISM :

If unreasonable demands were made of us as children, we may find that, as adults, we need to get everything ‘perfectly right’; this is likely to be a largely unconscious attempt to finally gain parental approval and acceptance.

However, this leads us to setting standards for ourselves which are unrealistic and impossible for us to meet. For example, we might be obsessed with ensuring that nothing we do ever goes wrong, that we can always fully meet the needs of others who are dependent upon us and that, if we fail in such areas, we must be ‘deeply flawed’ individuals.

However, because it is impossible to go through life without ever making mistakes, taking wrong decisions or making the wrong choices, we frequently become filled with intense feelings of self-reproach.

Setting ourselves impossibly unrealistic targets means we become far too demanding of ourselves and, therefore, we find ourselves constantly criticizing ourselves and being disappointed in ourselves for failing always to meet our self-imposed, highly exacting demands.

SHAME AND GUILT :

The feelings, beliefs and behaviours described above are likely to have arisen because we were made to feel shame and guilt when we failed to be perfect as children – it is likely that our parent/parents/primary carer made us feel that we were ‘never quite good enough’ and that we were a constant source of disappointment.

As adults, then, we have displaced our parent’s/parents’ unreasonable expectations of us onto our current relationships with others. Insight into this problem is the first step to freeing us from our perpetual, unreasonable self-demands.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is one therapy that studies show can be very effective for treatment of intense and obsessive self-criticism (click here to read my article on CBT).

RESOURCE :

TAME YOUR INNER CRITIC SELF-HYPNOSIS AUDIO

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

 

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