By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.
Do you suffer from delusions of inferiority?
Most of us are familiar with the term delusions of grandeur. In delusions of grandeur, people think they are more important than they really are. In my practice as a therapist, I find that far more people suffer from delusions of inferiority. What are some of the signs of delusions of incompetency and how would you recognize someone who has these delusions?
Normal people have moments of doubt. Low self-esteem is a frequent problem. They wonder if they are doing things well or if others like them. People who suffer from delusions of inferiority see only their shortcomings and never notice anything good about themselves.
People with extreme feelings of inadequacy are prone to overcompensate and hold others to a higher standard than they hold themselves because they believe that others are more capable than they are. This can look like narcissism. Some writers have suggested that narcissists all suffer from delusions of insecurity that they cover up by thinking only of themselves. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is an extreme case of a person not being able to see things from another’s perspective.
Here are a few of the ways that people who suffer from delusions of inferiority exaggerate their shortcomings and minimize their positive qualities.
Do you believe that you have to be perfect to be worthwhile?
That constant focus on perfection and the beating yourself up for each and every perceived flaw can take you to a place of thinking you are not OK. People with delusions of inadequacy forgive imperfections in others but not in themselves.
They tend to see things in black and white terms, no middle ground. Either they are perfect or they are worthless.
Do thoughts of you make you want to kick yourself?
When you look in the mirror do you see only defects? You are focusing on the negative and discounting anything positive about yourself. Focusing on your flaws does not keep you humble or motivate you to do better. Delusions of inferiority keep you unhappy and immobilized.
People with delusions of inferiority do not like themselves and would not want them for a friend. This impedes their ability to make real friends and makes them suspicious of others who try to befriend them.
Are you constantly telling yourself that you are stupid or incompetent?
Constant put downs are not something you should take from others and you certainly shouldn’t be doing that to yourself. You can’t beat yourself into being a better person. Run yourself down enough and your brain starts to believe what you say.
Martin E. P. Seligman tells us in “Authentic Happiness” There is not a shred of evidence that strength and virtue are derived from negative motivation.
Beating yourself up will not make you try harder or be more moral. At least not in the long run. Some people think that by running themselves down they are preparing themselves for when they fail, softening the blow. What they are in fact doing is creating the failure they fear.
People with delusions of inferiority think others are more capable.
This belief that others are more competent and you are less competent results in setting up high standards for everyone else. People who suffer from delusions of inferiority live a life in which they are constantly disappointed when others do not live up to their expectations.
Another risk for the person with delusions of inferiority is that they will push their offspring to be more than they were. The effort here is to live through their children’s accomplishments. The result is, most often that the child can never be enough to meet this parents needs and the next generations of delusions of inferiority are set in place.
You discount your accomplishments.
If you feel that you are inherently defective or flawed you need to discount your accomplishments. Rather than see the things you do as evidence you are just as worthy as others, the person with delusions of inferiority will dismiss their successes as just luck, an accident, the result of someone else helping them; as something of no great value.
Giving yourself a round of applause for something well done will not result in a swelled head or any of those other maladies people who are stingy with compliments fear. There is more danger from not ever hearing praise than from hearing too much.
You find it impossible to accept a compliment.
Do you find it hard to accept compliments? Do you wonder why people say nice things about you? You may have so thoroughly convinced yourself that you are less than others that you think people who are complimenting you are lying.
People with delusions of inferiority will avoid potential friends as they can’t imagine anyone wanting them for a friend.
You seek praise and popularity.
People with low self-worth, delusions of inferiority may constantly seek praise and compliments even when they are unable to accept those compliments. When you do not feel you deserve praise no amount will satisfy your hunger.
There are some thoughts about delusions of inferiority, their causes, and their cures. What do you think about this subject? Do you feel unworthy or are you moving towards the happy life you deserve?
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!
Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.