Expressions of Inferiority
Expressions of Inferiority – In order that you and I may understand each other when we speak of a sense or an attitude of inferiority, let us consider for a moment a few of the ways in which it expresses itself in many persons who are wholly normal. If you are entirely free form all these tendencies, I congratulate you. You need read no further in this post.
A man is oppressed with an attitude of inferiority when he fears that he lacks the ability to succeed in the enterprise in which he is engaged. He may realize that the undertaking is hazardous or that circumstances which he cannot control will result in failure, but this is a very different thing from inferiority. Whether the undertaking fails or not is beside the point. He feels that he may not measure up to what is called for. He may feel this way, even though he actually he actually is able to handle the situation adequately.
Attitude of inferiority
He has an attitude of inferiority if he hesitates to put his ability to the test. It is the same attitude as that of the man who worries about his ability to succeed in something in which he already is engaged, only in this case the man is too timorous to make a start. He is afraid to risk the chance of failure.
This attitude of inferiority is not confined necessarily to specific situations. From time to time the unfortunate man is oppressed by a sense of his general unfitness to be doing the sort of thing he is doing. What’s the use? Is a question that he asks himself? He feels that it is all too big for him when he is in one of these moods.
With an inferiority attitude, a man is prone to analyze his own motives, emotions, and reactions. Now, why did I do that? He wonders. What was I feeling, When this was happening? And why did I feel the way I did?
He worries about mistakes he has made. The errors may not amount to much, but he magnifies their importance. Is he slipping? Have others notices the mistakes? What will the consequences be? Is he likely to repeat the mistake? That was a terrible thing for him to reply to the lady’s question. His prestige will be gone, now that he has let the staff see that he is not infallible.
Expressions of Inferiority – Worries about the impression
He worries about the impression he is making on other people. In fact, they may not be thinking about him, but in his mind, they have been studying his every move and criticizing him adversely.
He is embarrassed by the memory of the blunders he has made, Even though nobody else knows about them, he blushes mentally when he thinks about them.
When others do criticize him, he is highly sensitive. It hurts him to be blamed, even though the censure may be deserved. He hates to have his own sense of unworthiness endorsed by others, to have them realize that he is not good enough.
At the same time, he is sensitive to praise. A little commendation elates him unduly. He is easily flattered. His actions and attitudes are guided far more than they should be by the good opinion he hopes others will have to him.
He gives a large amount of serious attention to little things that relate to himself. What effect will this kind of costume have on other people? What little mannerisms might he adopt to give an impression of culture or of strength? His mustache, necktie, voice, posture, all become matters of great importance.
His is inclined to daydream, lives in the future more than in the present. It is not that he uses his imagination to plan the future, for he probably will do nothing about, being timorous as to his ability to succeed, but he is a great castle-in-Spain builder.
He has a secret ideal or ambition. It probably will never be realized, but he does a vast amount of wishful thinking about it.
Expressions of Inferiority – Lack of accomplishment
In analyzing his present position, he is dissatisfied with the progress he has made. He is disappointed in himself. A survey of his lack of accomplishment confirms his low estimate of himself. starts searching for failures in his career to prove his inferiority.
He is given to remorse and regrets and feels sorry for himself. It is too late now to undo the thing he has done, he sight. It is too late even to reform. He would turn over a new leaf, but he doubts his ability to hold to any good resolutions he might make.
He contrasts himself with others, measuring his own faults against their virtues. True, he can see some good points in himself—some points of superiority, even—but these are not the things that count. The merits of others outweigh his demerits, so far as comparative success is concerned.
If he is out of a job, he fears that he will be unable to get one. Even though there may be plenty of jobs available, he doubts his ability to land one of them. Others with no better right than he will be employed and he will be excluded. Prospective employers may not realize his fitness.
If he already has a job, he fears he may be unable to fill it in a way that will satisfy his employers. He is afraid he might be discharged.
If he is offered a new job, even though it may be a reward for efficient service, he fears that he will not be able to make good. The increased responsibility may be too much for him.
He does not feel at ease when he is talking with his superiors. When alone, he can think quickly and clearly, but in the presence of the boss, he is embarrassed, ill at ease and hesitant.
Feeling his own inferiority
He quakes even when he meets subordinates. Feeling his own inferiority, he believes they may see through him. They may refuse to acknowledge his superiority. He cannot maintain authority.
Nor can be meet people with whom he is on even terms, customers or competitors. They, too, may see his weakness and take advantage of it. He feels that he may offend them. Or that he has offended them.
Thus, we might go on to cite a hundred ways in which a sense or attitude of inferiority expresses itself—through self-consciousness, self-pity, worry, procrastination, daydreaming, and timidity. If we study them all, however, we will find that they all have one thing in common—too much thinking about one’s self.
An attitude of inferiority is developed by unnecessary concern for yourself and your personal fortunes. The confident man is thinking about what is to be done, not about his ability to do it.