I’m battling the inferiority beast today, feeling small and insignificant. Have you ever had a day/week/month/life like that? It’s something that pops up in strange moments, usually when I’m feeling in control. “I’ve got this,” I think. And then I realize I really don’t “have this.”
I write books. A lot of them. I speak. I’ve been on radio, TV, and the illustrious Internets. But none of that slays feeling inferior to others. When I visit the doctor, I feel much smaller and stand in awe of his education. When I see media professionals, I view them as together, more important, more worthy of attention.
Where does inferiority come from?
My hunch is that it stems from feeling in the way at one time or another, being overlooked or counted as insignificant. For some, this happens in school when others succeed and you recede into the background of academia. Or your family dynamic might’ve favored one sibling over another. Or even Valentine’s Day can trigger memories of flowers not received, dances not asked to. That feeling of being ignored is powerful. It stays with you.
How can you overcome feeling inferior to others? 5 ways.
1. Realize you are not alone. That person you’re feeling inferior to? He/She probably feels inferior too. It’s part of the human condition. You may not realize this because people who appear to have it all together mask their inferiority by putting on an elaborate show, using pride to cover up their shame, or talking big to cover up their perceived smallness.
2. Understand that you’ll never fill all the way up with others’ praise. No matter how much you seek the honor and affirmation from others (particularly those you want it from most who are least likely to give it), you will not be satisfied. The hole that inferiority causes is a large one, and when others fill you, it’s like pouring water through a funnel. In one end and out the other. I have found that only God can heal the inferiority wound. Only His love will stop up the hole and make us whole.
3. Examine the why. Look back on where it all started. What happened to make you feel smaller than others, unworthy of appreciation? What one event inaugurated your feelings today? Why do some people trigger your inferior feelings? (Who they are might give you insight into why you struggle). When did someone assume something negative about you that you were unable to correct? I remember in first grade when I had to stay in for recess. I was horrified that I had to (I was a pleaser at heart). So I thought I’d make the most of my time there by helping the teacher. I erased and cleaned all the blackboards, only to hear her yell at me when she returned. I’d erased all her hard work and got in more trouble. She assumed I’d done it out of spite. In that small moment, I started to believe that I was unworthy of being believed, and that teachers were always right, bigger, and to be feared.
4. Believe the truth. The truth is: others will hurt you. You will feel smaller in comparison with the bigness of others. But God is bigger still. He who flung the stars into existence loves you, sent His Son to die for you, and longs to fill the empty places. Consider Jesus as you battle inferiority. He traded the glory of heaven for the dirt of earth. He humbled Himself. And yet He knew who He was. He had a settled grace for Himself and a joy about life that made Him irresistible to children. It’s time we learn from Jesus and believe that He loves us oh-so-much.
5. Share your story. We are all in this battle together. I believe every. single. person on earth has felt inferior to others. The more we admit this and share the whys of our feelings, the more we’ll be set free. I feel better, too, when you share your struggle. It makes me realize I’m not alone. If you want to deepen a friendship, simply ask this: When was a time you felt inferior? Hearing that story will open up new avenues for shared friendship.
So now you know my deep, dark secret. I feel inferior to others. I probably feel inferior to YOU! But I’m learning to run to Jesus when the smallness creeps in, learning to tell myself the truth that I am wildly loved by God, trying to rest in His love and not try so hard to be noticed Noticed NOTICED by others. I’m much happier and settled when I rest in Jesus.
Q4u: What’s your story? When did you first start feeling inferior? What has helped you overcome feeling inferior to others?