When the personality lacks the capacity to find a basic sense of emotional security and psychological adjustment within itself and with its environment, the vrtti (mental instinct) of lack of confidence expresses itself. This propensity isn’t mere existential anxiety because inferiority isn’t situational or focused on a certain ability or aspect of the personality. Worry is based on excessive thinking and flighty emotions whereas lack of confidence is a more generalized contraction of the ego and a fundamental lack of faith in one’s own abilities. The psychological base for all of one’s thoughts are self- defeating and keep one confined to staunch limitations. Perhaps this lack of confidence came about because of habitual failures, because of a suppressive, unloving and impersonal environment, or another internal psychological disturbance that inhibits one’s development and expansion. In short, inferiority comes about as a lack of love and attention and so can only be remedied by a true love and attention.
With lack of confidence, a part of oneself is giving up the struggle for personal growth and expansion. Instead of being able to use the ingenuity of the intellect and an emotionally secure personality to be able to find a secure mode of self- definition and personal meaning in one’s world, the mind and personality instead contract into a state of low self-esteem and a negative self-definition. This contraction of the ego also paradoxically sustains it. If this distrust of one’s own powers prevents one from acting and making choices necessary for growth, then it can also protect one from the fear of failure in these attempts. The ego sustains itself by not undertaking any new challenges that it could fail to manifest. Perhaps this failure would be more of a blow to the personality than not doing anything at all. The person squanders what little confidence they have and desperately cling to it. One is not fully alive and settles to live in fear and doubt rather than confront the demands and challenges of self establishment and self- definition. This inferiority complex will continue to cripple one’s development until one understands the causes of the complex which are always some form of a lack of proper self-regard due to lack of love and attention. The inferior always feel separate and disconnected from others. They do not feel accepted and worthy of the respect and recognition of others, although they desperately need and seek it. A person may have received little emotional security or social orientation in the past. Or he/she may have suffered great deprivations or may have made many errors in life that finally provoked a defeatist complex.
In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “It is probably true that the inferiority complex is one of the most stagnating and strangulating and crushing conditions of the human personality. It distorts the personality and plunges it into the abyss of inner conflicts. And so one of the first things that individuals must do to integrate themselves and to be sure that their personalities are integrated is to seek to overcome a feeling of inferiority. This is one of the first and basic conditions of life.”
Whole societies can suffer from an inferiority complex. As long as human beings are closed of into ideas of class, race, nationality and religion, the powerful will always impose inferiority complexes on those more vulnerable. What is required is that one break through the walls of discrimination and disunity with others. We must learn how to trust others as well as form positive social, familial, and intimate relationships. There are few humans that don’t have at least some lack of confidence. If not, what would become of you? This tendency only dissolves to the degree that fear and narcissism are transformed into peaceful co-existence and a deep respect for others. Only by gradually transforming one’s little fearful ego into union with the great, internal “I-Witness” within will the sense of inferiority ultimately be overcome. If the root of the person is infinite peace and eternal joy, how can the One continue negating Oneself? How can the Self not be in the Other too?
An excerpt from A Name To The Nameless