The inferiority trap

Have you ever been in a train, cafe or restaurant, where  someone is booming away in a loud voice? You can’t hear yourself think.

This is the Voice of Entitlement. It’s loud, usually male, upper middle class, and unaware of others needs. Or more likely they don’t care about others. They see themselves as innately better than most people. They’ve had a privileged upbringing, were eased into a well paid profession, or possibly had family money. They like to declaim or pontificate. And the trouble is, it’s mostly not faked. They don’t notice how they’re behaving, because they’re supremely self confident.

These types are used to being in command. And in their presence the rest of us feel our lower station.

It’s hard not to feel inferior. And if you’ve been brought up feeling that your accent and your place is life marks you out as somehow below them, that’s inevitable.

If then you have to work in such an environment. It will reinforces those feelings. If you work in drama, medicine or the arts you will come up against those well-heeled self confident types with their private school accents, and easy to feel an impostor.

Even without these characters you may feel worthless, or not good at your job, and that you’ll be found out.

Now take this quiz to see if how insecure you might be.

Inferiority test
Small criticisms make me feel terrible for days. 
I compare myself against other people’s qualities. 
I’m a perfectionist. Nothing I do is ever quite good enough. 
I feel like an outsider looking in – as though I’m different in some way. 
I have a sense of worthlessness. I don’t feel ‘good enough’. 
Social media makes me miserable because everyone seems to be happier or more successful than me. 
I hide the ‘real me’ from the world because I don’t think it’s ‘right’. 
I try to please people, 
I always defer to others. 
I feel that people with posh accents are better than me 
Score out of 10. 

If you scored more than five out of 10, you’re feeling inferior. But that’s OK, because now you’re on the path to beating it!

Nine ways to deal with impostor syndrome and feelings of inferiority.

1. Recognise that you got to where you did because of your brains and determination. They, by contrast, were helped along the way through family connections. If you doubt that, check the statistics. In the UK, doctors’ children are 24 times more likely to enter the profession than their peers. The children of lawyers are 17 times more likely to go into law, while children of those in film or television are 12 times more likely to enter the same profession.

2. Be aware of what you do well. What are you good at? Make a list. Everyone has things they are good at.

3. Stamp on those automatic negative thoughts (ANTs). These are the little voices in your head that hold you back. Challenge them. Are they helpful? Are they benefiting you? Are they accurate?

4. Beware of choosing positive affirmations. You may have heard they can boost your self-esteem. But you have low self-esteem they can make you feel worse, because you simply won’t believe those mantras.

5. Give yourself a chance to succeed. Do you avoid situations where you could fail or might feel inadequate? If so, go for situations where you can realistically achieve something.

6. Stay in the present. Concentrate on the here and now. Forget the past, and don’t worry about the future.

7. Accept yourself. Recognise that no one is perfect. The most successful people have their own, sometimes terrible, flaws and personalities. Don’t beat yourself up. Give yourself a break.

8. Be aware of the dangers that lurk in social media. It encourages us to compare ourselves with others. Reduce the amount of time you spend on Facebook or Instagram. Beware of following people who represent an ideal you can’t live up to, whether that’s in affluence or beauty.

9. Consider changing some part of yourself to fit in. The famous British actor Ian McKellen originally had a Lancashire accent, and has been gradually returning to it after decades at the top of his profession. Russell Crowe was born with a New Zealand accent while Colin Farrel has an Irish one which he changes for US roles. If you’re proud of your accent – and we should all be respectful of our origins, stick with it. But if it helps you in your career, maybe you should modify it? The aim of this book is to help you  get to where to want to be.

Take-away thought

Feeling inferior will limit your Agency. It will control you. Take the nine steps listed above to conquer it.

Do you want help with achieving change in your life? We have a coaching programme that could help you. Learn more.