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A superiority complex is a defensive mechanism a person develops over time to shadow insecurities and feelings of inferiority by acting better than others, being superior, talking big about oneself, and sometimes demanding special attention.

Superiority complex means showing people that you are better than them by always highlighting things, situations, and moments that portray you as superior.

For instance, your friend rushes to tell you that he managed to run 5km, instead of congratulating him, you tell him that you run 10km to show him that you are better.

In the mind and heart of a person with a superiority complex are feelings of inadequacy, insecurities, and low self-esteem. To cope with such inner chaos without attempts to do any self-work or self-improvement to uproot the insecurities and inferiorities, one chooses to mold a character and disposition that hides them.

This is characterized by an exaggerated opinion of one’s self, self-worth, finances, achievements, and abilities.

A superiority complex can also come from arrogancy bred by the consistent success that makes one start to think he/she is infallible and better than the rest.

Examples of a superiority complex

Psychologist Jordan Petersen said, ‘’treat and listen to everybody as though they are telling you something you do not know’’. When you lose your ability to listen because you are so buried in your ideas and opinions rendering other people’s opinions not worth listening to, you show a superiority complex.

This is also shown by not giving other people a chance to speak yet you want them to listen to you all the time.

People with a superiority complex usually make the conversation about themselves.

When you always want the conversation to revolve around you by referring to your success, good looks, positive experiences, etc, you show a superiority complex.

For example, your friend may talk about their new apartment in town, instead of listening to her explain everything about it, you swing the conversation back to yourself by referring to something similar.

A supervisor at work who often reminds his subordinates about his powers over them or requires them to show submission by kissing his/her a** has a superiority complex.

Signs and symptoms of a superiority complex

Seeking validation.

How a person with a superiority complex feels, depends on what other people think about them. For this, they always do things to get approval from people. If they are not getting approval they feel bad and will do anything in the most dramatic of ways to get attention and approval.

Unaccountable.

When a person with a superiority complex does something good or contributes to it, they will ensure to take responsibility. However, when it is something bad, they avoid being accountable and will blame someone else.

Unending Comparison.

People with a superiority complex are always comparing themselves to the people around them. They use this as a benchmark to emphasize their superiority. If they drive a BMW 2019 model and someone in their circles buys a 2020 model, they will ensure to buy a 2021 model to maintain superiority.

Mood swings.

For the continuous attempts to enforce superiority, people with a superiority complex get mood swings when their efforts backfire. Because they thrive on approval from others, they are happy when they get it and sad when they do not get it.

Entitlement.

A person with a superiority complex always thinks that he or she is inherently deserving of special treatment, attention, and privileges from other people even when they do not have anything worthy of those demands. The high entitlement attitude makes them selfish. 

Controlling.

They love to control people around them to show superiority. They will punish and reward people according to how much submission and praise they give. You can be a shoddy worker but as long as you kiss their a** and caress their ego, you will get a promotion. The reverse is also true.

Dishonest.

Because they need to keep up the fake façade or persona, they have to tell lies to do so. One lie leads to a chain of other lies.

Causes of a superiority complex.

Feelings of inferiority.

In situations where some people think or feel that others are better than them in a certain aspect like physical looks or a skill, they will try to hide that or counter the gap by acting better than those people.

Lack of social skills.

Inability to live in harmony with other people due to a lack of social skills like empathy and listening makes some people hide that by exaggerating their personalities as superior.

People with superiority complex lack social skills.

Survival.

Many kids develop a superiority complex to survive being bullied or to fit in. By exaggerating their abilities and life, they sometimes manage to maneuver bullies. They manage to fit in and get accepted by their fellows. This then unconsciously elevates from just a way to get around bullies to behavior they carry on to adulthood.

Insecurities.

As a cover-up for underlying insecurities, some people start to act superior to others. Typical of men around more successful men. Not to be despised for their low financial status, they exaggerate their achievements.

Identity issues

Marginalized people often develop a superiority complex as a survival mechanism to deal with traumas and insecurities that come with being marginalized. Toxic Parents who maliciously compare their children with others instill insecurities in them that if not dealt with make them develop a superiority complex as a defensive mechanism.

Abuse

Emotional and physical abuse like gaslighting, triangulation, assault, etc cause self-doubt, low self-esteem, and other negative traits. These sometimes make one try to act superior to cover them.

Pampering.

Raising children with extreme pampering and irresponsible pleasure makes them feel superior to other children. They then grow up used to that special and superior treatment. This makes them demand other people treat them like their parents used to. It is important to draw a line between proper parenting and spoiling a child.

Effects of having a superiority complex.

Deluded life.

People with a superiority complex live out of their true reality. Instead of cultivating true self-growth and development, they pretend to be superior and live trying to prove it. Their lives are full of more delusions than reality.

Unstable relationships.

Soon enough people figure out the unsubstantiated superiority and become resentful toward a person with a superiority complex. This makes people with a superiority complex unable to cultivate lasting and stable relationships due to the continuous lies and demands to uphold the fake personality.

Inner turmoil.

Unfortunately, the superiority complex does not take away the underlying ill feelings of fear, self-hate, traumas, low self-esteem, etc. However much one may pretend to be superior, deep inside they are at war with themselves and lack inner peace and profound self confidence.

Inability to learn.

Two of the traits of a superiority complex are poor listening skills and an assumption that one is wiser than others. These two hinder one’s ability to learn from others or consume useful information.

Extravagant and reckless spending.

The need to keep up with a faked persona or status makes a person with a superiority complex recklessly spend money. One who acts as financially superior will buy things they should not be spending money on for the sake of proving a point.

Narcissistic personality disorder.

A narcissistic personality disorder is a mental condition and personality in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. When one develops a superiority complex and maintains it for a long time, it turns into a narcissistic personality disorder.

Depression.

Perhaps the most adverse effect of having a superiority complex. Depression is one condition people with a superiority complex stand a high chance to get. For their dishonesty, unstable relationships, and emotional instability, they often end up unhappy with themselves and their environment resulting in depression.

Depression is common with people who have a superiority complex.

Prevention of a superiority complex

A superiority complex is one thing we can all develop if we do not make a conscious evaluation of our choices, decisions, impulses, and thoughts. We all desire success and fulfillment in life.

We want a stable family, a successful career, good health, social life, and a healthy mind. One thing all these things have in common is a demand for hard work, patience, honesty, empathy, respect, authenticity, and self-awareness.

Unfortunately, these are not things we are born with. They are things we have to commit to so that we can get what we want. There is no shortcut. To get a healthy relationship you have to be honest with yourself and the people you love.

To have a social life you need to be able to understand people which requires empathy and self-awareness. To be successful in business or a career you need to consistently and persistently work hard.

With all these things we are left with three choices. One is to do the work. Second, to give up and accept to be inferior. Third, to fake being superior by taking on a superiority complex. However, the second and third options are not sustainable and never bring success or fulfillment.

Therefore, to prevent the superiority complex we need to work for our dreams, be honest with ourselves, friends, colleagues and family, have empathy to understand what others feel and say, listen attentively, and most of all work on ourselves to heal any underlying, insecurities, emotional and psychological wounds.

Dealing with a person with a superiority complex.

 A superiority complex is one of those undiagnosable conditions of man. Personality disorders like narcissistic personality disorders can be diagnosed by a psychiatrist which is different from a superiority complex.

 However, this does not mean that it is nonexistent. A superiority complex can be detected and dealt with.

 A superiority complex is very easy to deal with once a person realizes it and accepts its presence. A psychiatrist can provide talk therapy which awakens the person with a superiority complex to face their reality and put in efforts to change their life.

Cultivation of goals is also one great way to deal with a superiority complex. The underlying major essence of a superiority complex is to avoid the daunting and challenging journey to real substantial superiority like achieving a goal or self-mastery. Instead of being, a person with a superiority complex acts as.

To therefore deal with a person with a superiority complex, encourage them to take the right route to becoming superior by cultivating that which they want to be. If it is to be financially superior, push them to invest or start a business.

Let them become financially superior by working hard to build a business or career that earns a lot of money.

If you build a foundation that makes you truly superior, you will not even need to prove it to anyone. People will realize it themselves and love you for it.

Difference between a superiority complex and narcissistic personality disorder.

It is sometimes hard to separate a superiority complex from a narcissistic personality disorder.  The difference is that a superiority complex cannot be diagnosed while NPD can be diagnosed.

All narcissists have a superiority complex while not all people with a superiority complex have a narcissistic personality disorder.

Clearly differentiated people with a superiority complex have empathy but repress it while people with a narcissistic personality disorder have no empathy at all.

Difference between superiority complex and inferiority complex.

Between inferiority complex and superiority complex stands one common trait which is feelings of inferiority. What defines the two is the response to those feelings.

A person with an inferiority complex responds by feeling and accepting feelings of inferiority and acting inferior while the person with a superiority complex denies feelings of inferiority and acts superior to shadow those feelings.

Conclusion

It is important to understand that a superiority complex is a manifestation of underlying insecurities, emotional wounds, and laziness to pursue your desires or goals. Having a superiority complex does not make you a horrible person. Deep inside, you are capable of having good relationships, being honest, empathetic, and responsible. It is only your defensive mechanism that you need to change or drop to be a better person. Once you accept the presence of a superiority complex, dealing with it becomes as easy as smiling when you see your crush.