Hurdles for Moms in College: Overcoming an Inferiority Complex

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that, if not every one, than most people have experienced the struggle of an inferiority complex. I know I did at one point, early on in my college education. At times, it rears its ugly head, but I’ve learned to overcome the complex and come back strong. If you are a mom in college, or you know one, chances are high that you’ve dealt with it too. With the expectations placed upon women to be mothers and caregivers above all else, being a mom pursuing an education puts you right in the crosshairs of feeling inferior. However, many times the feelings run deeper than just the last few years of your life. In this blog, I will explain inferiority complex, then give some advice on taking steps to overcome feelings of inferiority.

What is Inferiority Complex?

A Dictionary of Nursing defines Inferiority Complex as, “an unconscious exaggeration of feelings of inferiority, which may be shown by compensatory behaviour, such as aggression.”  The most notable scholar linked to this complex is Alfred Adler, who often linked the issue to childhood problems. However, it extends to those who have physical and mental limitations, or have experienced social discrimination such as limited opportunities due to economic status, gender, race, etc. Some of the behaviors found in someone with an inferiority complex are:

  • Having a hypocritical attitude toward others who threaten their status.
  • Projecting weaknesses onto others in order to abandon responsibility for their shortcomings.
  • Sensitivity to any form of criticism.
  • Constantly blaming others. People with an inferiority complex often feel that others are actively seeking to destroy them.
  • Not responding to compliments in an appropriate manner – both desiring compliments constantly OR not believing them to be true.

One may have all of these, or more. There are other markers as well but I found these to be the most likely found in college moms. Do the behaviors above speak to your own struggle? If you have come to acknowledge an inferiority complex, you’ve already won half the battle. Once you realize you are struggling with such an issue, here are some ways in which you can rid your life of the complex:

  1. Change your self-talk. If you are constantly using negative self-talk, you will never feel anything but inadequate and inferior. This form of intervention relies on the idea of Cognitive Behavior Therapy.
  2. Take power away from those who once created this inferior sense of self-worth. Just because someone told you that you wouldn’t succeed, were a terrible mother, would never amount to anything, etc. doesn’t mean it’s true. Words are just words. You choose how much power they truly hold.
  3. Seek the help of a professional. I am writing to you from my own experience with a little help from psychological journal databases. The best way to improve yourself is to get help.
  4. Compensate. I know this sounds weird but Adler actually thought compensation was one way to overcome an inferiority complex. But accepting your abilities in a subject you aren’t 100% at and instead feeding the areas where you are a rockstar, you are placing higher value on your abilities.
  5. Work on improving your self-confidence. This can be achieved through the items I just listed. You cannot have self-confidence and feel inferior all the time, it’s impossible. If you can find ways to build your confidence, you will see a change in your feelings when around others.

With all this being said, you won’t be completely transformed overnight or even in a few weeks. It takes a long time to undo the damage done to someone with an inferiority complex. If you’ve come to recognize this issue in yourself OR if you know someone who has it, please be patient.



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