From birth we have always been taught to respect authority, not to talk back and to harmoniously accept the ideals of those sitting higher than us within the social hierarchy we choose to belong to. Our parents know better, our teachers always right and our bosses decision’s final. We naturally live within a world of predetermined rankings, viewing those around us from a vertical standpoint; socially above or below one another, we live within a continual state of rivalry and competition. And, this consistent race-like perception of the world leaves us existing within one of two mindsets.

Inferiority Complex

By definition, an inferiority complex is an unrealistic feeling of  never being good enough. Looking at the people around us as being better and more accomplished than ourselves and generally feeling inadequate. This frame of mind causes an endless level of anxiety, too scared to fail and truly be who we want to be, we end up feeling outcast with nothing to offer to society. This mindset evaporates ones sense of community, often breeding negative feelings of abandonment and loneliness.

Superiority Complex 

In contrast to feelings of inferiority, the superiority complex is its antipode, residing permanently on the opposite end of the spectrum. A world of false confidence and pretentiousness fuelled by the ego. This competitive mindset gives birth to an unhealthy sense of rivalry, solely driven by the need to prove oneself. 

As much as both mindsets appear as direct opposites at first glance, it is important to understand that each mentality is cultivated from the same egotistic perception; attachment to self, instead of concern for others. Understanding this makes it easier to comprehend that the superiority complex and the ego as a whole is simply a mask one chooses to hide behind. And, in knowing this, we begin to realise that within a world of vertical relationships and constant social competition we can never be truly fulfilled. 

So, in order to live harmoniously and feel real contentment from life, we must actively alter the angle in which we choose to perceive the world from, perception is everything. Learning to disconnect from judgement can reignite our confidence in others, viewing them not as our opponents but as our equals. In short, this philosophy is known as horizonal relationships.

This ideology is built upon an egalitarian way of thinking; viewing those around us as our equivalents, a level playing field upon which we all exist on. This is not to say that there is no technical differences in our own individual abilities, but to look at it from a point of being at two different stages on the same journey. The key lies in acceptance. Accepting that we are all different, unique in every way but equal in what we have to offer to the world. This way of thinking allows us to act more freely with a new found trust in people and society as a whole. Accepting that we cannot control the way others act or feel dissolves any need to manage or manipulate, ultimately disconnecting us from the continual need of achieving a desired outcome.

When receiving praise becomes our absolute goal, we are choosing a way of living that is in line with another person’s system of values, ultimately losing our sense of freedom. It is important to rediscover this freedom, and make decisions with a genuine trust in one’s own ability to choose. This way of thinking slowly peels away the layers of our own overly critical self and plants the seed for a new sense of self-encouragement, detaching us from the debilitating need to constantly impress others. 

Now, this does not mean that we live in a state of infinite tranquillity. The key here is to live a life based on the ideals of our own individual self, choosing to live uncompromised by the external desires of the people around us. And, in doing this accept that not everyone will agree with our decisions, and that is okay. Having the courage to be comfortable being ourselves and taking full ownership of living the way we choose to live is crucial, unaffected by the need for approval.

Contribution not control. Pride over praise. Live the life you want to live because you want to live it for impressing people is utterly different from being truly impressive.

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