How do you see yourself? Do you feel that you do not have what it takes? Are you seeing yourself as being ‘less’ than others? Is it your impression that other people do not like you? Does it seem to you that you are incapable of achieving anything? If you replied ‘yes’ to these questions, you are suffering from an inferior mind. Your inferior mind causes you to have a negative self-image and makes you always feel inferior, inadequate, and unloved. Your inferior mind is very likely because of the parenting style you received as a child.

When you have an inferior mind, you limit yourself due to low self-esteem. You do not have confidence in yourself and your own performance. Consequently, you end up underachieving and are so affirming your feelings. However, you would have acted based on your God-given talents and abilities if you did not dwell on the feelings you had.

When you are suffering from an inferior mind, it is vital to trace back to the point when it started. Honestly ask yourself, when did this negative self-view start? Did you feel likewise when you were a little child? Most likely not. Little children have an “I-can-do-it” attitude, they believe they can do everything! They do not feel inferior, inadequate, unloved, or incapable. And they undoubtedly did not feel that way the day they were born. What then causes your feeling of inferiority; what gave birth to your inferior mind?

God created you perfect

When God created you, He made you perfect. God created you in His image, a perfect image.

“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” Psalms139: 13-16 NKJV

You are skillfully and wonderfully made, you are a marvelous work of God, created in His image; yet you feel inadequate all the time. Something must have happened between the day you were born and now, causing your feeling of inferiority and utter uselessness.

Parenting Style & Childhood experiences

Most likely, your feeling of inferiority started with negative occurrences during your childhood. During that stage of life, your brain was not yet developed, and neither was your emotional intelligence matured. As a child you were most of the time influenced by people in your direct environment; your parents, siblings, family, and teachers. Familiar people who were mostly older than you.

Technically speaking, you were indeed ‘less’ than them at that time, as you were younger. You went through a period of feeling ‘smaller’ than your parents and/or older siblings. Their ability to do things better than you made you feel uncomfortable. But this does not birth an inferior mindset and neither does a one-time event. Rather, your uncomfortable feeling should cause the desire of wanting to grow; that is age-appropriate behavior. That is when young children start saying “I can do it” and “I can do it all by myself”, even if they are not yet able to do the task at hand.

Usually, when children grow a bit older and their role in life is further defined, they overcome those initial natural feelings of being less. This means children usually automatically outgrow  it. But when you are exposed to a series of negative events during your childhood, you may develop an inferior mindset. Repetitious negative occurrences could give birth to an inferior mind.

The role of parenting style to the formation of an inferior mind

The key triggers to the birth of an inferior mind are parents and their parenting style. When your parents give continuous negative remarks and only emphasize your mistakes and failures, it has the potential of changing your attitude and lifetime outlook at a very young age. The parenting style could have appeared insignificant to your parent, but it significantly affected you.

When all you hear is, “you can’t do it”, “are you stupid?”, “you will never learn”, “you are not smart”, “you are not pretty”, “you will never achieve anything”, “your head doesn’t work”, etcetera, this will impart an extremely negative self-image in you. When throughout your childhood you were never able to please your parents, it is quite easy to grow up with low self-esteem and severe feelings of inferiority.

In some cases, it is not the repetition of negative remarks, but one single negative message parents gave. Like if they told you, “you were an accident”, or “you were an unwanted baby”. A statement like this goes very deep into your soul (even when you were a little child!). It affects you for the rest of life, even if it was never repeated afterward. It ignited your depressing feeling of inferiority and birthed your inferior mindset.

The ‘old habit’ that causes an inferior mind: comparison

Another area where the parenting style gives birth to an inferior mind, is when your parents constantly compare you with others. They did not watch you based on your merits but always compared you to the merits of others.  If your parents tell you day-by-day that your sibling, a family member, a classmate, or anyone else, is more intelligent, smarter, better, more creative or a better performer than you, this hugely impacts your self-esteem. When all you hear during your early years is that others are better, you will eventually believe this. Sadly, this subsequently could indeed affect your general performance in life. Your parent’s negative messages serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy. It gave birth to an inferior mind.

How to prevent an inferior mind in your child: love or discipline?

Continuously hearing negative remarks, being told a single ‘bad-message’, or continually being compared with others, all have a huge impact on children, even on very little ones. Hence, it is important as a parent, guardian, or teacher, to remember this in your dealings with children and to think twice before harshly scolding a child. Rather, praise your child and provide an environment of encouragement. You should help your child to remember everything he or she did well and can do, instead of what he or she cannot do. You should encourage your child to ‘do it again’ when something did not work out the first time. Praises and encouragements are especially important in your child’s life, more than fault-finding.

On the other hand, I must add that to raise an emotionally and intellectually healthy child, it is important not to focus on praises and encouragement alone. You must add discipline to your parenting style as well. Love and praises alone are not enough, neither is discipline only. A healthy combination of the two, raises emotionally healthy children.

Some parents do neither of the two: they do not show love to their child and they also do not discipline their child. They leave the child to a large extent to him or herself. In this parenting style there are no insults and no encouragements, there is just ‘neglect’. This neglective behavior towards a child could also cause a severe feeling of inferiority at the latter stage in life. When you neglect your child and do not affirm his or her accomplishments, your child gets an extremely low self-esteem, with a lifelong sense of insecurity as a result.

How to prevent a parenting style that births an inferior mind in your children

How do you prevent your parenting style from causing the birth of an inferior mind in your child? Well, children are a heritage from the Lord (Psalm 127: 3). What do you do with an inheritance? Do you squander it? No! If you want your inheritance to remain valuable and possibly even increase over time, you must invest in your inheritance. The same it is with your children. Yes, you gave birth to them, but God created them. And after you gave physically birth to them, do not let your parenting style give birth to an inferior mind. Invest time, love, discipline, positivity, care, comfort, and assurance in your child. Your child is worth the investment! God gave your child to you, as a perfect gift from above (James 1:17). God did not give you a mistake!  

Invest in your child. Sow the fruit of the Spirit in your child’s life. Treat your child with love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). When you sow these fruits in your child’s life, he or she will blossom as God has meant him or her to blossom. You know, God says that the only thing we must do is to plant and provide water, and He will give the increase (I Corinthians 3: 6). He also said that no word which comes from Him will return void; it will bear fruit and accomplish what pleases Him and it shall prosper in the thing for which He has sent it (Isaiah 55: 11). You can therefore rely on His Word and continue planting the fruit of the Spirit in your child’s life. Then watch God honor His Word and letting your child grow to become a well-balanced person with a confident and beautiful mind.

It is simple!

You are God’s servant. After you are done here on planet earth, do you not want Him to tell you, “well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord” (Matthew 25:23)? I want that! And I guess you do too.

Well, it is simple: take care of the inheritance God has given you. Take good care of your child. Nurture your child in the same way as God cherishes your child. Do not let your parenting style give birth to an inferior mind in your child!

Let us pray:

Father, I thank you for letting me see how my mind has been influenced by negative occurrences. They have occurred, I cannot deny. But I will not allow them to influence me negatively in my adulthood as well. I accept the fact that you created me in Your image and that I am perfect. I thank you for healing my inferior mind and letting me see that I can only truly function in life when I embrace the talents and abilities you gave me. Thank you.

And Lord, where I have copied the negative behavior of my parents in the way I raised my children, I am very sorry. Please help me to guide them into their destiny, as you have planned for them. Thank You Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

©2021; Christel Owoo

Read more about the formation and consequences of an inferior mindset in general, and within the context of marriage specifically.

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash.