The Body Language of the Feeling of Inferiority

The body language of the feeling of inferiority is unconscious, but generates psychological effects both in the person and in their environment. Adopting gestures and empowerment postures is a way to neutralize the feeling of helplessness.


We do not need to go to the words to express ourselves. All the time we are talking with our gestures, with our postures and with the expressions of the face. A good example of this is the body language of the feeling of inferiority. Although we try to hide it, there are many ways of saying with our body that we have a poor concept of ourselves.

The body language of the feeling of inferiority has an important social impact. We are all trained to interpret the messages of the body, although we have not read anything about it. However, this interpretation occurs on the unconscious level but, still, largely determines the way we see others and relate to them.

“No one can make us feel inferior without our consent.”

-Eleanor Roosevelt-

In other words, the body language of the feeling of inferiority makes others perceive you as a person who does not love himself. The effect of this is that behaviors that correspond to that impoverished image that you project will be activated. They will also perceive you as inferior and act accordingly.

But how is that language of those who feel inferior? Below is a brief inventory of the gestures that represent it.

Shrinkage and body language of the feeling of inferiority

Instinctively, all animals tend to try to become smaller or larger when they feel they are at a disadvantage compared to another. The most usual thing is that they shrink and look for ways to make themselves small, so as not to be seen. However, the peacock, for example, extends its plumage to look bigger when it feels that it is facing something that threatens it.

Human beings do something similar. That shrinkage is seen in us more as a hunch, that is, an attempt to become similar to a shell closed on itself. This is a typical gesture in the body language of the feeling of inferiority.

It manifests, above all, as stooping. The body is inclined on itself, when walking or when sitting. The inclination is visible, although it only appears in the head. In fact, the famous gesture of bowing is a conscious way of bowing to whoever looks like a superior.

The crossing

Together with the gesture of shrinkage and as a reinforcement of this, it is also usual for those who feel inferior to find a way to create shields to isolate or protect their body. It is a way in which a defensive attitude, self-protection and delimitation of the territory is expressed. It supposes a strong feeling of inferiority.

The usual thing is that they cross their arms and legs. The crossing of the arms at chest height places a defensive barrier, in front of the other. The crossing of the legs, especially when it is a convoluted gesture, fulfills the function of dwarfing and closing on itself. It clearly denotes the intention to protect oneself from something or someone that is assumed to be more powerful.

Small movements

When what prevails is a feeling of inferiority, the person feels as if he should sneak around the world; that is, try not to attract attention, go unnoticed and “do not disturb” your presence to anyone. A person who feels inadequate, often assumes that he is uncomfortable with being there. In short, try not to be present because being seen or heard generates feelings of shame.

From the point of view of the body language of the feeling of inferiority, all this manifests as an insistent tendency to make short movements. They walk with short steps, they make small movements with their hands, they say short phrases. All this has the function of reducing the effect of its presence.

Gestures of empowerment

The psychologist Amy Cuddy, author of the book The body language shapes our identity, ensures that science has detected a very interesting phenomenon. This consists in that the position we adopt influences notoriously in what we feel and think. So, if we adopt the body language of inferiority, the lower we feel.

Cuddy proposes to do the opposite. He says that in a moment of insecurity or lack of confidence in ourselves, what we should do is adopt a powerful body language. According to his approach, it takes two minutes to do this so that the ideas that go through our head begin to change.

In this way, in times of stress or fear it is a good idea to change the position of our body. Cuddy advises us to stand and lean with our fingertips on a table, with our heads straight and our backs straight. According to her, this increases testosterone and with it comes a sense of empowerment.