Rosicrucian Writings Online

Analyzing Your Mental Tendencies


By The Imperator
[H. Spencer Lewis]
[From The Rosicrucian Digest January 1936]
AS I read the many letters that come to me from persons seeking help in analyzing their personal affairs in life, and as I carefully study the letters that are sent to us to be used as a basis of discussion in our Forum, and later printed in our Forum magazine, I am aware of the fact that a great many persons are suffering from one complex or another, and do not realize this, and therefore make no attempt to overcome the difficulty.
Individuals seem to have the ability to recognize in another person any outer manifestations of inferiority complex, or superiority complex; but these same persons seem to be unable to diagnose this condition in themselves. It is indeed unfortunate when an individual is suffering from a mental state that is colored by a sense of inferiority or superiority. I use the word suffering very properly, for such persons do suffer through the view-point they have of life, and of their surroundings, through the obstacles which their view-point creates and through the effect this has upon the use and application of their inner abilities.
It may seem surprising to a great many to know that in a large majority of cases where we suspect that an individual is suffering from a sense of superiority, or a belief in his or her superiority, actually there is an inner sense on the part of the individual of his or her presumed inferiority, and the opposite is true also.
In other words, the general idea regarding inferiority and superiority is quite erroneous, and because of this very few persons are able to properly assist others in overcoming these tendencies.
There are two causes which are generally responsible for most of the mental states we observe in other persons, and which we call inferiority and superiority; one of these causes is suppressed desires, and the other is a broken or enlarged spirit.
Let us take the example of a young woman born in humble circumstances, or with parents who were poor, or who abandoned her or left her at an early age, and who thereafter was raised in an asylum or by fond relatives who were also poor or in intermediate circumstances. Throughout her early childhood she is constantly reminded of the fact that she cannot have and cannot enjoy all of the things which other children of her age enjoy. If she is raised in an asylum for girls, she is taught by every impression registered upon her mind that she is inferior to the average child throughout the world inasmuch as, first of all, she does not have residence in the home of her parents, does not have the love and assistance of both parents, does not have the freedom of going and coming that the average child has, and does not have the clothing and playthings, the recreations, the indulgences and the contacts with culture and refinement which other children enjoy. Throughout her youth she learns to be subservient to the will of others. She learns to hold her own ideas, desires, and wishes in abeyance and to submit to the routine life outlined for all the children around her.
If she is not raised in an asylum, but in the home of a very poor family, she is impressed day by day in many ways of the fact that she cannot have the same clothing, the same privileges, the same pleasures and indulgences that the neighbor's children have. By the time this girl is a young woman she has learned in many bitter ways that she is different from others inasmuch as she lacks the opportunities that others have, and lacks the background, the inherited qualities and attainments which other children enjoy.
All of this will impress the young woman with a growing conviction of her inferiority. At first she may feel that her inferiority is solely of exterior things, and that the inner self is the equal of any other person. She may feel that only in worldly possessions, or in special mental attributes or attainments, education or refinements is she lacking or inferior, but gradually it dawns upon her that her outer worldly inferiority is due to some important degree of personal inferiority. She begins to believe in those secret, private moments of personal meditation that the poverty of her parents and the inferior life they led was due to their inferior mental abilities. Then she concludes that since she inherited the blood and mental tendencies of her parents she, too, has probably inherited the basic inferiority of her parents, and that this added to the inferiority of her present environment, social position, incomplete education, and constant suppression of desires has made her an inferior being inwardly as well as outwardly.
Very few of us can fully appreciate the agony and mental suffering of a person young or old who reaches these conclusions and becomes convinced of his personal inferiority. It is so basic, so fundamental, so deep-rooted, that taking such a young woman and placing her in a better environment and giving her better clothes, money to spend, attractive companions, and the many unusual opportunities, will not quickly or completely change the inner habits of thinking and the established sense of inferiority. In many cases the very fact that others are trying to help her by giving her better clothing, or money, or opportunities to advance herself, becomes an additional indication of her true inferiority. Very often such persons resent the helpful interest on the part of others for that very reason. They resent having anyone show such an interest as might be interpreted as pity, for this would become a positive proclamation of her inferiority.
All that I have said regarding a young woman applies equally to the life of a young man. Somewhere in the early years of the life of both such a young man and such a young woman, there comes the opportunity of running away from all who know them and a desire to change the unhappy conditions. It may strike the normal person as peculiar, but it is a fact that when these young people decide to run away from their present environment because of this inferiority complex, they just as often choose a road or pathway in life that goes downward as one that goes upward. I have talked with young women who have made such a change, and they have frankly said, "I was born a nobody, I have been a nobody all my life, I have no background, no basis or foundation for anything but an inferior life, and there is no use pretending and battling with it any longer; I am going to go away to another city and live among those of my own class." They often enter into crime, or various forms of sordidness, become indifferent regarding their personal appearance, and their personal habits, choose lower types of persons for companionship, and begin a course that is destined to wreck their entire lives. Such young people become despondent, cynical, irreligious, untrustworthy, and criminally inclined. Even the young women will scoff at the idea of attempting to be respectable, for they will frankly state that nobody thinks they are respectable, and there is no use in continuing the battle against general opinion. Many young men frankly state that throughout their whole youthful lives they have had to battle with the lowest things in life, and they have learned that unless they take advantage of other people, these other people will take advantage of them.
Thus we find one portion of these people suffering from inferiority who are on the downward road, and when we meet them in a crisis where they are anxious to have some relief, some help, or be saved from their critical situation, we have a difficult problem to face, and must begin inwardly to change the long-established opinion of themselves.
When the other portion of these sufferers decide to take a higher road in life and lift themselves up, we have another complexity to deal with that is just as difficult. These persons begin to pretend that they are better than they believe themselves to be. They hope to hide their inferiority, and to create in the minds of others an impression of equality at least, or some degree of superiority. It is among these persons that we often witness the greatest manifestations of the so-called superiority complex.
Young women or young men in this position, will go to great extremes to be well-dressed, and in the attempt to be well-dressed, they will be overdressed. The young men will often resort to wearing patent-leather shoes throughout the day in the belief that an excellent appearing foot or an expensive pair of shoes will cause others to think that they are particularly neat and superior in their tastes for dress. They will often wear loud clothing or the extremes in styles. Many times they copy some outstanding public character who is known for his or her overdressing. They will attempt to use large words in their conversation, will dabble into various fields of thought in order to become superficially familiar with certain terminology or historical facts, and then speak of these things in a very impressive manner at every opportunity. Very often they will attend the highest grade musicals, concerts, or visit places where they believe they will associate with persons of great culture and refinement.
In order to create the impression of equality, at least, these persons will refuse to indulge in many things that the ordinary average normal person accepts. In going to the theater they will go less often, but when they do go they will insist upon the best seats or the highest price seats in order that others may observe them doing this and think of them as being wealthy. They will refuse to eat in an ordinary restaurant, but will go to a very high-class one even if they have to have just tea and toast, for they hope to be seen going in and out of a better place. They will refuse to go to parties and dances of an ordinary kind, insisting that their tastes are better or higher, and that only in certain places will they enjoy themselves. They speak freely of their contempt for persons who are poor or who are in humble or lowly positions. They even refuse invitations to dinners because they want to create the impression that they have so many engagements and prefer to select only the best places or the best homes. These persons, therefore, create in the minds of the average human being the idea that they are suffering from a superiority complex, whereas they are suffering intensely and acutely from a sense of inferiority.
Those who misunderstand the problem and analyze these persons wrongly attempt to remove the superiority from their nature. They like to say to such persons, "You think you are better than other people, but the truth of the matter is that you are no better than anyone else." This only convinces the other that his inferiority is something true, and that his pretense at equality is not strong enough to overcome it, and he, therefore, adds to his outer emphasis of superiority.
The reverse of all of this is also true. Many persons are born with a superiority complex that they have inherited or acquired in their youth, and they realize that it is a detriment to their happiness, and that it breaks friendships, and puts them in a position of criticism with all who notice it. Their superior reactions are just as natural as those who are suffering from inferiority. They cannot help admiring that which is a little better than the ordinary, they cannot help wanting in clothing, food, pastimes, recreations, and study, the things that are just a little bit better than the average. They cannot help feeling that in their recreation they should take a position among the very best, the very highest, and the most exclusive. In all their tastes and desires, their first choice is always that which is superior. It is as natural for them to choose this way as it is for the long-experienced criminal to seek the dark, shadowy places of life for his idle hours. When there is a desire to overcome these superior tendencies in order to avoid embarrassing other persons, or make others feel uncomfortable, they will assume an attitude or nature that is of the very opposite. They will try to be very commonplace in their clothing; they will go out of their way to eat at nominal restaurants, or even the most economical ones. They will choose friends and companions among the commonplace or even less, if they can possibly do so. They will adopt some slang in their language. They will adopt certain habits which will cover the real desires within. Others observing them will say that these persons are inferior, and are expressing an inferiority complex. The truth is that these persons are suffering from a sense of superiority and are trying to reverse it in the opinion of others.
Now all of this unconscious and conscious thinking on the part of these individuals suffering from inferiority or superiority, constitute continuous obstacles in the way of achievement and attainment. The only real help for such persons is metaphysical help at the hands of one who can discern behind the mask being worn what the real nature is. It is difficult to tell by merely looking at or watching a person whether that person is really suffering from real superiority, or a pretended superiority to hide the inferiority within. The mystic, the true student of psychic natures, the analyst of all human individuals, should do everything within his power to assist a person of this type, but the first step consists of becoming truly acquainted with the real nature of the individual, then winning the confidence to such an extent that the sufferer will really talk of his desires and his suppressions, his ambitions, and his tastes, needs, and requirements, and enable the mystic to help him get started on the true path.
The whole subject is one that is worthy of the special interest of our Rosicrucian metaphysicians so that they can go out in the world and help persons of this very class.

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