I Used To Feel Invisible To Others—Until I Did These 4 Things

Co-Founder of Inner Bonding By Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
Co-Founder of Inner Bonding
Margaret Paul, Ph.D., is a best-selling author, relationship expert, and Inner Bonding® facilitator.
Image of woman looking sad out window.

Do you sometimes, or oftentimes, feel like you're invisible to others? I felt this way for many years, and I constantly wondered why others didn't seem to see me or hear me.

Then I discovered I was invisible to myself, and that others were simply treating me the way I was treating myself. Here are four ways I started to see myself again—and got others to see me too.

1. I stopped ignoring my feelings.

Our feelings are a source of inner guidance, letting us know whether we are taking loving care of ourselves or abandoning ourselves. When I was ignoring my feelings, I was essentially telling myself that they were not important. And when my feelings were not important to me, they certainly weren't important to others.

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Action step:

Instead of turning to vices (television, shopping, food, alcohol, etc.) when unpleasant feelings arrive, try to label them instead. Be as specific as possible—do you feel anxious, depressed, hurt, angry, lonely, or bored? This simple practice will help you tune into your feelings and own them.

2. I started advocating for myself.

With my children, I was like a mother lioness, always speaking up for them when I felt they were being treated unjustly by others. But I rarely spoke up for myself. I told myself that I could take it and that I didn't want to rock the boat and start a conflict. Not advocating for myself meant that others didn't need to treat me with caring and respect.

Action step:

Do you silently endure others’ judgmental, discounting or disrespectful behavior toward you? We train others how to treat us, and by silently allowing yourself to be treated badly, you train others not to treat you with care and respect. Practice setting strong personal boundaries and sticking to them.

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3. I stopped accepting one-way relationships.

I used to listen to others talk about themselves for hours, hoping they would eventually ask me about myself—which rarely happened. Of course, others loved to be with me because of how well I listened to them, but because I was ignoring myself, they also ignored me.

Action step:

Get honest with yourself about the one-way relationships in your life. Instead of putting more energy into them, prioritize the relationships that make you feel fully seen and heard.

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4. I broke up with people-pleasing.

I was brought up to be a caretaker—to take care of others' feelings while ignoring my own. I tried constantly to please others in the hopes that they would care about me. But, of course, this never happened, because they were treating me the way I was treating myself.

Are you focused on being nice to others rather than being loving towards yourself? There's nothing wrong with being a nice person, of course—except when your niceness has an agenda attached. If you're trying to gain other people's approval by being nice, then your niceness is a form of control, and will likely backfire.

Action step:

Try out this 7-step plan to stop people-pleasing and start advocating for your needs. (It's pegged to the holidays, but applicable all year round.)

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