Do you sometimes — or often — feel like you're invisible to others? I felt this way for many years, wondering why others didn't seem to see me or hear me. Then I discovered I was invisible to myself, and that others were treating me the way I was treating myself.
If you are doing any or all of the following, you're making yourself invisible to others.
1. Ignoring yourself.
Do you often ignore your feelings? That's not a good idea, because 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. When my feelings were not important to me, then they certainly weren't important to others.
When you feel anxious, depressed, hurt, angry, lonely or heartbroken, what do you do? Do you stay up in your head, trying not to feel your feelings? Do you judge yourself for your feelings? Do you turn to food, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes or medications to numb them? Do you turn to activities to avoid your feelings, such as TV, work, shopping or sex? I did many of these self-abandoning behaviors, so it was no wonder that I didn't feel seen, heard or important to others.
While avoiding my feelings with addictions seemed to work for the moment, the long-term result was that I felt alone and abandoned inside. As a result of abandoning myself, I became invisible to myself, which inevitably resulted in being invisible to others.
2. Not advocating for yourself
With my children, I was like a mother lioness, always speaking up for them when I felt they were being treated unjustly by others — including teachers. 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.
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.
3. Accepting one-way relationships
I used to listen to others talk about themselves for hours, hoping they would 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.
If you accept one-way relationships, then again, you're training people to ignore you.
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 loving to yourself? Do you believe that if you give yourself up — putting yourself aside for others — they will see you as a good person and care about you? Has this worked out well for you?
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 others' approval by being nice, then your niceness is a form of control, and will likely backfire. Most people don't like to be controlled and they can easily pick up the energy of a controlling agenda. The result might be that they withdraw and ignore you — the exact opposite of what you want.
When I stopped treating myself as if I were invisible, others' stopped treating me that way. When I learned to love myself, others become far more loving with me.
If you sometimes feel invisible to others, I encourage you to learn to love yourself and see what happens with others!