I’ve been in this place – feeling invisible, and it’s actually worse than being bullied. How can we deal with this?
Maybe as a child, I didn’t feel completely invisible because I remember hiding from abuse. But as a young married adult with a baby, I did feel this way.
I remember nights alone with my infant son, wishing his father would come home. But even when he was home, I still felt invisible. I tried to do all the things a good wife should do, but it was never enough to keep a healthy marriage.
Feeling invisible became so normal, that I just started doing whatever I wanted, and that led to a complicated situation which added to my already traumatized past.
How Does It Feel to Be Invisible?
I’ve never met the invisible man, so I can’t tell you how it feels to be literally invisible. I also cannot explain every facet of invisibility to you because my story is different from all the other people who’ve felt invisible before. So, I want to explore how this happens.
Some people feel invisible in a group of friends, being the one who tries to speak up but is never heard. Some of us feel invisible at parties, feeling like the “wall-flower”, never being approached in conversation. It makes you wonder which is worse, being invisible or being slandered.
I think becoming invisible can happen in a number of ways. If people start seeing you like the quiet one, the listener, or the oddball, then invisibility starts. Before you know it, you’ve become a see-through person, and you cannot remember how it got this way. Now I want to offer a few ways we can overcome this feeling.
‘Why Do I Feel Invisible?’ 6 Possible Causes
First of all, let’s delve into the possible causes of feeling invisible. Do you feel this way with particular people in your life or does it look like your normal emotional state? Making sense of your experiences is the first step to dealing with them.
Some explanations below focus on your own behaviors and personal traits while others talk about the people who make you feel invisible.
1. You Are a People Pleaser
Do you struggle with saying no to other people? Are you always trying hard to make everyone happy? It’s great to be a kind caring individual, but when you become too focused on pleasing others, you forget about your own needs in the process.
But this is not the only danger of being a people pleaser. The problem is that at some point, other people start to take you and your effort for granted. They start to see everything you do for them as an obligation, not a favor. This is when you end up feeling invisible because everyone assumes that you don’t have needs of your own.
2. You Are a Good Listener
It happens in a similar way when you are a good listener and are always ready to give a shoulder to cry on.
Do your friends always turn to you with their problems? Do you play the role of a counselor in your social circle? These qualities are great and good listening skills are a real superpower.
But when you always play the role of a listener and never talk about your own struggles with your friends, your problems, aspirations, and interests simply become invisible to them. So they remember about you only when something challenging happens in their lives and they need some advice.
3. You Are an Introvert
Introverts often feel invisible. When you are quiet most of the time, people think that you have nothing to say. They mistake you for being boring, dumb or antisocial. But these things are simply not true.
Introverts engage in a conversation only when they have something meaningful to say. Otherwise, they prefer to stay quiet. They simply don’t talk for the sake of talking. However reasonable this behavior may be in your eyes, it can leave you feeling invisible to people who misunderstand your introversion.
4. You Are a Conformist
Do you always have to agree with everyone? Are you afraid of speaking up for yourself? Do you prefer to stay quiet and avoid conflict even when your interests are concerned?
If it’s so, then people may simply assume that you don’t have an opinion of your own. You earn the reputation of a follower and a conformist. As a result, those around you overlook your personality and needs. You become sort of invisible to them.
5. You Are Dealing with Toxic or Selfish People
We have discussed a few causes of feeling invisible that have to do with your own personality and behaviors. But oftentimes, this feeling stems from being with the wrong people. If you are surrounded by fake or selfish friends who care only about themselves and take advantage of you, you will end up feeling neglected and invisible.
This is even more so if you are dealing with narcissists and other toxic personalities. They use emotional manipulation tactics such as stonewalling or the silent treatment that can make you feel worthless and invisible.
6. You Are the Family Scapegoat
Are you feeling invisible in your own family? Are your needs and interests always overlooked and achievements underestimated? In case of conflict, do your family members always take someone else’s side and blame you for everything? Do you feel that you never get any support or understanding from them?
You could be what is known as the family scapegoat. It is a common role in dysfunctional families, but it can be present in usual families too. If you grew up as the scapegoat, then you frequently felt invisible in your family and probably continue to feel so with other people too. After all, our childhood experiences stay with us for a lifetime and often haunt us in adult life.
How to Be Seen and Appreciated Once More?
1. Understand How It Happens
Before you attempt any other ways of bettering your life, you must first figure out how you started feeling invisible. When do you say hello to someone, who tends to ignore you? Where do you feel invisible the most? Do you get ashamed because you have to raise your voice to be noticed?
It’s time to make a list about your feelings of invisibility and who tends to make you feel this way. Also, list the places where you feel invisible the most. This has to be done before you can work on other aspects of improvement in this area.
2. Change the Way You Think
Okay, so you feel invisible much of the time, well, now’s the time to change that. Now, changing mindsets isn’t always easy. Sometimes it takes a lot of work to think of yourself in a different way.
If you’ve felt invisible for most of your life, this may be difficult. But, if you can only grasp just a small percentage of visibility you lost, you have the potential to be seen even more. Start walking into rooms with the positive idea that people do indeed see you.
3. Stop Having One-Way Relationships
Although it’s kind to be a good listener, sometimes you have to talk about yourself as well. There should always be a good balance between listening and speaking in order to have a healthy relationship with other people.
To stop feeling so invisible, it would be smart to start talking about your life instead of just sitting there being the “good listener” because if you don’t, that’s all you will be known for. “She’s such a good listener”.
4. Share How You Feel
If you have a good friend who actually sees you, then talk to them. Even if you only have one friend who totally appreciates your existence, that’s enough. Maybe this friend of yours has felt invisible at some point in their lives as well.
If so, they will understand you on a level that no one else can, and may be able to help. Tell them when you feel invisible and how it makes you feel. Explore ways to help with your self-esteem, as self-worth has much to do with feeling invisible. The worse you feel about yourself, the more unlikely you will want to tackle this problem.
5. Find Solutions That Fit Each Scenario
Not every instance of being ignored or feeling invisible is the same. You may feel invisible at parties because you don’t know anyone and feel unable to break the ice. You may feel invisible to family members because they’ve labeled you and put you away.
Then, you may even feel invisible to friends, maybe because they’ve moved away or you’ve both been holding a grudge. You have to figure out which solution belongs to which scenarios. Here’s a breakdown:
- Parties – If you know a few people at a party, make sure you’re standing. Sitting down makes you seem like you have no interest in talking. Approach people on your own, ask them how they are or what they do for a living. If you still feel uncomfortable, go home. Parties don’t have to be your thing.
- Family – Stop being labeled by family. Ask a trusted family member what the rest of the family thinks of you, and then figure out the details. Whatever it is, you can adjust accordingly or approach the topic with other members of the family. Opening that box can help remove labels and help you become seen again. As for husbands or wives, feeling invisible may mean serious problems. In this case, communication is key. If you cannot communicate, then you have to seek help before your relationship is destroyed.
- Friends – If a friend has moved away and hasn’t visited in some time, maybe you can go visit him. If there’s a grudge between the two of you, then take that first step to make things right. You definitely don’t want to be invisible to your best friend.
6. Don’t Agree with Everything
Sometimes feeling invisible comes from agreeing with everything people say. If you never have a different opinion, it will be hard to remember you, or your personality.
Sometimes, be the one to have the opposite reaction, or play the devil’s advocate. This should get things stirred up, and they will definitely see and remember you.
Feeling Invisible? Now’s the Time to Recreate Yourself!
You may feel invisible much of the time and maybe this has gone on for years. It could also just be something that started happening recently. However it happened, it’s not a good thing.
In order to appreciate your worth, you must be seen. Take the time to understand how this happened, then work through the tips listed above. Keep pushing your way through your insecurities until you balance your life again. Then you will no longer be invisible.
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This Post Has 2 Comments
Hi Sherrie. I’m glad to read this article of yours as it is mostly relatable nowadays especially to the young ones. You’ve mentioned “Share how you feel”, how can a teenager open up to his parents if their child experienced bullying? I know a lot deals hardly to open up, I’d appreciate the advice. Thanks.
In school, my oldest son experienced bullying a bit. I would always have this rule that I applied to this bullying, as my child was always open about his struggles at school. I first talked to the teacher, asking her to relocate him away from the boy as she spoke with him about his actions. Unfortunately, one time she did this but strangely put them back closer together and the bullying started again. I spoke to her again and asked her to move him again and she said she couldn’t. She didn’t seem to be good at stopping the things that were hurting my child. So, I said this to him, ” I have asked her twice to take care of the problem, so now you have to stand up to yourself.” My son knew what to do.
The teacher called me and said my son was in the principles office for jumping on the kid. He apparently beat him up. My son was suspended for this, but I did not punish him because I have a three-strike rule. I tell the teacher twice, and then I warn her the third time, that if she doesn’t handle the bullying, my son will handle it. He always did, and I have a good son who tries to avoid these things.
So, for a teenager to feel like they can open up to you, the need to feel like you will be on their side and feel confident that together you will stop this. Tell them that if this is going on, it will be fixed. That’s what I always told my children, and they are not afraid to stand up for themselves. The teenager just has to feel safe and that they can trust you to make it stop. Project this idea at all times when talking to them.