Feeling Invisible? This Can Help
Feb 17, 2022
Have you ever been in a social situation where you did not feel welcome? Have you ever had a conversation where you felt your ideas were not taken into account? The idea of feeling invisible has so many different forms, but the common thread underneath them all is not feeling adequately seen or heard, often blaming ourselves, not wanting to ask for help, or thinking that there’s something wrong with us.
Let’s shed some light on this. The thing is, we are wired to seek safety in a group; over the centuries, being shunned from the tribe was downright dangerous. Think of a pack of animals – those on the fringes can be attacked. Today we’ll talk about HOW having greater awareness of WHY you may feel invisible, actually helps you move forward to being seen and heard. Then we’ll go into what to do about it. But first, as always, knowledge is power. So this exercise is meant help you hone down on the types of Invisibility and where they come from: Rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 to see which is most relevant to you.
Types of Invisibility
- Childhood Emotional Neglect – this does not have to be physical neglect. Emotional neglect or invalidation may be even more pervasive. This is the idea that you have to be or act a certain way to earn the love and protection of your mom, dad, or caregiver. When parents are wounded themselves, when they weren’t aware of your needs, or were either too strict, or too checked out…Often parents, because they themselves were emotionally wounded, and were neglected themselves, had no skills to give support to you. Yes or no? Have you seen this in your life? 1-10
- Racial Stereotyping – imposing cultural stereotypes according to the color of your skin. Not seeing individuals, just generalizing traits and succumbing to intolerance and ignorance. If you’re making it up the ladder, jealousy can cause people to call you the “diversity” hire. Yes or no? Have you seen this in your life?
- Gender Bias – thinking through the lens of roles: that only one gender is endowed with certain skills, or not acknowledging a person’s chosen gender identity. Those who identify as transgender or non-binary often suffer the prejudice produced by intolerance and fears. All genders can feel locked into roles that make them feel boxed in: like people pleasing, or suppressing emotions instead of feeling them… Yes or no? Have you seen this in your life? 1-10
- Ageism – the undertones of rejection and even disgust are built into the cultural aging conversation. Crude jokes, senior moments, desperate efforts to appear “young,” stereotypes infiltrating every media, all stem from society’s fears of growing older. If we have the grace to get older, often that stage is reviled instead of celebrated. Yes or no? Have you seen this in your life?
- Mental Health Stigma - this can arise in so many situations, from extreme shyness to social anxiety, from having others minimize symptoms – “it’s a stage” - to blaming the “problem child” for systemic family issues. Yes or no? Have you seen this in your life?
What To do?
What can you do with the emotional fallout: the anger, the frustration, the fears, the shame, of feeling it was your fault that you were ignored?
- Set Your Boundaries & See Yourself – If someone does not acknowledge you or validate you, it most important to set boundaries with them, and that YOU acknowledge yourself. Inner child or re-parenting work can be life-changing. But whatever you choose, spend some time to heal the part of you that may have rejected a part of yourself. Whatever you can do to activate self-love, make that a priority. You might repeat, “I’m grateful that I now see myself, and that I’m now there for myself. I’m grateful that I am healing”
- Challenge the Inner Critic - the Remember that you are intact and whole, and if others treated you badly, or invalidated your reality, it is a reflection on where they are at. Sometimes their voices are channeled through our own inner critic, but that is not your voice – it is your right and your healing to question it, and to discern that this voice is not who you are.
- Remember Who You Are: The way others act out is no reflection on your core essence – it speaks to their pain. Don’t believe either the external rudeness/invalidation or the internal self-criticism. There is a part of you that is MUCH more vast and grounded than all of that. Remember that on your soul level, you are stronger than you think and entirely visible and connected to something larger than yourself.