A warm welcome from Bobbi

A Therapist, coach, supervisor and neuroscientist

How to stop feeling invisible by Bobbi Banks
Picture of Bobbi Banks
Bobbi Banks

Therapist, coach, supervisor and neuroscientist

How to stop feeling invisible

Feeling invisible in your relationships, in the world, or in the hearts and minds of others is a painful place to be in. So, how did you get there; where did this feeling come from?

The root cause of feeling invisible

The deep sense of feeling invisible is usually a product of childhood emotional neglect.

When we are young and forming our view of self we need something called reflection. Reflection is an external resource, usually a parent, communicating back to us how they’re experiencing us.

For example, a healthy and attuned parent will be able to notice and reflect back to the child their feelings, thoughts and the way they exist in the world.

Emotionally unavailable parents, however, may not notice the child for who they are but instead only see their behavior, i.e. what they “do”. The behaviors the parents see are normally the base for their praise or criticisms. What this does is fail to acknowledge the child’s existence, their emotions, and their individuality.

Children who are treated this way, grow up into what’s called a transactional environment. They get approval or disapproval for their actions, instead of unconditional love for who they are. This tends to teach a child that approval equals love and that love has to be earned through good behavior, people-pleasing or offering some sort of value to others.

This type of belief can deeply hurt us emotionally and mentally. We are emotional beings who seek connection. If we’re living in a transactional environment where it’s all about the value we provide it can be a very damaging experience.

This can often be the reason as to why we feel invisible. And how can we not feel this way:

  • when our existence hasn’t been acknowledged emotionally and physically;
  • when our individuality hasn’t been appreciated and recognized;
  • when the presence we bring wasn’t acknowledged…

…just our behaviors and what we did and didn’t do for others

How to stop feeling invisible

If the above resonated with you and you’ve been through a similar experience you’re most probably wondering whether you can ever change how you feel.

The good news is that you can, the bad news is that it will take some work and perseverance on your part. Changing a core belief about yourself is a journey which takes patience and requires asking yourself some hard questions.

People who feel invisible tend to address the symptom rather than the problem. So what they may do is say:

In order to feel less invisible someone else has to see me...

This, however, puts the power in the external world which we have no control over.

Thinking someone else or a certain environment needs to change for us to feel better usually takes our power away and leaves us at the mercy of other people. Yes, in some cases it may absolutely work but it won’t address the issue in a lasting way.

Consciousness creates our reality and feelings. So if we want to address this feeling of invisibility we need to see what the root problem is at the consciousness level, not at the feelings level.

When we do this the question shifts from:

What can I do to make others see me?  → What is required within me to feel visible?

Step 1: Stop hiding

If you felt invisible growing up, later in life you may have unknowingly agreed to hide.

That statement is very powerful because finding the ways in which you agreed to hide from the world is the first step towards changing it.

You can find out which parts of yourself you’re hiding through reflection on questions such as:

  • When did I start to hide parts of myself?
  • What part of myself needed to stay hidden during childhood?
  • What parts of myself am I hiding today?
  • What fears stop me from showing who I truly am?
  • What are the aspects of me that I don’t want to see or accept?

Answering these questions will allow you to start reclaiming your power.

Step 2: Heal your inner child

The next thing you can do is start a reflection practice with yourself. To do this you’ll need a childhood picture of yourself.

Look at it daily or weekly, whatever feels comfortable and reflect on who you were back then and the part of yourself that’s connected to the picture. Connect with it and see what comes up to the surface – it can be grief, sadness, joy – all emotions are ok and welcome.

Try to “see” the child in you, acknowledge it, value it. Relate back to yourself and give the validation you needed as a child but didn’t receive. Here you could introduce inner child affirmations (speaking directly to the child in you) such as: 

  • What you’re going through matters to me.
  • What you’re feeling matters.
  • Your presence is valued.
  • You are worthy of unconditional love and affection.
  • The way you grew up is not your fault.
  • You are allowed to come out, I am here now.
  • We will heal through this together.

Remember that the sense of invisibility you have is very real and valid. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge it as this will help you to start reconnecting with yourself.

Step 3: Connect with your physical self

The third step is to connect with yourself physically through touch and affirm your physical presence in the world.

Depending on how much neglect you’ve been through you may have fully disconnected from your body. Your brain may have lived in a survival mode for too long to recognize that you’re physically here in this world and you deserve to take space.

Step 4: Re-train your brain

The fourth component is to help your brain notice when you have a real connection with someone and when you’re really “seen” for who you are.

This is very important because neglect and abuse early on in life train our brains to magnify certain feelings, thoughts and behaviors.

If you grew up in an environment where you were nurtured, your brain would be trained to see the nurture going on around you. If you were neglected, your brain would be attuned to neglect and abuse, and that’s what it will see the most because this is what it’s used to.

This is not about excluding or rejecting the neglect because it’s real, it has happened and it deserves to be acknowledged. Instead, this is about broadening your awareness to include moments of connection, healthier relationships and feelings of being “seen”. The more you build your awareness, the lower your sense of invisibility will be.

Some people may sometimes have a fantasy or a desire within them saying:

I want this particular person to love me in this way because that will mean I am worthy / good enough / lovable.

This kind of thinking blocks out the active information coming from other people. If you start to broaden your point of view of the world you may see how many people connect with you and in turn lower the sense of being alone and invisible.

You may feel invisible to one person but to the world that isn’t the truth. This then becomes a situational experience rather than the global truth, which makes it easier to process and move away from.

This will also allow you to honor the feelings you experience with the person who makes you feel invisible. Usually this will come in the form of grief, anger or deep sadness. And that’s ok – allow those feelings to be there, allow yourself to feel them and then allow yourself to move forward towards people who are healthy and reciprocating the connection.

Remember that you’re worthy – you’re worth love, appreciation, and support. When you start to reflect that back to yourself you can then start deciding whether you like how you’re being treated by others and act accordingly.

You are worthy

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts on feeling invisible. Follow me on Medium for more writing content or check out my blog.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links and I may earn a small commission if you use them. This comes at no additional cost to you and my goal is to provide the very best reviews and recommendations.

Please note that this content is for informational and educational purposes only and does not replace therapy. You can read my affiliate disclosure and disclaimers in my privacy policy.

Share this post

Table of Contents

Related Posts