7 Sad Reasons Why You Feel Invisible (And How To Gain Your Confidence Back)

Photo: Larm Rmah via Unsplash
7 Sad Reasons Why You Have Low Self-Esteem (And How To Love Yourself And Build Confidence)
Self

There is one thing that makes you feel invisible: low self-esteem.

There is plenty of advice out there for how to love yourself and ways to build confidence, but before you can do any of it, first you need to see yourself. And in order to do that, it's important to understand the reasons why you feel invisible.

RELATED: If You Have These 6 Habits, You Have Really Low Self-Esteem (But You Can Get Over It)

Shortly after my divorce, a girlfriend jokingly suggested we cover all the mirrors in my house. She noticed that every time I passed a mirror or reflective surface, I turned my head to look. As we laughed and chatted about this habit, we realized I wasn’t channeling Narcissus.

Rather, I was verifying to myself that I wasn’t just an invisible and unimportant specter in my own life.

I can say this with humor now. Yet, though we laughed hysterically about this at the time, in my heart, I was emerging from a fathom deep hole of simply surviving...feeling as if I didn’t exist or matter in my life.

My marriage had been failing for years and we’d stayed together thus far thanks to our opposite schedules.

Work was simply that: work without heart or passion.

And while I loved my children, to them I was simply just a mom. At that age, I was simply an extension of their little selves.

Where was the vibrant, passionate woman full of self-confidence in the hot mess of all the roles I fulfilled? Because all I could find was the employee, the mom, and the wife to an absent husband.

Beyond looking in the mirror to remind myself that I was flesh and blood, how could I remember what it felt to be alive and excited about life?

When you’re feeling lost and taken for granted, it’s so easy to feel invisible and unimportant in the scheme of your own world.

My darling, life doesn’t have to feel this way.

So, the question is: why do you feel invisible and unimportant? And more importantly, what can you do to remind yourself that you do matter?

Here are 7 reasons why you may have low self-esteem — how you can love yourself, and your life, again.

1. You were told to be silent

If you grew up being told to not speak, yet allow yourself to be spoken to, you learned at an early age to be physically present, but not call attention to yourself.

I grew up in an age where little girls and young women were to stand still and look pretty. To gain a man’s attention, you should be quiet yet alluring in looks. You should never call attention to yourself in groups of adults or even your peers. And, of course, that your opinion should be kept behind your teeth.

Otherwise, life could be a social disaster. And no one would like you, let alone want to love you.

Even if you are a naturally shy and quiet person, this kind of attitude causes you to act as if you are a delicate flower. Or else be a person that should fade into the background, unless needed to tend a guest.

When you need to break this behavior of being a ghost of sorts in your own life, learning how to not feel invisible and unimportant requires you shift long-ingrained habits and thoughts.

Begin in a safe space of family or friends. Or with a therapist and coach. And speak up for yourself.

Offer an opinion on something non-controversial at first so that you can build some courage and stamina on a more visible version of yourself. Begin slowly. Be compassionate with yourself. Remind yourself that you have the wisdom to offer that is valuable.

Allow yourself to unlearn the habit of fading into the wainscoting and being visible within your own existence.

2. You fail to honor your feelings and ignore your intuition.

One of the keys to making decisions that help you love your life is to listen to your gut.

While it may seem that your intuition is woo-woo silliness, science has shown it’s our brain working like a supercomputer to help us make quick (and good) decisions based on our experiences in life. And your feelings are meant to be a GPS system for your life.

However, many people ignore their intuition. And rather than honor their feelings, they prefer to numb any negative emotions.

Ignoring the built-in ways your body, mind, and heart are trying to get your attention and guide you towards your desires is always going to lead you to feel invisible and unimportant.

If you’ve become accustomed to ignoring your feelings and your gut, the only way to feel visible again is to allow yourself to begin actually feeling your feelings. And, when your inner voice of wisdom or your intuition gives you a nudge, give it a listen.

3. You're a people-pleaser

If you’re a people-pleaser at heart and action when it comes to your relationships with others, you’re sacrificing your visibility in the hopes of making other people happier. Or, hope that they love you.

On the surface, pleasing other people sounds like a way to get people to notice you. So, if you want to be more visible, you may think helping others is key.

In all honesty, being a people-pleaser is going to make you more invisible because people will expect you to just do all the stuff.

As a reformed people-pleaser, I can tell you that I always tried to be The Good Girl. I did my work at the office, helped others when they got stuck, and I was the gal to go to if you needed a favor.

When it came to my family, I did what others wanted me to do, not what I wanted (or needed) to do in order to keep the peace or hope I wasn’t rejected.

And, when you consider one of my ex-husband’s go-to "punishments" was stonewalling, an infraction could lead to him not speaking to me for several days, something that made me feel even smaller and alone.

Rather than getting what I wanted — more attention or approval — my people-pleasing ways made it easier for people to take advantage of me. Who wants to give love and attention to someone that is needy? Or constantly hustling for their love?

If you want to stop feeling invisible and unimportant, then you’re going to have to end your people-pleasing ways. This means learning how to say "no". You cannot do that at the cost of neglecting yourself.

While I believe you do need to nurture the people you care about and nurturing in relationships is a way to bond and build trust, people-pleasing isn’t nurturing. It’s being a doormat.

It's a dysfunctional approach to helping, which can sometimes be seen as a form of control.

RELATED: These 6 Behaviors Are Super Common For People With Low Self-Esteem

4. You are too familiar in your role

Speaking of people-pleasing, let’s talk about your relationship with your family. Sometimes, you’re so good at your role in the family that you’ve become invisible to them.

There are two different approaches to this one.

The great thing about teamwork in families is that each member can fulfill a role and make the family operate more smoothly (like cogs in a wheel). A good example of this is when one person cooks, the other cleans. Or the way you divvy up responsibilities for large family gatherings.

The bad thing about fulfilling a role in a family is that sometimes, familiarity can breed the expectation that you are always going to fulfill your role.

In other words: you’ve been put in a box by family members.

Loving your family doesn’t mean being a doormat and it doesn't mean you want to spend all the time with them feeling invisible or unimportant. Speak up in a loving and honest way to encourage dialogue.

Not in an angry rant but speaking up about feeling invisible and unimportant to your family members can go two ways.

Sometimes it can go sideways and you being told you’re seeking attention. Or always complaining. And to be honest, if this happens to you when it comes to the older members of your family (cough *your elderly mom* cough) your best approach may be to simply accept that person for who they are.

Then, carve out the role you desire to fulfill in your extended family in a way that makes you feel worthy on your own merit, not as a way to please others, but as a way of accepting that you cannot change others and to please yourself.

On the other side, it’s to approach the person in the family you trust the most: your husband, a sister, or a beloved aunt. Ask how your cog in the wheel of your family is perceived. And be honest with them about how you’re feeling.

This allows you to be seen, speak up, and advocate for yourself. And it also allows them to give you loving and constructive feedback. If you don’t like how you’re seen, how can you act in a way that is loving while changing the perception of how you’re seen by others?

Last but not least, when it comes to feeling invisible to the people you share a house with? A family meeting may be in order. Perhaps it’s time to divvy up chores or shift some responsibilities around.

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5. You live on autopilot

If you’re really honest with yourself, you may realize you probably feel invisible because you’ve kind of checked out of your own life.

Does this sound like your daily life? You get up at the last possible minute, grab a coffee to go, grumble through work, eat a sad desk lunch, pick up dinner at a drive-thru, ignore the laundry, and binge watch TV while scrolling through social media?

That’s not living. That’s simply surviving. And living on autopilot.

If that sounds familiar, then you’ve checked out of your own life. You are doing nothing to engage with the world around you. Or seek ways to inject a sense of passion about your own life. Of course, you feel invisible because without being interested in your own life, you’re going to feel invisible.

And look at your social media habits if you feel invisible and unimportant.

Are you scrolling through social media, silently observing others and consuming their adventures? Are you consumed with envy when you observe the lives others portray on social media? Do you spend your time being a passive consumer of social media?

Never really contributing to the conversation can also lead to feeling invisible and unimportant.

The antidote to checking out of your life is checking in. Make the decision to be present in your life.

Shift your routine and disrupt a habit. Get up earlier and ease your way into the day with meditation, prayer, or some reading. Take an extra ten minutes getting ready for the day, really tending your own self. Drive a different route to work.

When you disrupt a habit it’s like rebooting a computer. And stop just scrolling through social media! Make a post. Be visible.

6. Your friends make you feel invisible

If your friends are a bunch of gossips and drama queens, you probably do feel invisible and as if you don’t matter in your social circles.

Have you ever met a girlfriend for coffee and realized the entire conversation revolved around her life? Does it seem as if your best friend is always experiencing a crisis?

Do you find that even if you’re having a tough day and turn to a friend for support, she still turns the conversation back to how challenging her life is?

When you’re friends with drama queens and needy or narcissistic people, you’re going to feel invisible and unimportant. All the attention and demand for attention go to them.

And if all your friends do when they’re together is talk about other people, it’s unlikely you’re going to speak up and call attention to yourself. Because who wants to be the subject of discussion when you’re not in the room. Right?

Unfortunately, the way to deal with feeling invisible in your social circle thanks to drama queens and gossip is to begin to lessen your time with these friends.

7. You don't notice yourself

If you want to stop feeling invisible and unimportant, you need to work on your self-confidence and self-worth.

If you’re dealing with any, all, or some of these reasons, the other contributing factor why you feel unimportant is that your self-esteem has taken a hit. You probably don’t have a lot of confidence nor do you truly love yourself.

That’s why it’s important to nurture your self-confidence. This can be built over time. And I’ve found the best way to begin learning how to be more confident is to act as if I feel confident.

I dress in clothes that make me feel good and take time with my make-up and accessories. I stand up straight, smile, and remember that I am worthy of feeling loved, valued, and important.

When you’ve spent years feeling or even trying to be a smaller, less noticeable version of yourself, it can take some time to remind yourself that you do exist.

Just like any part of the journey in life, building confidence and find the path to being visible in your life is an important part of loving yourself and curating a life you love.

Even when you desire a quiet and simple life, you still deserve to be not just visible but to be the star of your own life.

RELATED: 12 Powerful Ways Low Self-Esteem Affects Your Life And Makes Happiness Challenging

Debra Smouse is a life coach and author who discovered that when she loved her life, it loved her right back. Get a free e-book from Debra as well as her bi-weekly newsletter with tips to creating a life you love.

This article was originally published at Debra Smouse. Reprinted with permission from the author.