7 Tiny Ways Women Make Ourselves Invisible, Without Even Realizing It

I looked in every mirror I passed, just to make sure I was still alive.

Last updated on Apr 23, 2024

Woman looking at herself in mirror TITOVA ILONA | Canva

Shortly after my divorce, a girlfriend jokingly suggested we cover all the mirrors in my house. She noticed 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. I was verifying I wasn’t an invisible and unimportant spectre in my own life.

Beyond looking in the mirror to remind myself 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 world. Life doesn’t have to feel this way.


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Here are 7 sad ways women make themselves invisible without even realizing it.

1. You were told to be silent and you obey

If you grew up being told not to 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. I was taught to gain a man’s attention, I should be quiet yet physically alluring. You should never call attention to yourself in groups of adults or even your peers. And, of course, 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 naturally shy and quiet, this attitude causes you to act as a delicate flower. Or else be someone who should fade into the background unless needed to tend to a guest. You need to break this behavior of being a ghost in your life and learn not to feel invisible and unimportant. This requires you to shift long-ingrained habits and thoughts.

Begin this in a safe space with family, friends, or a therapist and coach. And speak up for yourself. Offer an opinion on something non-controversial at first to build 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 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 silliness, 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 for your life.


However, many people ignore their intuition. And rather than honor their feelings, they prefer to numb negative emotions. Ignoring the built-in ways your body, mind, and heart are trying to get your attention and guide you toward your desires will always lead to feeling 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 feeling your feelings. When your inner wisdom or intuition gives you a nudge, listen.

honoring herself with heart meditationPhoto: PeopleImages.com Yuri A via Shutterstock


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3. You're a people-pleaser

If you’re a people-pleaser, you sacrifice your visibility to make people happy. Or, hope that they love you. On the surface, pleasing people sounds like a way to get people to notice you. If you want to be more visible, you might think helping others is key. In all honesty, being a people-pleaser will make you more invisible because people will expect you to do everything.

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 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 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 needy? Or constantly hustling for their love?


If you want to stop feeling invisible and unimportant, you must 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 need to nurture the people you care about, and nurturing 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.

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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 each member can fulfill a role and make the family operate more smoothly (like cogs in a wheel). An example is when one person cooks and 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 you will always fulfill your role. In other words, you have 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 lovingly and honestly 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 are told you seek 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.

they lean their head against a brick wallPhoto: Alberto Menendez Cervero via Shutterstock

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


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, decide how can you act lovingly while changing the perception of how they see you.

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

5. You live on autopilot

If you’re honest with yourself, you might realize you feel invisible because you have checked out of your 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, 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 into your own life. Of course, you feel invisible because without being interested in your own life, you will feel invisible.



Look at your social media habits when 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. Decide 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 yourself. 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 only gossip and are dramatic, you probably 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 dramatic 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 will 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 dramatic people 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 to 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 crucial to nurture your self-confidence. This can be built over time. The best way to learn to be more confident is to act as if you 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 trying to be a smaller, less noticeable version of yourself, it can take some time to remind yourself that you exist. Building confidence and feeling visible are vital parts of loving yourself and creating a life you love.

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

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Debra Smouse is a life coach and author whose work has been published in TIME, Huffington Post, MSN, Psychology Today, and more.