I remember many years ago my parents telling me that children should be seen, not heard. By the amount of trouble my mouth got me in and still does, it is apparent that I didn’t listen. Instead, let’s consider Mary, who was taught from a young age to be tuned into other people’s feelings and needs while disregarding her own. When she got married and had children, it was her duty to put the family first and not expect anything in return. As a result, Mary learned to tune out her feelings, desires, and needs – she only existed to be there for others.
When Mary’s feelings did surface, she would feel selfish and tell herself they weren’t important, that she was strong and could handle not addressing them. She continued to say to herself that it was her job to take care of others first. Eventually, everything would come to an end. The stress of not taking care of her own needs affected her relationships to the point where her marriage was on the rocks, and she was developing significant health problems.
Ignoring your feelings and needs will lead to major problems and make you feel invisible. The inner stress can infect every sphere of life and damage a person’s self-esteem. Many of us have learned to be invisible – to ourselves and others.
Are You on the Path of Invisibility?
- Do you speak up for yourself or remain silent when feeling discounted?
- Do you suppress your own feelings and ignore your needs?
- Are you a “yes” person and always go along with what others want even if you don’t want too?
- Do you accept blame for things that you aren’t responsible for?
- Do you share your thoughts and opinions or simply accept the opinions of others?
- Do you let others disrespect you?
- Do you carry the majority of the load at home or work?
- Do you allow yourself to be violated or bullied?
- Do you do everything yourself, never asking for help?
How often do you feel unappreciated, unseen and not valued? How much of this is a reflection of how you treat yourself? If your feelings and needs are invisible to yourself, then they will be invisible to others. If you have been allowing this to go on for an extended period it can be a challenge to break the cycle. Before you can make any real change, you need to start with yourself by learning to tune into, acknowledge, value and take loving action for yourself regarding your feelings and needs. You don’t need to neglect everyone else to take personal responsibility for your feelings and needs, but you do have to find a healthy balance.
In every relationship, there is a degree of give and take. Everyone has their own set of responsibilities, and it is important to work together. I have learned that nothing is 50/50 and if you are trying to keep score, you are already missing the mark. You should never allow yourself to be invisible and lose yourself. Don’t wait until you are ill, divorced, feel alone or cast aside by others to become visible to yourself and others.