Feeling invisible: what is it due to?

Feeling invisible is not pleasant and can even be a painful experience. When we are in an embarrassing situation, invisibility gives us a super power. In fact, in some circumstances, going unnoticed can even save us from a conflict or get us out of danger.

But when others ignore us, ignore our ideas, and trample on our feelings, we feel belittled and alone. As psychiatrist Donald Winnicott said, “being hidden can be fun, but not being sought is a disaster.”

Over time, feelings of invisibility can become chronic, making us feel rejected and insignificant. We can start to feel like we don’t measure up, like we don’t care in the slightest. The feeling of invisibility can end up eroding our self-confidence.

The main reasons why we can feel invisible

Social rejection, accidental or intentional, can fuel feelings of invisibility. Prejudices, for example, contribute to people feeling invisible when some groups outright ignore their ideas and violate their rights.

A person can feel invisible even when they don’t receive emotional validation in difficult times. The lack of empathy in others prevents them from connecting emotionally, which makes her feel alone and isolated, as if she doesn’t exist.

We can also feel invisible and belittled when others fail to recognize our basic assertive rights . If they don’t treat us with respect, but instead try to impose their will and decisions on us, we may feel useless.

This sense of invisibility also manifests itself when our opinions are not taken into account and we are deprived of the right to express our dissent. We can also feel ignored when others push our needs into the background, so that they remain permanently unmet.

In short, we feel invisible when the people around us don’t validate our identity, but ignore it, putting us aside and excluding us from important decisions.

When the problem is not the others

Sometimes we can feel invisible because we have suffered a history of childhood emotional neglect . If our parents paid little attention to us and did not meet our emotional needs, the feeling of insignificance and rejection is likely to accompany us in adult life.

We generally become hypersensitive to situations of rejection because they automatically return us to our childhood. These experiences can distort our perception of reality and make us feel invisible when we actually matter to others.

In these cases we can refer to four situations in which one feels invisible:

  1. The absolute “nothing”. We can feel utterly invisible when the people most important to us, like our partner or children, act as if we don’t exist. It is usually because they are too overwhelmed by their own problems, but they can also be too self-centered or manipulative people who use indifference as punishment and a means of control.
  2. Partial blindness. In these cases we are not completely invisible, we receive attention, but it is a residual or superficial attention. We may feel like this, for example, when we talk to a person, but this person does not listen to us and after a while he no longer remembers anything about the conversation. We can also feel invisible when we interact with people who don’t understand us or have no interest in knowing how we are.
  3. Self-protective invisibility. Sometimes invisibility can be “good”. In the oceans, for example, fish that live in deeper areas don’t need to be invisible because everything is dark there, while those that live on the surface emit dazzling flashes of light so that their predators mistake them for reflections. Conversely, animals living in intermediate waters, the pelagic zone, do not have these possibilities. That’s why most of the invisible fish live there. Invisibility helps them survive in a sea of ​​predators.
  4. Invisibility to protect others. We don’t always try to make ourselves invisible to protect ourselves, sometimes we do it to protect others. For example, in dysfunctional families or where adults have serious problems, children may try to go unnoticed so as not to be an additional burden. If we feel that the best we can do is become invisible, we relegate our needs to the background and try to minimize ourselves.

In other cases, feeling invisible can be the result of unrealistic expectations. Narcissistic people, for example, who require extreme attention, can feel invisible when they don’t get it. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t important to others, just that sometimes they take a back seat, as they should.

The consequences of feeling invisible

  • Difficulty connecting with others. When we feel invisible, we can develop defense mechanisms that make us think we don’t need anything or anyone. We try to address vulnerability by hiding some needs that are not being met. This can lead us to withdraw into ourselves, unable to make deep emotional connections with others.
  • Neglect ourselves emotionally. By dint of feeling invisible, we can come to think that our needs are not important. In fact, victims of abuse and neglect learn to ignore their most basic emotions and needs. We keep everything inside and we don’t express what we would like, which ends up weighing us down.
  • Don’t set healthy limits. Sometimes, after years of being invisible, when someone finally sees us, we can feel so special that we’ll do anything to keep that attention. This can put us in a situation of love dependency because we may be willing to tolerate too much and fall into abusive relationships.
  • Compensatory behaviors. In some cases, invisibility can lead to compensatory behaviors that help us get the attention and affection we need. Indeed, it is common in dissociative identity disorder, which is strengthened the more attention we get from people who are important to us.

In any case, it is important to keep in mind that everyone, to a greater or lesser extent, needs validation. We can stop being invisible by resorting to more assertive behaviors and reaffirming our identity.


by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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