“The common denominator I found in every single interview is we want to be validated. We want to be understood.” –Oprah Winfrey
Your stories—how you look at money, your interpersonal relationships with other people and your belief system—could be the reason why you feel invisible and unheard. Learning the complex relationship between each will help you to become more aware about why you feel invisible. This is the first step towards being seen and being more present in the world.
The Money Story
When you were growing up and wanted new clothes or new toys, did your parents ever say to you, “I have no money”?
Or whenever you wanted to buy something, did they say, “Why would you buy that!” with the subtext that you’re really just wasting money?
Perhaps even when you bought your own things, they still asked, “How much was that?” like they had to pay for it themselves.
I grew up hearing all of these things and more.
When you dig deeper, there’s often more to the story than just money. For example, when they asked, “How much was that?” your parents thought they were doing good by teaching you not to waste of money.
But they were actually doing a greater harm. Whether they knew it or not, they were really making you feel guilty and shameful about trying new things. The superficial result is you became guilty about spending money.
Overtime, it became easier to use money as an excuse on why you’re not taking chances and taking advantage of new opportunities. To be seen fully in this world as our truest selves often means taking chances.
The Other Part of the Story
“You’re a nobody. You’re worthless!” These were the stories my grandmother would frequently tell me.
“You’re so stupid. What are we ever going to do with you?” was another common one.
And I believed her.
Alongside these criticisms, I was constantly incurring the wrath of my grandfather. He hated me and would constantly berate me, especially around the dinner table. This happened the entire time I was eating. The mental abuse was so great that I would have acid reflux disease for the first 30+ years of my life, until I finally drew the connection that meal times were stressful times.
I would try to be invisible so as to avoid his wrath, but it never worked. The more I tried to stay out of his way, the angrier he seemed to get with me.
But my habit of staying invisible became an unconscious part of me. I also felt invisible whenever I went shopping. It didn’t matter if I was at the clothes store, car dealer, or at a restaurant waiting to be served. A lot of times, it just seemed like the staff was ignoring me.
I didn’t like being treated like I was a nobody, especially if I was going to spend money there. Yet, I kept wondering why this was happening over and over.
Connecting the Dots…
Here’s the real kicker: Are you invisible because of your money beliefs, meaning that because you grew up with nothing, you felt like you were nothing, especially because you had nothing?
Or was it more because of how your parents and grandparents treated you? For example, did they say you were useless, a nobody, and will never amount to anything?
All this typically translates to needing to feel invisible in order to continually validate those stories!
Eventually, I realized I was hiding, both from my grandfather and from the sales people because growing up, I was nothing and had nothing. So, why would anyone think it was worthwhile to talk to me?
Being treated like you’re invisible is a welcoming contrast and can also bring good things into your life. But only if you decide it is, then do the work.
It has helped me to become more assertive (not aggressive…there’s a difference!). Being assertive increases your self-esteem and your self-image.
You can only grow as far as the image you hold of yourself.
This in turn increases your self-confidence, helping you to go after what you want. After all, one of the determinants of feeling invisible is the lack of confidence. We fear that what we do and say do not matter to other people.
For another, you learn how to ask. Many people are afraid of asking because they are afraid of the answer “no”. On average, you learn that it takes several noes to get to yes. For instance, there was the time I was rejected three times before the hotel would finally honor a price-match guarantee. But it was worth my while because I saved over 40%! Had I not worked on myself and improved my self-confidence, I would have given up after the first rejection.
Being empathetic, you also learn to treat everyone you meet with more compassion and respect.
Most importantly, as you start examining why you feel invisible you will discover why you have been feeling certain things and holding certain memories your entire life. These are recurrent themes in our lives. Playing it safe is a major reason most people tip-toe from the cradle to the grave, hoping to make it safely in one piece. Is there anything sadder than this?
Benson Wong is the Money Freedom Guy. Having achieved financial freedom, he’s interested in serving others so that they may also achieve financial freedom themselves. If you want to learn more, Get Your Free eBook, Align With the Energy of Money.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.