Whether you feel like those closest to you don’t notice you, or you’re reeling from the subtler, but no less hurtful, sting of society making you feel lesser-than, you should know that it’s very common for women to feel unseen or unheard. Here, our experts share some simple ways to boost your confidence from the inside out. Keep reading to learn how to stop feeling invisible.
Meet our expert panel
- Heather Hyde, author of Awesome over 50: Fifty Ways to Embrace this Chapter of your Life, inspires women every day through her popular website AwesomeOver50.com and on YouTube where she has garnered more than 8 million views.
- Lois P. Frankel, PhD, coauthor of Nice Girls Just Don’t Get It, is an internationally recognized expert in the field of leadership development for women.
- Judith Orloff, MD, the bestselling author of The Empath’s Survival Guide, specializes in treating highly sensitive people. Learn more at DrJudithOrloff.com.
Find Your Light
You’re not alone. Start by asking yourself what’s making you feel invisible, urges expert Heather Hyde. “Is it because your role has recently shifted and you’re now an empty nester? Or maybe it’s something at work, like more young people are being hired and you feel taken for granted?” Once you discover the reason, ask yourself what would make you more visible to yourself. “Instead of trying to hide in black clothes, for example, I wear all the colors of the rainbow because it makes me feel good — start by making one small change like this that lights you up from within.”
Feel your anger. “Women are socialized not to show anger,” says expert Lois P. Frankel, PhD. “But when you feel marginalized, that’s your cue that something is unfair, and it’s okay to be upset. For example, if you go to the doctor and he says your symptoms are just part of ‘getting older,’ tell yourself, Wait a minute, I was just marginalized, and it’s time to get a new doctor.” Frankel takes her own advice: “My license plate reads choices — we may not be able to control how people treat us, but we can choose how to respond.”
Rediscover yourself. It’s easy to forget what makes us feel great about ourselves at our core. “I raised four kids, and it was wonderful, but at the same time, it’s easy to lose yourself in those years,” says Hyde. “Just ask yourself, what did you love to do when you were younger? I loved to play tennis.” If looking back for inspiration doesn’t lift your spirits, try looking forward to fresh interests, like playing pickleball or gardening, because embracing new skills boosts self-esteem. Says Hyde, “Once you discover what makes you feel most like yourself, you’ll be more visible to yourself and others.”
Use Your Voice
Interrupt the interrupter. Research proves what every woman intuitively knows: We get interrupted twice as often as men. “I recently took my car in to be serviced and I was talked over and told to come back another time,” recalls Frankel. “But I said, ‘I know I’m not crazy — I’d like to leave my car here so you can take a look at what’s making that noise.’ As women, we tend to be more comfortable asking questions rather than making statements, but being specific about what you want lets you gain control.”
Have fun speaking up. When psychiatrist Judith Orloff’s patients tell her they feel unseen, she gives them fun “homework assignments” to practice using their voice. “When you go for a walk, for example, compliment someone’s dog, or just say ‘hi’ to a stranger in a coffee shop.” These seemingly small connections boost our confidence. “Then tell a friend how these little ‘experiments’ made you feel so you’re motivated to keep going.”
Embrace self- care. Perhaps the ultimate way to feel seen is to listen to your own needs, observes Dr. Orloff. “For me, self-care means not scheduling things back-to-back and taking time to recharge in nature.” Simply being your own best cheerleader is key. “Some days, I say to myself, ‘You look really great today.’ When we take care of ourselves, we exude energy that’s impossible to ignore.”
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.