Do you feel like you’re giving a lot… to your partner, family and work… but it’s not hitting the mark like you thought it would? If the answer is yes, you are not alone.
There was a time in my own life that I felt this way. I thought that being my “best self” meant I should focus on others as much as possible. I worked in the helping professions, and I spent a lot of time attuned to what others might need. But I didn’t feel the fulfillment that I expected. I felt anxious quite a lot and my habits often were not healthy.
My attention was out-of-balance. We must balance attention to our self with attention to others. But that balance is not easy. It seems to be getting tougher by the minute. “Self-invisibility” is my word for mindless state that develops when we over-focus on other people and other things.
The self-help field has referenced some of this phenomena in terms like “codependence.” But codependence refers to a much smaller scope of problem than exists today. We aren’t just losing ourselves in codependent relationships anymore. We are losing ourselves in screens, harmful habits, and preoccupation with what other people think. Self-invisibility is how codependence and a host of other problems really happen.
As I began to work on my own self-invisibility, I was drawn, as many are, to mindfulness endeavors. But things like yoga and meditation were’t much solace when I was brimming with stress, frustration or anxiety. And I learned something that I want more people to compassionately understand: Meditation is not physically possible when the nervous system is stressed past a certain point. That’s why smaller moments of mindfulness are sometimes needed. This can be as simple as turning inward to look for stress that might be unconscious, and giving yourself compassion if you get a glimmer of something like sadness or fear (even if those feelings don’t logically “make sense” in the moment.)