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Overcoming Invisibility

Chapter 11 Overcoming Invisibility

Growing Down - Tools for

Healing the Inner Child

By: James J. Messina, Ph.D. &

Constance M. Messina, Ph.D.

What is invisibility?

Invisibility is the:

  • Way in which you have been able to hide yourself from others and yourself.
  • Act of avoiding conflict by not letting others know your reaction to what is going on even if you disagree or are unhappy with it.
  • Disassociation from your feelings about what is happening when it is unpleasant.
  • Pulling in of your feelings and reactions so that you do not become a target for another verbal, emotional, physical or sexual abuse.
  • Keeping yourself out of touch with your own feelings, responses and reactions to life events so that you are not sure of who you really are.
  • Ignoring of your inner child so that you are not aware of your inner spirit's joy and excitement about living.
  • Pulling in of your emotions and feelings in reaction to any unpleasant stimuli in your environment.
  • Set of behaviors which you may have used to avoid being drawn into the real or perceived problems in your environment.
  • Way in which you have avoided being a victim of the real or perceived threats in your environment.
  • Defense mechanism or survival tactic you developed in your childhood in order to deal with the shame, guilt, hurt and pain you suffered.


What are some mechanisms which result in your being invisible?

The following are a few invisibility mechanisms.


1. Masks

Wearing masks is a way in which you can hide your real self such as:

  • Meticulous dressing: The Fashion Show Plate
  • Excessively made up: The Make-up Artist
  • Excessive work on body shape: The Body Perfect
  • Obsessive politeness: The Miss Manners
  • Excessive obesity: The Blob
  • Wearing drab colors: The Glumstress
  • Taking on all challenges: The Overachiever
  • Excessive risk taking: The Daredevil
  • Obsessiveness to detail: The Perfectionist


2. People pleasing

Always giving people what they want in order to please them, gain their approval, and avoid conflict makes the real you invisible.


3. Entertaining

Being the life of the party, always making jokes, being the clown, and making everybody happy can keep the sensitive, feeling, emotional you unseen and unknown.


4. Withdrawal

Holding back any emotional response to any and/or all stimuli in your environment guarantees no one will get to know how you feel about anything.


5. Looking good

Being sure you always look good by overachieving, working hard, being perfect, and doing only what appears to be the right thing keeps your real self-hidden.


6. Pulling in or non-feeling

Holding in or not feeling emotional responses to the stimuli in your environment keeps you invisible from yourself and others.


7. Enabling, rescuing, fixing, caretaker

By always focusing your attention and energies on the needs of others, you keep the focus off of yourself to the point that you can't identify anything you need to work on yourself since you are so out of touch with who you are.


8. Passive aggressiveness

Going along with requests, directions, or orders of others when you disagree and have no desire to follow through makes your real intentions invisible to others.  They can only know how you really feel by how you behave rather than what you say.


9. Jumping to negative assumptions

By always assuming the worst about others' intentions toward you, you give them power over you so that you end up hiding your true self from them and thus become invisible to avoid the assumed calamities.


10. Manipulation

In order to get people to do what you want them to do for you no matter what, you may use a great deal of manipulative behaviors.  If used excessively, they can result in your becoming invisible in order to continue the con games and lies required to keep up the manipulative act.


11. Acting out, troubled person

By being a troubled person who draws attention to your negative behaviors can result in your real self who is vulnerable, sensitive, and needy being invisible to others and yourself.

What rational beliefs are required in order for you to overcome your invisibility?

In order to overcome invisibility, you need to acquire the following rational, healthy and reality-based beliefs about yourself.


1. Self deservedness

  • I deserve to be visible to myself and others.
  • I deserve to have my needs and wants known.
  • I deserve to have my own feelings.
  • I deserve to expect others to listen to and respect the expression of my feelings.
  • I deserve to be seen and heard.
  • I deserve to be who I am not who others want me to be.
  • I deserve to accomplish my own goals in life.
  • I deserve a chance to use my strengths, competencies, skills and abilities to their fullest.
  • I deserve to love and to be loved.
  • I deserve to say no if I want to.
  • I deserve to see myself for who I really am rather than who I think I should be.
  • I deserve to take care of me and my body in a reasonably healthy manner.
  • I deserve to refuse to allow others to violate me in anyway.
  • I deserve to be me.


2. Self worth

  • I am worthy of being visible to others.
  • I am a worthwhile human being.
  • I am worth the effort to work on myself.
  • I am worth the time spent on fixing myself so that I no longer hide from others or myself.
  • I am worthy of being loved by others.
  • My feelings and thoughts are worthy of others' respect and understanding.
  • I am worthy of being listened to and being understood.
  • I am worth the conflicts which will arise when people disagree with my opinions.
  • I am worth the efforts to make myself visible to others no matter the outcome.
  • I am worth the trouble I will cause by letting my true self be seen and heard.


3. Self confidence

  • I am confident that I will be able to let others see and hear me.
  • I will be able to do what it takes to become visible.
  • I will be able to take the risks necessary to stop hiding from others and myself.
  • I know I can do it.
  • I can accomplish this work of overcoming my invisibility because I deserve it and I am worth it.
  • I can survive the conflicts, disagreements and fights which will result from my becoming more visible to others.
  • Nothing can justify my holding back in my efforts to be seen and heard as I really am.
  • I can take whatever actions are necessary, be they legal, moral, ethical, or financial, in order to ensure that I am able to cease hiding and being invisible to others and myself.
  • I may fail in my initial attempts but I will prevail in my efforts to make myself visible.
  • If I slip back into invisibility, I will get back on the wagon and begin all over again to make myself seen and heard.
  • I will use assertiveness in my efforts and I will be successful in getting my rights protected and respected.
  • I have been invisible too long and my inner child and I will prevail in this effort to overcome our dysfunctional past.
  • I will feel my feelings and I will be able to express them freely with no fear of the consequences.
  • I have a right to my own feelings and I have all the confidence in myself that I will be able not only to identify them but to express them to others and myself.
  • I will no longer need to resort to any forms of invisibility in the future in my dealings with others and myself.


What is needed to overcome invisibility?

In order to overcome invisibility you need to:

First: Identify what forms of invisibility you use in your life and the rationale for their use.


Second: Get in touch honestly with who you are and identify all of your strengths, skills, competencies, and abilities so that you can gain some belief in yourself.


Third: Bolster yourself in self deservedness, self worth, and self confidence through re-parenting, identifying feelings, and mirror work.


Fourth: Once your self deservedness, self worth, and self confidence are bolstered, you then need to use healthy communications, detachment, assertiveness, and anger confrontation to let others and yourself see who you really are and hear how you really feel.


Fifth:  Continuously exercise your right to be fully visible in order for you and your life to become fully authentic, real, and healthy so that your inner child can be healed and listened to from then on.

What are the steps to overcome invisibility?


Step 1: You first need to identify what forms of invisibility you use in your life. You also need to identify what irrational beliefs and feelings are the reasons you rely on this form of invisibility. The following are the forms of invisibility identified in this Chapter. Noted after each form are the references in the Tool for Coping Series books by James J. Messina, Ph.D., which give detailed descriptions and guidelines to overcome these forms of invisibility. Your task is to identify the forms you use and, for each form you check, work out in your journal the steps to overcoming the particular form as identified in the referenced text.


1. MasksTools for Handling Control Issues, Chapter 14, Tempering Survival Behaviors and Tools for Anger Workout, Chapter 12, Stop Self-destructive Anger Responses


2. People pleasingLaying the Foundation, Chapter 10, People Pleasing Personality, and Chapter 12, Responding to Old Behavioral Scripts.


3. EntertainingLaying the Foundation, Chapter 6, Entertaining Personality and Chapter 12, Responding to Old Behavioral Scripts


4. Silent WithdrawalTools for Anger Workout, Chapter 9, Silent Withdrawal


5. Looking goodLaying the Foundation, Chapter 3, Looking Good Personality, and Chapter 12, Responding to Old Behavioral Scripts


6. Pulling in or nonfeelingLaying the Foundation, Chapter 5, Pulling In Personality, Chapter 11, Nonfeeling Personality, and Chapter 12, Responding to Old Behavioral Scripts


7. Enabling, Rescuing, Fixing, CaretakerLaying the Foundation, Chapter 8, Enabling Personality, Chapter 9, Rescuing Personality, and Chapter 12, Responding to Old Behavioral Scripts and Tools for Handling Control Issues, Chapter 4, Overcoming the Need to Fix, and Chapter 5, Eliminating Caretaker Behaviors.


8. Passive aggressivenessTools for Anger Workout, Chapter 14, Eliminating Passive Aggressiveness


9. Jumping to negative assumptionsTools for Anger Workout, Chapter 8, Stop Jumping to Negative Assumptions


10. ManipulationTools for Handling Control Issues, Chapter 11, Eliminating Manipulation


11. Acting out, troubled personLaying the Foundation, Chapter 4, Acting Out Personality, Chapter 7, Troubled Person Personality, and Chapter 12, Responding to Old Behavioral Scripts Step 2: Once you have identified the forms of invisibility you use and work out the steps to overcoming each one of them, you then need to identify your positive strengths, skills, competencies, and abilities so as to fortify yourself for the tasks ahead involved in making yourself visible. To do this task in your journal, work out Step 4 of the 12 steps of Self-Esteem Seekers Anonymous as outlined in The SEA's Program Manual, Section 4. 


Step 3: Once you have completed Step 4 of Self-Esteem Seekers Anonymous, you are ready to bolster yourself to become more visible.

Use the self deservedness, self worth and self confidence affirmations in this chapter and for the next thirty days use

  1. Mirror Work
  2. Self-Parenting
  3. The Feelings Log

to bolster you and your inner child's sense of self deservedness, self worth and self confidence to become more visible to others and yourself. 


Step 4: Now that you believe and feel that you are deserving, worthy, and confident to be visible to others and yourself, begin to practice visibility. To do this, use the following tools available to you in the Tools-For-Coping Series by James J. Messina, Ph.D.:

  1. For improved communications, use Tools for Communications, Chapters 1-5.
  2. For improved assertive relationships use Tools for Relationships, Chapters 1-15.
  3. For improved ways of handling anger, use Tools for Anger Workout, Chapters 1-15.
  4. For improved ways of dealing with the need to control and be controlled by others, use Tools for Handling Control Issues, Chapters 1-15.


Step 5: As you make you and your inner child more visible to others and yourself, you will experience increased self-esteem. If you should falter and relapse into being invisible, return to Step 1 and begin again.