by Andrea M. Darcy
Feel like nobody notices you at work or in social situations? Why are you always overlooked, and what can you do about it?
Why don’t I make an impact?
So why is it that we the sort who just never gets picked for things, or seems to make any sort of impact? See if the following case studies resonate.
Case study #1: “I do all the right things, why am I not chosen?”
Wear all the right clothes, listen to all the right music, went to the right school? Put a ton of effort into being what you deem acceptable and yet… still get overlooked?
While it’s true that in today’s society a first impression can include the way we look and our background, this wears off quite quickly. And then people clock our personality and authenticity.
And sometimes, we are a bit low on personality, or deep down aren’t sure of who we are. People actually sense it and lose interest.
How do we become this perfect yet slightly empty person? Perhaps we were taught to fit in over stand out, that was our family’s value system. And we never realised we could be our own person. Perhaps we grew up having to please the adults around us to get the love and attention we needed. We weren’t encouraged to be an individual.
Case study #2: “I go out of my way to make everyone happy, then they overlook me.”
There can be two things going on here. The first is that constantly pleasing others is actually a form of manipulation, even if it is well intentioned.
You have attached conditions to your pleasing. In return you want to be recognised, approved of, and liked. This is a deal, not real benevolence. People pleasing tends to make others uncomfortable because it’s inauthentic. They back off.
The second is that you are a shape shifter. We get so used to pleasing others we don’t see how we change the way we act with different people we know. Perhaps we are the type who also moulds ourselves to our social group or partner, changing clothes and hobbies to suit. We get overlooked because we are actually a mirage. People sense they can’t rely on us to be solid so look elsewhere.
Case study #3: “I am talkative, original, interesting! Why don’t I get picked?”
You are mistaking your exterior presentation for who you really are. And assuming everyone falls for it.
But if all that chatter, humour, and interesting style is hiding low self-esteem, neediness, or anger? Others will clock it.
And sometimes all that talking and style can again hide a lack of identity. People can’t connect to what they can’t pin down, and instead they can be wary and stand back.
While you might amuse people, or be ‘good fun’, most people don’t want an entertainment system. They want someone who is authentic, confident, and reliable.
Case study #4: “I know I am overlooked as I don’t speak up, but I just can’t bring myself to.”
Sometimes we know who we are, and we have lots to share, but we are afraid. This fear is often a fear of rejection. Somewhere along the line, often in childhood, we’ve learned that if we speak up we’ll pay a price for it.
Case study #5: “I try so hard to be liked but always end up upsetting people instead.”
Sometimes the issue is not that we lack confidence or an identity. It’s that we are one of the rare people who simply think in a totally different way.
The way we see ourselves, others, and the world is just not the same as the ‘norm’, and hasn’t been since we became an adult.
This can be referred to as having a ‘personality disorder‘. It’s a horrible sounding word, and it would be better called a ‘personality difference’. Or it might be that you are on the autism spectrum.
What matters here is that you need help to learn how other people think and understand how they act. Then to understand how the ways you think and act come across. These are all skills you can develop. You can learn how to communicate so that people can understand and appreciate you.
How can I stop being overlooked?
You’ll notice some common themes in the above case studies. These are identity, authenticity, and confidence.
And they are the true keys to stop being overlooked and start being seen. Not to learn false confidence, or how to trick people into noticing you. Such tactics might work briefly, then leave you more overlooked than ever. Again, nobody likes feeling manipulated.
So try these things instead.
1. Develop your sense of self and identity.
Our identity is who we are outside of our job title, family, social circle, and hobbies. If everything fell away, who is left standing?
To recognise who we are we need to learn to listen to our thoughts and feelings. Not what we think we ‘should’ think and feel, but actually what we do think and feel. Then we need to learn what makes us feel alive, and what really doesn’t. Great tools here are:
2. Work on self-compassion (instead of self-esteem).
Oh, the holy grail of self-esteem. Here’s the thing. It’s overrated. None of us feel confident all the time. So it’s okay to get anxious and nervous when you are, say, trying something new and stepping outside your comfort zone.
Self esteem is really just about liking yourself even if you mess up, and recognising that you have value no matter what.
And the best tool for getting to this place is self-compassion. This means learning to see yourself as a friend. And being your own cheerleader instead of always criticising yourself.
3. Be more authentic.
Authenticity means that we figure out who we are and then commit to being that person, regardless of what others think.
You know that weird, awkward person at the office that everyone just seems to like and want to work with? It’s their authenticity at work. When we are authentic, and dare to be our full selves regardless? It’s magnetic.
4. Find a sense of meaning.
When we figure out what has meaning to us and align our life decisions with that, we just naturally feel good. We are passionate, and lit up. Again, it’s magnetic. Note that this does not work if you are doing what you think you should do. You have to actually put in the work to find your own form of meaning.
5. Get support.
Sound overwhelming, all this talk of being yourself, being authentic, finding meaning? We get it. There is a shortcut. And that’s talk therapy. A talk therapist knows just what questions to ask to find you suddenly realising things that could take years otherwise. And they create a safe container to get out repressed emotions and memories that are holding you back from being you.
Time to stop being overlooked and start being seen and appreciated? We connect you with some of London’s most highly regarded therapists. Or use our booking site to find a UK-wide therapist or online counsellor at a price that fits your budget.
Andrea M. Darcy is a mental health and wellbeing expert, who has done some training in person-centred counselling and coaching. Find her on Instagram @am_darcy