Have you ever felt invisible?
Like you really don’t matter?
As I’m sitting here, typing, I’m remembering all the times that I am there for people. Really there. You can call me day or night – if it is within my power to help you, no matter how inconvenient the time is for me, I’ll rush to your side to help you. Even when I do myself in in the process, I’ll help.
But I am invisible.
How many times have people asked you ‘How are you?’ and really expected you to tell them? People ask the question, but the only acceptable answer is ‘I’m great thanks, and you?’ And then they’ll start telling you everything about their life, without ever considering that maybe you are NOT great. Try to get a word in sideways, oh boy, you can cut the chill in the air with a knife. Because it’s not about them any more.
I’ve heard an interesting story lately. The editor of a psychology magazine did an experiment. When he met someone new on a plane, he only talked about them. Even when the other person asked him a question, he would bring the conversation back to the other person. Afterwards his staff interviewed this person and asked them what they thought about the editor. The answer? ‘He is the most interesting person I have ever met!’. They asked this person what the editor’s name was – he didn’t know. ‘Where does he work?’ I don’t know. ‘Where was he traveling to?’ I don’t know. But he is the most interesting person I’ve ever met.
This leads to the statement: The vast majority of people are only interested in themselves. If a conversation does not revolve around them and their interests, they are not interested any more.
The last year or so of my life was sort of like a social experiment. I started paying real attention to the people around me. I ask them about their relationships, about their interests. I seldom talk about myself. If I do, it is warm and fluffy, with no real emotion attached to it. A lot of MY relationships ‘improved’. The people around me feel that I’m really interested in them. And don’t get me wrong, I am. But what do they know about me?
I didn’t plan this as an experiment. But after hearing the story about the editor, I realized that this was me. Paying attention to everyone’s needs, except my own.
I’ve also realized that I only really have one friend. A person who actually asked me a few weeks ago how I’m doing. After I stated a few things that I did that weekend, she looked at me and said: ‘I didn’t ask WHAT you were doing, I want to know HOW YOU are doing. You always listen to everyone else. You bear everyone else’s burdens, but no-one ever asks how you are doing.’ I was so shocked, I couldn’t answer her. I’m not used to people actually wanting to know how I’m doing.
Again this morning she asked me via what’s app how I’m doing. I answered with OK. Her answer? ‘A true friend sees the pain in your eyes, even when you have a big smile on your face.’
My point? Love the people who are only interested in themselves. They can’t help it. Keep paying attention to them. But TREASURE the people that really sees you. Who sees past the mask that you wear. They are few and far apart.
And once in a while, ask them how THEY are doing.