We thrive because we create strong group bonds, and we survived on the Savanna because we banded together and protected one another.
Whilst that’s a very simplistic view of human evolution, it helps explain why it feels so horrible when a group that we feel we should belong to doesn’t include us.
No man or woman is an island. You’re part of all kinds of social groups, whether you’re conscious of it or not.
On a very basic level, you’re part of a family group. Whether biological or adopted, most of us belong to a family unit, whatever shape or form that might take.
And as we move through life, we slot in and out of different social groups.
We build friendship groups, are members of a school year group, or all study the same degree at university.
We move into the workplace and realize that social groups and dynamics still have a very big role to play.
Throughout our lives, from childhood to old age, we’ll often actively join church groups, committees, or sports teams.
And there’s nothing quite like the feeling of being included. Feeling welcomed and at home in a group is a wonderful sensation.
On the other hand, being left out really isn’t a good feeling.
It can trigger flashbacks to the playground and that feeling of impending doom as you realized you were going to be the last one to be picked for a sports team.
Whether we tend to fit into groups well or not, we all experience the sensation of feeling excluded at one point or another, in one or various aspects of our lives.
Being excluded can make you feel sad, angry, nervous, anxious, or a whole cocktail of other emotions.
It can turn a good day into a bad one and affect your self-esteem.
As it’s an experience that most of us have when we’re children, the feeling of exclusion can make us regress and react to the situation in a pretty child-like manner.
So, it’s important to be equipped with the tools to confront situations like these in a healthy manner, getting clarity on them, considering the reasons behind them, and dealing with them.
Let’s kick off with how you can put your finger on exactly why you’re feeling excluded.
7 Questions To Ask To Figure Out Why You’re Feeling Left Out
First things first. You need to reflect on your feelings and try to understand why you’re feeling them.
These questions should help you get a handle on exactly why you’re feeling left out so you can make sure there really are grounds for how you’re feeling, and you’re not misinterpreting signals.
1. Who’s leaving you out?
Exactly who is it that’s making you feel this way? Is it a whole group, or just certain members of it?
2. What makes you think that?
What exactly is it that has made you feel that you’re being excluded?
Have you been left out of a specific event, like not getting an invite to a party that everyone else seems to be going to?
Or has it been a succession of small things that have built up to make you feel like you’re not being included?
Is it just a nagging feeling that you can’t quite put your finger on?
3. Has anything been said overtly, or has it all been implied?
Has anyone actually come out and said something that makes it clear that you’re intentionally being left out?
4. Could it have been a mistake?
Are you sure you’ve been left out deliberately, or could it have just slipped someone’s mind, or the text message or invitation never got sent?
5. How long has this been going on for?
Is this something that’s been going on for a while or is this something you’ve only experienced recently? What’s changed?
6. Are you overreacting?
Your feelings and your response to them might well be completely justified, but you might also be making a mountain out of a molehill.
Is your reaction to what has happened a reasonable one, or are your insecurities or paranoias making you respond badly to the situation?
7. If you are being deliberately left out, what could the reasons behind that be?
If you’ve established that it’s not just a misunderstanding, reflect on why you think it is.
Is it a result of something that you’ve done, or is it someone else’s problem?
Is it to do with power dynamics within a group? Is someone trying to maintain control over a situation?
Is someone going to be there that you have a difficult relationship with? Is another member of the group trying to save you from an awkward situation?
Be honest with yourself and admit if there’s anything in your behavior that could prompt those around you to react negatively.
Don’t always jump to the worst conclusion, but think about extenuating circumstances that might have led people to believe that it’d be best not to include you on this occasion… for everyone’s benefit.
Katie splits her time between writing and translation. She writes about travel and self-care and never stays in one place for too long. She’s currently based in beautiful Cornwall, England, after long stints in Brazil and Mexico. She spends her free time trail running, exploring and devouring vegan food.