We human beings are sociable creatures.
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.
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- How To Deal With Loneliness And Cope With Feelings Of Isolation
- “I Have No Friends” – 10 Things You Can Do If You Feel This Is You
10 Questions To Ask To Help Deal With Your Feelings
Now that you’ve figured out exactly what’s going on, it’s time to move forward and work past it, learning from the situation.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help you put things in perspective.
1. Is there anyone you can talk to for support?
You don’t need to deal with these feelings on your own.
Is there someone whose advice you could ask for who isn’t directly connected to the situation and who could give you their perspective on things?
2. Would it help to write it down?
If you struggle to verbalize your feelings to someone else, perhaps getting it down on paper might help.
Vent all your feelings and frustrations and articulate just what it is about the situation that’s bothering you.
3. Did you really want to be included anyway?
Be honest with yourself. Do you really want to be part of that clique at work?
Did you really want to go to that party anyway?
Admitting that you aren’t actually all that interested can help you to figure out why it’s still bothering you so much.
4. How can you reframe the situation positively?
Every cloud has a silver lining and all that jazz. It’s time to turn the situation on its head.
Perhaps being excluded by certain people will make you realize who your true friends really are and make you value them more.
Perhaps you can spend the time you would’ve wasted at an event you’d really rather not be at on a new hobby.
5. If you think it might have been unintentional, is it worth speaking to the people involved?
People make mistakes. If you think you might have been left out unintentionally, you could always just ask.
It might be a slightly awkward conversation, but if you’re finding yourself ruminating on the reasons why, do yourself a favor and ask so you can clear the air and move on.
6. How can you learn from the situation?
Every negative experience is a chance to grow. How can you learn from what has happened to prevent it from happening in the future?
7. Are you holding a grudge?
The only person who is going to be affected by you holding a grudge is you.
Don’t harbor bad feelings toward the people that have excluded you. Take what you can from the situation, forgive them, and move on.
Tomorrow is another day.
8. Is this an opportunity to expand your social horizons?
Is this a blessing in disguise?
This feeling of exclusion might be what drives you to go out and find new friends or to reach out to different people at work.
9. How can you be less reliant on others for your happiness?
If the actions of others are making you unhappy, what might you do to become more emotionally independent?
Feeling left out or excluded shows that you are putting conditions on your emotional well-being. Namely, the condition that a certain person or group accepts and includes you.
Is this something that you can work on to lessen the impact of similar circumstances in future?
10. Could you be the instigator in future?
If you’re always waiting for other people to suggest things, and never take the initiative yourself, it’s inevitable that they’ll stop asking one day.
What plan could you make with your family, your friendship group, or your work mates that will include everyone?
The more you include other people, the more other people will start to include you.
You’re Worth More
Always remember that even if you’re feeling excluded in a certain situation or context, you have an awful lot to give and should never be made to feel less-than.
You shouldn’t be wasting your time trying to make certain people include you, but focusing your energies on building genuine relationships and including others instead.