It’s natural for people to feel left out sometimes. But when someone cuts you out of a group or a conversation, it can understandably make you feel hurt, lonely, depressed, or even angry.
Here are some do’s and dont’s to consider when someone leaves you out.
We are not all included all the time. And sometimes it’s for good reason.
Is it possible there is a viable reason you were not included? Perhaps the information in a conversation is not meant for everyone in the room. Maybe the activity has a limited group capacity.
Reasonable causes for being left out:
While these are all reasonable explanations for why someone left you out, it’s still ok to be upset by what happened. It’s ok to voice that while you understand, you would really appreciate being included next time.
There’s no need to analyze every little word and action you took. However, it can be helpful to ask yourself whether you did something majorly out of line. You might at least consider the vibes you are putting out.
What could a major mess-up look like?
Recently, my teenage daughter had an experience of feeling left out at a sports camp. The first day was really rough. She was in tears when she came home. She felt others were judging her and she felt excluded.
There were things going on that my daughter had no control over and were not her fault. Many of the other girls knew each other and they already trusted each other’s skills. Some had even been to the same camp before and knew what to expect. My daughter was at a disadvantage.
In my daughter’s case, being excluded was more circumstantial than personal. Sometimes exclusion happens due to things beyond your control.
Things that aren’t your fault might include:
It’s crappy to be left out for any of these reasons, but in these cases, think in terms of compatibility. If someone excludes you for something out of your control, it shows there is a basic incompatibility in who you are and who they are. It’s not that they are better than you, or that you are less worthy than they are.
In many (or even most) cases of being left out, the best path forward is to change your own behavior–rather than confronting the other person.
They say that when people show you who they are, you should believe them. While it hurts to be left out, you can save yourself a lot of pain by shifting the blame from yourself to the other person.
In all likelihood, you didn’t do anything to cause what happened. People have their own agendas and inner workings that can be hard to understand through reason and logic. Sometimes they do hurtful things like leaving you out, even if there isn’t a clear reason.
Instead of asking them for a reason or begging them to apologize, it can sometimes be more productive to take their behavior at face value, and put your time into people who won’t leave you out.
At the end of the day, every person has a choice of who they want in their lives. However, if you’ve been very close to someone and they’ve started to leave you out, it’s reasonable to gently mention how you’ve been feeling. Be honest with them and give them a chance to explain and/or correct their behavior.
You can use phrases like:
If you are feeling left out, you may also feel some other strong emotions. Anger, hurt, sadness, or rejection to name a few. These emotions can make anyone act in ways that aren’t actually helpful. Unhelpful reactions to feeling left out may include:
As we have mentioned, there may be valid reasons why you were not invited or included. Showing up unannounced to an event you were not invited to may create a more embarrassing or difficult situation.
Remember that boundaries are about your own behavior, not someone else’s. You can set a boundary that if they continue to exclude you, you won’t prioritize the relationship anymore. But you cannot demand that they stop excluding you. After all, do you really want someone else’s forced attention?
Talking trash about someone who left you out makes you look bad. Saying something negative about someone else won’t get you invited more.
Blaming yourself or overthinking about why you aren’t included can be dangerous. When we don’t give ourselves enough credit we become less social and harder to approach.
Assuming the worst in the situation may have an affect on future invitations and offers for inclusion. It is best to stick to the facts.
Now you know a few things you shouldn’t do, here are a few things you can do when trying to cope with feeling left out.
That’s right! If you have been left out, you can always return the exclusion with inclusion. Create an activity to which you can invite others and show them what you like. You don’t have to wait for others to include you.
Talk to someone removed from the situation so you can vent what you are feeling and get some feedback.
Take time for you. A little self care or special activity can remind you how great you really are and what others are missing out on. Being kind to yourself can help attract others who like you for who you are.
Sometimes when people exclude you, it really is “their loss.” Maybe they aren’t such good friends after all. Perhaps it is time to make a new circle of friends. Reach out to someone you haven’t spent much time with one-on-one. Or try a new hobby and make efforts to meet new people with whom you have things in common.
Being overlooked for whatever reason isn’t enjoyable for anyone. However, I leave you with the following perspective. I will ask you to imagine your exclusion experience from one familiar viewpoint which most people can relate- Being picked last for the team at recess in elementary school.
You hear excuses there are only so many spots on the team or we want to keep the teams even or you’ll get in the next game. And maybe, eventually, if you persist, you will get a team spot in a game.
But consider the many other necessary positions of the game that often get overlooked. The team manager who helps and serves the team, the coach who encourages and betters the team players, the equipment manager who ensures the team has the necessary implements to play, the official who directs the fairness of the game, the cheerleader who supports the team, the spectator who finds entertainment in watching the game, and more.
So, when it seems you have been unfairly left out, please remember, there is much more available than being a player in one game. Stay calm, look around, and you might find yourself another position.