Have you ever noticed where you see a group of your friends hanging out together, and you can see it on social media? They are laughing and enjoying their time together and noticing the sense of “left out”. You may start to think, did I do something wrong? Do they not like me? Or you may also feel a sense of anger/jealousy and want to push others away.
Turns out.. When you are left out, our brains process this like an actual physical pain. It also feels like a rejection which is also a normal reaction to feel hurt. It is human nature to take rejection as a sense of fear because back in the survival days, we would not be able to survive if we were rejected. It is interesting how we even have a physiological response to feeling “left out”.
The next question is… well how do we cope with these difficult thoughts of being left out..?
First , when we feel left out, it is likely that our emotional brain will go up and when our emotional brain is turned up, our logical brain thinking goes down. That being said, it is important not to come to the conclusion that people have left you out intentionally. Instead give it some time and acknowledge that you do feel hurt. Normalise your feelings that it is absolutely okay to feel hurt and it sucks to not be with a group of friends. Sometimes letting these feelings out in a letter to yourself or in a journal can be a huge support.
Second, recognize that these feelings do not last and they will eventually dissipate. Remember the last time you felt left out. How did you get over that? Did time let it pass by or by the time you noticed, you had forgotten about it. Recognize that hurt/pain does not last forever and eventually it does fade away.
Third, you could even try starting the invite yourself. There is a chance they may say no, but at the same time there is a chance they may say yes. It is also important to acknowledge that courage means taking a risk. Although as painful as it may be, focus on the strength that you have gone and above to initiate an invite that you would never do.
That leads to the next point: recognize and notice your surroundings other than one friend group you may have. That may be a close friend you have from when you were young. Another friend you know from overseas that you met. Perhaps, you already hang out with these friends and we are caught up in the hurtful feelings that we forgot how often we do spend time with the other group of individuals.
After thinking through your other friends you may notice because you don’t know many people around you, you perhaps moved or lost touch with your surroundings, it is never late to start joining in a group. These include local meetup groups or perhaps going somewhere nearby to other workshops/clubs that you could potentially meet someone new. Even bonus, connecting with things that you enjoy and love.
No matter what, it is important to know that because of the pain you are experiencing it does not mean you stop there. You can take that experience and feeling to move forward and learn to take chances and risk to expand your social circle while validating your feelings. Feeling left out is a common pain that everyone will experience but it does not mean you are alone. Rather, it means it is an opportunity for growth.