How to Cope when You Feel Left Out
Being left out by a group of friends is painful at any age. Even though everyone experiences rejection sometimes, being left out can make you feel lonely and sad. To cope with being left out, there are several things that you can do, including understanding why you feel the way that you do, encouraging yourself, and talking to your friends about your feelings.Your feelings are just as important as everyone else's. Keep reading to learn more about how to cope with being left out.
Understanding Your Feelings
Understand why being left out hurts.Feeling left out is usually the result of being excluded or rejected by a group of people that you want to like and accept you. You may feel left out because you have been excluded and/or rejected by a group of friends or coworkers. It is normal to feel pain when you are excluded or rejected because we are all in need of social belonging. We are social beings and when our needs are not met, we experience pain and sadness.But just because it’s normal to feel pain when you are rejected doesn’t make it hurt any less, so it is important to develop strategies for coping with rejection.
- Recent research has found that your brain processes pain from rejection the same way it would process physical pain, such as having a broken arm.
- Social rejection can bring on feelings of anger, anxiety, depression, sadness, and jealousy.
- Researchers have even found that is painful to be rejected by groups we don’t like!
Remind yourself that rejection is a small part of life.Everyone feels left out from time to time. Unless you've fallen out with, or upset your loved ones somehow, being left out is unlikely to be a regular occurrence. You may take comfort in knowing that the rejection you have just experienced is temporary and that you will not have to feel rejected all of the time.
Be realistic.Sometimes we may feel left out when we don’t have a good reason to feel this way. In order to determine if you should feel left out, it is important to be realistic about the situation. Being realistic means looking at the situation from all angles. Consider all aspects of the situation including yourself, others involved, and even the environment.To help you be more realistic about the situation, it is helpful to do the following:
- Look for evidence that you’ve been left out. Does the evidence support your feelings?
- Ask yourself if there may have been another reason someone acted in a way that made you feel left out? Maybe they had something else on their mind, or had to get somewhere in a hurry.
- Is my perception of this situation based on my emotions or on what actually happened?
- Ask an unbiased person if your estimation of the situation is accurate.
- Assume the best intentions of others until you have evidence otherwise.
Move past the situation.Once you have acknowledged your feelings, try to move past the situation by doing something that will improve your mood. Dwelling on what happened or how it made you feel will not make you feel better; it will make you feel worse. Find something else to focus on right away. For example, you can look for the good in the moment by writing down three things that you are grateful for. Or, you can distract yourself by doing something else that you enjoy. For example:
- If you feel like you've been stuck at home while your friends are out having fun, do something to spoil yourself. Take a bubble-bath with your favorite scented candles and a book. Take a long walk or a run while listening to music. Go into town and go shopping, or just browse the shops on your own. Whatever you do, make it all about you and making yourself happy.
Breathe to calm yourself.Rejection can be very upsetting and you might find yourself feeling worked up or stressed as a result. Research has shown that taking a few minutes to practice deep breathing can reduce stress and promote a feeling of calm.
- To practice deep breathing, take in a slow deep breath as you count to five. Then, hold the breath as you count to five again. Then, slowly exhale as you count to five. Follow this exercise with two normal paced breaths and then repeat the slow deep breath.
- You might also try yoga, meditation, or tai chi to help yourself feel calm.
Use positive self-talk to encourage yourself after a rejection.Being left out can cause you to feel sad and get down on yourself. Using positive self-talk can help you to combat these negative feelings and feel better after being rejected. After being left out, take a few moments to look at yourself in the mirror and say something encouraging to yourself. You can either say something that you believe about yourself or something that you would like to believe about yourself.Some examples of positive affirmations include:
- “I am a fun and interesting person.”
- “I am a good friend.”
- “People like me.”
- “People enjoy spending time with me.”
Take good care of yourself.Caring for yourself can make you feel loved rather than rejected. This can take many different forms because different people feel cared for by different means. Some examples include cooking yourself a nice meal, taking a long bubble bath, working on a project you love, or watching your favorite movie. You should also make sure that you are taking good care of your body. By taking good care of your body, you are sending your brain signals that you deserve to be taken care of. Make sure that you are devoting enough time to meeting your basic needs for exercise, food, and sleep.
- Aim for 30 minutes of exercise per day.
- Eat a balanced diet of healthy whole foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
- Get 8 hours of sleep per night.
Dealing with the Situation
Acknowledge your feelings.When we are rejected, we may try to ignore our feelings to avoid feeling the pain. Instead of trying to ignore how you are feeling, allow yourself to feel bad for a little while. If you have been hurt badly and you feel like you need to cry, go ahead. Acknowledging your feelings will help you to move on and cope with the rejection.
- Take time to identify the reason why you feel left out, how it makes you feel, why it makes you feel that way. For example, “I feel left because my friends went to a party without me over the weekend. I feel betrayed and sad because it makes me think that they don’t really like me.”
- Try writing about how you feel in a journal. If you don’t like to write, drawing or playing music to reflect how you feel may also help you to acknowledge your feelings and deal with them.
Consider telling someone about what happened.Telling a supportive friend or family member may help you feel better and help you express your emotions. It may also help to reassure you that even though your friends made you feel left out and unwanted, people do care about you. If you decide to talk to someone, make sure to choose someone who is supportive and who will listen to you. Choosing someone who will brush off your feelings or who will not offer good support may make you feel worse.
Talk to your friends about your feelings.Another very important means for dealing with situations in which you feel left out by your friends is to tell them how you feel and ask them about their reasons for leaving you out. Let them know that you felt left out by explaining what the occasion was and why you wished they had asked you along or stayed with you at an event. And it's also important to ask your friends politely why the situation occurred as it did. Don't assume they are to blame for leaving you out. Just ask considerate questions that can lead to a fruitful dialog. You might say something like:
- "I felt really sad when you guys went rollerblading last Saturday and didn't ask me along too. I know I was tired Friday night but I was up for doing things on Saturday and it wasn't until X told me you guys were out there that I knew I'd not been asked to come too. I felt pretty left out. Was there any reason why you didn't think to ask me too?"
- "I loved the party we went to last week but I felt abandoned when you and X left the conversation. That new guy was not interested in talking to me and when I looked for you two, I couldn't find you anywhere and I felt really left out because I didn't know anyone else. Maybe you didn’t realize I wanted to hang out with you and X more than talk to the new guy? Did you realize that I was all alone at the party?"
Listen openly to your friends' responses.They may be surprised that you felt left out. They may tell you that your recent illness/recent break-up/visiting relatives/lack of funds/parental control, whatever, was the reason behind their choice not to include you. Use this as an opportunity to set straight any assumptions they may hold that caused them to leave you out.
- Be honest with yourself. Have you done things to cause your friends to want to leave you out? For instance, have you been demanding, pushy, or thoughtless about their needs lately? Or perhaps you have overcrowded them a little. This may be the reason they left you out in the first place, to find space and peace. If this is the case, own up to it, apologize, and be determined to make changes.
Make others feel included.Sometimes the best way to get over feeling left out during a conversation or at an event, it to make others feel welcomed and included. Doing this helps to take the focus off of how uncomfortable or hurt you feel due to the situation, and gives you power to actively change your experience at the event. You can make others feel included by doing the following:
- Smile and greet others
- Start conversations
- Ask questions about people and try to get to know them
- Be a good listener
- Be kind and thoughtful
- Show genuine interest in what others have to say
Arrange things to do with your friends.If you think that part of being left out may be due to your own situation (for example, a heavy study schedule, long work hours, home responsibilities, hobby or sports commitments, etc.), then help your friends by making suggestions that fit in with your schedule. Your attempt to make plans and meet them halfway will be appreciated.
- If your busy schedule has interfered with doing things with your friends, ask a friend to run errands with you or join you in something you do every day, such as going to the gym.
- Do your best to make plans with your friends, but know when to stop asking. If your friends refuse your suggestions several times, then they might not want to continue the friendship. Don’t keep asking if your friends always say no or often back out at the last minute.
Decide if you need to make some new friends.In the case where you keep getting left out, you may have to accept that you can't count on these people as friends and have to make some new ones. Make a decision to find people who respect and care about you. While this may be hard, it's a much easier choice than sticking around with people who keep bringing you down and treating you like a doormat. You deserve much better than that.
QuestionI've confronted my friends about leaving me out but they shrug it off or make it seem like it's my fault?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAny time a person tries to blame you for feeling rotten about being around them, is a time you've just been alerted to their disloyalty and desire to brush you off. It is sad but it's time to find friends who actually care about you and won't act dismissively.Thanks!
QuestionWhat do I do if I am nice to my friends and try to talk to them, but they ignore me?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou might have to consider making some new friends. If all your current friends regularly ignore you, they may not be the best people to hang around with.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if I do all of these things and I can't get past it and my friends are still being mean?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMany people have been there before. At this stage it's time to pull out and reassure yourself with the acknowledgment that there are plenty of fish in the sea. Befriend someone else. Meet new people and be friends with them. If someone does not want to be your friend, then let him/her go. That means that s/he is not worth your time.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if my friends are talking about me behind my back, what do I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerConfront them first. If they agree it isn't right and try to stop, then it's all good again. If they ignore you or laugh it off, then try to find other friends. There's no point staying friends with them if they're going to treat you like that.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if my friends keep leaving me out and don't care about my feelings?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry ignoring them for awhile. Sooner or later they'll come around and say, "Hey what's wrong?" They'll miss your friendship. Sometimes giving them space is the best thing you can do. Always be on the lookout for new friends as well.Thanks!
QuestionWhat do I do if someone is trying to leave me out?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf someone is leaving you out, you could try confronting them, as they might not know that they are leaving you out. If that doesn't work, reach acceptance of the situation and look elsewhere for supportive friendship that won't leave you feeling alienated.Thanks!
QuestionWhat do I do when my family ignores me and belittles what I accomplish?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerLook to yourself for pride in your accomplishments. If you need a little extra support, look for it from others.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I know if my friends don't like me or if they are just joking around? How do I stop them without seeming rude or uptight?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTalk to the person in the group you are closest to. Tell him/her that you sometimes feel left out and that your feelings have been hurt.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I cope with feeling left out when I have low self esteem?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry learning how to do something hard like juggling or playing an instrument that will give you a lot of satisfaction. Also remind yourself about what is good about you and why you're a good person -- do this on a daily basis and write a journal about your good points.Thanks!
QuestionMy BFF is doing something special with my friends and they leave me out when talking. I don't want them to think I am I jealous - how do I react?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTalk to them. After all, maybe it's not what you think, maybe there is a good reason you are being left out, such as planning a surprise for you or not forcing you to do something you don't enjoy but they do. It's okay to talk about your feelings and make it clear how their behavior makes you feel. They might not realize what they're doing.Thanks!
- If a group of friends you used to be very connected with suddenly start leaving you out and reacting with hostility, find out whether someone's talking about you behind your back. Seek out a close friend and ask what's being said about you. Very often one malicious person can destroy someone's entire social life with a rumor. That could even be a flat lie, something you don't defend yourself about because you couldn't imagine doing it in the first place. If that happened, identify the liar. Spread the truth, track down who said it and why. Sometimes it's not something you did but that someone's jealous of you.
- If you are consistently left out and don't have a support network of other friends and acquaintances to spend time with or talk these things out with, seek counseling. A trained counselor can help you build a healthy personal support network and understand the things that may be blocking you from it. Sometimes it takes an outside view.
- If your friends make you feel left out consistently, they are not worth it.
- Try to move in and focus on the people who are worth it or do something you enjoy doing to take your mind off things.
- If your friends are rude to you when you try to confront them, they are probably not worth your time.
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