By Beth Lipton
Imagine checking your Instagram, and finding out that your friends had an amazing (socially-distanced) night out… without you. Maybe it was a simple oversight that you weren’t on the group email. Or maybe there’s something else going on. Either way, it hurts. Now what? We asked three experts — a functional nutritionist, a clinical psychologist, and a sophro-analyst — to share their best advice for when you’re feeling left out.
1. Allow yourself to feel what you feel.
“In the wild, animals let their emotions out. Cats hiss when angry, dogs bark when scared, and we should be no different,” says functional nutrition and lifestyle expert Elisa Haggarty. “So, feel in your body what hurts, aches and/or buzzes with anxiety when things like this happen and find a space to express that emotion.”
3. But don’t get caught up in your inner narrative.
“In neuroscience, they’ve found that emotions rise and fall away in seconds,” Haggerty explains. “They have, at the maximum, a 90-second window of time they can be felt in the body. When emotions last more than 90 seconds, it’s because we are believing and fueling the inner narrative that is keeping them going.” Her advice? Feel your emotions, breathe deeply into them, and drop the storyline. When you do this, they dissipate quickly.
4. Turn up the music.
“If you’re having difficulty moving through your emotions of disappointment and sadness, take a few deep breaths and imagine you’re blowing out a dark cloud of smoke.” says Florian Fructuoso, a sophro-analyst. Sophro-analysis blends psychotherapy with meditation, breathing, and other relaxation processes to help soothe emotional trauma, work through limiting beliefs and adjust behaviors that have arisen from both.
“If it’s not enough, play a song that you know will help you release more of these unpleasant feelings and let your body move freely.” Smells Like Teen Spirit works well for him.
5. Embrace radical candor.
“Radical candor is the art of caring deeply and challenging directly,” says Haggerty. “Clearly communicate how being left out made you feel and directly ask the question you want the answer to: ‘We have been friends for a while and I would have loved to attend the dinner party. Was there a specific reason I wasn’t invited?'”
Florian agrees: “Don’t hesitate to vocalize your emotions and share them with the friends in question. Without blaming or accusing, ask why did that happen, neutrally admit that you’re feeling left out, but in a very calm and non-attacking way. You might be surprised by their answers, and you could find that some negative emotions came from non-accurate assumptions.”
5. Consider your role in the situation.
“I’ve found that people who distance themselves from others don’t realize that their behavior is putting up a wall and pushing people away,” says clinical pyschologist Michael Brustein. He suggests observing your behavior and how you may be inadvertently turning people away. Ask yourself: Are you contributing to the issue?
6. Enjoy some alone time.
Florian’s final piece of advice? “Hang out with yourself, take yourself on a walk, go to the park, whatever you enjoy, and be aware of how beautiful everything is around you when you can only focus on the way you look at it.”