Do you ever feel like other people are leaving you out of an important conversation?

Do you ever get angry that people don’t include you in an effort that’s important to you? If so, I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. This week, two clients came to me with strangely similar situations.

One was very angry. She said, “I don’t understand why they keep leaving me out of the conversation. I feel marginalized and want to be included. It feels like kindergarten all over again. I don’t understand why they don’t see they’re hurting me.” She was talking about members of her activist group, but she could very well have been talking about anyone in her life.

The other was very confused. She said, “There’s this member of our group who keeps accusing everyone of leaving her out. First, she accused me of creating a presentation without her, when I thought that’s what we’d agreed on. Later, she accused some other people of talking behind her back, and I don’t believe they were. She’s a really helpful part of the group, but she seems set on accusing people of leaving her out.”

Does this sound familiar?

As someone who was picked on a lot when I was little, I know how painful it can be to feel left out. And I know how confusing it used to be to figure out when someone’s excluding me and when I just thought they were.

Occasionally, people intentionally exclude someone or truly have no desire to include them in a process. That happens.

But just as often, when we feel left out, it has more to do with old wounds than with present-day reality.

To get to the bottom of what’s happening and respond from a centered and constructive place, I encourage you to check in with yourself before accusing anyone of leaving you out.

Here are six questions I ask myself when I’m afraid that someone is leaving me out. I encourage you to take some space and some time to write down your answers to these questions whenever you’re feeling left out.

While you can just think about your response, I suggest that you write them down. Writing helps to slow down your thought process and helps you witness the situation from the vantage point of an observer, as opposed to feeling like you’re being pummeled by a swarm of emotion.

1. Who do you think is leaving you out? What happened to make you believe that they are leaving you out?

Write down with as honest language as possible what exactly you’re telling yourself about the situation. Allow your pen to write everything that comes to mind, and allow yourself to feel your emotions without trying to censor anything. Know that you can burn up this paper as soon as you’re done.

2. How do you feel in your body?

Bring your attention to your body. Notice your physical sensations and your emotions. Witness what you’re feeling with the compassion that you would offer a small child, perhaps hugging yourself or placing the palms of your hands on your cheeks.

Write down what you’re feeling. You might be tempted to say things like you feel “marginalized” or “excluded” or “not seen” or any other myriad of descriptive words. However, these are not emotions. Instead, they’re your perception about what the other person is doing. They’re words that we use when our inner Victim is acting up, which is the part of us who blames other people for how we feel and who feels powerless to create change.

Shift your attention to what you’re feeling in your body, using words such as angry, sad, lonely, frustrated or confused. By doing this, you not only paint a more accurate picture of what’s happening, but you also move away from the Victim mindset and begin to take some of your power back.

3. What are the bare bones of the situation? In other words, what actually happened?

Next, take a clear look at what actually happened. What emails were or were not written? What do you know that they actually said in that conversation? Is what you think happened hearsay? What do you actually know to be true? Like a game of telephone, the stories we tell ourselves take on a life of their own. Work hard to get to the bare bones of what you know actually happened.

4. If you were to assume that they had no intention to leave you out, what would you see differently?

Get curious. Ask yourself—What else might have been going on in their minds or hearts to lead to the action they took? Who would you be if you didn’t believe that they were trying to leave you out? What would be different if you knew they weren’t trying to leave you out? What do you need to ask them to have a better understanding of the situation?

5. What do you truly need?

Once you’ve identified your story, ask yourself what you truly need. Perhaps you need more clarity about what happened. Or new conscious agreements to help guide your work together into the future. Maybe you just need to feel heard; you want the other person to know you felt left out, but you don’t need them to do anything differently. Perhaps it’s something else.

6. What specific request can you make that honors both your needs and the other person’s as well?

Finally, given all of this, what do you want to request of the person who you think is leaving you out? If this is someone who you want or need to continue collaborating with, I encourage you to share with them (1) what happened, (2) how you felt, (3) what you need, and (4) a specific request. This four-part sequence comes from Non-Violent Communication and has been used successfully by millions of people throughout the world for over the past fifty years.

Finally, I invite you to give yourself a huge hug, from me to you. It’s not fun to feel left out. Please know that I’m rooting for you and sending you a huge high five for making it through all of these questions. With time, reflection, and compassionate conversation, I assure you that you can come to a place in which you no longer feel left out and instead feel held by a community who has your back.

I invite you to check out our professional coaching programs and explore the possibility of receiving support.

Sending lots of love your way!
Katherine

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