What to do when you’re anxious about feeling left out

That horrible feeling of being left out is, unfortunately, far more than some schoolyard annoyance. It’s a serious issue that affects plenty of adults, especially in this age where social interaction is constant, whether you’re in person, on the phone, or scrolling through a social media app. When friends, neighbors, or coworkers organize an activity and don’t extend an invite your way, it’s natural for hurt feelings or anxiety to arise. Social media can exacerbate the problem, as it’s fairly easy to see what your connections have been up to lately.

Ultimately, you can’t change the actions of others. However, you can practice ways to manage your own reaction and feelings. Below are some tips and techniques to work through this frustration so you can properly assess and address the situation and kick your FOMO out the door.

A woman feels excluded
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Take a breath

When our feelings are hurt, we tend to act first and think later. Anxiety and anger often lead you to make irrational decisions. Before you begin a confrontation with metaphorical guns blazing, take a moment to gather yourself and consider the situation. Unhealthy confrontation is never helpful, so before taking action, be sure you do so with a clear head.

Spend some time with your feelings so you can better understand your mindset. How exactly does this exclusion make you feel? Why is this a triggering event? Is this an event or activity you would usually attend?  Am I the only one that isn’t there?

Exclusion happens to everyone at some point, whether they’ve been excluded knowingly or unknowingly. Before you assume others’ intentions, take some time with yourself to consider your feelings and gather your thoughts before speaking to them about your frustrations.

A woman feeling excluded
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Be wary of social media

Platforms like Facebook and Instagram allow users to curate their lives, presenting only those life moments they wish to present. This can lead to a false image of happiness or abundance — exactly what you don’t need if you’re concerned you’re being left out. This goes double if one or more of your friends are posting pics of that awesome get-together that didn’t include you.

Simply put, social media is best consumed in small doses, especially when your FOMO is in top gear. One study found that excessive social media use was directly linked to feelings of social isolation.

According to public health expert Holly Shakya, who spoke to NPR, the conclusions on the overuse of social media are clear. She noted:

“What we know at this point is that we have evidence that replacing your real-world relationships with social media use is detrimental to your well-being…Where we want to be cautious is when the sound of a voice or a cup of coffee with a friend is replaced with ‘likes’ on a post.”

While it can be difficult to quit social media cold turkey, spending less time on these platforms will allow you to focus your attention elsewhere without constant reminders of other people’s social lives.

Reach out

If there is someone in this group you’re comfortable confiding in, approach that person or group to point out the situation and explain your feelings. Odds are, they didn’t realize it was an event you’d be interested in, or the gathering was more spontaneous than it appeared. Whether this is the case or not, they also deserve to be heard so they can share their own thoughts and feelings. If there is no one in the group you feel comfortable discussing this with, that could be a sign in and of itself that this isn’t a strong friendship.

In the future, you can also reach out to plan things with your friends on your own time. Are you often the one that travels to others or responds to plans instead of making them? If you’re comfortable, invite them over or out to your favorite restaurant or park. Taking the initiative to make plans and spend time with the people you care about ensures that you’re taking control of your social life.

When all else fails, look outward. If your friends are constantly excluding you or not treating you with warmness and respect, it may be time to forge your own path. There are all sorts of ways to branch out and try new things or activities and meet new people, including picking up a hobby, joining a gym, or asking people you trust to introduce you to their friends or family.

Meeting new people
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At the end of the day, if a given person or group is indeed excluding you on purpose, it may be time to diversify your social portfolio. Often, however, our social anxieties can make mountains out of molehills, and the entire situation was a misunderstanding. The important thing is that you’re honest with yourself and others, to have a productive conversation about the strength of your friendships.

If you struggle with anxiety, it may also be worthwhile to get in touch with a mental health professional. With them, you can work to create a plan to manage your social anxieties and live life FOMO-free.

BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.

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