Being left out of experiences is a common human experience. When this happens, we feel the pain of rejection. Like we’re excluded, don’t belong. And we make up a story about it.
The first story we make up is often about the people who did this to us.
They don't care about me. They’re selfish.
The second story we make up is mostly a self-righteous one: If this had been me, I'd never have done this to them. I am better than.
It’s useful to remember that the first story we make up about anything is a story of self-protection. They are to blame, not me. Being left out signals real danger to our brain. To the primitive part of our brain, it is as dangerous as being excommunicated from the tribe.
The brain likes to blame and shame when it feels threatened.
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The first story we tell ourselves about anything is designed for self-preservation. To unravel the story, we need to get clear on the emotions, body sensations, thoughts, beliefs, and actions that surround the event.
Here's an example of what that process can look like:
I feel sad, angry, and scared because I feel left out.
My heart is beating fast, my throat feels tight. My brain believes I'm in danger.
This is not fair. They shouldn't have done this to me. They're being selfish.
I don't belong because I'm unlovable.
I'm going to shut down and not communicate.
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In order to heal, we need to tell the truth about what’s going on inside. This requires real vulnerability. Without this step, it’s impossible to investigate the story. We simply get stuck in the loop of the "wrong story" which plays on auto-repeat. Their fault. They are to blame. Their fault. They are to blame.
We can also decide that we don't have to believe everything our brains tell us. The brain's first stories are always fear-based.
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Ask yourself these questions:
- What’s the story I’m making up about this event?
- How does carrying this story make me feel?
- What are the actual facts and what are my fears and insecurities?
It may be that you are making up a story that “you’re left out because your friends don’t care about you.” Maybe carrying this story makes you “mad, sad, and scared.” Could the facts be that “your friends just made dinner plans and decided to go ahead even though it was inconvenient for you to go with them?”
Without unpacking that story, you cannot arrive at the real truth:
I do belong. I am worthy of belonging. They care.
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When we stop to examine the stories we're telling about an event that caused hurt or guilt or fear or shame, we can take ownership and write that story down IN ALL ITS TRUTH.
It's much safer to unleash it on the page, instead of another person.
Try this with something that happened to you recently. You’ll save yourself a lot of unnecessary heartache.
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