Connie comes home crying because two of the kids that she likes a lot do not want to be her friend. She has been trying for months and it’s simply not working. That day, they made it perfectly clear that she was not wanted.
John applied to be a member of a members-only club, and was not accepted. It had been a long-term goal of his to join the club, and now it would not happen.
Jane wants to join two of the women she knows on a vacation. She has not been invited, and realizes she will not be. She likes these women a lot and enjoys their company. They are smart, funny and interesting. They like each others company more than they like Jane.
At some point in all our lives, we will all experience exclusion. Whether it's from a friendship, an activity, or group, it is a painful experience; more for some people than others. Exclusion also has great value. As with many painful experiences, it also offers an opportunity to learn more about ourselves, if we know where to look and how to seize it.
When Sally was in college she applied to be a part of an important professional organization connected with her major. She was “black balled” by an unknown member. 20 years later, she is a highly successful business woman, yet she shies away from groups for fear that she will once again be “black balled.” She feels rejection deeply and has a hard time recovering from the pain, anger and disappointment. Instead of being able to find other people and activities, she has withdrawn into a place of fear and anguish.
John took his experience of being excluded in a very different way. Rather than taking it personally, he looked for other opportunities. He realized that rejection by the club did not mean he was an unworthy person. It meant that the people who were making the decision had qualifications he did not fit.
Upon reflection, he decided that maybe it was the best thing that could have happened to him. If he did not fit into a situation or was not wanted by someone, he did not want to be a part of the organization. He felt that there was a place he would belong, he just needed to keep looking until he found it.
Why did John and Sally respond so differently to not being included? The difference probably resides in the past. Belonging to and being connected to a family are a basic human need. In a good-enough family, the children are taught that they are loved and have a place in the heart of their parents, even if they do not get what they want all the time.
Every child goes though a phase where they want to marry mommy or daddy. It is vitally important that the child learns that they cannot, and will not, have their mommy or daddy all to themselves.
The child also needs to learn that even though they are loved, they are not the number one person that their parents love. The parents love one another the best and it is because of that love, they can love and care for their child.
This lesson is a hard and painful one to learn. The child feels hurt, rejected and unimportant. It feels to the child that he or she is not good enough. They are not enough to win mommy or daddy. The child learns that even though they didn't get what they wanted (the chance to marry mommy or daddy), their parents still love them for who they are.
This frees the child to become who they are rather than competing in a losing competition with a superior competitor. For John, the rejection meant that he was free to go else where to find something that would fit him better and make him happier. He was not locked into a never-ending competition for something he could not have. John also realized that just as the world was bigger than this one experience and the opinion expressed about him, he was much more than this one part of himself.
What is the value of being excluded? It is an opportunity. It gives you a chance to develop other parts of yourself. It gives you a chance to find other interest. There are many people, many places and many potential interests available to us. Sometimes we need a push to move out into the world.
Struggling with feeling like you are not good enough? I can help call me at: (919) 881-2001.