- Feeling isolated or forgotten by your loved ones is a terrible feeling, but it’s important to put things into perspective.
- First, consider why you feel isolated from your friends; then, think about expanding your social circle and also show compassion to the friends with a busy schedule.
- Once you’ve grounded yourself, address your friends: don’t accuse them of neglecting you, but tell them that you miss them and want to make more time for each other.
- Then, you must look at the bigger picture—how can you fill that void? Figure out how you matter in the world.
- You can find meaning in a hobby, a pet, volunteer work, traveling, and so much more. You just have to take the time to explore what gives you that fulfillment.
Life is crazy. Sometimes it’s so crazy, we neglect time with our very favorite people—sometimes, without even realizing it. And while we’re pretty much all guilty of doing this at some point in our lives, that doesn’t lessen the blow to those who fall victim: those waiting by their phones for a text or phone call; those wondering what happened to the weekly traditions; those struggling because they feel isolated or forgotten by their too-busy friends.
Reground Yourself: 3 Professional Tips
Are you in this very position, feeling isolated or forgotten by your favorite people? First, you should take necessary steps to reground yourself and gain perspective, as recommended by Jacquelyn Strait, a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Winding Way Therapy. Why do you feel isolated and why does it upset you? Is it time to expand your social circle? And are you showing compassion to both yourself and your friends? Here’s how you can turn these questions into actions, according to Strait:
1) Consider why this upsets you. “Why you start to feel excluded from others, start to think about why this feels so awful to you. Does this exclusion represent some type of belief that you have about yourself? (E.g., I’m a boring person or I’m inadequate because I don’t have ______.) Make sure you know why you are having trouble with this loneliness, and try to adjust this belief, if possible. If you are having difficulty changing this belief system, consider seeing a counselor who can help you do this.”
2) Think about expanding your social circle. “If your group of friends don’t have much time for you, it may be time to expand your social circle. This does not mean that you cannot still hang out with your old friends, but it is important to combat these feelings of loneliness with action. Find a social group to join. Consider volunteering at a local agency. Take a new class and learn something different. You may make new friends along the way.”
3) Put yourself in your friends’ shoes. “Recognize that your friends/loved ones are probably not intentionally leaving you out of their lives. Does that eliminate the hurt? Nope. But it may soften the rejection. Understand that your friends are probably doing the best they can in managing many parts of their lives. Be compassionate to both yourself and to them.”
Figure Out How You Matter in This World
Now, there’s another important perspective to consider: how do you matter to this world? And how can answering this question fill that void? If you’re feeling lonely and isolated by your friends, yes, talk to them and see if you can’t improve those relationships. But also, think about your life’s meaning. How do you matter in this world? Raysha Clark, a licensed therapist, guides you through this process below:
“I think it’s important for those who feel lonely and isolated after these types of situations is to understand that their feelings are normal. It’s hard for some adults to change routine and if that routine suddenly excludes some of your favorite people, that can hurt. Feelings of neglect and abandonment can pop up out of nowhere. A great way to push past this feeling is to simply let your friend know you are feeling a bit neglected. That conversation doesn’t have to be awkward like most people assume it will be. It can be as simple as a phone call that includes you saying something like, ‘I have to admit it, I’m missing you. I got accustomed to our Taco Tuesday nights. How about we meet up next Tuesday for old time’s sake?’ By simply acknowledging the longing, without demeaning the person or reason why the friend is now unavailable, then following with a proposed get-together, you are addressing the problem and offering a solution. If that doesn’t go over well, it’s time to get a fish.
Seriously, get something that requires you on some level. Dogs are cute in theory, but very demanding—but fish are pretty easygoing and only need to be fed a few times a day if that! If a new pet isn’t an option, it is time to look at other ways your awesomeness can be shared in the world. Think part-time job in a place you’d never dream of working like the mall or a swanky bar. Think bi-weekly trips to a homeless shelter to serve food or make cots. Think traveling to listen to a new band or head to a book-signing. Think babysitting a niece or nephew. Share yourself in ways that are meaningful and appreciated because at the end of the day, that’s what is going to fill that void: feeling as though you matter. It’s your job to figure out how you matter in this world.”