Note: More to Life with Faith and Lois is designed to be heard, not read. We hope you’ll listen to the audio, which includes emotion and emphasis that won’t be on this page. Our transcripts are generated with speech recognition software and may contain errors. 

Lois                        

Welcome to the podcast, More to Life with Faith and Lois.

Faith                   

I’m Faith

Lois                          

And I’m Lois.

Faith                      

Our podcast explores life’s many transitions that inspire and daunt us.

Lois                       

Well happy summer to you, Faith!

Faith

And the same to you, Lois.

Lois                         

I have so enjoyed this warmer weather, even though it fluctuates from time to time because we are in Colorado.

Faith                    

Right? I know.

Lois                        

It’s this era of freedom that feels out there.

Faith                     

Isn’t it? So Nice. Yes. And everything is starting to bloom and color and I love the life of summer

Lois                       

I do too. I do too. And the gushing water and all of that stuff. And you know, last week we talked about how distraction impacts us. It’s interesting for me is I get a little more space in my life. In the summer – I seem to have a little more room to stretch my arms that I really started noticing how much I allow things to take me off course. And so I found that I was trying to be more aware and if I wanted to go off course okay, so be it. But I was able to ring myself in, reign myself into from time to time.

Faith                     

Yeah, it really does help to stay focused, but to know the things that can take you away from that.

Lois                       

So if you haven’t listened to our last podcast, please feel free to do that. In fact, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the topics that we’re covering in our podcast and we are really open to your suggestions.

Faith                   

Absolutely. We’d love to hear what’s on your mind and what’s on your heart to have a good discussion about it.

Lois                       

That’s right. We do have a newsletter by the way that we send out every week and if you want to be on that, all you gotta do is sign up and we’re so grateful that a number of you have gone to the website and done just that. It’s www.moretolifewithfaithandlois.com. You’ll also find out when we’re doing our Facebook lives because it is summertime. So we’re changing that up. So if you want to be up to date on that, that’s a great way to do it. Plus go on our social media cause we’ll let you know on Facebook when we’re doing our Facebook lives, we promise. And we’re blogging a little a little bit more, so anything you want to learn about what we’re doing and any upcoming workshops we might be involved in, you’ll be able to find that on our newsletter. Today we are ready to dive into a very meaty transition and it is Episode 78 Transition: The Impact of Exclusion.

Faith                    

This is going to be so good to talk about because I have met so many people over the years that have had that feeling of being totally excluded, whether it’s from early age all the way into adulthood. We’ve all experienced, I’m sure that moment in time where we feel left out.

Lois                      

So if we look at it, even from a definition standpoint, it’s an instance of leaving something or someone out like you just mentioned, but if you love someone to the exclusion of all others, now that’s kind of a positive thing because he or she is the only one for you. So it’s funny, but exclusion in and of itself, that word is more of a neutral word because if you look at exclusive, that means desirable. When you look at excluded though, that’s when you begin to get the sting, the pain, and that’s the area that most of us focus on when we hear the word exclusion.

Faith                   

That is so true. It hurts and there’s a lot of emotions, a lot of thoughts, a lot of assumptions that rise up out of that word of being excluded. And when we’ve had that experience, there’s a rush of all these different reactions that hit us.

Lois                         

So Faith, you know, from your experience, we know that every single one of us has felt excluded at one time or another because we want to be part of something and we haven’t been allowed for whatever reason. What causes this pain that we start feeling when we feel like, oh my gosh, I’m, I’m not wanted in this group.

Faith                    

Well, it’s that not being wanted is I’m not good enough. I don’t measure up. I’m not really being seen. I’m not really being fully known. It really centers around value. Do you see me? Do you value me? If I’m not included, then you do not value me. And whenever we feel devalued, whenever we feel that sense of less than, then there’s a lot of emotions that rise up out of that. And oftentimes it comes from our experiences in life where we were minimized, where we were put down, which is the whole popular thing, right? I mean, even in high school, whether you’re popular or not, there’s an exclusion in that. If you’re a cheerleader or if you’re, you know, a rock star somehow or on the football team and you’re, you know, the head person that feels better than someone who might’ve been on the football team who was always kind of just sitting there. That feeling of I don’t measure up, I’m not good enough. That’s some of the key things that rise up out of that feeling of being excluded and depending on how deep it goes or how often it has happened, it can really build up over time. One person that I know of, and the exclusion happens early on in life, and she has felt like it’s happened to her entire life. And so the pain of that is something she carries, like, you know, just a millstone around her whole body that she carries with her and it’s heavy and it’s burdensome. So it’s very painful.

Lois                        

Very, very painful. Episode 78 is the impact of exclusion. And I grew up in this family that was different from everybody else. We came and we all spoke English as kids, but our parents had funny accents, we had different foods. We were very religious in our way of having dinner and our devotions afterwards and the way we participated in our church activities. None of it was good or bad, it was just what it was. That’s what it was. But we, some of us, didn’t fit in very well in the nature of our friends. And so I remember, especially in junior high, which is a tough time no matter what, even if you don’t have a family that’s a little bit different than others, that you can feel excluded. And I knew it. My hair wasn’t right. I didn’t wear the right kind of clothes. Whatever we could afford was just never, I could never fit in. And I remember so clearly sitting on my bed one day and making a decision that I was so tired of being excluded and being made fun of for certain things and I wrote it down. I still have these words that I can’t be popular. I got it, I get it. So I’m going to be funny. I’m going to do things that I can – that no one else is doing and I’m going to make them laugh and basically distract them from whatever was keeping me from being part of their group. So I would read the obituaries every day. I would come into school and I would be able to notify, you know, my current events class, who died first. I would do things like that that first they thought I was weird and I really was a little bit, but I was trying to find somewhere else that I could be included in someone’s life. You know, at the age of what, 13, 12, 13, 14 I made a shift as to how I wanted to be perceived because I knew in one arena I would not fit in. So I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet. And I know that sometimes as an adult when I feel like I haven’t been included in something I really wanted to be in, I see myself sitting on that bed. And I say, well, what can you do this time? Maybe it’s not being funny, but where else can you be included? And that’s kind of where we’re going to take our podcast today to look at ways that you may be being excluded right now. And is there a shift that you might be able to take? And by the way, even though I made that shift, I still go back in my mind to that seventh grade self and feeling out of sorts because I wasn’t included.

Faith                     

You can still feel it, right? Yes. Yeah, those threads. But you have now the choice to do it differently, right?

Lois                       

And so we hope that maybe you’ll be able to glean a few things from this. You know, there is no doubt there are a host of scientific studies that demonstrate how social exclusion affects your mind, your brain, and your behaviors. We’re going to just share a couple of them, but by the way, if you want to do any research on this exclusion, type it in to your Google or whatever search engine you prefer. And there are so many great studies that will really remind us all that we’re not alone.

Faith                     

That is so important because when you feel excluded, you feel like you’ve been sent to an isolated island and you’re just excluded to be alone on there forever. And that’s not what’s happening. Everyone has felt this and experienced it. We’re all in this together. So you’re not the only one who’s ever felt excluded.

Lois                       

So here are a couple of reports, ones from Purdue University in Science News and Dr. Kipling Williams. He’s a professor of psychological sciences. He writes that exclusion or ostracism may not leave external scars, but it causes pain that is often deeper and lasts longer than a physical injury. His findings were in an article back in 2011 in Current Directions in Psychological Sciences. And right on the heels of that another researcher, Taishi Kawamoto, asks the question what happens in your brain when you’re excluded from a social activity? So we’re going to use some of their findings as we kind of step into this because it has a lot to do with what’s happening in your brain. And then we’re going to offer some ideas on how you might be able to shift some of your thoughts about exclusion. And we really hope that you’ll get a little more clarity on the subject.

Faith                    

And that’s really important that we recognize the fact that this is neurological. There’s something going on inside of your brain that is causing this. It’s not just a behavior, it’s not just something that I’m just such a wuss. I can’t step up. I can’t, I shouldn’t feel this way. And we tend to put guilt on ourselves when we feel some of those feelings of exclusion or we tend to react. And so if you know that there’s something really going on, it helps you understand it more.

Lois                      

So let’s dive into the process of being excluded. And these researchers actually suggest there are stages. So we’re going to look at three different stages. And the first is the initial act of being excluded.

Faith                   

And that can happen anywhere, right? And so many different forms and our life as we’ve already mentioned, a few of them already, your experiences and, and I’ve had many experiences. I remember especially like on the playground not being chosen. I was one of the last ones chosen. What it also brings up when you were asking before, what are some of the pain that you feel? Humiliation, shame, all these things start rising up, that now it starts to compound and now you’re dealing with a bigger substance. of a reaction that’s happening because you’ve been excluded.

Lois                        

Oh, absolutely. It threatens our fundamental human needs. Yes it does. We want belonging, we want self esteem. And it doesn’t matter if you’re ostracized from someone you know or if it’s someone you don’t know, and this is part of the interesting studies that are out there. They actually put 5,000 people in a room with headsets on and they were doing video games and what they did was they chose some people to play to join the game, who would intentionally leave someone out of the game. They wouldn’t let them. Like if you’re, you know, had, I don’t know what they used at that moment where the your car or you’re climbing as a person, but it’s all a video game. You were excluded by a stranger. You did not know this person. It lasted for two or three minutes. That’s all. They intentionally excluded you from your participation. That was so detrimental that the effect on the person lasted sometimes for years. Wow. It’s two to three minutes folks. But it shows you what it can do inside your brain that is the same effect as if you are physically hits.

Faith                    

Right? That’s right. It doesn’t take much. It’s just it, the impact goes into the very core of your being. And then we begin to define ourselves by that moment and then that can linger and keep going. And building over time when you’ve been excluded, you detect and appraise the impact. Kind of like a fire alarm.

Lois                      

You’re going, oh no, something’s happening. Something’s happening. You know like there will be left out. What do you do? And you know the reason you do that, which is really cool. Let’s look at the brain. I mean I’m only going to be able to say this out loud because I wrote it down, but the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex or dACC. It is activated when you experience this social injury or physical injury. So it’s the same place in the brain. So if somebody excludes you are ostracizes you, you are actually feeling if you gotten beaten up, it’s the same feeling.

Faith                    

Yes. Because you have your heart, your soul, you’re being yourself has gotten impact. That’s gotten a hit against it. And so everything goes to, the alarm goes off and it’s like survival. I’ve got to survive this. This is dangerous. And that same reaction comes up when we’ve been excluded.

Lois                      

So remember that’s the first stage. So if you have been excluded and you’re, you can recognize some of this, understand that a lot of this is happening in your brain, right? You didn’t do this and it’s not because you’re not, like you said, I’m a wuss or I’m not strong enough, it’s, it really impacts your brain. So the second stage of being excluded is coping, is making a decision, I’ve got a cope and some way or another. It’s different for everybody. It doesn’t say that. I mean some people cope and various strong ways and other people cope in in kind of weaker ways.

Faith                 

And they may become more obedient, more compliant, relinquished power a little bit, or they may actually start reacting in the moment. So there’s different ways that we respond in the moment. And don’t be surprised if you feel excluded that you may react differently in different situations. And that’s just kind of a normal reaction of how safe do I feel. I think sometimes people, if they become more dominant and more aggressive, they feel like they need to be powerful. It’s the fight or flight thing. And so that whole dorsal thing has been set in motion and the chemicals are in your body, so it’s fight or flight. You’re either going to withdraw, get passive or you’re going to become more aggressive.

Lois                       

You’re doing anything to feel like you can be included. Again, yes, at least initially and then if you’re trying to cope with that and you don’t get included, then you lose that sense of power that you want. We all want to be in control of something, so we might then decide to be a little more aggressive like you just mentioned, you’ll do anything to gain that control back in your life. Yes. I didn’t get in here. I’m going to try to get in someplace else. In my seventh grade self, I was trying to create something that wasn’t a violent response to it, but let me try something totally different now. I was successful sometimes and I wasn’t other times. It didn’t work every single time, but at least it gave me something to look for. I was trying to cope with the fact that I couldn’t be in this group because I knew I didn’t have what it took to be in there and I didn’t even try to be included, so I tried to create something new and like I say, that can’t always be sustained. No, I can’t because after you’ve told so many obituaries, maybe they don’t want to hear them anymore. People did die everyday. I know, right, right. I then got into another one and then you got into another one.

Faith                

Yeah. We tend to want to just get that sense of I’m okay back and, and the sense of I’m included, but not, not only just that, it’s just that feeling safe and feeling like I have some power. I have some control here because that’s what we’ve lost. When we feel that we’re excluded, we’re not in control of anything, so we’re desperate to try to get that feeling back. Sometimes people will become very judgmental and they’ll judge the situation and condemn the situation and say how bad those people were for excluding them. They feel empowered in the moment. Well, they’re not really empowered that just feeling powerful in that moment. So it’s another form of aggression, right?

Lois                        

And that can’t be sustained either. You sit there and get frustrated. So just remember this is a stage of being excluded and this is stage two. So Stage three is not a great one either. Just to, sorry, before we get to the shift, we have to at least go through these three things. And the third stage is resignation, and this is a really tough one because when nothing seems to work and you’ve tried absolutely everything, some people just say forget it, right? I don’t care. I don’t care about you and I may not care about myself and I’m going to withdraw.

Faith                  

I’m out, I’m out. I’m not doing this. I don’t want to engage in this anymore. This is just too much. I’m turning off the switch.

Lois                       

And remember that when you choose that, right, if you take that step of resignation, it increases your anger and your sadness and longterm exclusion can result in feeling alienated or you alienating somebody else. Cause sometimes we are the excluders, right? You know, we decide this person doesn’t fit into my group. I am too angry about this, so I’m not going to have anything to do with them. Well, you’re creating a situation of alienation for both you and the other person. So this thing, if unchecked will start to grow and morph.

Faith                

Yeah, you start fulfilling your greatest fear and we’re good at doing that because we believe that we are going to always be excluded and I’m out. That only just causes more growth to that exclusion as you just stated.

Lois                     

And some people then choose to be attracted to extreme groups for a sense of belonging. Anybody that will really identify this is right, this is wrong. Let me get in that group because then I can feel justified. As you said, if you’re starting to condemn other people’s behavior and you feel better that way.

Faith                    

Right, there’s a lot of that going on. You see it politically, you see it in religious circles, you see it through even in your workplace and how it divides up. And there’ll be groups that will start, well we’re going to side this way and we’re going to side that way and that just causes friction and alienation. There’s no resolution in that. And so there’s all this exclusion going on, but we’ve created it.

Lois                       

And we’re in it and we’re in it. And that’s the third stage. And one of the other places they can really pop up is if you’re chronically socially excluded, it may change the way you behave. And there are plenty of researchers that have really looked into school shootings or mass shootings in places of work and they believe that chronic social exclusion can have a big part in why people choose to act out in that way.

Faith                   

That’s the extreme end of it. Absolutely. That can happen.

Lois                        

So how do we move out of this cycle?

Faith                 

Well, we got to make that shift, right? Yes. Yes. Except what happened. Exclusion is not your fault. That’s the first thing. It’s that it’s not an affront against you unless you happen to meet with somebody maybe who doesn’t like you very much and they want to exclude you but you still have a choice in that about how you’re going to enter in and deal with that. So these feelings don’t have to be permanent. We think they are. We think it’s never going to change. It’s never going to evolve into anything better.

Lois                       

And I love it, because we’ve talked so much about that Faith about where you are right now sitting in this moment is this moment. I know, right? It doesn’t have to last forever. No. And sometimes, especially if it’s a friend or somebody that you know that you feel you’re no longer part of that inner circle, you sometimes have to grieve right and say, wow, this might be the end of this. Right. And grieve what was a very special relationship that may not look the same way anymore.

Faith                 

Yeah. Or before you get to that point before you get to that far, you’re absolutely right it may end that way. It’s important if they’re a friend, get in there and talk about it, talk about it first and say, Hey, what happened here? You know, because sometimes our assumptions are so off. We assume that something happened and we haven’t checked it out.

Lois                      

And if you’re doing that point of checking it out, see if there’s anything that maybe you have done that has contributed to it. And it may have been historical and maybe something you look and go, well maybe I said it this way and there may not be. But if there is, find a way to attempt a conversation to have an apology stated, received, any of the above. And that may or may not be possible, but it’s just one of the things to check as you’re starting to make this shift – what your own responsibility might be.

Faith                  

Yeah, we have to know a direction to go. We need to really get down to more what really happened here instead of just assuming what happened here.

Lois                       

And then look at your options. Would it be helpful to talk about it with somebody to bring people around you that can support you or to talk to somebody in a more therapeutic way? I mean, find a place where you can have an option to move beyond this exclusion in your life.

Faith                  

Yeah. Examine your options and what could be really helpful for you is it having a conversation, is it like, getting a mediator? Is it walking away? Like you said, sometimes that’s what needs to happen, but just always look at your options. What is really going on here? Don’t just keep it all inside and let it build.

Lois                       

And we know that if the brain is actually kicked you at, like we’ve said before, the dACC has gone into effect and you really feel this wound, right. Sometimes one of the best things I can do is just get out and ride my bike. Yeah. You’ll just get out and do something to take my focus off of that and to get the endorphins going. You’ve talked about this before about, you know, moving with your body and even if it’s taking a walk, doing something that triggers these endorphins that will really help the situation for you and a mental and emotional state.

Faith                  

And that’s really good. And to do that before you take the next step of what your options are. Because sometimes when you work out off that energy, you get a clearer perspective about what’s really going on inside of you and your part in it.

Lois                       

Absolutely. And then remember that if you start seeing somebody excluded – offer them support, I mean you actually do know what they’re going through and let them know, you know how painful this is.

Faith                  

Oh yes, I see that with my grandchildren. Oftentimes one will be left out and I go, Whoa, Whoa, wait, wait, what’s going on here? Why have you left this person out? But no, we can make space. Well, it’s a game for only four. No, we can make it a game for five. And so you bring them into it and weave them into it in a different way. Or sometimes it may be all right, you can play this game, but now that we’re going to take turns so they’re never left out. Because it can start like you said so early.

Lois                       

And you take those wounds with you a very, very long time. You know, one of the favorite themes we have in our podcast is that we learned from everything. Yes So at the end of the day, if you’ve exhausted every single opportunity and there is no reconciliation possible, but you can stand in your own truth and know that you’ve done what you could and you know who you are, maybe there’s something to be learned from this.

Faith                  

Wouldn’t that be fascinating? There’s always something to learn and that’s the joy of transitions in life.

Lois                       

So please ask yourself that question. What? What could I learn from this?

Faith                  

No matter what stage in life you are, the impact of exclusion has a potential to hurt you so deeply and there is a way out.

Lois                       

We hope that you can reduce the sting and break the cycle of exclusion by checking in with others for support and finding ways to remain in control of how you respond.

Faith                  

If you know someone who’s facing exclusion, please share this with them and let us know if you want more conversation one on one with either of us.

Lois                       

And join us next week for Transition: The Impact of Sexuality.

Faith                  

Get the latest news on our social media platforms and on our website, and please subscribe.

Lois                       

More to Life with Faith and Lois is a podcast to support, encourage and uplift you.

Faith                  

As you transition through all sorts of change, we want you to know there is more to life.

Lois                       

We’ll be back next week.