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As human beings, we have a fundamental social need to “belong”; from an evolutionary perspective, we are dependent on belonging to a group for survival. Therefore an absence of expected social engagement is a threat to a fundamental need; it signals that we are socially worthless and a bad fit for that very community that we depend on. This creates a sense of ostracism in the mind of an indivy.

As a “sin of omission,” ostracism is an act that someone didn’t do: they didn’t acknowledge you or reach out to you or invite you to something. Whether the act of one person or many, it can include being left off email threads, being looked over for a committee position, or being ignored when making suggestions.

Often the person who is leaving you out may not mean any deliberate slight; they may be forgetful or distracted in the moment, or more generally socially insensitive or inept. And those who do realize they are doing it — often as a misguided way of avoiding handling conflict or otherwise seeking to protect themselves — don’t realize how hurtful it is;

All the more so because it can be so ambiguous. It may be unclear to you whether the person actually meant to hurt you; it may even be unclear whether you’re actually being left out of anything or whether it’s all in your head. Just ruminating over these questions in itself causes pain. And because we’re more prone to readily interpret even minor acts of exclusion as meaningful, even if no negative intent was meant, you’re more likely to be convinced that you were deliberately targeted! 

Did you ever delve upon what could be the possible solutions for the same? If yes, then do share. 


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