If someone uses these 7 phrases, they may be feeling left out and isolated

We’ve all heard how the pandemic triggered a loneliness epidemic. 

The combination of lockdown after lockdown, personal issues that people were going through, and being confined to their own bubbles took a toll on many people’s mental health and sense of belonging. 

People who were already struggling and feeling isolated felt that the pandemic exacerbated the issue. 

Psychologist Richard Weissbourd says that if every person who’s in pretty good shape made a commitment to reach out to one person they suspect and are concerned might be struggling with loneliness once a week, this could do wonders for the person and make the world a better place. 

But how do you know if someone in your circle may be feeling left out and struggling with isolation?

Here are seven phrases they may use to tip you off. 

1) “I feel like I don’t have anybody to talk to”

Sometimes a person won’t say this directly but will post it on social media. It might not even be their own words but a quote that suggests as much. 

This phrase speaks volumes.

“Some of us literally have no one to vent to, but feeling alone isn’t defined by how many people are physically surrounding you. You can feel isolated at a party, at work, or even out with friends,” says A. Won from Supportiv. “Your family is supposed to be there but many of us experience the opposite.”

What many people mean by this phrase is not necessarily that there’s no one around they can talk to, but more so that they feel they can’t open up and talk to someone without being judged. 

This compounds feelings of loneliness and inadequacy, adds Won. “When everyone seems to have an outlet, you desperately need to find yours.”

It can be a good thing to reach out to someone who you think or know is having a hard time just to say that you’re there any time they need to talk. 

2) “People are too busy to spend time with me”

This one might seem less pronounced—and perhaps more needy—than the above statement, but it can still be an indirect call for help. 

While it is up to each one of us to cultivate our own group of friends and confidants, it can be harder for some—especially if they are introverted, for example. 

But we can still take the matter into our own hands. Widen your acquaintance circle by joining a group, or activity that you’re interested in. 

If you like to read for example, join a book club. This is the kind of group where you share ideas and perspectives so it’s the ideal setting to get to know like-minded people. 

It’s a win-win because you’re doing something you love to do—reading—and you’ll look forward to going to the club meetings to share your thoughts as well as get an outlook you didn’t consider. 

3) “I feel like nobody needs me”

We all need to feel needed. It gives a sense of purpose to our lives

We’re not talking about an addiction to the need to be needed—that’s called codependency. 

If someone says this, they may be feeling lonely but they may be also feeling somewhat lost in life. They could be at a stage in life when their children have left home, or they’re going through another emotionally-difficult transition such as a divorce or the loss of a parent. 

If you know someone in a situation similar to the above, then it can be a nice thing to reach out to them to ask how they’re doing. 

Even if you don’t plan on getting into a full-fledged friendship, it can mean a lot to know that someone checks in on them from time to time. 

On the flip side, if this person is you, then volunteering at an animal shelter or at a nursing home can give you the feeling of being needed and it can be a positive addition to your weekly routine. 

4) “I feel like I don’t really exist”

use these phrases if someone disrespects you 2 If someone uses these 7 phrases, they may be feeling left out and isolated

Many young adults feel this way. As do many elderly adults. 

To feel like you don’t exist can be exceptionally distressing and you may feel like life—and the world—is moving ahead without you, says Jack Nollan from A Conscious Rethink

“On the other hand, it could be that nothing feels real, as though they are never quite part of reality,” he says. “The common thread between these two things is that you have persistent feelings that you aren’t real.”

Nollan says that this mental health concern should be addressed with a professional so as to ensure the feelings aren’t a product of mental illness or past trauma. 

5) “I feel like I don’t have any meaningful relationships”

Not having deep connections—whether with a partner, family, or friends—can leave a person feeling isolated. Even people in committed relationships can feel a sense of loneliness. 

If you’re not in a romantic relationship, build stronger connections with friends, says licensed marriage and family therapist Julie Bjelland.

“Humans need connection and in order to connect, we have to practice being vulnerable and sharing our real selves with those we trust,” she says. 

Bjelland advises building closer friendships and spending time with people who enjoy some of the same things you do. “Give yourself time to connect,” she says. “Having one or two connections that can be deeper is more important for many than having several more surface-level friendships.”

Susan Shumsky—an award-winning best-selling author of 14 self-help books—suggests an exercise she calls “The Unlimited Thinking Exercise.”

“Make a list of what you would do with your life, day by day, if you had unlimited time, unlimited resources, unlimited money, unlimited helpers, unlimited energy, unlimited stamina, unlimited health, unlimited longevity, unlimited access, unlimited optimism, unlimited courage, and an unlimited support system.”

In other words, the sky’s the limit. 

Shumsky says not to write down what you would buy—rather write how you would spend your time. She says to take 15 minutes to write your list, and then when you’re done, to read it over. 

“This valuable document can be your to-do list to fulfill your heart’s desires and life in alignment with your true passions. Make a clear and final decision to manifest at least one goal on your list, and begin taking baby steps now. Remember if you’re feeling lonely,  these sensations won’t last forever. If you’re able to explore the positives of being alone and focusing on yourself, your best relationship will be even more fulfilling.”

See this period of isolation as a gift to discover more of who you are and take actionable steps towards your dreams. When you follow your bliss, you’ll meet all the right people who are aligned with this new, authentic version of yourself.

These are the relationships that will be more meaningful and they will be the ones that truly last. 

6) “It feels safer to be alone”

As much as people might feel left out and isolated, they may still feel deep down like it’s safer to be alone. 

For one thing, things are predictable and they feel there is a safety in that. They also don’t have to be vulnerable to someone else, which can be a scary thing. 

Self-isolation is a common trauma symptom, says therapist Annie Wright. “Self-isolation is a way that folks who come from relational trauma backgrounds cope with their overwhelming reality,” she says. 

“And while their present reality may not include abusers, bullies, or harmful forces, if they come from a relational trauma history, the chances are high that, at some point, they did have abusers, bullies, and harmful forces in their life.”

Wright says that if you grew up in a dysfunctional or abusive family, you may have learned, at some level, that relationships were not healthy, safe, or nourishing to be in.”

Therapy is the best way to address and help heal from trauma: Wright even gives her email so that she can answer specific questions and steer people in the right direction. 

“In the meantime, please take such good care of yourself and have compassion for how you show up in the world,” she says. “You come by your patterns and behaviors honestly and, and, remember, no matter where you’re starting from in life, change is possible.”

7) “I feel like I’m not important”

phrases emotionally intelligent people use all the time If someone uses these 7 phrases, they may be feeling left out and isolated

People who feel left out and isolated may suffer from something called anti-mattering, says the Department of Psychology at York University in Toronto

“Anti-mattering can be defined as feeling insignificant and invisible to others and feeling as though no one cares about what you have to say or think,” they say. “Those who strongly endorse feelings of anti-mattering may feel as though they do not matter at all to anyone.”

They may also feel that people tend to forget about them. 

Therapist Susan Krauss Whitbourne from Psychology Today suggests looking at antimattering another way. 

“When you stop and think about it, though, why should you care so much about whether people notice you or not? After all, the people who know you might be busy and preoccupied with other things,” she says. 

“It shouldn’t make a difference, either, whether people who don’t know you acknowledge the presence. And, in reality, aren’t there those times when you’d be just as happy to get in and out of someplace without having to stop and talk to anyone?”

Something to keep in mind if you’re feeling left out or isolated

Remember: everyone feels left out now and again—it’s absolutely normal!

Sure, it’s not fun to be excluded or rejected by a group of people you want to like and accept you, but it’s something that everyone experienced, says psychologist Asa Don Brown.

“Rejection is temporary and you won’t feel it all the time.”

Picture of Wendy Kaur

Wendy Kaur

Wendy Kaur is a Toronto-based journalist whose work has been published by The Globe & Mail, ELLE USA, ELLE Canada, British Vogue, Town & Country, and others.

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