• So my son came home from school this afternoon crying because he found out that someone in his class had a party over the weekend and that he wasn’t invited. I felt bad because he described how the other kids talked about all the activities and fun they had at the party making him feel like he really missed out. We’ve all been there before. Whether you’re a child or an adult, it hurts to feel left out. The feeling of belongingness is in the top three of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of basic human needs, just below physiological (breathing, food, water etc.) and safety. So, on the scale of importance it’s pretty up there. You might hear about a party or event that you missed through a friend or read about it on Facebook but sooner or later it’ll happen to you. It’s never easy; even if it’s a party you had no intention of attending. You always wonder what happened. Did I say or do something to upset them or did they simply forget?

    Let me preface this with the fact that nothing you say or do is going to change the fact that they overlooked, or actively omitted, inviting you to their party. Even if it is brought to their attention (through you or a friend) and they call to invite you after the fact, the damage to your ego is already done. It’s like bringing flowers for someone after they asked you why you didn’t bring anything. It’s lost its affect and just doesn’t feel the same. Unless of course, you later find out that they actually did send you an invitation, but for some reason you never got it (it got lost in the mail or it went into the spam folder of your e-mail account). And of course, you were too embarrassed to ask about it or you found out after the fact. Either way, in the meantime, there are things you can do to ease the pain for yourself and/or your children to not feel totally rejected or ostracized. First thing is to remember who your closest friends are and how much they mean to you. I think about the last party I attended and realize that not everyone was there. Parties are just limited! Finally, if it ever gets really bad because it’s someone I (or my kids) perceived as a ‘close friend’ then I try to think about what gift I may have given them and I simply treat myself to a special lunch or purchase something of similar value for myself. My kids love this one but be careful not to let them abuse it. This way at least the host of the party missed out on not only having your company at the party but also missed out on the gift. In our family it helps makes us feel better.

    Remember, regardless of how popular or unpopular you are, sooner or later you’re going to have to face rejection and have to deal with being left out of some event. That’s just a part of life. How you deal with disappointments is what makes the difference. If you dwell on the negativity and self-pity, you can easily spiral into a world of depression and/or animosity for others. Yes, it hurts! But think about ways to ease the pain and rationalize the behavior so you can move on to more positive things. Whether you’re right or wrong with your justifications – who cares? As long as you can move forward and not dwell on the negativity, that’s what’s important. Besides, think about what a waste of time most of the parties you’ve attended have been. For the most part, you’re not missing much. You’re better off setting up a meaningful playdate for your child with some of his closest friends or plan a get-together with your own closest friends. It’ll divert your attention from the negativity by allowing you to focus on something positive and give you some true quality time with friends. Friends that you want to be there and who appreciate your time and company. That’s where you belong!