Everyone at some point will have to deal with ‘cliques’ – whether they find themselves in one or outside of one.
Some people think cliques are just at school, yet we can find them at the school gates, at work, and within our own families – and it can be incredibly painful for people.
An experimental study by Naomi Eisenberger, a doctoral student in social psychology, showed that being excluded socially activates the same area of the brain that registers physical pain. When people within the study felt socially rejected, blood flow increased to the region that relates to pain – indicating a shared sensitivity between physical pain and social rejection.
“This response may have evolved because of the importance of social bonds to human survival,” says Naomi Eisenberger.
If you’ve ever experienced the feeling of being left out, you will know how hurtful it can be. But how can you recognise a clique, how do you deal with one?
A clique is a close-knit group of people who are usually closed-off in allowing others to join them, purposefully leaving people out. Cliques sometimes have ‘leaders’ who decide who can join or who is ostracised. It’s rare they let anyone into the in-group, as members tend to be more concerned by relationships within the clique than making friends outside of it. As a result, members feel pressure to conform to the standards of the group.
Cliques can be mean, even to members inside the group – often pressuring members to do things they don’t particularly want to do.
Here are our tips for dealing with cliques:
Trust Your Gut
If it feels wrong, it probably is wrong. Meditation can help you listen to your intuition more closely because it connects you with your inner being physically and spiritually.
Know Your Self-Worth
We all want to feel like we belong. Sometimes people find themselves in cliques because they just want to find friends. However, it takes strength and integrity to be the bigger person, know your worth and walk away.
Don’t Go Small Because Of Others
In cliques, individuality is not encouraged or rewarded. Being your true authentic self is something to be celebrated and not masked or hidden away.
You can’t change people, but you can distance yourself from toxic ones. It can be upsetting because you feel left out – but realise that maybe you don’t want to be in that group. It’s always better to be friendly, inclusive and welcoming.
Never feel pressured to act a certain way to feel accepted or approved by others. Challenge yourself to stand your own ground, even if it’s a little uncomfortable.
Accept the pain you feel is real and valid. At some point, you will realise you are more mature and make different, non-clique friends. And avoid cliques altogether.