Imagine that two people stand in a circle. You’re about to see resentment and rejection.
They’ve stood in the circle for quite a long time together.
One person pushes the other person out of the circle and won’t let them come back in.
The Ejector won’t talk with the ejected, rejected person. They ignore the ejected, rejected person. The person asks to be let back into the circle. The person pushes to get back into the circle only to be pushed out again.
What does the person outside of the circle feel?
As time goes on, those same feelings are there and there are more piling on.
Now imagine someone else stands in the circle next to the Ejector. The Ejector and the newly encircled person begin having a fascinating and engaging conversation… all the while the Rejected Person stands and watches.
New emotions are piled onto the old.
Now imagine that the circle widens and two other people walk by and are allowed into the circle. They, too, engage in the conversation with the other two and the four of them all get along, smile; they appear happy.
All while the Rejected Person watches.
They now add feelings of
- Self Contempt
…to the pile of emotions already noted.
What happens when the Rejected Person attempts to get back into the circle?
The Rejected Person is…again rejected.
Attempts to get back into the circle are met with being ignored and pushed away by the various people in the circle.
We can walk this very real image to it’s end, which could be the Rejected Person killing some or all of those in the circle.
Or perhaps the Rejected Person will do something to harm the Encircled People in some way, physical, emotional, social.
Or perhaps the Rejected Person will walk away and commit suicide.
Or perhaps the Rejected Person will live with their basket of emotions, camp out next to the circle, or leave.
WHATEVER the Rejected Person does is not the point of this article.
The point is NO ONE wants to be the Rejected Person.
You and I are DRIVEN to BELONG.
You and I will do almost ANYTHING to not be/become REJECTED.
So strong is our drive to belong that when one is cast out from the one or the four, their complete psyche, their frame of reference in life, or at work, or anywhere, is shattered.
And that shattering is so painful that people will do ANYTHING to AVOID REJECTION.
And who can blame them.
After all, you know that feeling as well as I do.
We NEED to BELONG.
But wait, there is more to it than that.
Imagine for a moment that the Rejected Person is invited back into the circle.
What do they feel now?
But what happens is that no one talks to the Rejected Person. No one interacts with the Rejected Person. No one communicates in any way. The Rejected Person has been invited back into the circle but they are INSIGNIFICANT to the other four.
Now the joy, peace, contentment, appreciation are all taken away and replaced by almost equal levels of the original basket of feelings and emotions.
Key Point 1: You and I want to BELONG.
Key Point 2: You and I want to be SIGNIFICANT.
And you and I, being people, could do anything to have those drives satisfied.
Significance is about being valued in some way, or many ways.
It’s important to note a few things here.
The Ejector and the Rejected Person probably bonded and formed a circle fairly quickly.
The longer in time together that the circle was drawn, the more intense the feelings of belonging and significance became.
The more important THIS CIRCLE became to the Ejector and the Rejected Person, the more intense the feelings of belonging and significance were to each person.
The initial relationship, the encircling, will bond based upon how desirable the other person is, to them.
If the two people were put into a situation where they were fighting side by side against some enemy, the bond could be less than 30 seconds in creation.
If one person was physically or emotionally attractive to the other, the bond for that person could be almost instantaneous.
Emotional Attraction is a potent force in life.
Emotional Attraction is the perceived support, appreciation, liking, or love received from another person. This could be real appreciation or liking, or love or support, or it could be imagined or some combination of both.
No matter, Emotional Attraction is often as important as physical attraction.
Think about it.
I’m watching slides that were taken of me when I was a child by my grandparents and my son is the instigator. He wants to see these old pictures flashed up on the screen.
I don’t completely know that answer and it’s not important for this article (though it is for he and I!).
What matters to my FEELINGS and my EMOTIONS is that I am being placed in a position of VALUE, of IMPORTANCE, of SIGNIFICANCE.
Those feelings are similar to how one feels when someone is physically attracted to you.
Now imagine that two people in the circle are very much connected within their circle.
Imagine that without leaving the circle, one of the two people sees someone else and forms a circle with the New Person (NP) as well as the RP, the person who will be rejected.
What you have here is now a DIVISION of ATTENTION.
If the RP is happy for that “break,” for the “time alone” then this is a welcome relief.
If the RP was hoping for any reason that something would come along and divert some attention from them, then this additional circle could be a very good thing.
Does it matter that people desire “other circles”? And what does it mean for their previously established relationships? …
On the other hand, the Rejected Person could see the New Person as a THREAT (and rightfully so, considering they are going to be ejected/rejected later in the story).
In this case, the SIGNIFICANCE changes.
The RP still feels significant, but now is only at a 5 in Perceived Significance, instead of the 10 that was believed to be there earlier.
That VOID between the 5 and the 10 is the removal of good feelings and replacing with negative feelings.
Self-worth goes down.
And yet it is absolutely logical and reasonable that the Ejector would desire another circle, not in exclusion of the soon-to-be RP, but in addition to the circle they have with the RP.
However, because the circle encircled the Ejector and the New Person and not the Ejector, New Person and Rejected Person, the feelings of significance reduced.
Realize that this could be desirable by the RP if the RP wanted another circle as well.
And just what are the circles?
Does it matter how many there are?
I take you to the very successful and long running TV reality show Survivor.
18 people are set down in a remote area, often on an island. They are immediately divided into two circles by two captains or selectors.
Group A and B.
We’ll say that you are picked into Group A.
This is your tribe.
You are a member by fiat or the choice of a selector.
If you were schoolyard picked early, you feel significant.
If you were schoolyard picked late, you feel insignificant.
Instantly your feelings within the circle are established; . you may be perceived as important or unimportant.
The First Circle is the large group, the community. The group which you basically had no choice to be in. This is the evolutionary group that clustered around the camp fire and in the cave to ward off lion’s and tigers. To be alone at the campfire, would mean death.
The Second circle is a bond with one other person. In Survivor this is the two person Alliance. The two person alliance is perceived as a future threat by others but these friendships and/or alliances form because we NEED to belong and we NEED to be significant and you can’t win in life or Survivor without belonging.
The Third Circle is the bond between two people who are attracted to each other. It’s interesting to note that in most seasons of Survivor a couple of the contestants will enter into an intimate relationship with another tribe member.
There are 4-5 men on each tribe. 4-5 women. It is rather fascinating that it has happened that contestants later marry. From a pool of 4-5.
You don’t stray far from home to find ANYTHING in life.
You typically find your spouse/partner at school, work, church or in some bigger circle/tribe that is near your cave.
The Fourth Circle is the four person alliance. You need a four person alliance to make it to the Final Four safely intact as a group. You formed the four person alliance because of SURVIVAL.
You probably bonded with person X, either intimately or not, then sought out two others who were not perceived as threatening in some way, to the larger tribe.
You’ve decided that you and your friend X are going to the end together but you need Y and Z to make sure the two of you get to the Final Four.
This is the nature of the game Survivor; and it is the nature of life.
The way to progress in Survivor, in life, to “stay alive” in the game, is to be able to be significant to many without taking anyone’s perceived significance down.
The bully never wins in Survivor. The bully might make it quite far in the game, but they won’t win.
The person who made the most people feel good about themselves, generally speaking, made it to the Final Four. The person who wins the game is typically the player who was deceptive, but very much engaged the entire tribe. And the person doesn’t win by a final battle. They win by vote from those who have been taken out of the game….by the person who will eventually win.
The Last (but maybe most significant) Circle?
The Fifth Circle is quite important in the game Survivor and in life.
It is a person’s family. At some point in the game, numerous family members are flown to the Island to reconnect with their loved ones. Sometimes they connect via telephone or video taped message, but these moments have been seen to have extremely high value and transcend the game. Wives, husbands, children, parents, etc. The fifth circle may not trump every other circle in life, but it is the most enduring.
The reason Survivor survives as a TV show is because it mirrors real life in so many useful ways to the observer.
The lessons are crucial.
Winning the Game of Life
If you want to win in the Game of Life, you need to be in a couple of circles. The Loner cannot win. The Loner can survive to an extent, but the feelings of the life of the Loner can be inhospitable to life itself.
Similarly, not having a circle of two, either friend or intimate “friend” can be devastating. To be ejected from one of these small circles is excruciating and being ejected from the larger circles is often just as painful.
It makes sense to find out the actual connection level inside of a small circle. Taking the temperature and getting an honest answer can help one prepare for life and create a winning team…four that will go to the Final Four.
Next time we’ll talk about how these circles drive our behavior to achieve and whether there is any advantage to being a Rejected Person or being the Ejector.