FEAR OF MISSING OUT. WHAT IS THAT AND HOW TO MINIMISE IT?

I think a lot of us are already familiar with the term of FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out. 

Is it real or not, you might wonder. Well, what thoughts you have when you scroll Instagram feed and see five pictures of white sand beaches with the azure ocean, or palm trees and endless horizons, also you see a few pictures of people having fun, gorgeous plates of food, and some pictures of a beautiful family and their Scandinavian design living room?

Do you think “Wow” and keep on scrolling? Or you think that you would be so much happier if you would be there?

If it’s the latter one, then, congratulations my friend, you have a light form of self-invented psychological torture which is known as Fear Of Missing Out.

Disclaimer – I am not a professional therapist (yet), not a psychologist, not a doctor. I am sharing my discoveries about our life, our thoughts, our feelings. If you feel that you have serious conditions, please, seek professional advice. 

So what is this FOMO?

FOMO, or “Fear Of Missing Out” is a compulsive desire to experience something (or be somewhere) motivated not by what you gain, but rather by the fear of what you will potentially lose.[1]

This phenomenon is not new in psychology, but it has been studied more just in the last few decades. Now then ever before FOMO is becoming a big issue as our generation is exposed to a variety of choices. 

If you need to get a pair of shorts and you go to a shop which has just two different colours, you will easily choose one and buy. But if you go to the shopping mall and there are 30 different shops that offer 80 different styles and colours and length and material shorts it will be harder to choose the right ones. And even then, after walking out of the mall, you will think if you made a right choice and wonder if you should go back and return and buy those deep blue and softer material shorts or maybe black ones. 

Also, I don’t think it will be a surprise, but FOMO increased with the rise of social media. Even though it helped us to connect with the entire world and other people, it also changed the way we think about our personal lives. We started comparing our normal life to the highlights of other people’s lives (what we see mostly see on social media), which led to a twisted perception of what our life should look like and if we really doing it right.

When you see that people are having fun while you are sitting at home and scrolling the web might get you thinking that you are a loser and your life is worthless and you should be going out and having fun as others do. 

The paradox of it is that when you think that you would have fun and you decide to go out with those party people, you don’t enjoy the time because you keep thinking that you would be so much happier back home, watching a movie and eating your favourite Indian takeaway. Or going for a beer with your friends. Or visiting your grandparents. 

FOMO is that never-ending cycle of thoughts that you would be happier somewhere else. You have a belief that everyone has their grand moments and yours it’s just there around the corner, so you chase that because you don’t want to lose it.

Problem with the FOMO is that you will never have that grand moment of your life because you are not present in the experience and you never live it fully. Your thoughts are wandering, your attention is playing the piano for penguins in Antarctica, and you feel miserable of not being somewhere else.

I experienced FOMO many times in my life. It was with travelling and places. It was with drinks and parties. It was with people and relationship. I kept thinking that another will be amazing, next one will be better, next place will be my home, and next and next and another and that other one. It was a never-ending chase for something that I thought will solve my worries and emptiness that I had because I saw that others have solved them in those places. That was only one big lie that I created to find happiness, to find the joy that I thought I need to look for. 

How to minimise FOMO?

I just want to say, that Fear Of Missing Out is another thought pattern that we created in our heads. It’s a belief system that we thought ourselves to be true. And although changing thoughts can be a very hard task to do, there are a few things that helped me to minimise the impact of it:

1. Focus on gratitude.  

Experts say that when we think more about the things we have, we turn our focus from the things we don’t. It’s not only a mind trick but also a great way to deal with the fear of missing out.

These days we are exposed to the idea what GOOD LIFE is and what LIFE GOALS should look like (newest cars, lots of money, brand new technologies, some sort of knowledge or achievements, and even relationships). This often misleads us to think that we are not enough, that we failed, and then sabotage our whole life thinking that we are worthless. Stepping outside of these thoughts might be challenging and takes a lot of effort to change, but noticing the little things that we have now is priceless. 

If you are reading this – you have internet, laptop or phone. That means you have some sort of income/a job, also home, maybe family or loved one is around you. Maybe you have flowers on the window sill, maybe there is a graduation diploma somewhere in the drawer. Maybe old songs are playing in the background and soon you will cook a delicious meal. Those little things that you have now are the most important. Notice them instead of wandering about something else.

2. Connect with your friends.

FOMO increase the false feeling about the fun we would have if we went out partying or engage in some sort of activities with other people. This is also our silly brain that thinks that you are missing out if you’re eating a pizza at home on Friday night. The thing is, that in our nature we always seek for connections and socialising, but what we really value is the connections with the ones that fill our hearts and souls, even if it means that you’re just sitting on a couch and watching a movie, not a party with the colleagues that you don’t even like.

Reach out to your friends, invite them for a coffee or a walk, or just call them to check-in. Good friends will listen and understand, give advice and laughs and cry with you. You will feel much more relaxed, engaged and filled with joy. Real connections are more valuable than the time spent with people you don’t know or don’t get along with.

3. Check-in with your values.

These days it’s easy to get lost in the midst of all the options and opportunities available to us. You want to try every flavour, be in all the parties, visit all the countries, read all of the books. The harsh truth is that we can’t do everything. It’s just too much. Like, it would take around 70,000 years to watch everything that’s on YouTube at the moment (it’s crazy!) 

Spend some time checking in with your core values, your true desires and dreams. What do you really want from this life? What would really make you feel happy and free? You have the power of making choices, so use it mindfully.

4. Organise your social platforms.

Social platforms are a part of our everyday life so it’s actually really important how do we spend our time and energy there. Is it making you feel anxious or happy? Do you feel drained after scrolling it or relaxed? There are a lot of things that cause us to worry in our lives so at least your social media should be the place that doesn’t give us more headaches. Find your triggers and unfollow or block those pages or people that don’t inspire you, that make you feel less, that your life is not enough. Organise your digital world as you organise your rooms. You don’t need negative more shit in your life.

5. Keep a journal.

Social platforms are a part of our everyday life so it’s actually really important how do we spend our time and energy there. Is it making you feel anxious or happy? Do you feel drained after scrolling it or relaxed? There are a lot of things that cause us to worry in our lives so at least your social media should be the place that doesn’t give us more headaches. Find your triggers and unfollow or block those pages or people that don’t inspire you, that make you feel less, that your life is not enough. Organise your digital world as you organise your rooms. You don’t need negative more shit in your life.

If you don’t like journaling, make notes on your phone or computer. Just write down your worries, your thoughts and feelings, leave it there, outside of your head. 

After leaving everything out on a paper, give it a minute or two and then go back to it. Carefully consider is it really true what you think or feel? Do you really want to go with your boring colleagues for drinks? Do you really want to climb Kilimanjaro with the group of strangers? Do you really want to go on that diet? Writing down will help you release the tension and let go of the stress, and it will also help you to switch the perspective of your life.

Please remember, that FOMO is just thoughts, not a fact. Fear of missing out is an irrational desire that you will be happier in the next place, another party, with other people, in another bar, in the next relationship. It’s the never-ending process leading to another destination, motivated by anxiety and fear.

Happiness is being here and now. It’s the first sip of a coffee, it’s a smile on your loved ones face, it’s your weekend Netflix nights, and everything that you do. It is totally OK where you are and what you do.

You do you. 

Forget the rest of the world, find your true desires and make choices that align with them. 

Findthelightt

Xx


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