Fear of Missing Out or FOMO is becoming more of an issue in this hyper-connected world. All it takes is 30 seconds on any social media platform and suddenly we feel left out, unimportant, not smart enough, or even worse – not enough.
In Brené Brown’s book Rising Strong, she talks about the negative impact FOMO can have on our lives: The “fear of missing out” is what happens when scarcity slams into shame. FOMO lures us out of our integrity with whispers about what we could or should be doing. FOMO’s favorite weapon is comparison. It kills gratitude and replaces it with “not enough.” We answer FOMO’s call by saying YES when we mean NO. We abandon our path and boundaries and those precious adventures that hold meaning for us so we can prove that we aren’t missing out. But we are. We’re missing out on our own lives. Every time we say YES because we’re afraid of missing out, we say NO to something. That something may be a big dream or a short nap. We need both. Courage to stay our course and gratitude for our path will keep us grounded and guide us home.
Look back on the decisions you made over the past few weeks; was there something FOMO caused you to say YES to?
- Walking to Starbucks with your co-workers (when you really needed to stay behind and finish the project) out of fear they would have a fun conversation you would miss out on.
- Buying a ticket to a concert because ALL of your friends posted on Facebook they were going (even though you knew your budget was tight) out of fear they would have the most epic night ever without you.
- Signing your child up for yet another activity highly recommended by your mommy friend (even though you knew your child just needed a break from the hustle) out of fear of what other mommy friends would think of you.
There are a million scenarios. But each time FOMO wins, it can crush our spirit.
FOMO can’t win without FEAR. And fear can’t win when it’s confronted with the truth. A friend of mine recently shared this acronym for FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real.
When we don’t have all of the information, our brains are actually horrible at filling in the gaps. We believe the lies or false evidence as truth and we make decisions based on those lies. Those thoughts and feelings hinder our ability to become the best version of ourselves. Don’t let FEAR or FOMO guide you off course. Here are a few strategies to keep you on track:
Planned Neglect. In Lisa Brenninkmeyer’s book Walking With Purpose, she tells the story of a famous concert violinist and the secret to her success: “Planned neglect.” She explained, “When I was in music school, there were many things that demanded my time. When I went to my room after breakfast, I made my bed, straightened the room, dusted the floor and did whatever else came to my attention. Then I hurried to my violin practice. I found I wasn’t progressing as I thought I should, so I reversed things. I deliberately planned to neglect everything else until my practice period was complete. That program of planned neglect, I believe, accounts for my success.” What can you plan to neglect so you can focus on your most important work? Instead of checking social media as soon as you wake up, plan to neglect it until you have completed your morning ritual such as: workout, quiet prayer, time spent with your children.
Don’t Push. I’m convinced those “push notifications” on our devices are killing our ability to live in the moment. The second you hear the beep or see the information flash across your screen, FOMO has won. Remember that hysterical Facebook comment that you posted? Susan (as in everyone loves Susan) just commented on your post. I bet she said something funny. Read it now! You have to comment on her comment! Never mind you’re in the middle of a work meeting or your child is begging for your attention. That was me. So last year, I decided to turn off all “push” notifications because I realized I was communicating loud and clear to my loved ones that this device and the information on it was MORE IMPORTANT than they were.” So put the device down. You can find time to check it when no one else needs your attention.
Say it Out Loud. FEAR doesn’t like the light of day; it grows best in dark quiet places. When FEAR and FOMO flood your mind, share your thoughts with a friend or just say them out loud to yourself. Sometimes the simple act of hearing them spoken is all you need to realize just how ridiculous it sounds.
Don’t let FOMO allow FEAR to keep you from becoming the best version of yourself. Work on developing self-awareness so you can kick them to the curb the next time they come knocking.
Born and raised in a small town in Iowa, Ginny currently resides in Southern California with her husband and three boys. Passionate about health and wellness, she is a yoga and barre instructor, lifelong runner, avid reader and experimental cook.