You hear plenty about the fear of missing out these days. There are memes, posts, emails, and videos all talking about helping you deal with your FOMO. In case you have not heard, FOMO was added to the Oxford Dictionary in 2013. Yup, fear of missing out is so popular its acronym is now a word of its own.
As acceptable as the fear of missing out has become in modern society, do not forget it is still a fear. As such, it is important that you do not overlook the impact fears can have on your life.
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What Causes the Fear of Missing Out?
Research finds a link between social media and the fear of missing out.
People have always been interested in what others were doing, but social media has only exacerbated the issue. Now, everyone from adolescence to adult is scrolling through their social media feed checking to see what everyone else is doing.
As you find out your friends and family are taking lavish vacations, growing their family, throwing parties, and purchasing new homes, you may perceive yourself as less successful. As you continue to sit at home scrolling through your phone, you start to wonder why your life is not as awesome as theirs. You will start to question whether those people even like you, since they did not invite you to the “best party ever.”
This tends to drive the continued need to check social media for additional updates. After all, the last time you were on, you found out you were missing out on “so much”. Now the fear has worsened, so you find yourself checking the same people for more updates. You want to confirm if it was a one-off, or if they are truly excluding you from “everything”.
That is why the fear of missing out is not something you should take lightly. As these negative thoughts creep in, it can lead to anxiety and depression.
We all go through life wanting to belong and feel accepted. As you start to believe your family and friends are excluding you, you begin to feel isolated and alone. When you frequently compare your life experiences to the experiences of others, it causes you to feel lonely and inadequate.
How to Deal with the Fear of Missing Out
Overcoming your fear of missing out starts with understanding it is a problem that needs to be solved.
In many cases, FOMO is not considered an issue that needs to be addressed. However, anything that can lead to depression should be taken seriously; even if it has become a pop phrase that people embrace more than any other fear.
By accepting the fact that your fear of missing out is a fear that is hindering your growth and success, you allow your mind to focus on ways to address the issue.
When you believe that FOMO is a normal and acceptable part of your life, then the issue is your friends and family having fun without you. And when that is the premise that your mind is operating from, it forces you to decide between two unfavorable situations. You believe (1) your friends and family do not like you as much as you thought or (2) they are living a better life than you.
Know That It’s Just Scripted Reality
The reality is much simpler than those choices. Your friends and family on social media are just posting their highlight reel.
Think about the number of photos they had to take to make that one perfect photo. How about the likelihood that they are checking their post because they are worried about the number of likes they are getting?
These possibilities are more likely than the fact your friends do not like you or have a better life than yours. This is part of the reason why research concludes that the fear of missing out often originates in unhappiness.
When you are not satisfied with your life, you tend to believe everyone else’s life is better than yours. As you struggle with this thought, you naturally become curious as to whether it is true or not. Therefore, you take a quick stroll on your social media feeds and confirm your suspicion that everyone else is having fun without you.
If you take a moment and realize that social media is not an accurate depiction of reality, you will be better off. Social media posts are usually the “best case scenario” of everyone’s reality. People take ten to fifteen pictures before they can post one image. They use four to five filters and want to make sure they have the right lighting in the house. They even spend a considerable amount of time checking the background of their picture to make sure their house looks clean.
When people go out, they want to capture the moment and think of a clever caption. This is not because they want to cherish the moment for themselves, but because they want others to like their photo.
Everyone is going through the process of comparing the highlight reel of someone else against their own life. The problem with comparing yourself to others is you are comparing the results, not the journey.
Assuming the depiction someone is trying to create is accurate; you still do not know how long it took them to achieve success. All you know is they are successful now. They could have struggled for years, or they may have extenuating circumstances that you are not aware of.
By honing in on the thoughts and perceptions you are creating, you allow yourself to realize all the assumptions you are making.
When you accept that the conclusions you are drawing come from the inside, you know the first place you need to look to solve the problem.
Find Joy in Your Life
If you want to transform your fear of missing out into a joy of missing out, you need to start by appreciating your life.
A great technique to accomplish this goal is to practice mindfulness meditation. Dr. Gupta describes mindfulness meditation as the “non-judgmental observation or awareness that is focused on the present experience.”
As mentioned earlier, FOMO is directly related to the unhappiness someone already feels in their life. As a result, you are looking for experiences to confirm your feelings of doubt.
Mindfulness meditation forces you to focus on what you are doing in the present moment. You are not concerned about what others are doing; you are just enjoying the here and now.
The key is not to pressure yourself into doing anything extravagant. You must allow yourself to enjoy whatever you are doing. It does not matter if you are reading a book, going on a walk, or watching a movie. You need to allow yourself to enjoy whatever it is you are doing.
By suspending negative judgments of your life, you begin to realize that your life is sufficient as it is. There is no reason for you to compare what you enjoy doing to what someone else enjoys doing. The funny thing about life is we all think the grass is greener on the other side.
I remember watching this short video where someone was driving a used car and someone with a new car drove by them. The person in the used car looked sad and said to himself that he wished he could have a new car. Then a person in a bicycle rode past the person in the used car and said, I wish I had a used car. Next, someone walked by the person on the bicycle, and she said, I wish I had a bicycle. Then the video ends with a child looking out their window in a wheelchair, and the child says, I wish I could walk.
The short video is a reminder of how important having the proper judgment is to any situation. There are very few inherently good or bad situations. It usually comes down to how we choose to react to those situations.
You could choose to be discouraged by your friend throwing a party at their house, or you can be excited by the fact you do not have to plan and purchase stuff for a party. You could choose to feel depressed by the promotion your friend secured, or you can choose to be encouraged by the fact you have a secure job in a field you like.
By accepting the fact that you get to choose how you react to everything, you allow yourself the ability to find joy in all situations. As weird as it may sound at times, there is someone who envies your situation over their own.
If you really think about it, there is probably a time in your life where you did not appreciate what you had until it was gone.
Think about how simple life may have been when you were younger, but all you wanted to do was grow up. Or your house was always dirty or you couldn’t afford expensive furniture because you had children. Yet, when your children grew up and left the house, you realized a clean house and expensive furniture was not as important as you thought.
You must allow yourself the ability to enjoy the moment, because the moment is all you have. If you are always concerned about what others are doing, you will always find a situation that you think is preferable to your own.
Keep in mind you are just looking at a scripted snapshot of their reality. You have no idea the effort or the motivation behind the image someone else is trying to paint of their life.
Therefore, do not allow the fear of missing out to cause you to become depressed about your own life. Live your life to the best of your abilities, enjoying each interaction as it happens.
More Articles About Living a Joyful Life
- How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up
- How to Build Self Esteem (A Guide to Realize Your Hidden Power)
- The More We Compare, the More We Lose Ourselves
- How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy
Featured photo credit: Oleg Magni via unsplash.com
|||^||PsyCentral: FOMO Addiction: The Fear of Missing Out|
|||^||Time: The Best Way To Overcome The Fear Of Missing Out|
|||^||Anxiety And Depression Association of America: Tips To Get Over Your FOMO, Or Fear Of Missing Out|