Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Coping with FOMO



Are you being too hard on yourself? As much as I love some good personal development and am always trying to make progress in every area I'm also trying to be kinder to myself. And it must be important because it just keeps coming up in everything I'm reading or listening to.

Here's the thing. Y'all. We have got some serious FOMO. All of us. And you know what? It's not really our fault, though there are some things we can do to help lessen the effects. Sometimes it comes in the form of feeling behind or wondering why we haven't accomplished more by now.

What's FOMO?

In case you aren't familiar with this term, FOMO stands for fear of missing out. And it sounds innocent enough like a toddler who doesn't want to stop playing to take a nap, but it can really affect how we feel. It can pop up any time we start comparing any part of our lives or our experiences to anyone else's. This includes everything from vacations to kids' activities. If you are a party-loving extrovert it can often show up around not being invited or included in social activities.

Pre-Social Media Example

Have you ever returned from a vacation that you thoroughly enjoyed until someone asked what you did? I had this happen. Once after my first big trip out of the country which I thought was great fun traveling to London with my husband and kids, a friend asked me if I had done several things that I hadn't. After a series of questions along that line, she said: "Well, what did you do?" Suddenly my trip felt less than.

Enter Social Media

Y'all. That was long before social media. Now we can get those feelings instantly just by opening our Instagram or Facebook accounts and seeing all the things about all the people all the time. Well, at least all the things they want us to see. So much has been written about this that I'm not going to elaborate. We are all having a similar experience here.

When it's about your life

What about when it isn't someone's newly renovated kitchen, vacay in the south of France, invite to the swankiest party of the year?

What if your feelings of FOMO are centered around the big stuff you feel you are missing out on? What if your negative self is rearing its ugly head and tormenting you? I recently woke up on a vacation filled with regret. All I could think of is how late it is in my life and all that I haven't done. I imagined what I would do differently if I could start over and those ideas and feelings just kept me tumbling lower and lower!

I had to remind myself that, A. there was ZERO point in having these thoughts. And, B. that I was making myself feel terrible because of the thoughts I was choosing. Our thoughts are the one thing we actually do have total control over and when we let ourselves spin out like that we can also rein it in and redirect any time we want.

What to do

1. Offer yourself some grace. Imagine yourself as a friend and have a dialogue with yourself. What would you say to a friend who felt this way?

2. Look at all you have done. You did the best you could. If you had known better you would have done better. You chose from the options available, or that looked available to you at the time. If any of these things are really important can you start working on one of them now?

3. Recognize that a lot of these feelings are coming from a feeling of scarcity. We feel like there isn't enough, time, money, energy, resources.

Let Some of it Go.

You were lied to. So was I. Because in reality we can't all really be or do whatever we want. If my heartfelt desire was to be an NBA star you can see how all the vision boarding, positive thinking, and hard work in the world could still not make that happen for a 55-year-old non-athletic female. It's also a little late if I wanted to be a prima ballerina. But could I start training and run a marathon if I wanted? Sure. Could I write a book? Yep. Start a business? You bet. There are actual limits, we just want to make sure we aren't making up limitations that aren't really there as excuses.

And one last thing to mention here is that sometimes we feel these feelings because we don't even know what we want. There are certain things I don't care about, but if I'm with people for a while who place a lot of importance on them I can start to wonder if I should want those things too. When I have that feeling pop up I remind myself that if those things had been important to me I would have been working toward them by now.

Knowing what our goals and priorities for life are can alleviate much of the FOMO we encounter.



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