FOMO, the fear of missing out is a fear that many people around the world relate to and it is a fear that many people around the world do not relate to. And the differences between those who do fear missing out and those who don’t, spells out the answer for how to resolve this fear.
When people fear missing out, they fear that other people will have rewarding and enriching experiences that they won't and they fear the consequences of not being a part of those experiences. It is primarily a fear about what someone won’t have rather than a desire to have something.
Social media has exacerbated this issue immensely because not only is there too much media to experience being in the know of all of it, it is made up of pictures and posts of so many people having experiences that you were not a part of, which makes you feel left out or like you don’t have something and lacking or lonely because of it. But it is a misconception to think that social media created the fear of missing out. It only put a magnifying glass on a shadow that already existed.
Because we all have human egos and the human ego compares, social media is bound to make us feel like we lack something someone else has, whether it is knowledge or a possession or an experience. Even though this does cause us to feel bad and feel lack, this is different to the genuine fear of missing out. It is tempting to think that the fear of missing out is simply about wanting to experience things in life and hating the feeling of missing out on something that could be rewarding. But the root of this issue is much deeper and more complex than that.
People, who really struggle with the fear of missing out, struggle with social anxiety. The primary experiences in childhood that give rise to this particular form of social anxiety later in life are the following:
This child was raised by caregivers who did not have the capacity to love a child for what that child uniquely and innately is, but rather who see a child as something to mold into what they have decided is right and good. In this environment, when a child prioritizes their own fun or what they want, they meet with disapproval and shaming and withdrawal for it. Doing what they wanted led to conflict with people they couldn’t afford to be in conflict with. As a result, the child develops a serious fear of disappointing others. They adapt by conforming to the environment. To do this, they have to transplant their own internal guidance system, which is oriented towards feeling good, with other people’s guidance, and do this is the name of avoiding consequences.
Because we are still in the dark ages with regards to love and how we create social order and cohesion, a parent does not have to be abusive at all to create this condition. Often the most “involved” parents are the ones who create this condition.
This child is not a child who is enabled or allowed to create their own life according to what feels good; they have to choose what they do by different criteria and fit their enjoyment into the category of what is approved of by others. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Why Follow Your Joy Doesn’t Always Work. Often they have to make their enjoyment fit into very strict guidelines and parameters… Those things that their caregivers will approve of. This also gives rise to powerlessness because they feel they are powerless to really do and be anything and create any experience they want to create. Therefore, they are at the mercy of “opportunity” created by other people to have enriching experiences.
The next painful layer added to this was that if they made a choice in favor of their own fun and enjoyment in a scenario that was not supported by the people they needed in childhood, they perceived it being so wrong and feeling a loss of approval and loss of closeness to such a degree that they learned they could not trust themselves. They project all the things that could go wrong and tend to choose the safest and most familiar option. Choices scare them. This is why so many people who struggle with FOMO also struggle with indecision. To learn more about this, watch my video titled: Indecision (Decisions and Indecisiveness). There is very little, if any leniency in these early households for mistakes and perceived huge consequences for them, which leads to a terror of regret. People with FOMO have almost no tolerance for the feeling of regret.
This same disapproval and withdrawal was also granted at times where they chose not to participate in things. Because the caregivers saw lack of participation as a personal rejection, they unconsciously reacted to that by rejecting the child in return. Yet again, not being a part of activities and even not being “in the know” was associated with disapproval, withdrawal (loss of connection) and not belonging. So there was pressure to join and be in the know or lose one’s place in the family.
And then the next layer came. Because this child was seen as something to mold, not something to accommodate, when they went on adventures and had experiences with people in their early environment, no one accommodated for their needs and made adjustments according to those needs so that the child felt fulfilled and secure. This led to anxiety with no way to get anyone to take their needs as part of their own so as to remedy their discomfort. This leads to the idea that if they do join other people’s experiences, they have to co-dependently go along with everything no matter what. This makes these adventures seem potentially always unsafe instead of feeling like anything they dislike can be remedied or changed. They feel totally powerless in this way. For this reason, people with FOMO
Don’t just fear not going, they also fear going.
Yet again, the social issue that gives rise to the fear of missing out was growing up in environments and ending up in environments later on in life where the message is “you can’t have you and have me too”.
People who struggle with FOMO are going to do what is expected of them. If they can fit enjoyment into those parameters, they will do that. But if doing what is rewarding conflicts with a responsibility or something “smarter” than fun, because it guarantees avoiding consequences, they will choose that. This way of approaching life is a family value.
People who struggle with FOMO are terrified of disappointing people and of not being included. They fear that if they disappoint people, and don’t join in on everything that is happening with everyone, and aren’t ‘in the know’ on everything, they will lose connection and inclusion with those people. Therefore, the worst nightmare for someone with FOMO is the idea of being in a lose-lose situation whereby their decision means disappointing one person, or another person. This means losing one or the other. Since life is full of so many people doing and having so many things, this also makes it so that people with FOMO tend to have VERY full plates. To not lose closeness with people and to avoid lacking things or the potential lack of things, you have to do and know and have everything, which is impossible for a human.
People who do not experience FOMO have an innate sense that they can do whatever they want. It occurs to their mind as insanity that doing something they want should have the consequences of someone not approving them, withdrawing from them or being disappointed in them for not conforming. They see this is not love; it is a person being in love with their own vision/creation. People who do not have FOMO feel that those who do not approve of what they want do not have lives that they would want to emulate anyway. They have an attitude of ‘I’m going to die anyways, why not take risks and do what I want’. As a result, they like what they do have and have created in life. They are fulfilled. They tend to go for experiences for the experience itself rather than something the experience gives them, like social status.
People who do not have FOMO are not limited by their fear because they feel empowered in two defining ways. The first is that they feel empowered to create the life they want according to what really feels good to them, no matter what other people think. This makes them a leader of adventure and the creator of opportunities. If people are doing something cool, the only reason not to go along is if they are going to do something even cooler. And when they do those things, they are fully present with it instead of thinking about what other thing they could be doing. And they do not feel powerless to those experiences when they get into them. If they get into a situation they don’t like, they will not codependently go along with it. They will change horses mid stream, change their mind or change the situation in some way so it feels better to them. People who do not have FOMO do not live according to obligation; they feel obligation is a trap. And last but not least, they do not make not enjoying something or not going along for an experience, mean something negative about them.
So what should you do if you struggle with FOMO?
- Face the real root of the social anxiety you are experiencing, which is what you are trying to avoid. Not feeling wanted, included, loved as you are as a person and not feeling like you were seen, heard, felt, understood or accommodated in your childhood. Feeling like you could not create your own life by doing what you wanted to do. Feeling like the only way to get belonging and closeness and reward was to comply and conform. The wound you are facing is conditional love. Not being able to have yourself without losing them and having them by losing yourself. If you want to dig deep into this wound, pick a time when you are triggered by the fear of missing out and go deep into that trigger with the completion process. You can learn all about this process and how to do it in my book that is literally titled The Completion Process.
- Learn to live from love and what you truly want instead of living to avoid consequences. To love something is to take it as a part of yourself. When we do this, we naturally include their best interests as a part of our own best interests and this makes it a choice made with our free will (which feels empowering and free) to meet their needs and accommodate other people. This is the opposite of abandoning our needs and wants for closeness with them so as to avoid consequences. If we are loved back, people will do this with us and will naturally want to enable our desires and needs. They will accommodate us. Therefore we can really live our life according to our joy and create rewarding experiences without losing people. We will also feel that if we do not participate in things, we will not lose that connection with other people.
Fomo is a form of scarcity mentality. If you struggle with FOMO, you feel a shortage of rewarding experiences and you fear opportunities will not come around again and first and foremost you do not feel empowered to create rewarding experience. The primary problem here that needs to be faced, admitted to and dealt with is that if you felt like the life you were living was bringing you joy and you were doing things according to joy, you would not feel like you were missing anything. You would not feel the lack of anything. If you so loved tinkering around in your workshop, you wouldn’t feel you were missing out on anything by not going to the beach. Instead, by going to the beach, you would feel you were going sideways of your own internal guidance system in terms of what you really want to do. It would feel less fulfilling. You also would know you can always go to the beach another time.
See to what degree you are living your life specifically to avoid consequences and out of obligation and out of a sense of what is right and good. See to what degree you have to fit your enjoyment into a box of predefined should and shouldn’ts. This causes a bankruptcy of fulfillment in life. What do you really want that you are avoiding because it creates insecurities in you? What are those insecurities? What has to change in order for you to be willing to change this?
- You feel very out of control in experiences that you do have. The anxiety itself makes those experiences not fun. Part of this is that you were never accommodated. You need to see that if you join along for an experience, you can make changes to that experience in order to make it feel better to you. This will dispel a lot of the anxiety that is occurring when you do join in. For example, if you hate it, you can leave. If you want it to look a different way, take control and plan the trip so it will feel good to you. If you need to go to sleep at a certain time, express that to the people going. Find people who are compatible to you, so you will have similar needs and preferences for the experiences you have together. It needs to be an experience where you can go along and have your needs met. Right now, you are in a place where you either don’t go and don’t have your needs met but feel less anxiety in some ways or go and feel more anxiety in some ways but keep connection and also don’t get your needs met. Are you sick of the lose-lose scenarios yet?
- Learn how to be afraid. You are afraid of social consequences, real or imagined. Don’t make an enemy of your desire to be close to others and valued and loved by them. Just learn how to tolerate and caretake your fear. We have an absolute intolerance for fear. But this makes it so our fear is debilitating and controls our life. We live our life from avoidance rather than from creating what we do want. For more information about this and about how to overcome the jail that fear can be, pick up a copy of my book or audio book, The Anatomy of Loneliness, in which I have an entire section dedicated to fear.
- If you struggle with FOMO, whether you admit to it or not, you have the perception that your needs are not met. And many of those needs you perceive are not being met because of not being included. You need to be the initiator of your needs being met and the initiator of the creation of the experiences you want. Therefore, focusing on meeting your needs in a direct way is critical. To understand more about this, watch my videos titled: ‘Meet Your Needs’ and ‘How To Meet Your Unmet Needs’.
Chose to do things for the experience itself, not for what the experience gets you. Stop looking at everything in this world as a way to get ahead or stay safe socially. Learning to live your life for what brings you joy means breaking free from the need for people to perceive you in a certain way. This strategy was necessary for you to gain that conditional inclusion and approval and closeness in your childhood. But is that the world you want to perpetuate?
Don’t take that photo at that amazing destination and post it because you want other people to see the awesome thing you are doing. Take that photo after really enjoying the amazing destination because you want to remember it always. Don’t get that degree because of how it will make others treat you, get it cause you really want it for you. Don’t buy that pair of designer jeans because it is a symbol of wealth. Wear what you love to wear. Don’t marry that person because of how they make you look to others. Marry because that relationship really fills you up inside. Don’t take that job because it is practical or gives you status. Do the thing that fills you with purpose and passion. FOMO is first and foremost a desire to experience something because of the fear of what you will potentially lack, rather than a genuine desire for what you hope to gain. Go for deeper fulfillment that nourishes your soul.
- No one, including you can know everything and be everywhere doing the best thing at all times. So many people with FOMO actually have this expectation or desire for themselves. Let go of it because you will fail at this. You are always going to be missing out on something, all of us are. The constant comparison you are doing between yourself and others is contributing to this. It is making you feel left out and as if you don’t belong. To learn the solution to this, watch my videos titled: ‘Belonging and How To Belong’ and ‘Instant Belonging’.
Slow down. Do not multitask. And when you are doing whatever you have decided to do, be unconditionally present with it. Really be there doing and fully experiencing it instead of focusing constantly on what you could be having or doing and instead or yearning for what else would be better to do or have. Think about how much you would like it if the person doing something with you was always focusing on what they were missing out on by being with you. The things you are doing and do have in your life deserve more of your focus and devotion. Appreciation and gratitude is an antidote to FOMO, so practice it.
It is human nature to want to be included, close and connected with people. This is our nature. Being left out feels like hell, feeling like we do lack or potentially will lack something we need, feels like hell. Feeling that because we lack something, we are less than others, feels like hell. Feeling like our belonging or closeness in people’s lives is dependent upon us doing everything and being everything and knowing everything, feels like hell. But living our life from avoidance is the biggest hell. If you can accept that you will always be missing out on something and simply live your life in each moment according to what really fulfills you, experiencing it fully when you do it, your Fear Of Missing Out will diminish.