Find a way of managing your fear of missing out, says Duncan Ellison, of Active Listening Therapies
NOW that movement restrictions have been eased and shops are able to open their doors there will, no doubt, be an eagerness to do the things we have not been able to do for the last year or so, writes Duncan Ellison, of Active Listening Therapies.
Some people will be more eager than others for fear of missing out (FOMO) could be influencing the way they think.
Fear of missing out is a relatively new term and is closely linked with another related psychological condition called Fear of a Better Option, both of which were identified in 2004 and are self-defeating notions where a person is convinced that other people are enjoying a better life through the social choices they make.
It is a compulsive desire to experience something, or be somewhere, motivated not by what you gain, but rather the fear of what you may, potentially, be losing.
In an age when most people use social media to let their friends and family know what they are doing, where they are and even what they are eating, it is easy to understand why four in ten people can identify with FOMO and believe it is the cause of anxiety and low self-worth.
Oddly, for those who are affected, they may not know what the trigger is, but simply knowing someone is having a better time than you is never going to be comfortable if you are unable to accept that having everything you want in life is unattainable.
Advertising and marketing play a big part in how we think, and it is hard to avoid promotions for the latest must-have items. Arguably, they are not must-haves until we see how smart, enticing, life enhancing the products are — even more so when we see other people eating, wearing and driving these brands.
While the adverts do their job, seeing our neighbours with the latest fashion can bring on feelings of jealousy.
In a consumer driven world, it is easy to understand how FOMO develops in early age and by the time we reach adulthood, if we have not experienced achieving high levels of satisfaction, there could be a sense of failure or loss.
It is quite easy to forget that we are not all running the same race; there is no point comparing yourself to other people — we are all hugely different.
The first question needs to be what does happiness mean to you?
The next is an acceptance of choice. What if I said you could have the things you believe you are missing out on — you would be delighted?On one hand you are instantly being satisfied, but there is the large debt to pay off, which could be contributing to your unhappiness.
The blame can not fall solely at the feet of the product managers, who pay huge sums to connect their advertising with aspirational egos.
Every time you post on social media about where you are, who you are with and what you are doing, you are spreading the virus.
This encourages other people to share their version of life perfection, only to make those who are unable to reach such heights feel inadequate.
This begs the questions, are you really missing out, or is it attention that satisfies you?
Being happier may require you to withdraw from attention. If we all stop promoting in an egocentric way, we stop fighting against ourselves — and ultimately, stop trying to impress and satisfy our own needs.
Should it not be about health, happiness and wellbeing, rather than what we are able to buy or where we are able to go which is important?
FOMO robs you of the enjoyment of what is happening right now. Rather than trying to experience it all, just take a moment to experience what you have and add significance or lasting meaning.
FOMO starts with sadness; it is painful seeing something you want that is out of reach, so revaluate what is important to you — and what is achievable.
Social media is not the devil, but don’t rely on it to provide a realistic picture of everyone else’s life. Assessing your happiness against what other people are posting is a quick road to disappointment.
The reality is we are always going to miss out on something so let’s be mindful of that and find a way of managing it, so we don’t feel undervalued.