The Fear of Missing Out


Have you heard of FOMO?  It’s an acronym for Fear of Missing Out.

Did you knowingly smile and nod when you read that?  Are you familiar with that feeling of not wanting to be left out of something good?

In our world of so much – so much going on, so many things to choose from – it’s common to feel this fear and the clutching feeling that comes with it.  After all, we can’t do everything.

Sadly, we usually just laugh about it, not appreciating how very destructive it is.

But the thing is, FOMO pushes us to ignore our inner guidance.  We aren’t choosing what genuinely attracts us or where we feel led to go.  Instead, we’re choosing what we’re afraid NOT to have or do.  The more we ignore our inner guidance, the quieter it gets.

FOMO pushes us to do too much.  It keeps going even when our bodies, minds or spirits are depleted and need rest.  Burnout is a serious condition for a large part of our population, and much of it originates in this fear.

FOMO also pushes us to choose things from a sense of lack.  We’re often more focused on what we think we’ll miss if we DON’T do or have something than excited about what we’ll actually GET from doing or having it.

When we’re led by FOMO, we buy things we never use and sign up for programs we never follow through with.  We waste our precious resources of time, energy and money.

It’s important to know that FOMO comes from inside of us.  It’s rooted in our own sense of lack and incompleteness.  We believe that there’s something wrong with us that needs to be changed, filled or compensated for, so that’s what we try unsuccessfully to do.

How to deal with FOMO

Start seeing if you can notice when you’re feeling FOMO.  Warning – it can be very subtle.  If this fear’s been a big inner player for you, it may take a while to see it for what it is.

It’s amazing how often we have no idea what’s guiding our choices, our thoughts and our feelings.  We simply accept them at face value and act on them.

Tweet: FOMO pushes us to ignore our inner guidance.

So the first thing to do is to develop some space.  Create space between your thought or feeling and your next action.  You can do this by practicing the pause.

The way to pause is to stop, take a breath and get curious before you act.   What are you thinking and feeling?  What’s motivating this choice or action?

If you notice you’re experiencing FOMO, ask yourself these questions:

  • What am I really afraid of missing out on?  Is this a satisfying and beneficial way for me to get it?
  • Is this aligned with what I’m creating, where I’m heading and who I’m becoming?
  • Am I feeling drawn to it (a feeling of expansion and lightness), or am I feeling grabby and desperate?

These questions will help you have a deeper understanding and a truer sense of what’s going on.  You’ll also have a good sense of whether buying or participating in whatever you’re thinking about is in your best interest.

I always encourage gentle curiosity with my clients.  Don’t judge the FOMO.  That sets up a whole dynamic of shame and blame that’s counterproductive.  The shame-blame game is a black hole that sucks your energy and attention.  

Look for the gifts

One of the good things about FOMO is that it shows us what’s really important to us.

The first question above, “What am I really afraid of missing out on?” can be enlightening.  You may discover that you care about things you didn’t realize were so important to you.  You may find that you’re afraid of missing out on something you already have but weren’t fully appreciating!

The more consciously we live our lives, the more empowered we are.  Becoming aware of your FOMO builds your awareness in general.  And that’s a great thing.

What are you afraid of missing out on?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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