You know that feeling we get when we’re scrolling through our social media feed and see our friends posting pictures of themselves having unique experiences? For example, when they’re eating at a fancy restaurant, taking exotic vacations around the world, celebrating milestones with fancy parties, getting promoted, or running marathons?
That feeling was named FOMO- fear of missing out in 2004 by a psychologist and has become popularized by social media in recent years. This isn’t a new feeling. Before the internet, we used to call it ‘keeping up with the Joneses' and we tried everything we could to look, act and feel better than the 'Joneses'.
Unfortunately, social media has amplified this need to compare our lives so much that we fall into fear, anxiety, and worry rabbit holes and end up in the land of insecurity and scarcity. As we compete and try to get ahead of those around us, it's only natural to feel FOMO as we cannot stay ahead of everyone all the time. Instead, it may be more helpful to identify our strengths and improve them and not try to be like everyone else. This way we all succeed and find joy in cheering each other on as they celebrate their wins.
The problem with social media is that it only showcases the highlight reel of people’s lives, showing an inaccurate picture. Yet, we fall prey to these images and in our quest for a better version of our lives, we crave what we see. I remember seeing pictures of a friend skydiving in Dubai and feeling FOMO, only to think about it later and realize that I’m not even sure I was willing to do that if I had the chance.
FOMO can be of two types:
True FOMO: When you genuinely feel like you want to do what you see your friends doing. In this case, all you need to do is use their experience as inspiration and create a plan to achieve the same.
For me, an example of true FOMO is when I see pictures of people traveling the world. and while I may not be able to travel as much or in the same way, I try to do my best to recreate those experiences with the time and resources that I have.
I choose to focus on the vacations that I have taken and reminisce the good times and that brings me joy. I'm also inspired by other people's travel pictures to try out new destinations for my future travels.
2. Fake FOMO: When you have not even given the activity any thought and need to assess whether you would even enjoy the activity you see your friends doing.
An example of fake FOMO for me would be when I used to see someone run a marathon. It was an experience that felt glamorous in my mind, but after I ran my first 5k, I never felt the desire to do more than that. It wasn't something I truly wanted to accomplish.
I realized that I prefer strength training over running and watching my body get strong is what brings me joy. Now I feel joy in knowing that running a full marathon was fake FOMO for me. When I see someone running a marathon I can happily celebrate their success without any FOMO.
Once you identify what type of FOMO you feel, you can decide whether or not it is a legitimate feeling. Just because somebody else is enjoying an experience, does not mean that we will also enjoy the same experience. In fact, we might even feel JOMO-joy of missing out with certain experiences.
Every time you feel FOMO, remember to assess the feeling to see if it's something you truly desire. If you do, the next step is to create your own plan and take inspiration from your friends. If you want that promotion, understand what it takes to get there, and get to work. And if it's not, then focus on the things that you do want to accomplish and take joy in the fact that you are not wasting your energy on an experience that does not bring you joy.
Here's a fun little acronym to help you shift your energy and mindset from FOMO to JOMO.
Choose: Make conscious choices about where you invest your time and energy. Decide what truly matters to you and prioritize those activities.
Appreciate: Practice gratitude for what you have and the experiences you get to enjoy. Focus on the positives in your life rather than what you might be missing.
Limit: Set limits on social media and information consumption. Reduce exposure to FOMO triggers and give yourself space to focus on the present.
Mindfulness: Stay mindful of your emotions and thoughts. When FOMO strikes, take a deep breath, and remind yourself of all the people who wish they had your life.
By remembering the "C.A.L.M." acronym, you can find peace and contentment in the face of FOMO. Choose wisely, appreciate what you have, set healthy limits, and practice mindfulness to maintain a calmer and more joyful mindset.
Blogger bio: Chitra Rochlani is a wellness coach, medium and intuitive healer. Her mission is to empower you bring out the warrior within and tame the evil inner witch. She specializes in breaking down topics like mindset, intuition and manifestation into practical and systematic steps. She is the author of a new book called "The Warrior Mindset" in which she lists the 7 mindset shifts needed to declutter the mind and unleash the warrior within.
Chitra is a NASM certified personal trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist, Behavior Change Specialist, and Precision Nutrition Coach.