The Big Idea
Most of us have heard of FOMO – the Fear Of Missing Out. It’s been around forever and has been very much fuelled by social media and the algorithms of tailored advertising. We’re conditioned to think that by not doing/having/going to/equalling/achieving/attending [insert here] something we’re going to miss out. Therefore, in order to be accepted, polite, compliant, cool, part of the group or some other reason, you have to go. You might miss an in joke, an opportunity, being ‘seen’, the tastiest meal ever or well, something that if you don’t you should be really fearful of…
This is after a social hangup that has probably been around make sure we stay as a tribe. Something that has helped us survive as a species. Thing is does it have down sides? Especially today? We think it does.
Now fear is not necessarily a bad thing. We know from our previous tips that being a little bit scared can be good for you. Back in #Tip43, Lou Sugden wouldn’t have got her Paralympic medal if she hadn’t faced the fear and tried a new sport. We also know though that being scared, stressed or fearful kicks off our adrenaline and cortisol responses that can over short ‘sprints’ be useful in helping us to be at our best.
Thing is this fear can also close down options and make ‘coulds’ into ‘shoulds’. This is ultimately restrictive and even debilitating for some of us. Are you a people pleaser or do you hate to let people down? Well we have a challenge for you in this #Tip: if you actually say no and miss out – what could you actually being saying ‘yes’ to? Rather than loosing out what could you actually gain? Could there actually be JOMO – the Joy Of Missing Out?
Got it…What’s the Science
There is no doubt that FOMO is what psychologists, sociologists and anthropologists (those that study human science and origins) would call ‘social conditioning’ – that’s a kind of ‘group think’, sometimes even brain washing, to help us as families, groups and teams to conform, to be cohesive – to agree and stay together. By being fearful of the consequences of not joining is really to be afraid of the social consequences which can impact on our status or standing within a social group. Missing out means we don’t keep up or in touch, making it harder to regain or catchup what might have been. So being ‘fearful’ of this means we are less likely to miss out on whatever the ‘it’ is that everyone else is doing. Problem is, particularly now, there is an awful lot of ‘it’ about! There is an ever increasing pressure to keep up on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter etc. and a hundred and one plus channels and platforms in which many, if not most, of us now consume, interact and communicate with information or ‘happenings’ 24/7. And that’s before we actually interact with those that we actually live and work with…
That said, FOMO can also arguably stretch us, because it is about what other possibilities out there for us. Problems is again that there is today, for much the same reasons, an ever increasing amount of possibilities (of it’s), that we can often end up by snatching at all sorts of possibilities and opportunities that might lead to more. We actually become fearful that we might miss THE one that really makes the difference – that it all can gets jumbled up, leaving us feeling exhausted, confused, more uncertain (and so more fearful) and actually less well off than before. This can leave us in a kind of ‘FOMO-lock’ or ‘FOMO-block’ struggling to know what we really want or who we really are. Do you think you we are being over dramatic? Well then ask yourself, when was the last time you felt you had complete control and agency of what you were doing and why you were doing it? In fact who you are and who you are becoming. This is becoming increasingly recognised as a psychological state or condition that doctors, therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists are become more concerned about.
By losing the connection and the associated dopamine and even oxytocin hits, or confusing the signals means we can loose touch and control about how to predict what has given them and why we need them in the first place. In effect we start loosing touch with reality the more that we are ‘plugged in’. The bottom line, our ‘hardware’ is not built (evolved) for going at this speed and transition. It can be a slippery slope into anxiety and depression – despite the Instagram images and Facebook posts that belie the lie that we / they know that we are actually living.
So what’s the answer?
Well as so many ancient wisdoms – it is actually simpler in principle than practice – it’s simply to simplify. Anyone who knows that they need connection and validation from others (or even from things) it can be a deeper trap and hole than you might think.
What we propose is that by flipping the FOMO you actually get a dopamine hit from being yourself and for choosing to live with the discomfort of missing out, facing the ‘fear’ of what you might, will miss out on and then missed out and letting it be. Instead focusing the ‘fear’ energy into focusing on what you are actually doing now. Like a Jedi, the power of the present is in fact the thing that determines our destiny. Want a more high-brow reference? CS Lewis actually said: “for the present is the point at which time touches eternity”. The fear of missing out actually means we are more likely to miss out!
Training your brain to slow down (#Tip48), to breathe (#Tip5), to refer to your own words of affirmation (#Tip47), maybe to flip or reframe the situation (#Tip23) and then to notice the small moments (#Tip11) by paying attention (#Tip8) and things that are before you actually means that your brain is in a more reseted and creative space to make connections, see patterns, hear intuition (#Tip45), to see the ‘wood for the trees’ and to make more strategic decisions that are much more likely going to be aligned with the person you want to be and the people that you actually want to be with (#Tip34). It can also just be really empowering, dare we say enjoyable, feeling to be the master of your own destiny rather than at the whim of others’.
Watch our #Tip49 on the Instagram Live Recording….
With Dulcie, the fab DigitalJen and Dr Iain complete with new 52 jumpers curtesy of Jen herself…
FOMO: How the Fear of Missing Out Leads to Missing Out by Rifkin et al., 2015 research paper.
This might not be one that you think you want to try but we suggest that it is probably one that you need to try to know if you can. It might need a bit of bravery and even might mean letting some stuff go (#Tip31). It might mean disconnecting and waking up to what opportunities are actually already at your feet or right in front of you. This is definitely another case for one of Dr Iain’s favourite phrases: “where the attention goes, the energy flows”.
Tales from our Test Partners
We’d love to hear about your FOMO or JOMO or even FOBO (Fear Of Better Opportunities) experiences. Get in touch and share so that we collectively gain the wisdom – or don’t of course – don’t fear that you will be missing out! ;0))
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