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Humans are social critters by and large. Most of us need and enjoy social contact to varying degrees. Calling up friends and inviting them to dinner or a movie or to take part in an activity is something we look forward to. But who's experienced the non-committal reply, "Oh, I'll let you know closer to the time" or "Um, not sure at the moment, I'll get back to you"? Or are you the person giving the non-committal reply?
In receiving an invitation, why are people hesitant to just say, "Yes, I'll be there"?
It seems people are afraid of missing out on a better offer. They're experiencing Fomo, fear of missing out. The inability to commit is motivated by fear that in accepting one invitation they might miss out on a "better" invitation.
For the sufferer, fear of missing out frequently provokes feelings of anxiety. They think others are experiencing more pleasure, success, prestige or fulfillment in their lives than they are. That anxiety and thinking create restlessness, stress and even more anxiety.
Getting stuck in a Fomo behaviour pattern diminishes the overall quality of life. Firstly, chronic anxiety and stress are known to have harmful effects on both body and mind. Secondly, rather than just missing out on the "all important" invitation, Fomoers are likely to miss lots of events, fun and social connection as they wait to see what comes up that's better. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Fomoers skate along the surface of life as they chase the elusive better invitation. True fulfillment requires both presence and engagement.
The antidote to Fomo is Jomo (the joy of missing out).
Jomo is the emotionally intelligent antidote to Fomo and is essentially about being present and being content with where you are at in life. Jomo allows us to live life in the slow lane, to appreciate human connections and be intentional with our time.
We can practise saying "no"; we can give ourselves "tech-free breaks". It can give us permission to acknowledge where we are and to feel what we feel.
Instead of constantly trying to keep up with the Joneses, Jomo allows us to be who we are in the present moment. When you free up that competitive and anxious space in your brain, you have so much more time, energy and emotion to identify your true priorities.
Here are some things to think about:
•What are your values? What are the things in life that are truly important to you? Who are the people that you can be yourself around? Who are the people that like you and respect you for who you are right now?
•Take control back. Be intentional with your time. Schedule things that are important to you, whether it's working out or meeting a friend for coffee. Make your time your priority, instead of wasting time worrying about what other individuals are doing or thinking.
•Give yourself permission to live in the present. If you are having a bad day, go easy on yourself. If you just received good news, then take a moment to celebrate. If you feel that you are in constant competition with someone on social media, then ask yourself why you're feeling this way.
•Embrace tech-free time: Unsubscribe from social media accounts and un-follow individuals who trigger your Fomo or cause you to feel any type of negativity. Set daily limits to how long you can spend on social media or delete certain social media apps from your phone so you can only engage with them when you are at home on your computer.
•Practise saying "No". You don't always have to go to that event or take that phone call. Sometimes saying "no" is the best kind of self-care. Even if you want to help someone but feel it will have a negative impact on yourself, say "no" in order to protect yourself. Self-care starts by saying "no".
•Experience real life (not social media life). Jomo allows you to have more free time by eliminating wasted time spent scrolling social media feeds. Instead of spending your free moments on the drama of social media, email and text messages, what if you chose to disconnect and do the things that you enjoy, such as cooking, spending time outdoors, and spending time with your family?
•Slow down, do one thing at a time. Be mindful about what you are doing. Focus fully on one thing at a time. Attempting to apply yourself to too many tasks at once scatters your ability and concentration. When focusing on a single task and giving it your full attention, you're more likely to be successful in producing a high-quality result and increasing internal levels of satisfaction.
Many people who are on their deathbed will tell you they don't regret the missed parties or the superficial friendships. What they regret is the deeper stuff, the long dinner conversations with family, not being true to themselves, not developing deeper relationships or mending broken ones.
Instead of having Fomo over posts on social media, we should be wary about having Fomo over missing moments with loved ones, watching sunsets, laughing at jokes, travelling, walking barefoot through the grass, hearing the sound of the ocean, feeling the wind on your face and enjoying good food and time with those who matter to us.
Jan Aitken is a Dunedin-based life coach.
For more go to www.fitforlifecoaches.co.nz.