Are you in FOMO? And five tips to get you out of it
I was chatting to a friend of mine recently, who was worrying that her life was stalling when all around her everyone seemed to be getting on with their lives. One of her friends had just got a promotion, another had just announced she was engaged and countless of her other friends were having their first and even second babies. She was living at home, was single for years and had had the same 'dead end' job for years. I could empathise with her as I had also felt that dreaded 'Fear Of Missing Out' aka FOMO, a while back too.
What triggers FOMO is often when we feel we have no control over our lives. We want to meet someone and settle down but it just doesn't seem to happen. Every date you go on seems to be with Mr or Miss commitment-phobe, or just when you think you have put everything into your career you get overlooked for promotion. Or perhaps you are yearning to own your own home.
You then start to look at everyone else's lives and think they are much more exciting, settled, mature, thrilling, fun etc. than your life. Often what we think is going on "out there" with other people, is a projection of our own thoughts. Thoughts can often be like clouds, in that if we notice them in a detached way, they will often float right on by. It's when we start to believe our thoughts as real, that we often experience the negative emotions attached to them.
Remember, there is no one way to live our lives. We don't all have to follow the traditional way of doing things. Sometimes, some of us may take a little longer to get to where we want to be, but I have found that the journey has been one of the most interesting, fun and full of personal growth, when I have given myself a break and just let things be.
Of course, I'm not saying that when you are having one of those FOMO moments that it's easy to pull yourself out of it, so here are my top five tips to help you get yourself out of FOMO:
1) Start making your own plans that you can influence and bring about
I lamented once about not having anyone to go on holiday with. I wanted to be with someone to experience that weekend city break with. Then I realised that waiting for Mr Right could mean that I may never see any of the cities I wanted to see. So I planned a mini break for myself and it was a trip where I learnt more about myself, increased my self-esteem and I remembered that I actually liked my own company.
2) Accept reality as it is right now
So you may not be at the level in your career that you wanted or you are not on the property ladder yet. Accepting what is and your feelings about it can often be liberating. We are often thinking about the future or are so haunted by the past that we don't take time to accept what actually is going on right now. By the way, accepting reality does not mean that you are resigned to it, it just enables you to decide what you do want. In the book 'Radical Acceptance: Embracing your life with the heart of a Buddha', Tara Brach writes:
"We lay foundations of radical acceptance by recognising when we are caught in the habit of judging, resisting and grasping... as we let go of our stories of what is wrong with us, we begin to touch what is actually happening with a clear and kind attention".
3) After accepting the reality of the situation you can start to ask yourself what is it you really want in life
Do you really want that promotion or is it something you think you should have? Do you really want to have your own house or is it something that you think at your age it's something you should have? Listen out for the 'should be's or 'should haves' in your language - they are often clues about things that may not bring you the happiness you want. Are you following others paths because you think that is the right thing to do or because it's the traditional thing to do? Asking what you truly want can be illuminating because you may find that what you are hankering after isn't actually what will make you happy.
4) Sometimes the grass isn't always greener
When we think other people's lives are better than ours, we often are not in the possession of all the knowledge about our friends lives. Often people find it harder to talk openly about what might be struggles for them, if they think that you are admiring or hankering after what they have or if they think that discussing something thats not going well for them is being ungrateful when they know that is what you really want. Chat to friends who you think 'have it all' with an open non-judgemental attitude. You may be surprised about what you do learn and how you can help them.
5) All things pass and so this moment will too
Our lives will not stay the same way forever (even if you think its been that way for a while). Life has a funny way of sorting itself out even if we don't know it at the time.
Finally I will end on a quote from the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus:
"Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you do not have;
Remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for."
A very wise man indeed!
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