FOMO (AKA the Fear Of Missing Out) is the anxiety of the modern age. It can cause you to feel left out, or burnt out. It can make you lose sleep, feel depressed, and experience conflict in your relationships.
If FOMO is an ever-present feeling in your life, you might want to stop worrying so much about your actual plans, and instead, address what’s below the surface – what you’re actually afraid of – if you do miss out.
Below are the 5 most common causes of FOMO that I see in my practice. Check them out, and see if any resonate with you.
Once you know what type of FOMO you’re dealing with, you can then explore more deeply about how to move forward with your feelings.
1. FODO – The Fear OF Disappointing Others (Or FODY – Fear of Disappointing Yourself)
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but disappointment is a part of life. It is uncomfortable and unpleasant, but it is an emotion you can’t avoid. You’re going to experience it, and everyone you know will experience it.
And I get it. Of course you don’t want to feel disappointed, or guilty about disappointing others. But sometimes, you have to feel disappointed in the short term in order to build healthy habits and care for yourself over the long term.
For example, saying no to plans because you’re completely exhausted might not sound like a lot of fun. However, it could be exactly what you need to recharge and feel more centered in the long run.
You can learn how to deal with the discomfort of FOMO by being with your feelings. Sitting with the discomfort of disappointment, or really any emotion is a skill that you can learn.
You can start by processing some of those emotions in a journal. To get the most out of your journaling, check out my Free Journaling Packet, which includes 30 days of journal prompts, plus a feelings wheel to help you better understand your emotions as you get them all out.
2. FOBU – Fear Of Being Unproductive
If you are a high-achiever, always on the go, and are constantly feeling burnt out, then this might be at the root of your FOMO.
Remember: there is nothing wrong with not being productive. In fact, another word for “unproductive” is “resting” or “relaxing.”
And if you don’t know how to relax, maybe you never learned how. Or perhaps you’re worried about what might come up for you by slowing down.
Luckily, relaxing is also a skill you can practice and get better at. All you have to do is explore what kind of activities make you feel more at ease.
This could be anything from meditating, to watching “Love Is Blind,” on Netflix, to taking an extra long shower. Or my personal favorite activity for relaxing – taking a literal cat nap with my cat.
Do what feels good for you, or learn to do nothing at all.
3. FOBA – Fear Of Being Alone
One of the most effective ways to deal with FOMO is to enjoy your own company. You can start by reframing the experience from “I’m all alone” to “I’m spending time with myself.” Click here for more tips on how!
Because you really are never alone, you always have yourself as company. And, you can actually do things with yourself!
You can start a new hobby. Or have a self-care night. You can binge a Netflix show, go for a walk, dance naked in your bedroom, stare off into space – who cares? Learning to laugh at yourself can help you to enjoy your time with yourself more too.
I also recommend you practice having alone time by scheduling it instead of waiting until you’re forced to be by yourself. This can help you feel more in control of your time instead of being at the mercy of your friends’ schedules.
And, eventually you can turn your FOMO into JOMO – the JOY Of Missing Out.
4. FOWOT – Fear Of What Others Think
If you worry a lot about what others think, welcome to being human. This concern comes up all the time in my practice, so if you can relate, check out my post on How To Stop Worrying About Others and Focus On Yourself.
But for now, repeat after me: “No one is thinking about me as much as I am thinking about me.”
And, it’s important to remember that no matter what you do, you will never be able to control what others think of you anyway. All you have control over is yourself. Your life. How you want to spend your time. And what you think.
You’re better off staying true to yourself than adjusting how you act in order to placate others. This doesn’t mean you should be inconsiderate or stop taking others’ feelings into account.
And if the fear of what others think is getting in the way of you living your life, I highly recommend this life-changing book, What You Think Of Me Is None of My Business.
5. FONBL – Fear Of Not Being Liked
When everyone seems to be out having a good time and you’re stuck with no plans, it’s easy to go down a rabbit hole of fear that no one likes you.
This is unlikely to be the case.
What is likely, is that your brain is creating a cognitive distortion, which is a thought that is unproductive or simply untrue.
Knowing the types of cognitive distortions that are out there can help you better recognize when you’re having them and talk yourself down from the ledge before it becomes overwhelming.
The two distortions I see when people experience FONBL are:
- Overgeneralization – you’re making a broad statement that if you don’t have plans it means no one, ever in the world, that you have ever been friends with, actually likes you.
- Making an Assumption – You’re assuming that not being invited out this weekend must mean you aren’t liked.
But let’s say the worst case scenario is true, and your friends don’t like you.
You have a few options:
- Find friends that appreciate you for who you are.
- Understand why others don’t want to spend time with you and decide if you want to try and change some of those things.
And at the end of the day, what’s most important is that you like yourself. Because if you like yourself, the sting of others not liking you won’t hurt as much.
So, what is at the root of your FOMO?
Tell me – which type of FOMO do you tend to experience the most? And how does it feel to pinpoint the root of your FOMO? Please reach out and let me know your thoughts!