Feeling Left Out? It May Be Fear of Missing Out

Maybe you just found out that all of your friends are going to an event that you’re not able to attend, or maybe you’ve noticed that many people have the newest smartphone while yours is a few years old. Or maybe you feel the urge to go to a party not because you’re excited to attend, but because you don’t want to miss out on the potential for fun.

Key takeaways:

That uncomfortable feeling that comes over you in these situations is FOMO or the fear of missing out. In this article, we’ll dive into what FOMO is, how it can impact your relationships and decision-making, and what you can do to overcome it.

What is FOMO?

FOMO is an abbreviation for the Fear Of Missing Out. FOMO is the feeling of discomfort and jealousy that you might not be experiencing something great because you're not where everyone else is. FOMO might come about concerning specific events, like concerts or parties, or related to specific kinds of purchases, like new technology or nice clothing.

FOMO is a very real phenomenon. Researchers have found that 70% of people have experienced FOMO at least once. FOMO is more common in young adults and is associated with increased social media use.

FOMO and social media

Have you ever felt left out when you see your friends posting about their fun plans on social media? Or felt like you can’t stop scrolling Twitter or Instagram because you don’t want to miss something important?

That’s FOMO. FOMO has a strong relationship with social media use. One research study found that avid social media users were more likely to experience FOMO, but were also less likely to feel a sense of social connection. In this sense, FOMO and social media use might contribute to a person feeling less connected to others, which may subsequently increase their feelings of FOMO.

How does FOMO impact decision-making?

FOMO can cause you to make impulsive decisions, like buying something you don't need or going to a party even though you're not interested in going. Impulsive decisions that are motivated by FOMO can result in poor decision-making, as people may not take the time to weigh all the options and make a well-informed decision.

FOMO can also lead to a feeling of dissatisfaction, as people may compare their situation to others who seem to be doing better or having more fun. This can cause people to make decisions that are not in their best interest in an attempt to keep up with others.

How does FOMO impact relationships?

FOMO can also negatively impact relationships. FOMO can lead us to compare our relationships to others in ways that are harmful. We may compare the amount of time our partner spends with us to the amount of time our friends spend with their partners. We may compare the level of intimacy in our relationship to the level of intimacy in our friends' relationships. This comparison can lead to feelings of insecurity and jealousy.

Each of us only has 24 hours in the day, and FOMO may mean that you spend your time in ways that negatively impact your relationships. FOMO might lead you to spend more time-consuming media that you’re less than interested in, which can in turn prevent you from spending quality time with your loved ones

How to overcome FOMO

If you feel like FOMO is negatively impacting your life, here are some things you can try to overcome it.

Practice gratitude

One of the best ways to overcome FOMO is to practice gratitude for what you already have. Each day, take some time to notice and write down a few things that you're grateful for. This could be anything from your health to your family and friends to your favorite possessions. Focusing on the things that you're already thankful for will help you to appreciate what you have, rather than worrying about what you don't have.

Reflect on what you really want and need

Oftentimes, when FOMO takes hold, we become so focused on what others have that we don’t take the time to think about what we want or need. Make space to reflect on what’s important to you: your priorities, how you want to spend your time and money, and who you want to spend your time with. You might find that feelings of FOMO are driven by other people’s priorities, rather than what’s important to you.

Prioritize quality over quantity

FOMO is driven by a need to consume and connect in ways that prioritize quantity over quality. Instead of being driven by a constant desire for more, take steps to reverse that by prioritizing the quality of your connections and the time you spend with other people. This means spending quality time with people who make you feel good and who you enjoy being around, rather than trying to spend time with people just because you feel like you should or because it’s what others are doing. Similarly, make efforts to be fully present when spending time with others to increase the quality of your time together.

Take a social media breather

As mentioned above, there is a strong relationship between FOMO and social media use. To overcome FOMO, try taking a break from social media, whether limiting the hours you spend on social media each day or taking a complete break from it for a few days or weeks. This can help you to focus on the present moment and enjoy your life without worrying about what others are doing.

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