Managing Perceptions on “Missing Out”: Replacing Fear with Joy

In modern society, where much of what is posted online serves as an illusion, it is all too easy to become afraid of missing out. From a general perspective, this fear is triggered by the anxiety associated with the development of a self-produced stigma, which itself is an illusion that can cloud our judgment. Fear is one of the most potent emotions out there – it can influence the way we see not only the world around us but also ourselves. The fear of missing out – otherwise known as FOMO – is fuelled by a desire to be kept in the loop as well as to remain relevant in an ever-changing, always-online world. The most beneficial thing one can do is to mentally shift perspectives, creating an optimistic, joyful view, not as a coping mechanism or something to hide behind, but as a true satisfaction in not giving in to illusions.

The Importance of Self-Satisfaction

It goes without saying that what matters most to many of us is how we see ourselves, which will in turn influence how others see us as individuals and how we interact with the world. However, countless people go through this process in reverse – via fear-triggering factors such as abusive upbringings or social repression – and doing so can make missing out on what others are experiencing all the more a terrifying prospect.

Therefore, learning to appreciate your uniqueness and not “march to the same beat” is critical. FOMO itself has beginnings rooted in unhappiness: individuals with lower levels of self-satisfaction and/or fulfilment of various needs tend to be more emotionally triggered by not experiencing the same things that others are – even if they are not authentic. This is where social media comes into play – for better or for worse.

Social Media: Pure Addiction

People consuming and posting on social media need to be well aware of the impact they have on not only their ever-growing audience but also themselves. For example, consider how attached you are to your social media. Do you find yourself rolling over in the middle of the night to check for the latest updates, with a “need” to stay up-to-date that makes sleep take a backseat? Or, do you constantly feel a powerful need to share your latest experiences with others online? While social media affects everyone differently, there remains an inherent addiction beneath all those likes, comments, reactions, and cleverly-worded posts. In that sense, social media can become a more dangerous addiction than alcohol or heroin – the spike in injuries and deaths stemming from distracted users is concrete evidence of it, not to mention our collective dwindling mental health. Regardless of whether you check your social media once a day or every five minutes, there is no denying its influence on FOMO. Hundreds of millions of users turn to it to make themselves feel better – a temporary “high” if you will – but, in actuality, it achieves the reverse effect.

Separating Illusion from Reality

The real trick when it comes to managing the fear of missing out is to address the subject directly by learning to not so readily compare our lives to others. This is extremely difficult for some people to face, especially if they suffer from issues such as low self-esteem or depression that make them feel less important or successful. It is human nature to make comparisons and attempt to relate to others to develop a sense of belonging, but individuals who feel less significant or relevant than those around them are at risk of spiralling into a fear-driven way of life. Social comparisons can damage our well-being, and we need to be driven by our own journeys and lives rather than the “perfect” ones posted online or evoked in-person by others. Just because someone is not detailing their hardships or challenges in life, it does not mean that they do not exist. This is the illusion that serves as a stigma we create for ourselves without intending to; an addiction to pulling inspiration from alleged perfection and “where I want to be” personas. Always remember that illusions represent something that is never completely real.

The Joy of Missing Out (JOMO vs FOMO)

Simply put, what others go through in life and allow you to see is their business – it represents nothing about your own life and personal journey. This is where the opportunity arises to turn fears of missing out to joy. For example, consider things you may or may not be taking for granted; a marriage, children, a career you actually love deep down inside. It is all too easy to let others persuade you that you can do better – even if they do not mean to. This is because we are masters at expressing our experiences and perspective of the world as “correct,” with everything from politics to religion and even watercooler conversations at the office evidence of this in action. It is important to consider that nobody is “wrong” and that we do not live in a “black-or-white” society. With this in mind, it may be easier to develop a stronger sense of self-satisfaction, enabling for you to find joy in what you have in your own everyday life. This is when the countless benefits take effect: pride, contentment, inner peace, and unbiased happiness.

The more we teach ourselves to be less dependant on the attention of others as well as the lives they evoke – which are never accurate representations of what they are actually going through – the easier it is to be perfectly fine with “missing out.”

In the end, you are not missing out on anything. When we push the rest of the world aside, what really matters will shine through. If you are looking for an Ottawa-area therapist and need help with discovering the true value of your everyday life, contact us today.