Many of us have probably experienced the fear of missing out at least once in our lifetime. When we choose to prioritise something at the expense of another opportunity, we get that feeling. It’s a weird, unsettling fear that gnaws at us as we try to come to peace with the decision we made. We fear missing out on the fun when we choose to stay home to study for tomorrow’s test rather than go to a party. We might choose to spend time with our family but our work colleagues decide on dinner that night so the fear of missing out on team bonding becomes all too real.
Whatever the situation may be, here are some of the ways I deal with the fear of missing out. During my early years at university, I was constantly riddled with this feeling as I had a lot of commitments on my plate. It was only when I learnt how to deal with this feeling that my mind gained more clarity and I felt my heart less heavy.
1. Accept the Feeling
Acknowledge what we are feeling. The fear of missing out may manifest as feelings of uncertainty, urgency or anxiety. It might be an unusual sensation in our chest or the endless thoughts racing through our mind. Our actions may also be affected by this feeling; we might be snappy, less kind and impatient with others. Whatever it is, stop and notice the feeling. Congratulate and commend ourselves because acknowledging it is the first step in managing our fear of missing out. Try not to dismiss it or judge yourself for feeling this way.
2. Explore the Feeling
What are the underlying reasons why we might feel this way? Sometimes we may feel like this because of issues in our personal or social lives. Our self-esteem may be tied to this feeling of uncertainty. Be honest with ourselves: are we fearing that we’re missing out on something or someone important? Is it missing out on the party that is bothering us the most or is it hanging out with our friends? Appreciate whether we’re sad to miss out on the actual experience or if we’re worried about what others might think of us if we don’t show up. Perhaps there are other ways to address the underlying issue rather than this ‘lost’ opportunity.
3. Be Sure of Your Decision
If there is a chance to change our mind, make a decision without judgement. There is no right or wrong with whatever we choose because either choice will have its own opportunities and path. The fact that there is a choice and a decision to made in the first place, suggests that both options are fair. The best way to choose is to view it objectively and logically. Perhaps ask a friend for some input. But we may be inclined to make a decision based on our emotions and that’s okay. Alternatively, we can seek out other options that may address the underlying issues that we explored above. Instead of sitting at home, studying and constantly thinking about the party that we should’ve gone to, we could study a bit and then go get dessert with another friend or family member.
4. Accept Your Decision
Once we’ve made our decision, the only way forward is to accept it. We can spend our energy wallowing in the fear or questioning if we’ve made the right choice but time only moves forward. Focus the energy into accepting the decision and making plans for it. Be mindful of the present and appreciate the decision that we made. Commend ourselves for turning the fear of missing out into a thoughtful decision. If it helps think back to when we last felt this way. More often than not, we’ve forgotten about it and things seemed bigger than they actually were; it is probably the same now.
5. Be Grateful of Your Choice
Our minds can start to place the other choice that we could’ve made on a pedestal. So we start to dream about it while downplaying the positives of the decision that we made. Focus on the moment and be grateful of the opportunities that this current choice gives us. Try to write it down. Appreciate what it can give to us in the future. Sometimes the fear of missing out is a manifestation of our desire for wanting more. So when we change our mindset and start to be grateful for what we have, we become more content with our decision and ultimately, feel less fear in missing out.
Trust ourselves to make the right decision. We know ourselves best, we know what we need to prioritise and so whatever decision we make, we trust that it is the right one. Even if we decide that we should’ve chosen the other path later on, be kind and know that it was the best decision we could’ve made at the time. The key is to place loving trust in ourselves. We are going to continue to miss out on things for the rest of our lives. The mental energy we place into having the fear of missing out can be directed to trust and confidence in ourselves.
Below is a free worksheet that I’ve developed to help us overcome the fear of missing out. It helps you explore your feelings, thoughts and emotions as well as bring out any underlying reasons that is contributing to that feeling of FOMO. I personally use this when I’ve prioritised something, yet I still feel anxious about my decision.