|Is Your Problem Time Management, or FOMO?
Many people procrastinate (and paralyze) themselves when they have to make an important decision or organize a project. They think, "I'm terrible at this! I can't seem to decide what to do, or when to do it." But very often the problem is actually FOMO – the fear of missing out.
In 32 years of counseling, hundreds of my clients have told me just that — they are afraid of committing, afraid of deciding on one thing, because then they might miss out on something better.
This logic is puzzling for three important reasons:
1. If you procrastinate and paralyze yourself, you are already missing out on those imaginary "better things" you think you may miss if you commit to "this thing" you're considering. But in addition to that, you are missing out on the "this thing"! That is what happens when you paralyze yourself. No enjoyment of either option.
2. We paralyze ourselves this way due to faulty logic. We think, "If I commit to something, I'll miss out on something better. But if all I do is procrastinate, I won't miss out on anything!" And yet we are paralyzed in procrastination.
3. If we were to take action and make the choice — any choice! — we would certainly miss out on this state of paralysis and procrastination.
It is true, you can miss out on good or better things when you make any choice. As soon as we make a choice, we exclude the other options dependent on that choice. If I choose to go to the Fred Meyer store for my groceries, I miss out on all the things and people I might have encountered at Whole Foods, or Safeway, and so on. With any choice you make, you could make a long list of possibilities you are missing out on as a result of your decision.
"Missing Out" is unavoidable. Fear of Missing Out is not.
Even people with FOMO do make some choices. FOMO only seems to kick in when we are presented with a choice we believe is "very important."
In the case of a "very important choice," we build up the expectation that the choice we decline to make has a high and unique value. Along with this expectation comes FOMO — the fear that missing out on it will create pain and suffering.
Of course, that is not the case with choices like my Fred Meyer grocery store example. I'm not anxious thinking that Whole Foods or Safeway has something better for me than I can get at Fred Meyer. If I find out they do have something better, I'll go there next time. But I'm not stressed out about it.
When we have FOMO, we are in the grip of a fear that tells us, "You are missing out on an irreplaceable opportunity. A very important opportunity that may never come again." For example, "if I commit to a relationship with this person, I might miss out on meeting someone even better — my soulmate." If you miss out, you have missed out forever! It's clearly not the same as being able to go to Safeway for your groceries the next time.
When you choose one romantic partner, you will probably never know if there was a "better" romantic partner available for you. But if you get stuck in FOMO, always looking and looking for greener pastures, you'll probably make yourself and your partner miserable in the process.
The 5 Insights You Need to Free Yourself from FOMO
1. When we have FOMO, Fear of Missing Out, we have fallen for the idea that external objects have a magical quality that will make us complete and happy. But of course, nothing has value until we give it value. You may want to own a steel blue Land Rover more than anything, but we could easily find 10 people who could care less about owning that vehicle. If the Rover had the inherent power to make itself wanted, then everyone would have to want it. It doesn't have that power, though, does it? Neither objects nor events have any inherent power to make us want them.
2. We give value to everything we desire simply by telling ourselves it is valuable. "This is the best one. I need it, I want it, I have to have it." When we repeat such thoughts to ourselves, we are literally giving ourselves hypnotic suggestions. The objects of our desire are rarely required by the laws of nature. If they are truly required, they are needs, not mere desires. But our desire can masquerade as need when we accept the suggestion that we must have the object of our desire.
3. Since the desire is a hypnotic suggestion we are giving ourselves, it is imaginary, not real. How do we fall for this illusion? Simple! We restrict our breathing and create tension in various areas of our body, thus creating fear and stress. Then we whisper to ourselves another suggestion: "You can't breathe normally or relax until you get this!"
4. Since FOMO is in your imagination, you can get free of FOMO by deciding to imagine in a different way. Instead of suggesting to yourself that you will be empty and bereft if you miss out, suggest to yourself that it's OK to keep breathing properly and to let your body be completely at ease . . . even if you do miss out! Breathing properly and remaining fully at ease gives your body the permission to generate wonderful feelings such as peace, joy, and enthusiasm.
The body-mind experience of these feeling qualities is the state of happiness — what we really desire anyway. But somehow we learned over time, that, unless we obtained the outer "whatever," we would not be able to feel happy and complete.
5. Here's how you can imagine instead and get free of FOMO. Say to yourself, "Even though I may not satisfy my desire, even though I may miss out on something, I breathe easily and relax. I choose to think about things that make me feel happy and complete. I am grateful to be alive."
Practice makes perfect. The more you practice thinking this way, the more quickly and easily you will generate wonderful states of completion and wholeness.
Remember, you give importance to outer objects or accomplishments by choosing to give them value through the power of your imagination and hypnotic suggestion.
Practice simply imagining that you already have the objects of your desire so vividly that you feel the wonderful feelings you imagined these things would bring you. With practice, you will naturally recognize more and more clearly, that longing for outer objects and accomplishments, and generating FOMO, the fear of missing out was, is, and always will be your own mind game.
This realization is freeing and fun! You realize the FOMO was only a big deal because you were playing an imaginary trick on yourself. The important suggestion was not, "I must have that. It is the only thing that will make me happy." The real, hidden suggestion was, "If I miss out, I will never be able to breathe easily or relax my body-mind to create wonderful feelings."
By continuing to practice this simple exercise, you will easily prove that this suggestion is arbitrary and untrue. You will regain your ability feel free, to relax, and to be happy even when desires are not met. Go for it!