Overcome the “Fear of Missing Out”

In 2013 the word FOMO was added to the Oxford English Dictionary. The Fear Of Missing Out is the “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere”. College students and young adults have a reputation for being severely afflicted with FOMO. As a freshman I wrecked my health by depriving myself of sleep to pack my day (and night) with excitement: pizza runs at 2am, all-night gaming, road trips and over-the-top pranks. But, it’s not just young adults who suffer. Sometimes FOMO plagues us all. Families pack weekend after weekend with serial sporting events and leave little room for spiritual or relational nourishment. FOMO shows up during the Christmas season when we run ourselves ragged to keep every tradition and then spend money we don’t have.

FOMO is amplified by social media. Technology now gives us the ability to see all the good times friends had without us. Facebook show us exactly what we’ve missed.

How do you know if you suffer from FOMO? Here are 5 common symptoms:

  1. You find it difficult to commit to social invitations. Are you concerned something better may come along and you will miss out on a better opportunity?
  2. You are restless. Are you looking for the next thing to provide you a sense of excitement? Has it become increasingly difficult to enjoy simple pleasures God provides each day?
  3. Your mind wanders elsewhere. Do you have difficulty being present emotionally or mentally with the people you live with daily — your spouse, your kids, your neighbors and friends?
  4. You constantly compare. Has social media stopped being about “staying in touch” and turned into “keeping up”? Do you waste hours online and end up feeling jealous and exhausted by the great things others are doing in their lives?
  5. You believe having more or doing more will make you happy. Do you crash when you can’t handle “the more” you think you want? Have you begun experiencing a bi-polar lifestyle of extreme highs and lows that leave you feeling strung out?

How do you overcome FOMO?

  1. Recognition is the first step toward healing. Until you admit that FOMO is ruining your joy you won’t be able to overcome it. Don’t minimizing FOMO’s impact on you.
  2. Identify your triggers. What sets off your Fear of Missing Out? Consider removing those triggers for a time (or permanently). Fast from social media, leave your phone in your car, or take a break from relationships that feed your FOMO.
  3. Reflect more deeply.  Ask yourself, “Will I truly be happier if I have ____ or if I do ____?” When you identify a lie, you can starve it and feed on the truth. Sometimes less is more. Ask yourself why FOMO is such a common human experience. Could it be that you were made for something more than this broken world currently offers? If you are missing out on what God has in store, FOMO may help spur you to search in a new direction.
  4. Look To God: Only God can satisfy. Our Fears Of Missing Out can only be calmed when we look into Jesus’ face and see the one who came “to make all things new!” (Revelation 21:5) Once we do, our patience will return as we become convinced that no matter how inadequate our current situation God will, one day, restore what is lost and broken. Ultimately, we will not miss out on any good thing!
  5. Read the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. The author speaks from experience. He suffered from FOMO like none other and offers advice for how to overcome.

Chances are you don’t need more good times. You simply need to choose to enjoy what you already have. God has created a world of simple pleasures which are often free and usually the best. Enjoy a brisk walk, a warm drink, a healthy meal. Sit quietly with a friend or family member and listen. Treasure the people near you.

Remember, at Christmas, even God thought it best to slow down and content Himself with less when He became human.

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2 thoughts on “Overcome the “Fear of Missing Out”

  1. Good and convicting points, Dave! I felt the tinge of truth in some of the FOMO symptoms in my own life. As a recovering FOMOholic, I might add a “1b” option of committing to EVERY social invitation. Every if two events conflict, I’d try to somehow be at both.

    This is something I still wrestle with, though not to that same extreme (I hope). Now I ask questions like: How many relatives should we visit on any given holiday? If we get an invitation to attend some cool “once in a lifetime” event, how can we turn it down? And how does the sanity of our children factor in? 😉

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