Do you, like me, experience ‘fear of missing out’ or FOMO for short?
Once upon a time, I made a friend called ‘social media’ and this friend connected me & friends. It was mostly good BUT this relationship catapulted me into a whole lot more FOMO & I’ve spent a lot of time trying to undo some of it’s damaging effects in my life.
Do you lose time in social media scrolling up and down mindlessly enjoying multiple highlight reels, longingly wishing you were in the photo with them? That’s FOMO!
Do other people look like they are having way more much fun without you? FOMO!
Have you just got to check what’s going on as often as you can? Yep FOMO again!
Do these statements sound familiar?
- I really should do more with my kids
- Why wasn’t my child invited?
- I wish I could go to that place with them
- If I were with them my life would be better
- I wish they were my friends
- Why they are doing that without me
- My life is boring compared to theirs
If you can answer yes to these you could be suffering with FOMO. Try this test (it’s not scientific just a bit of fun) FOMO TEST
FOMO isn’t new – we have endured it for many years & it’s why Paul wrote this:
‘I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.’
Philippians 4 v 11
FOMO says ‘What I have is not enough to keep me happy’
GOD says ‘We can be happy from the inside out and from the outside in’ Psalm 16 v 9
FOMO: the unwelcome guest
Even if we are fully aware that other people live ordinary lives behind the social media picture & we aren’t really fooled that others live perfect lives. a more concerning trend is that by constantly living in comparison, we are developing an innate sense of fear. When FOMO is an unwelcome guest in family life this driver can make us question everything – our parenting, our gifting, ourselves.
When we longingly think about what it would be like to live in someone else’s ‘posts’ we risk our own lives feeling not good enough.
I hate to admit it but there have been times I even had retro FOMO (is this even a thing?) – hoping we could go back; my kids would have been really cute and you all would have hit the like button for sure. Or when friends talk about things they did together years ago, I have caught myself feeling like I missed out, if only I had not been somewhere else in 2001!
I have even felt FOMO for my kids. I know first hand the damage of this in my own life as I became an expert in ‘comparing myself to other parents’.
It looked like feeling sorry for them when they weren’t invited or seeing pictures of kids parties and wondering how it would affect my little ones not being there (who btw were obliviously happy playing with whatever was in front of them).
The need to be at every party, turn up to every playdate, dress my kids in current trends and have the latest gadget and best parenting practice in place.
How to cure FOMO in 2 steps
Turn ‘Fear Of’ into ‘Face Your Fears’
“Speaking to the people, he went on, “Take care! Protect yourself. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.” Luke 12 v 15 (MSG)
I want you to be really brave now & face that fear of missing out; by exposing those fearful ‘feelings’ it exposes your core beliefs.
Try this exercise: ask ‘what am I afraid of ?’
- maybe they really are having more fun without me
- maybe you would have had a better time there
- maybe it’s better than my reality
- maybe I am not a good friend right now, so that’s why I haven’t been invited
- maybe they don’t like my kids, or me
And then make a decision. How important are these fearful feelings? Do I need help to move on? (Maybe what you feel comes from deeper wounds & you could consider professional help.) Maybe for most of us it will be ‘I need to simply face the fear & own my response’ – replace it with a faithfilled thought & choose to believe God’s is good; believing what the word says – ‘I know the plans God has for me, plans for my future, my companionship, my provision.’
Which option are you more like?
Option 1/ I am what I feel
Feelings – Behaviour – Truth
‘What I feel affects how I behave and so that impacts the truth I believe.’
Option 2 / I am who God says I am
Truth – Behaviour – Feelings
‘I know God’s truth, this directs the way I behave and my feelings follow.’
Turn ‘Missing OUT’ into ‘Never Missing’
“Jesus said, ‘No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.’” Luke 9 v 62 (MSG)
What is the cure for FOMO? Ironically, its to “plug back into life” and by that I mean real-time, living in the moment. Be present with what you are doing now. Avoid digital distraction. Use your Internet and digital devices if and when you need to and not to allay an anxiety that you will somehow miss out. The irony is that if you fear you’ll miss out on something or someone, you will miss everything you are trying to experience now: in essence we create Missing Out (MO) by being so focused on FOMO. The truth is that we are only imagining missing out if we leave our smartphone home or even turn it off. Most things will keep until we have the time and attention to check them, otherwise FOMO will rule our lives and we will become slaves to our digital devices instead of being served by them. – Dr Greenfield
It’s normal to get bored with the grind of family life & absence happens quietly. It starts when we replace fun bathtimes with screen time, bedtime book reading with the TV bedtime hour and let our private lives become public & don’t feel the need to share actual life with the world. Parents – we have to challenge ourselves to stay present with what’s in front – the now moment – being mindful of the lives we impact within arms reach.
Still got that FOMO feeling?
Maybe the next time you feel FOMO popping in to say “hi” in your life & you are in the same room as your favourite people, doing something you love (you could even be sat around the dinner table enjoying eclectic conversation) & the buzz of activity in a group text, or a mindless scan over social media catches your attention(yep this has been me)…
TURN OFF YOUR DEVICE & resist the need to be somewhere else.
And when your kids are in other rooms or in bed and you are alone on an evening, resist the urge to relentlessly pull down to refresh.
FOMO: You Gotta Gomo
- Manage your screen time – download moment – it checks the amount of usage on your phone & shows you what apps are most used. You may be shocked to see what and how you spend your time. Sometimes I just have to take a break because I actually do not want to spend my day with 100’s of people.
- Meditate on promises – our minds are created to meditate but social media can initiate a harmful practice to ruminate (mull over, replay, chew the cud) instead we could be thinking about good things, God things.
- Never dull anyone else’s sparkle – try to celebrate and encourage others more, and remember God made you to shine. Let him polish other people while you concentrate on letting him polish you. So when you do engage in social media, choose to be a blessing & speak kind words inside your mind and with your fingers.
- Attitude of Gratitude – when we are thankful for what we do have, it’s easier to make a request in faith for what we don’t have, so when we see others with lives we think we would love – have a chat with your Heavenly Father & remind him you love His blessings & could you have some more please.
Not to be unkind, but ….
When I look around my kitchen, I see unwashed dishes, a full bin, the half eaten cat food & fingerprints on the fridge. Of course I will feel frustrated and left out if I spend my time only scrolling through someone else’s filtered highlights.
So today I will take a hold of my feelings, remember God’s promises, thank God for the little lives that have been entrusted in my care and get about the business of making sure they have their needs met & NOT TO BE UNKIND but I will leave you to do the same.
The Apostle Paul puts it much better: ‘So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.’ Romans 12
I will be praying you get a breakthrough and you find God in the everyday details of your life.
PS I would love to stay connected with you sign up here The Mum Journey
PPS if you got to the end of this and have a few more minutes you might enjoy