Learning Strategies Blog

Don’t Let Fear of Missing Out Derail You

by Pete Bissonette

Social media is a wonderfully easy way to stay connected with the people in your life, yet it has the potential to increase anxiety and lead to a disconnection from oneself. Why? FOMO. Fear of missing out.

The Oxford English dictionary defines FOMO as:

Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.”

FOMO is endemic among the millennial generation. The average college student spends 8 to 10 hours killing time on their cellphone daily, and at least 24 percent of teenagers are online “almost constantly,” cites Darlene McLaughlin, M.D., assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and a psychiatry and behavioral health specialist.

The average U.S. consumer now spends 5 hours a day on a mobile device, according to Flurry Analytics, a mobile analytics company.

If you have a habit of constantly checking email and social media posts, you could be susceptible to the detrimental effects of FOMO as well.

“It’s easy to define our lives based on the virtual crowd watching, critiquing, and applauding our every move. It’s even easier to conform to the crowd’s mold—constantly measuring our lives against a celebrity’s Instagram post or a friend’s life event,” writes Lauren Thompson, in Texas A&M’s online Vital Record.

Recent studies have shown FOMO is linked to feelings of dissatisfaction, McLaughlin said. “The problem with FOMO is the individuals it impacts are looking outward instead of inward,” she said. “When you’re so tuned in to the ‘other,’ or the ‘better’ (in your mind), you lose your authentic sense of self. This constant fear of missing out means you are not participating as a real person in your own world.”

To combat negative thought patterns that arise from FOMO and perhaps comparing yourself to others, McLaughlin suggests the mental exercise of reframing. Track your negative thoughts in a journal, analyze them to learn how they may be limiting you, and replace them with more reasonable ones.

Reframing is one of the techniques we use in our New Behavior Generator Paraliminal to help you generate a better response to a negative thought or emotion or any self-defeating action or behavior.

Let’s say a friend posts to social media about a whirlwind vacation to a country you always dreamed of visiting. Maybe you’re feeling a little jealous because you’re unable to escape obligations and responsibilities for such a wonderful adventure.

Consider how your response conflicts with your well-being. Analyze any conflicting emotions. While you may long for such travel, you can recognize that whatever commitments you have made to your family or work fill you with a sense of satisfaction, pride, and even joy.

As you reframe your emotions, you can use them to spark a spirit of fun and adventure in your family or among friends no matter where you are. Changing the context of your emotions allows you to recognize their value and authentically apply them in ways that help you create a happy and fulfilled life right now.

To turn conflicting thoughts, feelings, and actions into resources that support your success and well-being, listen to the New Behavior GeneratorParaliminal. Simply push play, close your eyes, relax, and listen.

This closed-eye process activates your “whole mind” with a precise blend of music and words to help you get the most out of every minute.

To learn more about New Behavior Generator and all our other Paraliminal programs, please click here.