We all experience FOMO, or the fear of missing out, at some point in our lives.
My step-daughters came home from their mom’s one Sunday and began telling me of the fun activities they did with her. As my biological daughter listened, I could tell from her facial expressions that she was becoming quite sad. Eventually, she ended up sneaking away upstairs and hid out in her room.
Feelings of FOMO
After listening to the girls’ stories, I made my way upstairs to her. I asked her if there was something wrong and she replied, “The girls always do fun things when they go to their mom’s and I don’t.” I immediately knew she felt left out and had some jealousy. Unfortunately, all of our girls get to have different opportunities while with their other parent. Each of them has similar feelings at different times. It’s inevitable to experience this, especially within a blended family.
While listening to my daughter express her feelings on the matter, I remembered the LDS youth lesson called “Fear of Missing Out“ (“FOMO”) by Sam Lund. It addressed the emotions we often feel when we see other peoples’ fun social media posts or hear about a party that perhaps we didn’t get invited to. It also discussed how we can be preoccupied in thought about friends or an event rather than being present in the moment while at mutual, during Family Home Evening, or while spending quality time with someone.
Emotions That Accompany FOMO
I listened to my daughter explain her “FOMO.” I then asked her these questions:
Do you get jealous while listening to the fun things they get to do? Do you feel left out? Do you feel they are trying to hurt your feelings? Luckily, she replied yes to the first two questions and no to the last one. Thank goodness—otherwise I probably wouldn’t be writing this right now.
The first letter in the FOMO acronym stands for fear. So, what is fear? It’s an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. Fear is the first emotion we experience in FOMO.
The moment we experience FOMO, our emotions can take over. An emotion is a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others.
To me, these words and definitions perfectly define the mental direction we take when we experience fear. In the moment of FOMO, fear is created based on our beliefs from our own impressions developed from our life experiences.
Belief + Fear = Skewed Perceptions
So, what does belief mean? It is an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists. In other words, belief is the state of mind in which a person thinks something to be the case with or without there being empirical evidence that something is the case with factual certainty.
When you put belief and fear together, it can form skewed impressions. An impression is an idea, feeling, or opinion about something or someone, especially one formed without conscious thought or on the basis of little evidence. Because emotions are based on our own beliefs, fears, and life experience or perception of certain situations, it can be very difficult to look within ourselves and pinpoint the actual emotion we may be feeling that is causing these fears.
For example, when we experience FOMO, it is due to insecurity, anxiety, or unhappiness within ourselves. If we can become self-aware in the exact moment fear hits, give the true emotion a name, and then recognize what is taking place within ourselves, at that moment we can take control of our own emotions. We can then choose what we should do with those emotions and then decide how to react or perhaps not react.
The Cure for FOMO
In the “FOMO” lesson, Sam Lund addresses that FOMO has a cure. Elder David A. Bednar gave this suggestion: “Do not take counsel from your fears.” To not take counsel from our fears simply means that we do not permit fear and uncertainty to determine our course in life, to negatively affect our attitudes and behavior, to influence improperly our important decisions, or to divert or distract us from all in this world that is virtuous, lovely, or of good report.
When in the moment of FOMO, intense emotions can take over and leave us blind to rational feelings or thinking. In that moment, the first choice we have is to recognize what emotion we are beginning to feel before we respond. Give the feeling a name such as jealousy, anger, hurt, sadness, anxiety, insecurity, etc. To be able to do this, we must learn self-control. Self-control is the ability to control oneself; in particular, one’s emotions and desires or the expression of them in one’s behavior, especially in difficult situations.
Choosing How We Respond
Once we have recognized we’re experiencing FOMO and have given the emotion a name, the next step is to make a choice on how we are going to respond. Whatever our choice is, we must take accountability for that choice or behavior. The way we choose to react or respond to conflict gives us the potential for growth or can result in experiencing negative consequences.
Elder James E. Faust once said:
“The choices we make, however, determines a large extent of our happiness or our unhappiness, because we have to live with the consequences of our choices. Making perfect choices all of the time is not possible. It just doesn’t happen. But it is possible to make good choices we can live with and grow from.” “Choices” General Conference April 2004.
As we contemplate what choice we want to make while in the moment of FOMO, here are a few suggestions given in the lesson, Fear of Missing Out, as well as a few of my own recommendations.
- Accept what you’re feeling and be okay with it. After all, we are emotional beings and it is natural to feel.
- Remind yourself that what you’ve committed to do is important, and think about why it makes you happy.
- Read “Good, Better, Best” by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (Oct. 2007 General Conference). It will help you remember that while lots of things are good, certain things are most important.
- Pray for Heavenly Father’s help to overcome feelings of FOMO.
- Feeling anxious? Read Isaiah 41:10; Psalm 46:1; D&C 6:33; D&C 50:41.
- Like our beloved President Thomas S. Monson said, “We can lift ourselves, and others as well, when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude.” Learn to have an attitude of gratitude.
- If you’re stuck in a moment of comparison, jealousy, or envy, look back at your children, family, education, friends, car, clothes, or maybe even the meals provided to you. The blessings are there if you are willing to see them.
Stripping Envy from Our Lives
Our lives are a gift from our Divine Father. Life is meant to be hard and trying, but it is also meant to be a marvelous journey. Pam Wilson Vandenaker wrote:
“Thus, as we become free of envy or jealousy or any other weakness, we are much more enabled to acknowledge who and what we are. In the process of being stripped of envy, though we may experience the pain of being sanded and refined, we also receive the gift of being restored to an awareness of our worth as beautiful, unique children of God.” Stripped of Envy, March 1999
As we strive to follow this counsel and understand our own emotions, I know our personal relationships will grow in love and gratitude. I promise Heavenly Father will be there to guide and direct us through the Holy Ghost. Even when we experience FOMO in our lives, Heavenly Father will always be there.