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The Joy of Missing Out (From FOMO to JOMO)

We’ve all heard of FOMO.  “The fear of missing out,” the anxiety that an exciting event may be happening that you’re not a part of.

This initially was a term assigned to teens, often exacerbated by social media.  Then FOMO crept into the culture a bit more insidiously, especially for those with an underlying vulnerability to feeling excluded and alone.  The hyper-social extrovert who is recharged by people, activities and events can get sucked into the hole too.  I suppose for a few of these folks, it might ultimately be fairly harmless.

The question is ultimately whether the “fear” leads to compulsive behavior and unpleasant hangover emotions.  At its worst and left unchecked, FOMO can lead to depression, bitterness and dents to the sense of self.  Someone with pervasive FOMO might often spontaneously “quit” social media in an effort to manage their uncomfortable feelings around the perception of being left out.

In walks JOMO, “the joy of missing out,” the antidote and positive reframe of its predecessor.

JOMO essentially means you’re good with where you’re at.  You’re able to let go of the “shoulds” and not panic about whether there is a better choice to be made.  It asks us to practice saying No as a form of self-care.  In order to do this you need to be clear on what’s important to YOU in your life first.

  • What do you like?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • How do you recharge?

Once you have more clarity about who you are, the next step is to live in alignment with this.  For example, what if you discover that you actually have some homebody tendencies?  Perhaps staying home on a Friday night could have more appeal than you thought!  Or in your quest to get to know who you are you discover that you actually prefer smaller groups to crowds?  This might impact your choices too, especially if the worry of not participating is alleviated.

If you have struggled with comparing your life to others, stress about the “best” choices and regret when you miss an event or experience, you might need to go social media cold turkey to remove the noise to allow yourself to refocus on what’s important.  Considering social media tends to show people living their best lives, it might be activating and distracting to your important mission.

If you’re a people pleaser, it may be uncomfortable and possibly scary to assert your opinions.  If so, you might need to dig a little deeper into the belief systems driving that.  What in your family of origin has influenced your need to adapt to others (perhaps at any cost)?

According to Brene Brown, JOMO is “Feeling content with staying in and disconnecting as a form of self care.”  I love this paradigm shift as it highlights the power of disconnection in emotional health rather than what FOMO tries to tell us, that if you miss connecting, it’s the end of the world.  Once you better know who you are and what brings you joy, it will become easier to let things go and live by your own rhythms.

And eventually, just maybe, if someone asks you “what’s happening” this weekend, you really might not care.

 

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT is the creator of LoveAndLifeToolbox.com with emotional and relationship health articles, guides, courses and other tools for individuals and couples. She is a frequent consultant for the media having appeared in CNN.com, HuffingtonPost.com, MensHealth.com and others. Lisa has a private practice in Marin County, CA and offers Emotional Health and Relationship Consultations via email, phone or video conference.