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How to Overcome “FOMO” (Fear of Missing Out) and Stop Feeling Inadequate on Social Media

Sometimes the grass is only greener on the other side because it’s synthetic. “No such thing as a life that’s better than yours.” – J. Cole In today’s digital age, it’s easy to get caught in the vicious mindset of FOMO: fear of missing out. FOMO sets in when we start to compare our lives to the […]

Sometimes the grass is only greener on the other side because it’s synthetic.


“No such thing as a life that’s better than yours.” – J. Cole

In today’s digital age, it’s easy to get caught in the vicious mindset of FOMO: fear of missing out.

FOMO sets in when we start to compare our lives to the lives of people around us (including celebrities in magazines, “reality” stars on TV, and Instagram models primed, posed, and filtered to perfection).

The feeling of FOMO can be described as a sort of fantasy nostalgia, a longing to live out someone else’s experience based on a false idea of what we believe it feels like.

When infected with FOMO, our brain starts writing stories about how great somebody else’s experience “must be” — how gratifying it must feel to be offered that promotion, how wonderful it must be to vacation in the Hamptons, how heart-warming it must feel to get surprised with a bouquet of roses at work.

But the stories we tell ourselves are based on how we think those things feel to the person receiving them — not how those thingsactually feel.

Think about it for a second; what if the guy at work who got offered a promotion over you goes home and spends two extra hours each night compiling meeting notes and researching current industry trends? Would you still want that promotion if you knew you’d have to put in two extra hours of effort each night, without pay, for months to get it?

What if that Instagram photo of tan legs on that private beach in the Hamptons was zoomed in to crop out all of the smelly, annoying birds squawking and pooping on the beach? Would you still wish you were there if you knew you’d have to remortgage your home to spend a week at a beach that feels no different than the one you visit with the family every year, anyway?

What if that sappy Facebook post about receiving surprise roses at work was to make that person feel better about the fact that those roses were an attempt to make up for infidelity? Would you still long for that bouquet of roses if you knew the price tag came with a week of tears, trust issues, and slamming doors?

The stories we tell ourselves about others are harmful to our lives because they trick us into setting unrealistic expectations for ourselves (and our relationships).

These stories turn us against ourselves. 

Instead of feeling grateful for everything we have in our lives, we start to focus on everything we don’t have:

I may have a car, but I don’t have that car.

I may have a great body, but I don’t have that body.

My boyfriend does a lot for me, but he’s never done that for me.

It’s easy to fall victim to feelings of inadequacy with “social influencers” constantly reminding us that we, too, can live the life of our dreams — if only we follow these steps, buy this course, wake up at this time, read these books, wear these clothes, achieve this goal, exercise this way, say these things, act this way, etc…

We start to judge ourselves for not being “enough.”

We start listing our shortcomings and obsessing over things we want to improve about ourselves, our lives, and our relationships. But in these moments of comparison, we forget one very important detail: life isn’t fair.

Photo by Søren Astrup Jørgensen on Unsplash

“The only thing that makes life unfair is the delusion that it should be fair.”– Dr. Steve Maraboli

 - DR. STEVE MARABOLI

The people you envy — those who possess the things you want, enjoy the experiences you long for, flaunt the qualities you wish you had, attain the achievements you desire — those people didn’t get those things because they deserved it more than you. They didn’t get those things because they woke up at 5:00 am and put in more work than you (though every self-improvement “guru” will try to convince you otherwise).

Those people have what they have and are who they are because of their individual nature, nurture, and luck.

Babies don’t get to choose where they are born; they don’t get to decide their parents, their culture, the net-worth of their family, or their religious affiliation;

Children don’t get to decide if they will be raised with love, support, and all of the resources necessary for them to become exactly who they want to be or if they’ll be neglected, shamed, or forced into a lifestyle that does not align with their true selves;

Teenagers don’t get to decide if they get the freedom to explore and express their sexuality, if their parents save for a college education, or if they are given an opportunity to develop their abilities and pursue their dreams.

Once you start to realize that unfairness literally defines the human experience, you can start to empathize with your situation and see things from a different perspective.

Instead of judging yourself for not doing/having/being more, you can use empathy to return to a place of self-love — a place where FOMO can’t exist.

Self-love turns “It doesn’t matter how much I work out, I’ll never have abs like that”into “I love that my body can carry me through an entire day of working, working out, AND being a mom. I don’t need abs to feel like a champion — I already do!”

It turns “I’ve been working for three years and this guy has more clients than I do in 3 months. I suck at running my own business” into “I’m so proud of myself for quitting my corporate job and following my dreams. It doesn’t matter if I have 10 clients or 200 — I love being my own boss!”

PLEASE NOTE: Self-love is not merely the practice of “learning” to love yourself.

Self-love is the practice of reconnecting to the idea that deep down, underneath a layer of ego that compares itself to others and fights so desperately to convince you otherwise, you are already enough.

Without doing anything at all, you are everything you need to be. We are not human “doings” — we are human beings.

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

The cure to FOMO is the practice of self-love.

Instead of focusing on all of the things you aren’t, practicing self-love helps you begin to see on all of the things you are.

When you practice self-love, you can begin to observe yourself without judgment. It’s in the practice of self-love that we can begin strip away the ego and social conditioning we’ve been subjected to and cultivate a sense of gratitude for simply being who we are in the present moment.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

– ELEANOR ROOSEVELT

The quickest, easiest way I’ve been able to practice self-love and overcome my own struggle with FOMO is through the power of mantra.

My first experience with mantra began well before I had even heard of the word “mantra.” When I was in college, I stumbled across a beautiful poem by Max Ehrmann called “Desiderata” that resonated with me in a way like no poem ever had before. My favorite stanza of the poem reads:

“You are a child of the universe,

no less than the trees and the stars;

you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,

no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

Whenever I found myself having thoughts of being inadequate or feeling like I was missing out, my mind would wander back to that stanza.

 “I am a child of the universe,” I would tell myself. “No less than the trees and the stars. I have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to me, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

It seemed like the more I repeated the lines in my head, the less space there was for the self-sabotaging thoughts to co-exist. The more I said it, the more I felt it. I didn’t know it at the time, but this verse was the first mantraI would tap into for years to come (and still do today).

mantra is simply a word or phrase you mindfully repeat over and over until the noise in your mind quiets down and your sole focus settles on that word or phrase.

The best part about mantra is the versatility and ease of use; you can repeat a mantra in your head or out loud, ten times or a million times, during a deep meditation practice or in the middle of a work meeting. Even the quickest, simplest mantras can put ruminating thoughts on pause before they begin to spiral out of control (and into anxiety or depression).

I challenge you to tap into the power of mantra whenever you experience FOMO or judge yourself based on the progress of others.

There is no right or wrong way to harness the power of mantra. Whenever you feel thoughts of self-doubt and comparison start creeping in, take a deep breath and state your mantra (out loud or in your mind).

If you don’t believe it, whatever it is, say it again. Repeat your mantra over and over again until you feel the intensity of those negative thoughts become less intense (or fizzle out completely). Repeat your mantra until there is no room in your mind for anything else but those words to exist.

Sample Self-Love Mantras for Overcoming FOMO:

  • I am enough.
  • The internet is not my reality.
  • I am selective in my commitments so I can fully commit to my selections.
  • What other people think of me is none of my business.
  • I inhale positive energy and exhale everything else.
  • I allow my love to flow freely into this world.
  • I trust my inner voice to guide my journey.
  • I am the #1 “influencer” of my life.
  • I choose to release judgment of myself and others; we are all in this together.
  • My past does not predict my future.
  • I am worthy of all the good things life has to offer.
  • I live in the present moment by letting go of the past.
  • I choose to consume quality content and ignore everything else.
  • My struggles are temporary and part of a greater journey.
  • I have the power to create change.
  • My calendar is a tool, not a rule.
  • My efforts are worthy of praise.
  • I am allowed to choose again.
  • I choose to look with love.

“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.” -Brene Brown

– Brené Brown
Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

Written by Rachel Clements, creative writer at rachelclementsmedia.com.

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