Why Do We Struggle With FOMO, Over Something We Don’t Want to Do?
I’m sure there have been times when you’ve been relieved that a lunch, evening out or event has been cancelled.
You weren’t in the mood and the fact that it was called-off freed you from having to deliberate over whether or not to go.
Not having to make the effort to dress smartly and leave the house may have felt like the best of outcomes. As well as the additional relief of not having to think of topics of conversation and form appropriate opinions on the latest news, in order to appear intelligent and interesting!
Having time unexpectedly freed up can feel like a gift. You’ve been given a few extra hours. Some time’s been handed back to you to ‘play’ with and to now do your own thing for a little while. And an added bonus is that when an appointment or date’s cancelled it means you don’t have to dig deep and find excuses not to go. It’s a straightforward situation, with no residual regrets.
Rather different is when we’re dreading or simply feeling disinclined to go somewhere, when we’re lacking the energy or enthusiasm to attend. If something doesn’t appeal to us we’d give anything for it to be cancelled and let us off the hook, making the decision for us.
Those times when we could go, but choose not to, when we’re too busy, want a night off from socialising or have other things we’d rather do instead, bring their own dilemmas. It can be interesting to notice how stressed the thought of cancelling, of missing out makes us.
Let’s consider some of the factors at play when we experience fear of missing out over something we actually don’t want to do!
One reason may be concern at what others will think of us if we don’t turn up. Being talked about and perceived in a bad light can cause us unease, exacerbated by our not knowing if we’re being gossiped about behind our backs or if that’s simply paranoia, caused by guilt, laziness or the stress of not going.
Getting a reputation for being negative, miserable, inflexible, unfriendly may be an unexpected outcome if we were to regularly decline or opt out. No one wants to be thought of as a party-pooper or anti-social if they don’t attend, especially if they’re included on several important guest lists.
What about the future implications of our not going?
Would this potentially result in being deleted from future invite lists?
We wouldn’t want to be viewed as someone who’s unavailable or unappreciative of opportunities and invitations and consequentially be deemed to be persona non grata.
Missing out on an event that we learn later was ‘the best night ever’ must be the biggest FOMO fear of all. Hearing that we didn’t go to the ‘event of the year’ because we didn’t feel like it or couldn’t be bothered to make an effort must be the most frustrating discovery of all.
Becoming too entrenched in our comfort zone can happen all too easily, especially after our recent pandemic experience of not being able to go out or socialise with others. Staying at home and following the same routine became second nature to us, albeit at first reluctantly, but then, gradually becoming a safe and easy way to live.
But, only agreeing to do things we want to do can mean we become fussy, difficult and limited in our scope and interests. Sometimes making the effort to do things we don’t initially want to do can give us the nudge to expand our horizons, and even if we don’t enjoy our time in this new experience it’s still a valuable lesson.
Meeting new contacts and being receptive to future invitations can be a bonus of going to new places, especially if we were unlikely to have considered them options beforehand. Unexpected experiences can lead to us making valuable new introductions, with all that entails. And so, the fear of missing out on unanticipated opportunities could be yet another cause of FOMO.
No one wants to earn themselves a ‘bad’ reputation for being flaky, a drop-out or unreliable. Whilst there’s merit in not over-extending ourselves and agreeing to anything and everything there are distinct advantages to keeping some engagement and making some reasonable effort. As a functioning adult, it’s important to keep practising our social skills and reinforcing our ability to have polite conversations with whomever we meet.
Being selective means appreciating that sometimes the stress we experience at missing out has to be acknowledged and accepted as part of life. But, don’t forget, there are people you’ll meet who will have been to the events you declined, and this can provide interesting topics for conversation. This is an unexpected benefit to missing out on some things, especially if you don’t want to do them.
Susan Leigh, Counsellor & Hypnotherapist lifestyletherapy.net