I remember when my oldest child was a two-year-old, FOMO would hit me the hardest whenever I had to bow out early to get her home to nap or to go to bed for the night. She was one of those little ones that truly became a wreck of a tiny human being whenever she was sleep deprived. Trying to stay out with her was certainly not fun for her or for me or for anyone else around us. However, I would look at whatever gathering we were leaving and feel fear. I would worry about all the things we wouldn’t get to participate in and fret over what others might think of my choices. I would nearly be sick to my stomach and wonder if I had made a good choice. It is so funny to look back on that now, because my choice was obviously a good one for me and her and everyone. It wasn’t fun to be out with an exhausted cranky child and there was nothing that we were missing out on that we could really enjoy in that condition. If anyone had looked down on that choice, it was all on them. They weren’t having to wrestle a little body into a car seat and take care of an infant at the same time.
Today we are going to dig into FOMO, the fear of missing out, because it is one of the most toxic influences on our choices. We will talk about how to identify it, how to make a healthy choice, and how to have peace afterwards.
How to Identify It
First of all, FOMO is fear based. You’ll notice that fear will rear its head because you are in conflict: an opportunity has risen but it goes against a boundary that you have set in place. You know that if you give in, you’ll also be giving up something else you were fighting for.
For example, you want to buy a special gift for a friend but it is way beyond the amount you had budgeted. If you give in, you will be putting yourself and/or your family in a financially rough spot. However, the item is on sale and you fear that if you don’t take advantage of the opportunity then your chance will pass you by.
Another example, the dessert tray at a party. Just the other day my church had a potluck and I loaded up my plate with a little bit of everything. Then, after finishing it all, I went to the dessert table, knowing I only had room in my tummy for a couple bites in order to still feel comfortable physically, but I put three desserts on my plate. I didn’t finish them, but I crossed a line and was physically uncomfortable for hours later.
Remember, FOMO is based on an internal debate. You wouldn’t feel that fear if you felt the decision was obvious and your choices would be good for you. Instead, you don’t know which way to go and fear consequences of any direction you go.
How to Make a Healthy Choice
In order to get a handle on your fear, it helps to know why you are making healthy choices in the first place. Ask yourself, what will happen if you cross that line? What will happen if you eat that, buy that, or do that? Why does it go against a healthier path that you are fighting for?
Now, here is the kicker, ask yourself if you would be comfortable if this behavior that you are tempted to give in to became a habit. Because, it will. We all know how many times the giving up on healthy eating started with a single bite of pie. We all know how suffocating credit card debt started with a single spontaneous purchase. We all remember how healthy priorities in our life began to slip because we chose to flirt with the boundary lines a little.
Habits are one of the most important aspects of personal growth. Therefore, whatever you choose, what do you want to become a habit? Honestly, if your boundaries are healthy, then your fear simply comes from our enemy trying to derail us. The devil is very good at making sure just the right thing comes along at the right moment to make sure we lose our foothold and feel our hearts fill with fear.
Lastly, Make Peace with Your Choice
I find that often the most pain comes after the choice is made. I can mull it over, turn it around in my head for days and live out a thousand “What ifs” but, has that ever helped anyone? I have learned to make choices and then offer up the consequences to God. I ask Him for two things: To protect me and my family if I have made a poor choice and to make sure I learn from the experience. This is important because it commits my life into God’s hands and it also allows me to turn to Him for that guidance instead of leaning on my fretful thoughts to help me decide if I was being “good” or not.
At the end of the day, it truly is done. We can learn from it, but we can’t change it. Be determined to look back with curiosity and compassion on your choices, ready to learn but refusing to live in shame or continued fear.
Okay, my dear, are you ready to kick FOMO out of your daily experience? Good. Remember, you need only to take three steps: 1. Identify the fear and where the conflict is. 2. Make a healthy choice. And 3. Make peace with your decision.
There are hundreds of places you will feel the peace creep back in.
Philippians 4:6-7 has been one of my favorite verses for ages. It says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
In this season, I pray that the Prince of Peace guards your heart.
by Lora Armendariz
You Can Do It!
Do you want to fall out of love with a destructive habit? The first 42 episodes of this podcast are a resource for anyone who wants encouragement and information as they take a six week break from a habit in order to fall out of love with it.