How to Overcome Your Fear of Missing Out

You're going to miss out on stuff. But if you worry about what you're missing, you'll also miss out on what's happening in front of you.

As a father, it’s easy to feel like you’re missing out. In the beginning, you miss your friends and the you who you were before kids came along. Later on, you miss out on the cool kid stuff that goes down because you’re at work. It’s the cycle. Of course, you’ll also miss being able to go out to a movie every now and then or on a date with your wife. Fact is, we’ll have that tugging fear of missing out, commonly as FOMO, every once in a while. Especially in this social media-powered era it’s easy to look at artfully-filtered shots of camping trips or post-work drinks and a simple case of FOMO can bloom into an all-out epidemic. When this happens, it’s easy to feel alone or frustrated. Here’s how to eliminate that urge and stay in the moment. 

Accept It

Things are going to happen without you, and that’s not always a bad thing. And, even if it is, you have to find a way to make your peace with it. It comes down to owning your choices and living with the fallout of those choices, both the good and the bad. “There are often too many appealing choices and not enough time or resources to do them all,” says Joel Barcalow, a psychiatric counselor at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “Learn to accept the outcome by appreciating your freedom to make a choice. You can always make different choices in the future.”

Stay Off Social Media

Not only can staring at Instagram or Facebook trigger those feelings of missing out, but it can also keep you from being present and in the moment, thereby robbing you of your enjoyment all around. Experts say that people who suffer from FOMO should keep their social media checkups limited, maybe once per day. Additionally, “device free” areas in your home and life should be set. “Limit distractions by turning off all notifications except the most critical ones,” Barcalow says. “Be present now rather than wishing you were somewhere else or doing something else.”

Ask Yourself: Am I Really Missing Out?

Sometimes the idea of something happening without you is more alluring than the actual event itself. It’s very easy for your mind to picture all sorts of incredible and exciting scenarios happening while you’re somewhere else. It helps to think about times when you might have done something similar and try and look at it through less rose-colored lenses. For example, says Dr. Jesse D. Matthews, a Pennsylvania-based psychiatrist, if you’re upset about missing out on a trip with friends, try and recall the last time you all went away together. “Was it really that great?” he asks. “Was it stressful? Would you want to go right now — when your kids are very young, for example? Might it be better later? Or, would it be worth it go to now if it meant taking on debt? Asking yourself these questions may help to make the picture clearer for you.”

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Be Honest About Your Feelings

It’s okay to admit that you might struggle with a fear of missing out. If you try and ignore it and push it down, it will only exacerbate the feelings and allow them to fester in your mind. If you’re up front about it, it will not only unburden you, but you might be surprised as well. “Ask others who are close to you — family, friends — if they have noticed your struggle with being left out,” says Barcalow. “It can be helpful to realize that you’re not the only one who struggles with this issue.”

Devise a Plan

So maybe you had to miss out on this particular event. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be others. If you want to have a guys’ night out or a weekend away, then make sure you find the time to do it. Pick a time and place that works for everyone and doesn’t interfere with your family commitments and then get out and do it! “Plan ahead, get other people on board, talk to your partner, write it down, save money, buy tickets, and so on,” says Matthews. “Stop complaining about it and make it happen if it’s really that important to you.”

Reframe Your Priorities

Okay, so you might have to miss out on something right now. But, in the grand scheme of things, would you rather have played softball with your buddies or attended your daughter’s holiday concert? While time with friends is important, there are many opportunities still available to have those experiences. Time with family, however, is fleeting and does not come back around again. Take a look around you and take stock of the things that you do have. Are the things that you’re missing what’s really most important? “We all hate missing out, but these things pass, while the big picture remains,” says Matthews. “Be patient and work through it.”