I have had a serious case of both FOMO and FOOO for years now.
FOMO, although it sounds like some sort of food intolerance, is actually a kind of emotional intolerance. It stands for Fear Of Missing Out. It’s also known as FOMS (Fear of Missing Something). (Note: this is a social description not a diagnosable psychological condition).
Giving into FOMO, and its close relative FOOO (fear of offending others), meant that I was constantly over-committing, filling up my diary and then burning out.
Having space in my diary was the main deciding factor in saying yes. If I was free, then I was in.
Before long I would have no time or energy for the things like keeping organised and healthy at home or just having down time to recharge without having to be ready for something or doing something.
I would end up cancelling on someone or something at the last minute and then I would feel guilty and ashamed. Aaaargh.
Making the yes’s conscious and enthusiastic
My journey of saying no more often started after a really hard break up. I needed time to heal, time to get centered and to get my sense of self back. I needed to only do things that felt good for my soul.
For the first time in my life I started to get really choosy about what I said yes and no to.
Instead of saying yes out of FOMO or FOOO, I said yes to things that felt good. And I gave myself permission to say no to the rest.
I started to live by these principles:
- Saying yes because of FOMO or FOOO is not the path to my healthiest, happiest life.
- No matter how shiny the invite or opportunity is, if it leaves me feeling lackluster because I have over-committed it actually wasn’t that shiny in the first place.
- When considering an invitation or opportunity, having space in my diary DOES NOT EQUAL an automatic yes. Space in my diary is an opportunity for choice. The choice might be to cook a batch of healthy meals, get to bed early or just have down time. Or it might be to commit to an activity with (or for) someone else – as long as it’s saying yes consciously and enthusiastically.
Every time we say yes to something we are saying no to something else
That sounds negative but when we own this reality then we can make sure that we are saying yes to the important things, to the things that fill our cups, to the things that take us closer to living our healthiest, happiest life.
For me, it’s about having the right balance between doing important and social things and just being and recharging. And by “right”, I mean right for me, right now. It might not be what’s right for you or what’s right for me in the future. But creating our most meaningful life is all about recalibrating with the changing conditions.
The other wonderful thing about having some free space in your diary is that it gives a chance for connection – with yourself, your partner, or your kids. Isn’t it in those times where the magic can happen? That relaxing cup of tea looking out over your garden, an extra hour in bed with your loved one or an impromptu pillow fight with your kids. Imagine if you missed that because you said yes to one more activity out of FOMO or FOOO.
Making it real
It all sounds good in theory, but if you are in the habit of saying yes out of FOMO or FOOO then you may need to take some practical steps to start saying no more often:
- Don’t respond straight away – give yourself some time and space to consider your options, connect with your values and goals, and get back to them.
- Decide on a maximum number of daily or weekly activities that works for you and your partner and/or kids. After that, it’s a no-go.
- Or go the other way and schedule down time for yourself, your relationship and your family first. Make this time non-negotiable and then you know you can accept invites around that.
- If you want to be more flexible, consider the invitation or opportunity within the context of a whole week, month or year depending on its size. Is it going to be too much or does it work in well?
- Ask yourself whether saying yes is helping you to step closer to your healthiest, happiest life?
- Tune into your body signals – do you feel energized when you think about saying yes, or is there a little voice or nagging feeling telling you that you would prefer to say no?
- Breathe and accept that saying no might feel uncomfortable, but know that your wellbeing and creating your best life is more important than giving in to FOMO or FOOO.
I’m still learning this lesson but I’m getting better at recognizing when things are getting out of balance and re-calibrating sooner. Like everything else it’s about making progress in the right direction, not perfection.
Let go of FOMO and FOOO and give yourself permission to do what works for your happiest, healthiest life.
Tell us in the comments below if you have made changes to the balance in your life and the beauty of being. And if you think this post will help the people you care about – share it around.