By Suzie Klein

Did you ever feel that you might miss out on something? An opportunity? A better job? Or a better spouse? If so, you might have experienced “fear of missing out”.

What is fear of missing out?

The fear of missing out, or FOMO for short, is an inclusive name for an emotional mental state that deals with what we feel we could have achieved in life and shouldn’t have missed it. This state of mind leads to feelings of dissatisfaction, and eventually, not being able to enjoy and appreciate our accomplishments in life.

Where does it come from?

FOMO generally stems from the following: 

  1. Recurring thoughts of doubt – we constantly  feel we might miss a better option in life and there are always better options out there. It raises feelings of alertness towards the options we come across in our daily lives, such as: job opportunities, romantic partners, and even simple dilemmas such as – which jeans fit me better?
  2. Anxiety – people have a tendency to constantly upgrade, progress, improve and seek options that will provide us with a better quality of life. This chase for better options inhibits us from being happy with ourselves and we experience anxiety from thinking – have I missed a better option? What if my life could have been better if I made a different choice? Therefore, we immediately search for the next challenge or invention to satisfy us.

Is FOMO a bad thing?

People who experience FOMO, can run for many years from a feeling of insecurity, emptiness, restlessness and actually report that life is passing them by without being able to achieve something that really satisfies them. Many times the feeling of missing out is expressed in the workplace, as we feel that the job is not good enough, the boss is not nice enough, or that the salary is not high enough. We start to convince ourselves that the dream job is just around the corner, and then we obsessively search for it. In regards to romantic relationships, we are constantly occupied with the question – why did I compromise? What if I could have got someone better? Perhaps more sociable, funnier, better in bed, or successful? We justify this type of thinking as we believe we didn’t make the best choice.

FOMO is often associated with addictions, and especially, gambling and lottery games addiction. Whenever we gamble, we often ponder whether we could win the game, or money. We engage in lottery forms, because we hope to be rich with minimum efforts. After experiencing several winning games of poker, we feel motivated to win the whole jackpot. In the case of gambling, a person is preoccupied with the fact that the win is around the corner and if he does not fill out a form, then he will miss the win. Radio commercials often aim precisely at these destructive thoughts that if you do not gamble, you will miss the win. In fact, most chances are that we will not win and as a result, we experience FOMO due to this.

The obsessive desire to win something better and not to miss out, makes us end up losing again and again, and causes us to suffer both financially and mentally. We are eventually left with the realization that not only did we miss the ultimate fantasy, but we also had to compromise on something less, or feel like it is not sufficient for us anymore.

What can we do?

FOMO is an important part of our lives. It helps us consider our options carefully. However, whenever we are constantly occupied with the FOMO, we eventually are missing out. Therefore, recognizing the FOMO is important to have a sense of control with it. We can remind ourselves that FOMO is all about fantasy, and life might not improve much if we chose the other option. So what else can we do about FOMO? Just be mindful and keep reminding yourself that you are not as poor as you think you are.