Before the days of social media (was there a time before social media?), there wasn’t the constant and perpetual inundation of the “go here, see this, try that, buy it now” culture. Back then, “slowbriety,” or taking things one day at a time, seemed to be more the norm because you had to wait to call, respond or RSVP. There seemed to be a more go-with-the-flow attitude about life and the way life was lived. 

Declining an invite is tough because we visualize what fun it will be, and heaven forbid we ever disappoint anyone. This burdensome mindset can quickly turn into a 24/7 negative feedback loop of the dreaded FOMO (fear of missing out). The over bombardment of fun, glamour and amazement can wet the social appetite while creating unrealistic expectations. The pressure from overcommitting can lead to feelings of increased angst and anxiety, not to mention possible financial constraints. 

So, how do you forego feelings of missing out on all the fun, and even worse, that dread of letting others down? I believe an in-depth look at what we deem important and what we can gently let go of may help. However, this is easier said than done in a culture of “more is better” instead of more is just more.

It might be a good time to explore what truly matters so that our lives and memories are not crowded together, but instead savored like a fine, aged wine. Here are some tips to forego FOMO:

  • Take a step back and breathe: It’s okay to delay a response. You don’t have to reply as instantaneously as the invite was received. ASAP can then mean, After Some Appropriate Pondering. 
  • Be more present and in the moment: There’s “great-full” abundance and enough in the NOW!
  • Consider future You:  You’ve RSVP’d to a potluck and the day arrives and you forgot you agreed to make the casserole. Where did the time go? Ann Marie Roepke, PhD, founder of Evoke Training and Consulting states, “Sometimes we overcommit because the future seems far off and abstract and we feel disconnected from our future self. They’re a hypothetical stranger to us, and we’re not invested in their needs.” She advises you do some “mental gymnastics” and then respond accordingly, such as asking yourself what you’d decide if the event was today instead of a month from now.
  • Your children are watching: How we live our lives teaches children the importance of being human beings and not human doings

What a gift to replace FOMO with SOMO: Seek Only Meaningful Opportunities. Can life be reframed to embrace quality and not quantity? One, “No thank you – I’ll kindly pass,” and you’re on your way.

Dr. Amy Austin is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFC#41252) and doctor of clinical psychology in Rancho Mirage. She can be reached at (760) 774.0047.

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