Unpacking FOMO: Understanding biases, emotions and financial attitudes

This week, Jackie is back to dive deep into the psychological roots of FOMO with Marci Gray, a psychotherapist and diversity consultant. In a world bustling with status updates, vacation photos, and promotions, the fear of missing out (FOMO) has become an integral part of our lives. It’s that unsettling feeling that we’re somehow falling behind, missing out on opportunities, and not measuring up to others. But have you ever wondered what lies beneath this phenomenon? 

Let us start with the Underlying Causes of FOMO

Anxiety: The What Ifs and Comparison Game

Marci Gray enlightens us about the hidden connection between anxiety and FOMO. She reveals that anxiety about the future, concerns about how others perceive us, and the constant stream of “what ifs” can be a breeding ground for FOMO. We often find ourselves comparing our lives to others’, especially on platforms like social media. The anxious urge to keep up and meet certain societal standards drives our FOMO, pushing us to seek validation and assurance.

Self-Esteem Challenges and Self-Compassion

The second psychological underpinning Marci addresses is low self-esteem and its connection to FOMO. She introduces us to the concept of self-compassion, which involves treating ourselves with the same kindness and empathy we extend to others. When we lack self-esteem, we become vulnerable to negative self-talk, fostering a mindset of inadequacy. This not only fuels our FOMO but also hinders our ability to genuinely celebrate others’ successes.

Masking Trauma and Escapism

Marci takes a step further and unveils the often-overlooked aspect of trauma’s role in FOMO. She explains how past traumatic experiences can lead to behaviors like overspending, retail therapy, overworking, and saying yes to everything. These actions serve as distractions, masking deep-seated emotional wounds. We tend to seek temporary relief from these distractions instead of addressing the root causes, which perpetuates the cycle of FOMO.

External Factors Intensifying FOMO

The Social Media Paradox

Addressing the role of social media in intensifying FOMO, Marci provides a fresh perspective. Rather than vilifying social media, she explains how these platforms merely amplify existing feelings. Social media platforms showcase the lives of others, making us more aware of what we might be missing out on. Our perception of others’ achievements and experiences can trigger our insecurities and accentuate our FOMO.

The Internal and External Amplifiers of FOMO

Marci highlights that FOMO often arises from a combination of internal factors like anxiety, low self-esteem, and past traumas, which can be amplified by external triggers such as social media and relationships. Specifically, relationships with successful friends and family, coupled with societal pressures, can magnify the fear of missing out.

Understanding Your Inner Voices:

Acknowledging and discerning the voices in your head is crucial. Marci emphasizes that understanding whether those voices are your own, influenced by friends, or shaped by familial expectations is key to addressing FOMO. Learning to differentiate these voices and determine their source is an essential step in managing its impact.

Recognizing FOMO Across Generations

While FOMO is often associated with younger generations, Marci explains that it can affect people of all ages. Millennials may experience FOMO due to life milestones and changes, like marriage or homeownership. Similarly, older individuals might feel left behind if they haven’t achieved certain milestones. Thus, FOMO can manifest differently across different life stages.

Shifting Mindsets and Focusing on Self-Compassion

To overcome FOMO, Marci advises cultivating self-compassion and self-kindness. Rather than measuring your worth against others’ achievements, focus on your own strengths and accomplishments. She introduces the idea of maintaining a “bragging inventory,” listing your achievements, big or small, to boost self-esteem and reinforce your value.

Mapping Your Life Journey

An effective strategy Marci suggests is to map out your life journey, recognizing milestones and challenges you’ve conquered. This exercise helps in appreciating your growth and journey, both past and future. By acknowledging your progress, you can reduce the impact of FOMO and remind yourself of your personal achievements.

Final advice: Embrace Your Journey

In a world dominated by social media and comparison, it’s easy to fall prey to the fear of missing out. However, Marcy’s insights emphasize the importance of embracing your unique journey, focusing on your accomplishments, and practicing self-compassion. By understanding your value and appreciating your personal milestones, you can confront and conquer FOMO, ultimately leading to a more balanced and fulfilling life.

 If you’re struggling with FOMO or other mental health challenges, you can connect with Marci on social media, visit the Grey Matter Health website, or send an email to info@greymatterhealth.com. Remember, you’re not alone on this journey. We are a team of financial experts dedicated to helping individuals achieve financial wellness and peace of mind. For personalized financial guidance and support, you can reach out to our client experience manager at jody.euloth@askjackie.ca

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