It’s very likely that you’ve heard about “FOMO”, as it’s been around for quite some time now.  We may think of this as just a social media thing, or something that only affects teens and young adults, but I would take it a step further and suggest that it can affect more than just a younger generation.

In doing some research on this topic I came across FOMO references to a multitude of subjects and examples.  Everything from:

  • Missing out on party that your friends are going too that you just found out about.
  • Wondering what’s going on with your social media stream even when you should be concentrating on your work.
  • Everybody has the latest technology and you need it too so you aren’t left behind.
  • What you have for lunch doesn’t look as good as what your friend is having.
  • The clothes you have aren’t like the ones you see in a magazine.

That’s just a handful of examples that FOMO can pertain too, but there’s a common word that ties it all together….Anxiety.  Anxiety triggered by FOMO, or Fear.

We get so anxious on what we are missing out on, or think we are missing out on, that it consumes us.  Especially in this day and age with smartphones being so easily accessible, and allowing us to be in constant contact with the world. Our desire to not be left out is all too easily satisfied; the temptation to always be at the forefront of the latest trend or news can be overwhelming.

I want to look at this from a different perspective though; and that’s how FOMO can influence us in relationships.

Believe me, I could talk for days about how FOMO has affected me in other ways.  However for the purposes of this post, I wanted to focus on the relationship side because I got inspired after a recent chat with a colleague about relationships and survivors.

As someone who is not only a survivor but who is also twice divorced, the subject of relationships is always a delicate one. It invokes all types of emotions; fear, anxiety, excitement, worry, anticipation, confusion…you name it and I’ve likely felt it. Perhaps you have too?

fomo leads to anxiety - surviving my past

It’s only natural to wonder how many chances we will get to find Mr or Ms Right, but as a survivor the anxiety of that is amplified.  Not only is our self-esteem low, but our self-confidence and ability to trust ourselves can also be equally in doubt.

The fear of missing out can drive us to engage in relationships before we are ready; romantic, friendship, or business wise.

We think we are ready, but in reality after some time we realize that we are not. It’s a perfectly valid feeling, so shaming ourselves for doing what’s good for our personal well-being is never a good idea.

I can speak from experience, as I can feel like I’m ready to handle a situation, but after some time my mind starts to rein me back in and put the brakes on.  The key thing to keep in mind is being able to distinguish between walking away from an unhealthy relationship vs being gun-shy due to past hurt and therefore end up hurting ourselves and forcing a life of solitude.

To put it in simpler terms: Is it my guilty gremlin trying to keep me feeling stuck and lonely, or is it truly my mind telling me, “Hey Matt, tread lightly here because you aren’t quite ready to handle this type of relationship yet. You still have healing to do before you can be fully present and engaged in a relationship. You owe it to yourself and your partner”.

That can be incredibly frustrating because it can feel like we are doubting ourselves, yet again. Which is one of the very things that haunts us as adult survivors. That’s why it’s imperative that we look at ourselves with an honest, rational, point of view, and not use emotions (emotional mind) to guide our decision-making.

It can also hurt the other person because they may not understand where we are coming from.  Then we feel guilty because we hurt someone’s feelings, and then we shame ourselves, and the perpetual cycle continues. Fear-Shame.

You would think that being and adult, we know ourselves pretty darn well because after all we’ve lived our entire lives in our skin. When we’ve suffered through trauma and lived with so much self-doubt, sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s Anxiety just trying to keep us stuck.

This is where being  in tune with our mind, heart, and body helps us to understand the signals being sent to us.  That comes from digging deep into our past, sitting with those feelings and emotions, accepting what happened, learning from it, and moving forward towards a life we want. It’s up to us to be comfortable with our healing timetable not being as clear-cut as we would wish it to be.

It’s worth repeating that healing is not linear; it’s full of ups and downs and can feel like a juggling act.

They say that when a relationship is right, “you’ll know it”. Perhaps, but the only way to be as sure as possible is to be as in tune and honest with ourselves as we can be.



Pictures courtesy of Pixabay. Social Media images created by Matt Pappas.