Turn FOMO into Mojo

Jun 06, 2024

Everyone wants to be accepted and feel like they belong to a community. Sometimes, we try to find belonging by “fitting in.” We change our style, alter how we speak, and adjust our values to match those around us so we’ll be liked and accepted. 

The desire to fit in starts with fear–an emotion that doesn’t help you reach a state of belonging. 

We fear rejection, so we attempt to fit in with other people's expectations and the conventions they follow. When trying to fit in, we feel FOMO (the fear of missing out) because we want to be the same as the people around us. We want to have the same experiences, and we are afraid that they will move on without us if we miss an important moment. 

If a grizzly bear or a mountain lion is chasing me, fear can absolutely serve me, because fear changes our physiology in a way that helps me get down that mountain and away from that dangerous situation. My heart races, pumping adrenaline through my blood to get my muscles ready to run and to keep my mind alert. This physical response is super helpful when being chased by a wild animal, but it isn’t helpful when trying to navigate a social situation.

Fear does not serve us in our pursuit of Belonging. A racing heart and narrowed vision don’t help us feel comfortable and safe in a community. We don’t need to be on edge or alert to find a place where we are liked and accepted. When it comes to Belonging, it is important to change fear into something more helpful.

Fear can be debilitating. It makes us feel like imposters and feel like we’re missing out. That fear hurts relationships and may even hurt our survival. It’s important to recognize the fear. When we worry that other people will think we’re weird or when we fret that we may be missing out, it’s important to recognize those thoughts as fear. Call it out, sit in the feeling for a moment, and ask “Does this emotion serve me?” If the answer is no, let that feeling go. 

One letter that can change fear into power is the letter F.

We use the phrase, what if, a lot. 

  • I didn't get invited to the party, what if my friends don't like me anymore?
  • What if I'm not cool enough for them?
  • What if I don't have the status or the ranking? 

What if, what if, what if. We can “what if” ourselves to death. 

My favorite Greek Stoic philosopher is Seneca. He said that “suffering happens more in imagination than it does in reality” because “what if” is storytelling. “What if” creates realities that aren't real. 

Let’s break down the letters of fear. F E A R. False Evidence Appearing Real. Fear is false evidence. It makes false scenarios feel real. We make up these stories in our mind that are so fanciful, they're so fantastic that we start to believe them. That's what fear does. When fear starts to say “what if,” all we need to do is throw out the F and replace it with an S. 

Instead of asking “what if?” we ask “what is?”  What is real? What is the place I belong right now? That can be self, family, humanity, God, or that can be purpose. What is my place of belonging right now? What is in my power? What is my attitude about this? We get to choose. We can't be forced to feel anything we don't choose. We get to choose every emotion.

Say these out loud to yourself:

  • What if they don't like me? 
  • What if I’m unlovable? 
  • What if I’m not interesting enough? 
  • What if I don't have the status?

Notice how they feel very dark and discouraging. 

Now say these: 

  • What is in my power?
  • What is the place I belong right now?
  • What is my place in this world?

Can you feel the difference? The “what is” statements are much more hopeful and much less fearful. Asking these “what is” questions is a great way to ground our thoughts in reality and focus on the positive. All we have to do is replace an F with an S, and we get rid of that FOMO. We get rid of that fear. 

Fear is the driving force behind the need to “fit in”. When we let it go, we can find the places where we truly belong.


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