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Fear Of Missing Out

In our zeal to achieve external perfection, we miss giving significance to our inner self.

The fear of missing out or FOMO as its popularly known is common behavior visible across generations. Often, I notice people push their heads into a photograph or add a comment on social media platforms to record their presence. As per Wikipedia, FOMO is described as "a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent". This social anxiety is characterized by "a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing". FOMO is also defined as a fear of regret.  

Regret and guilt arise in us when we feel the need to know everything, do everything, be available everywhere. That is a rather tall order. We are born with different skills, unique attributes and inherent preferences. Like Lego, we complement and serve each other from our uniqueness. However, when we compare ourselves to another and form a perception of imperfection, we keep seeking acceptance from others to feel a sense of belonging. Couple of years ago, I was working with a CEO, who was struggling with time management and team empowerment issues. As we progressed with the coaching, he realized that his passion for perfection made him look into every detail. Recognizing that as a CEO, he needed to stay focused on the strategic issues rather than stretch across every business function. To create time, he designed processes and focused on developing the team such that he could delegate work to them. Letting go of the insistence for perfection helped him grow as a leader because he started looking at his strengths and relevance more discerningly.  

When we are not connected with our inner self, we keep seeking for external validation, recognition, acceptance. When we seek approval by looking good, working hard, having a beautiful home, bringing up successful children...unknowingly, we depend on others to give us our sense of self-worth. A constant need to fit in causes stress and anxiety and takes away the joy of living. Our persona becomes a camouflage for that stress and our anxiety limits our self expression. When we do not accept or see ourselves as perfect manifestation of Nature, we try to defy this law every day of our lives. We spend a lifetime getting frustrated with people and try unsuccessfully to change them. Born with no sight or the ability to hear or speak, Helen Keller’s parents felt helpless to nurture Helen. Devoid of any language to express herself, she lived a frustrated life till a teacher helped Helen unleash her inner resourcefulness. Taking Helen’s life as an analogy, when we focus our attention on our perceptions, we miss acknowledging the perfection of inner voice. 

All human beings seek a sense of belonging through different identifications such as name, titles, families, communities, organization…In trying to excel at the roles and feel accepted, often we get so attached to our need to look good, that we lose sight of our inner self. Here I am reminded of a story from centuries ago. A poor man with an ugly face and crooked body walked the streets of a kingdom and people laughed and mocked his looks. The king upon hearing about this man, asked him to be presented in the court. When the king saw his face, the king too started laughing. The man calmly responded, ‘I don’t know if you are laughing at me or the one who made me.’ Yes indeed, we are all perfect in this perfect play of life designed to release us from the feeling of helplessness and live in union with our authentic self. 

When we acknowledge our true self and focus on building our relationship with the inner voice, we are able to unleash our potential with ease. About 3 years ago, I decided to slow down because I was feeling rushed and fatigued. Consciously cutting back was initially uncomfortable because I felt as if I would become irrelevant and invisible. I spent time healing my body, writing my book, continued working with my clients and focusing on family. Letting go of the need to be acknowledged and accepted has helped me align internally. Deepening my relationship with my inner voice by anchoring my emotions has sharpened my articulation and expanded my creativity. Also, the expanded awareness has given me the courage and clarity to expand the horizon of my vision. 

In our zeal to achieve external perfection, we miss giving significance to our inner self. Then, our life sways between either not feeling good enough and feeling better than, our emotions overwhelm us, and we lose sight of our perfection. On the other hand, when we contemplate internally and anchor our projected emotions, we discover that imperfection was an illusion created by the veil of perceptions. We realize that our inner being is always perfect and is our true friend and guide to living life to the fullest.


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