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Fear of Missing Out



Did you know that FOMO is a real word?

The dictionary definition is:

“Fear of missing out is a social anxiety stemming from the belief that others might be having fun while the person experiencing the anxiety is not present. It is characterized by a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing.”

This fear of missing out refers to the feeling or perception that others are having more fun, living better lives, or experiencing better things than you are. It involves a deep sense of envy and affects self-esteem.

Envy is something I have struggled with throughout my life. ( I am a middle child after all!)

And truthfully, I’ve been ashamed of that part of me.

While I’ve always deeply loved, cherished and appreciated the circumstances, opportunities and people in my life, I have suffered from “the grass is always greener” syndrome.

Meditation has been a miraculous teacher for me, and my relationship with envy has been transformed. Of course I still feel envious from time to time but I am no longer caught in the envy trap, always wishing I could be or have something other than what I am or have.

But in our culture now, FOMO is a huge issue. We are barraged with images of other people on social media leading lives seemingly worthy of envy. Every picture of an exotic vacation (in Covid- really??), a sumptuous meal, a killer body in a skimpy bathing suit, a romantic date or perfectly behaved children can bring us to our knees, wishing, wanting, hoping that we could have what they have. Thousands of times a day, we see what looks like conflict-free relationships, homes that are never messy and businesses that are running themselves. A “like” is a validation, a “follower” a recognition of our worthiness.

It’s creating massive insecurity despite the obvious inauthenticity of the whole thing. Our kids are particularly vulnerable. We are at the mercy of FOMO.

But today I am not writing about having FOMO.

I’m thinking about the phenomenon of not having FOMO.

In the last few weeks as I continue to mourn the death of my younger brother, it has become clear to me that I don’t care at all about what people are posting on social media. I can’t seem to find the urge to post online, even for my new business, which I really should be promoting. Nothing feels important enough or real enough. Nothing can bring my brother back or take away my family’s pain. Social media seems phony and insubstantial. It just doesn’t matter.

And while my lack of interest makes perfect sense to me, it’s also somewhat concerning.

Should I care?

Am I feeling numb?

Disconnected?

Disassociated?

Maybe a little.

I am in an oddly neutral state, one I don’t think I’ve ever been in before.

I am choosing to call this state something else.

The word that comes closest to how I am feeling is “marinating”.

The dictionary describes marinating as “soaking the meat so that it becomes tender”. Other words for marinate are absorbing, immersing, infusing. That’s what’s happening. I am marinating in my own juices, giving myself this time of absorbing, immersing and infusing. I hope I am becoming more tender as a result. Do you find yourself marinating these days? Contemplating where to go? What to do next? No clear answers? Wondering what's next? Happy to be a bit more freer but still cautious about going out? Talking to friends but still not feeling as close as you were pre-Covid? Do you feel like you've become too comfortable staying in? Is marinating synonymous with being stuck? No, marinating is more aligned with stillness, being present and absorbing what’s around you while being stuck or being stagnant is like spinning your wheels with the brakes on.

In fact, I learned that there is a slang definition of marinate which refers to the time it takes for you to respond to a text. If you get a text and “marinate” on it, you don’t respond immediately, and instead take the time to reflect.

We learn from marinating what we learn from all spiritual practices- that quieting down rather than being loud, slowing down rather than rushing, simmering rather than boiling really is the way to peace.

There is an ancient Chinese text:

“When the dark is at rest, the light begins to move.”

In The Book of Awakenings, Mark Nepo asks:

“How do we make our way though the tangle of being confused or sad or blocked in understanding a way to tomorrow? It seems natural enough to treat our problems like an overgrown path and go hacking our way through, doing small violence to ourselves. (This Chinese text) implies something harder and simpler. It implies that agitation itself is dark, that only when we keep our hands off will there be room for light.”

And so we keep our hands off; we marinate, we absorb, we stop hacking or way through our sadness and allow room for the light.

I seem to always go back to John O’Donohue when I need some calming guidance. This excerpt from Bless the Space Between us really resonated with me this week:

This is the time to be slow, Lie low to the wall Until the bitter weather passes.

Try, as best you can, not to let The wire brush of doubt Scrape from your heart All sense of yourself And your hesitant light.

If you remain generous, Time will come good; And you will find your feet Again on fresh pastures of promise, Where the air will be kind And blushed with beginning.

So, I will continue to marinate; immersing myself in quiet, in nature, in writing, in meditation, connecting to my own inner wisdom and not looking for answers, acceptance, validation or approval from the outside world, particularly on social media.

I will continue to guide my clients to do the same. And we will find our feet again on fresh pastures of promise. Just not now.

At some point, we will be ready to emerge, tender and perfectly cooked, with just the right amount of seasoning and spice.

SPICE is the perfect acronym for what we need as we follow this path. Each day do your best to have a little SPICE in your life!

S spiritual (do something that fills the soul)

P physical. (move the body)

I intellectual (challenge the mind)

C creative (express yourself)

E emotional (connect to someone, heart to heart)

For me, I meditate, walk or work out, read, write and connect with someone I love every single day.

When I leave out any of the SPICE ingredients, my day is off. We all need some SPICE in our lives, especially when we are in a state of "marinating", of reflection and stillness.

I am reminded of the beginning of Pablo Neruda’s poem,

Keeping Quiet and wonder how the world would be if we all marinated a bit more:

“Now we will count to twelve

and we will all keep still

for once on the face of the earth,

let’s not speak in any language;

let’s stop for a second,

and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment

without rush, without engines;

we would all be together

in a sudden strangeness.”

I imagine that sudden strangeness to be authentic and loving; a coming together with our hearts wide open, our connections with one another deep and meaningful and a collective commitment to be fully ourselves, thinking before we speak or act, giving generously to one another, reserving judgment and not giving a damn about anyone else’s social media accounts!

Now, I think I will go and post one of these quotes on Instagram. LOL

I am so excited to see you at The Gathering on Sunday, April 11 at 4 PT/7ET for an hour of calm and reflection. https://www.noraplesent.com/event-details/april-11-sunday-hour-of-calm Let's marinate together!!

With love and light,

Nora

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