One of the hardest things I remember about giving up the party scene was a constant fear of missing out by not going out or being there. Sobriety and fear of missing out often go hand in hand.
“What if something fun happens that I miss?”
“What if they have fun without me?”
“I’m so lame for staying in and not socializing.”
“I’m going to miss out on the action, memories, photos, laughs, inside jokes…”
As defined: “Fear of missing out is a form of social anxiety, whereby one is compulsively concerned that one might miss an opportunity for social interaction, a novel experience, profitable investment or other satisfying event.”
This fear of missing out is part of the reason why my alcoholism and addiction were perpetuated. As addicts and alcoholics, we often tend to overthink and experience this in a more exaggerated sense because we are more impulsive and we do things to change our feelings in an effort to experience life in the most intense ways.
Fear of missing out (FOMO) and comparison are sisters of each other. We often compare ourselves to others lives and experiences. We think we are missing out based on the highlight reels we see from others, especially in social media these days.
It’s natural for humans to experience small forms of FOMO, but for an alcoholic or an addict this can actually become a trigger for relapse. We’ve got to be armed and prepared for when this comes up. Here are some tips for fighting the FOMO.
First, pay attention when these types of thoughts come and rather than let them talk you into something, just witness them coming up. As they do, ask yourself what is the worst that can happen by not going or participating? Could it be that maybe acceptance that not doing everything is ok or that saying no to things that do not contribute to your overall well-being are good to decline?
It’s important to also remind yourself that you are not missing out on the hangover, miscellaneous 3am charges on your bank account or embarrassing things you may have said that you wish you could take back later.
Another thing that has helped tremendously is replacing happy hour and weekend escapades with other activities that don’t involve drinking. Finding hobbies to fill your time like exercising, reading, hiking, yoga, movies or something along those lines not only helps to keep you occupied, but it also begins to help you realize that happiness is found in places other than the bar or bottle.
Having some solitude and cutting back on social media is also a healthy suggestion. The less that is seen on social media the less feelings come up that indicate something is being missed out on. The less we know about what is going on in the party circuit, the better off we are, at least initially. This is not to be antisocial or isolate, but sometimes when you are not left under the influence of others, you reconnect with yourself and are able to recharge your batteries to remember your own agenda rather than other people’s agendas.
Setting goals for yourself is another really good way to stay on track. When you have something you are working towards, you are more likely going to want to spend your time fulfilling the goal and chasing that dream. This way when you find yourself continuously checking social media or thinking about what you’re missing, you can kindly remind yourself that those things don’t align with your goals right now.
It is in our human nature to flex the comparison muscle or desire belonging, even if sometimes we search for it in the wrong forms. However, in recovery it’s important to have some strategies in place for combatting that inner FOMO beast that can be extremely tricky at times.
The idea of going sober is do something for yourself, to better yourself, not to feel like you are weird, isolated or missing out on life. Sometimes when we become aware of our thoughts around this concept, we realized it’s our own negative thinking and bad habits that actually can keep us feeling the most separated.