Ripped Off By FOMO

 

FOMO
Our flock of wild turkeys

The premise is simple: because we have a fear of missing out on life (FOMO), we stare at smart phones for hours and actually miss out on life. It’s sad and it is increasing our levels of depression, especially in kids and teens.

It is true that they are physically safer locked in their rooms staring at social media, but emotionally they are being compromised. Why? They are aware of all the things they didn’t get invited to, or are not able to participate in. And it makes them depressed, sometimes even suicidal. And it distracts them from homework and joining in with the family.

Granted, earlier generations may have sat around the “boob tube”, soaking in the inane antics of some comedy show. But at least it was a group activity, usually with some sort of interaction and running commentary. There was a sense of togetherness that just seems missing today. But truthfully, there was a bigger world just outside the front door that was being largely ignored then also.

How about us adults?

Are we much different? I guess our work life or parenting interrupts our addiction to social media, but it seems like the ubiquitous cell phone travels with us everywhere. Could it be that by our example we are actually reinforcing the value of constant electronic connection to our kids?

I didn’t have a smart phone until this month (and truth be told I’m still afraid to learn it) but I sure have wasted thousands of hours on my computer. I don’t deny that it has added a lot of value to me as well, and surely wouldn’t give it up. I mean, how would I know my schedule? How could I write spelling perfect blogs without it? But do I really need to know who is angry over whatever?

As I get older my real fear is that I will miss out on the one and only life that God has granted me. I’m scared I will miss out on all the wonderful things that surround me while I have my nose stuck in a 14” laptop or a 6” smart phone screen. And I am sad that I am such a willing participant.

Every night around dusk a flock of wild turkeys walks down to get a drink from the river. Occasionally they will be joined by a few deer. Ducks will float down the river on their journey to who knows where. But many days I miss it because I am nose down in electronic media gathering useless information. What is it that I am afraid of missing out on that’s more important?

There is a myth that we must carve out quality time for children – but the truth is that quality moments come in the midst of a quantity of time. Quality moments can’t be scheduled and they can’t be manufactured. They just happen, and we want to be there when they do. And not just with our children. The other people we care about qualify as well. Sure, we are busy and so we have to do the best we can within the constraints of life. But even so, if we are absorbed by FOMO we will likely become a victim of it. Look up, not down. Don’t get ripped off.

Are You Self-Destructing?

Self-Destructing

There is nothing more painful for me as a counselor than to watch someone self-destruct. When a threat comes from the outside it is possible to help the client evaluate  and set boundaries with the source of their distress. But when the client’s own behavior is the cause of their pain, it is often hard to get them to place boundaries on themselves.

Of course we know that breaking denial is the first step, and from a distance it is usually relatively easy to see. But even when we are not in denial of our issue, the motivation to address it may be very low because of fear. What is that fear? It’s always about some kind of loss – and loss means grief.

I have a lot of compassion for people who are wrestling with the possibility that they are their own worst enemy. I have been there – more than once, and it hurts.

When it comes to addictions, the fear can be the loss of our life coping mechanisms. It could be drugs, alcohol, shopping, pornography, relationships, etc. Or it could be the loss of a dream that we hold onto, when it is unrealistic or not achievable without huge and unreasonable sacrifices.

I have seen women addicted to exercise and diet to the extent that they put their very life in danger. Why? They are believing that a “perfect” body will attract a “perfect” relationship.

I have seen men destroy relationships of all sorts in pursuit of a career that leaves them empty and unsatisfied. Why? They believe women are only interested in a big paycheck or powerful, successful men.

Very early on in our marriage I held some of those same beliefs with regard to my career choice as a musician. There is nothing inherently bad about that choice for a person. But the instability, temptations and unpredictability were more than I was able to manage. But it was a dream from my early years. If I had been selfishly persistent I probably would have self-destructed. For sure it put my marriage at great risk.

What can we do?

The Bible tells us to count the cost. (Luke 14:28 & Proverbs 20:25) In doing so, we may find that the trade-offs of denial and living a fantasy are just not worth it. Part of this may be that we don’t trust God to see us through to a better future. Instead we take control with a self-destructive trajectory. We may need help to gain clarity and perspective. That takes courage. It means being willing to hear what we need to hear, and not just what we want to hear, knowing that this is the kindest action we can take with ourselves.

Proverbs 14:12 (NLT)
“There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.”

Mark 8:36 (NLT)
“And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?”

This is not about losing our salvation, but about leading a soulless life in the present. We were made for joy and freedom and deep connection. But we must be careful where we believe that deep connection resides. We must choose well in our faith, our relationships, who we trust, and what we pursue.

We Need To Talk

Talk

There is probably no phrase that a woman can utter that strikes terror in the heart of a man more than:

“We need to talk!”

Guys hearing this may start to feel their heart rate climb, their blood pressure escalate, and the anxiety and fear level skyrocket. Calm down guys, I will interpret this for you.

What you hear is: “You’re in trouble, mister!” (And so you brace yourself for the danger ahead.)

What she most likely means is: “I have an unmet expectation that I want to discuss.” (And she is afraid that what is important to her is going to be discounted.)

I want to emphasize that the expectation may or may not be realistic. At this point it is inconsequential. Again, calm yourself down, put on your listening ears and make some time for her. This will de-escalate her emotions, even if it doesn’t seem like it to you at the moment. She may hold an expectation that you can actually meet that will not be as painful as you fear.

Single ladies (in particular): a word of caution. Be very careful when using the phrase (We need to talk about) “The Relationship”. These days those are hot button words. You don’t want a guy to go defensive on you. “The Relationship” is really you and him. It does not exist outside as a separate entity. There seems to be a lot of anxiety around DTR (determining the relationship), but it doesn’t need to be that way. Having a non-anxious conversation might be as easy as choosing a better way to initiate a discussion.

So what might be a better conversation starter?

How about: “I have some thoughts. Would you be willing to listen to them?” or “I’ve been thinking about you (us) lately and would like to process some things.”

He (or she) may still be skeptical, but will be less likely to throw up the deflector shield. A sure way to steer the conversation in a good direction is to lead with an affirmation. It could be anything. “I know you’ve been working hard” or “I know you never intend to hurt my feelings…” Any phrase like that is likely to reduces defenses and pave the way to a better discussion.

I have written this before, and I will state it again. Before you bring up a volatile or touchy subject, be sure to check your anger at the door. If you need to emote, do it where it won’t be heard by the one you are upset with. Process with a trusted same sex friend if need be. Then bring the “sanitized”, less toxic version to the other person.

You’ll thank me later.