My Yoga Journal – Letting go of my FOMO

Etsy cusion

fomo_definitionAt the beginning of the year I deactivated my personal Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest accounts just to see what would happen. The universe tends to whisper things to me like “could you be feeling exposed, paranoid and anxious because of Facebook?” Or, “have you noticed how depressed you feel after spending hours on the computer – mostly on Facebook?”

It reminds me of the film “The Matrix”, when Morpheus gives Neo the choice of the red or blue pill: “This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill — the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill — you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”

I chose the blue pill because, quite frankly, the rabbit-hole blows my tiny mind.

It’s not that I was on Facebook for hours, but as I run my business from home – which of course has a Facebook page (I’m happy to WORK in Wonderland, I just don’t want to LIVE there!) –  I would dip into my personal “feed” as a means of a mental break (having given up the fags last year – Facebook has to be healthier than that, right?). But the Facebook mini-break meant an hour at the computer became three.

If the kids were home while I was trying to “work” I would get snappy with them for “interrupting” me when I was trying to get a work project finished – when really it was me who was wasting my own precious time!  I think Annemaree calls that “projecting” (that which annoys me about me I find fault with in you).

So, I listened to the whispers of the universe and I dropped out. Like an addict having to throw the whiskey bottles in the bin I had to fully deactivate accounts, unsubscribe from lists and delete apps from all of my various devices – I had to go completely cold turkey.

Once I did this, the mutterings of the universe got louder and louder. I kept seeing articles about more and more people feeling the same way. I read once (probably on Pinterest – and I re-pinned it of course!) that “comparison is the thief of joy”. Facebook had become for me a yard stick against which to measure my life in comparison to others’. And it did steal my joy. It gave me feelings of anxiety, of inferiority, of missing out.

From a yogic perspective, one cannot possibly live “in the moment” when you are constantly thinking up your next status update or checking what else is happening; what else you could be doing; where else you could be. This friends, is FOMO. The Fear of Missing Out. There is no place for FOMO, or living fearfully, in a yogic life.

Oddly, in this desperation for connecting with one another, we are becoming so utterly disconnected from ourselves and one another. I absolutely cannot bear it when someone is checking their phone whilst I am having dinner with them. It is like meeting someone at a party who is looking over your shoulder to see if there is someone more interesting in the room. And please, keep it in your handbag and not on the table!

In the early days of “dropping out”, if I had a compulsion to share something (an outrageously witty, insightful, fleeting thought) I would send a text message to my husband, or my best girlfriend. Neither of whom are – nor have ever been – on Facebook! The irony is too delicious. So, two of the most important people in my life who know me better than anyone else and actually care what I think, have been excluded from an inner life I chose to share publicly with acquaintances.

Now, when I take a gorgeous photo of my children being funny, weird, angelic or outrageous – I email it to my husband. Their father. Probably the only person actually interested in seeing a photo of my kids. Previously, he missed out on this. By not being on Facebook, I am in more regular contact with my husband – just sharing nice things throughout the day. I am closer to him. I am not excluding him.

When my friends hear from me, via phone call, SMS or email, they can be assured that I have put real thought into who actually receives contact from me. This makes THEM feel special. More importantly the people who HAVE NOT heard from me don’t know! They can’t see who I am in contact with and can’t be hurt by assuming a non-existent, passive-aggressive snub.

I have to confess that Pinterest and Instagram have slipped back through the net. Although, in the absence of the true ego-fest that is Facebook I am questioning what the point is of Pinterest? Am I creating a persona for the world to see by pinning pictures of clothes I don’t own, interiors I don’t have, words I don’t live by and food I don’t cook onto boards so people I don’t know will think I’m terribly stylish and interesting?

I reinstated Instagram mainly to keep in touch with our extended families who are photo-mad Insta-fanatics. They all travel far and wide doing terribly interesting things so it is always lovely to see a photo of where they are and what they’re up to – and share our interesting exploits too. But, I think I need to cull the list of Instagrammers I am following – if I see one more damn photo of someone’s smoked salmon and poached eggs on sourdough I will bring up my own breakfast.

By “missing out” I have more time, better relationships, less anxiety and I receive a lot more phone calls from people who ACTUALLY want to talk to me!  So, let go of FOMO and embrace JOMO! The JOY of missing out.

Until next time we meet,

Om & Out

AQAxxx

This article has been contributed by Cool, Calm & Collected’s student, writer & eternal work-in-progress, Anita Quigley Atherton

Image: http://www.etsy.com (Yes, you can buy FOMO cushions)

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My Yoga Journal: Relationship Re-boot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is it just me, or does this happen to everyone?

You’re cruising along with life – practising yoga; living in the moment; letting stuff go; keeping calm; meditating not medicating; being grateful for what you have; not worrying about what you haven’t; dropping the kids to school / parties / swimming lessons; paying bills; preparing meals; working; doing the washing; taking the dog to the vet; doing the shopping; picking up the dry-cleaning; reading books; putting the bins out; baking biscuits; watching TV; making  play dough; doing kinder duty; attending committee meetings; sorting out sibling squabbles; trying to get the kids to eat more vegies and watch less TV; and catching up with friends and family – when suddenly – KERBLAMMO!

From way out of left field you realize that apart from “What time will you be home tonight?”; “Have a great day”; “How was your day?”; “Dinner’s ready” and / or “I’m off to bed” – you haven’t spoken to your partner for days or weeks …or even, months?

It just happened to me.  Unfortunately, this realization didn’t come as a gentle whisper; it slapped me in the back of the head and poked me in the eyeballs on the way down. It was painful stuff and without getting into the various ridiculous topics that peppered our weekend-long argument I’ll share with you the issue it all boiled down to.

Disconnection.

Three months ago, on his 40th birthday, my husband and I gave up smoking.  We have been going mind-bogglingly well. Not one craving, nor a single moment of weakness under normally tempting scenarios – I could be so bold as to say we have kicked the habit. When I first started yoga, Annemaree told me not to worry about the smoking – one day it would just go.  And poof!  It has just gone.  No stress, no fuss.

What we hadn’t realized is that we were also giving up what connected us.  We had smoked together our entire relationship.  After the kids came along, our favourite way to come together was to sit down at the table outside, have a few drinks, a few smokes, a cosy chat and a jolly good laugh.  It was us against the world, we had something so special and a bond no-one could put asunder.

Intellectually, we knew we had to give up smoking for the sake of our respective health and for the kids – but for now it was a little bit naughty, lots of fun and ours, ALL OURS [insert evil genius laugh here] – and then we gave it away.  And poof!  What connected us had just gone.  They don’t tell you that on the QUIT commercials.  Where is the “GIVING UP SMOKING WILL KILL YOUR RELATIONSHIP” warning on the packets?

We gradually became like Ralph E. Wolf and Sam Sheepdog from the Looney Tunes cartoons.  We clocked in and clocked out with one another and went about our respective days with little interaction and virtually no conversation at all.  Early in our quit campaign we avoided talking about “quitting” by watching TV to take our minds off, well, ANYTHING. This gradually became our new routine and we basically stopped communicating altogether.

Whilst this past weekend has been painful for both of us, this I can share with you.  Since practicing yoga and meditation on a regular basis I was able to argue much “cleaner”, to fight “the good fight”, to take a noble path – the high road.  Apart from a few (alcohol-induced) outlandish and dramatic accusations I never once lost sight of how deeply I love my husband.  I knew that we were both hurting.  I understood that no-one was at fault.  I felt deep sadness throughout the weekend and I allowed myself to feel it fully – all the while a deep inner voice assured me “feel this fully, it will pass.  Everything will be alright”.

In the depths of my sorrow, I was able to practise compassion and empathy towards my partner.  I sat with my feelings and was mindful not to speak without thinking – which led to lots of thinking and almost comical stretches of wordless silence.  I simply refused to let things escalate.  I was also gentle on myself in the hours of darkness (why oh why did it have to be a long weekend?).  Not once did I feel guilty or drag the cat-o-nine tails out and flagellate myself Da Vinci Code-style for what a dreadful wife / mother / human being I am. No tightness in the chest, not a single twinge of anxiety.

Rather than buy a packet of Benson & Hedges to get our relationship back on track and see all of our good work go up in smoke, we’re going to try a relationship re-boot. Like the I.T. help desk cure-all, we are simply going to stop what we are currently doing, switch off and switch back on again.  The television is the first thing we have agreed to switch off.  A good connection does not necessarily lead to meaningful connection.

It might take a little while to re-start again, but we will make sure to save our changes so we don’t lose everything.

Until next time we meet,

Om & out.

AQA xxx

This article has been contributed by Cool, Calm & Collected’s student, writer & eternal work-in-progress, Anita Quigley Atherton.

Photo source: Wikipedia: Sam Sheepdog and Ralph Wolf in the Looney Tunes short ”A Sheep in the Deep”. The short ”A Sheep in the Deep” is copyright 1961 Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.