Have you heard of FOMO? It stands for Fear Of Missing Out and I've seen it mentioned in at least a dozen places in recent months. Apparently, we're all way more susceptible to this now that we can't just see what the neighbors are doing, but instead we're plugged into everyone's life and their pretty photos of their cocktails or dance party or beach vacation or whatever. And Instagram filters make everything look so arty! While we plug into social media and all the rest of the media out there, instead of enjoying where we are, we wonder why we're not in Bali, or climbing some mountain in South America, or at that cool new restaurant that everyone is talking about. And we get all full of anxious chemicals. So we're usually instructed to unplug for goodness sake and pay attention to whatever we're actually doing. And/or take our own photos of cocktails or babies or cats or mountains - and enjoy how pretty they look on Instagram too! (At least this is what I do - I love an arty Instagram photo!) But there's something just as insidious as FOMO, at least for me. I call it SIMU and that stands for S#%t I Made Up. Or Stuff I Made Up if you prefer. And this is something I used to do to myself (honestly I still do it sometimes!) without any help or cocktail photos from anyone else. I would create gigantic lists of stuff that had to get done. I would come up with plans to do way more than is actually possible for someone like me who also likes to nap. And then I would fill up with anxious chemicals when I'd only do ten percent of it. I'd wake up stressing about how I was gonna get it all done and go to bed stressing about what I didn't do.
This wasn't stuff I had to do - it was Stuff I Made Up! In the world of self-help we can really make some serious lists of everything that's going to edify us and make us better people. But the truth is, none of it was crucial. If i didn't feel like yoga class one day, so what? If I didn't feel like writing in my journal, so what? If I didn't feel like blogging, the world would not stop. Slowly, slowly, I've been learning to stop stressing about self-imposed made up stuff, and get clearer and clearer about what it is that I actually want to do. Sometimes I want to practice yoga. Sometimes I want to blog. Often I want to write. I always want to read!
In the 21st century first world, pretty much everything we stress about is made up. By us. Fabricated. Most of what we tell others we're so busy doing and preparing for and overwhelmed by is purely by choice. We could survive, and potentially thrive, with way less. Sometimes the fabrications are created by society and culturally ingrained so they feel real, but they're still made up. Which means we have a choice.
I'm choosing to give up some of my SIMU in order to be able to savor whatever I'm doing in the moment. There is magic in what is happening now. Especially when I pick something to engage in that I love, that challenges me or piques my curiosity. Something I really want to do, not what I think I'm supposed to want to do. Something related to my own desires, not societal expectations.
And then I pick that thing and show up. All the way. All senses present. Instead of half there because my mind has drifted off to some other place in the past or future. Whether it's sitting in the grass doing nothing, practicing my French (still loving that!), writing a blog post or making a pie, I'm there. I might take an Instagram photo though- and make it all arty... :)
How about you? Have you discovered some SIMU recently that you don't feel like doing anymore? What would your summer feel like if you dumped the SIMU every day that you just don't want to do? Would that give you more time and space for the stuff you really care about, the stuff that you keep putting off?
If you want to chat about this further, come join my class tonight called Pie in the Sky -it's all about bringing back the fun and getting something done this summer, and one strategy is to dump your unwanted SIMU. And if you're reading this blog post way after the fact, the class will be recorded, so you can get it anytime!