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People are discovering they might be suffering from FOPO without realising

People are discovering they might be suffering from FOPO without realising

It seems there may be a few people who have only just realised they are members of the FOPO club

We all like to think we go through life fearlessly, while taking snide remarks or criticisms on the chin and making out like it's water off of a duck's back.

But in reality, it's really not that easy - especially in a day and age where your supposedly embarrassing moments can end up on the internet forever and one wrong move could make you a viral meme.

So, is it really any wonder that people are scared to be their true selves?

There is a somewhat crude saying which springs to mind though when you start to stew on how other people's judgements about someone can affect them: "Opinions are like a***holes - everybody has one."

And even though each person on this planet boasts one, you don't pay attention to it, do you?

Well, you should apply that same principle to other people's opinions of you - as if their backside doesn't bother you, neither should the sh*t that occasionally comes out of their mouths.

This is easier said than done, mind you - especially if you are suffering from FOPO, aka the fear of people's opinions.

US psychologist Michael Gervais, who coined the concept, explained that those who experience this 'scan the world for approval' - which could be from our friends, family, colleagues or peers.

He told Huff Post: "FOPO is primarily an anticipatory mechanism that we use, and it’s a preemptive process to increase our acceptance in the eyes of others and for us to try to avoid rejection.

“And it’s characterised mostly by a hyper-vigilance and social readiness."

(Getty stock photo)
(Getty stock photo)

Gervais reckons the reason we seek validation from others is because it's ingrained in our DNA.

He said: "Long ago, our brains paired safety with belonging. If we got kicked out of the tribe ... it was a near death sentence to try to survive in the wild by oneself or even with just a handful of people."

According to Gervais, the stakes are no longer as high these days, 'but it still feels that way', so a lot of people end up becoming people pleasers through fear they may upset the apple cart.

The psychologist explained there are three prongs to FOMO - but it all begins with the anticipatory phase, which is a term to describe the thoughts and feelings you experience while preparing for a social situation.

The second phase is 'checking', which pretty much means what the name suggests.

You're checking the person's tone of voice, micro expressions and body language, Gervais says, as well as mentally checking in with yourself, so you probably aren't even actually listening to the contents of the conversation.

He added: "This anticipatory phase and this checking phase are exhausting. They’re very tiring. You become an expensive organism to run. This is why fatigue is such a real deal for so many of us."

(Getty stock photo)
(Getty stock photo)

Then comes the responding phase - which is your time to painstakingly choose how you will reply, while wrestling with the FOPO which has got a chokehold on you.

Gervais said: "If you’re sensing that you might be rejected or you might be looked at kind of sideways, what people end up doing is, they’ll shape-shift in a way to be included."

Basically, the fear of other people's opinions will stop you from being your authentic self as you are too scared to potentially rock the boat or put your foot in it - so you fake laugh at awkward jokes and offer up generic responses instead.

The author said that the 'idea that we're under a spotlight' or constantly being critiqued is something of an illusion, as the other person probably thinks that their being judged by you.

Gervais put it perfectly when he said that falling into the FOPO trap is simply 'being who we think people want us to be, rather than who we actually are' - and what a boring way to live that is.

Social media users who recently realised they might be suffering from the concept seem to be in agreement too.

One said: "Fear of other people's opinion robs you of your potential."

Another added: "FOPO (fear of other people's opinions) should be classified as a disease. Highly destructive, but also highly curable."

A third wrote: "Too many people have FOPO!"

While a fourth chimed in: "Dunno who needs to see this but stop having FOPO, fear of other people's opinion. Go and be a foo, it'll help us all."

Featured Image Credit: Getty Stock Images

Topics: Lifestyle, Mental Health, News, Social Media, Science, US News, Viral