Fear of Missing Out

Shame can make us choose the wrong things.

An issue that I have commonly come across in many of my male clients is the shame they experience for not earning enough money in life. They consider themselves as failure for not achieving their goals, espe­cially in comparison to their siblings or friends, and equate their bank balance to success or failure. Some of them may be in the profession of their choice but yet believe that for them to not have done exceptionally well in terms of the money they earn means that they have failed.

What was interesting for me to see was how the profession was associated with monetary suc­cess and not in terms of whether they were able to pursue the career that wanted or not. Many people vol­untarily or involuntarily join the rat race and experience anxiety and distress or undiagnosed depression for los­ing the race. I found many individuals to compare them­selves with their classmates or siblings and the direct comparison came in terms of, ‘he has his own house, cars, money to travel, education and the list goes on.’

There is an inherent shame rooted in a sense of inade­quacy or embarrassment of being less financially strong than his peers. I have been wondering where this shame comes from and I believe it’s intergenerational and is root­ed in the history of the sub-continent with the class di­vides and the strong concept of untouchables and over centuries, its imbedded in our psyches where having less means we will miss out on the exclusivity of life. We will be outside of the privileged circle and it’s the fear of missing out and being ‘untouchable’ that installs this shame.

This shame was further cemented by the social class dif­ferences that continue in our society and get highlighted by things like membership to social clubs where the ‘have nots’ are not allowed to enter. Is it the shame about being less privileged or it’s rooted in the fact that so many life oppor­tunities get missed out because of the class one belongs to and it’s the inferiority complex that develops because of it?

Shame is a powerful emotion tied to our identities and beliefs about ourselves and affects our self-esteem. Brene Brown defines shame as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve expe­rienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of con­nection.” It is a complex emotion that evokes a sense of inadequacy that can be triggered by a wide range of life circumstances, from social rejection to personal failure. It can also be triggered by something as job loss or FOMO, the fear of missing out.

Many of us link our professional identity to how finan­cially strong we are and not to our goals. And so rath­er than following our dreams and passion. We run after money and lead dissatisfied lives by aligning our profes­sion to money and not what motivates us. There is a sig­nificant relationship between shame and financial goals and shame has a significant impact on our financial goals. If we experience shame about our financial situation, we may be less likely to talk about our finances, set goals, seek help, or make the changes necessary to achieve them.

Shame also impacts our financial values which are the principles that guide our financial decisions and behav­iors. They are shaped by our upbringing, culture, edu­cation, and personal experiences. Shame can make us choose the wrong things. For example, if we feel ashamed about our financial situation, we might make financial choices that are focused on keeping up appearances rath­er than on building long-term financial security. If our lo­cus of evaluation is external, then others more privileged are dictating our financial choices; for example, making us buy things that we don’t need.

Let’s free ourselves of this shame. Working hard is all that matters and it’s important to set our benchmark of what is considered security in life for us. If you are rent­ing a house and like your life, then don’t pressure your­self to buy one. Life runs in cycles of change and pay more attention to yours and get out of all man-made races.

Get into your race ease into life and be free of any shame that is linked to what you have achieved in life.

Zara Maqbool
The writer is a BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psycho-therapy) accredited individual and couple psycho-therapist based in Islamabad. She can be reached at zaramaqbool
@yahoo.com.

The writer is a BACP (British Association For Counselling and Psychotherapy) accredited individual and couple psychotherapist based in Islamabad. She can be reached at zaramaqbool@yahoo.com or her official website.

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