Photographer: Susan Werner

People have been asking me, “Tree, are you alive?”

Yes.

Very much so.

I haven’t consistently published new blog posts in months and my social media accounts are so quiet, even introverted crickets stay away.

Last year, I wrote about taking time off to heal some wounds (physical, emotional and spiritual). You can read about it in this post, “What Dims Your Light?” and this, “The Call to Surrender.”

If you’re on my email list, you would’ve received updates about my healing journey and how the wounds have since been nurtured and accepted.

Side note: I don’t publish everything I send to my subscribers. I like to think of my list as a free insider’s membership, Tree & Stick Girl’s Inner Happy family, where you get access to parts of me that the general web visitor doesn’t. Stick Girl and I often share insights, updates and valuable resources with our Inner Happy family that we don’t always make public. So if you’d like to be a part of the family, you can join for free by clicking the button below. You’ll also get some free downloads (including my top 10 morning actions that I’ll discuss below in this article) and be first to know about new events, upcoming projects and announcements before I post them publicly. 

But whether you’ve joined the Inner Happy family or not, I’ve still been pretty M.I.A. lately.

The truth is…

After taking so much time off from social media, blogging and all things online, I’m not only really enjoying myself, I’m also more connected to divine source. I feel at peace with myself, the world and God. Small things don’t annoy me so much. Big things don’t carry the weight they used to. I’m having more a-ha moments of insight, spiritual wisdom and soulful epiphanies. I’ve discovered a deeper sense of purpose and meaning.

And most of all, I’ve finally come to know that I’m not alone. Never have been. Never will be.

And neither are you!

It was difficult to go offline. For me personally, to stop writing regularly to you, dear reader, and to stop checking Facebook were by far the most difficult. I felt like I was missing out on the world, on building relationships, on other people’s lives. But I’ve realized all the other things I’ve been missing due to my incessant FOMO (fear of missing out). Ironically, FOMO actually causes one to miss out… on the deeply important things. The thing we fear causes us to do the very thing we’re afraid of!

Let me illustrate this with two scenarios.

Imagine waking up in the morning after a mildly restful night’s sleep. You could use another hour of sleep but you have to get ready for work. Your body’s tired, your neck’s stiff, and you linger in bed, procrastinating the inevitable as you tell yourself “just five more minutes”. You can’t fall back asleep and your mind starts wandering, wondering what you’ve missed while you were sleeping. Alone in bed with only your thoughts, a tinge of isolation and emptiness begins to creep up inside you.

Without thinking, you reach for your iPhone on the nightstand and tap the Facebook icon. Immediately, the emptiness is replaced by a sense of gratification and connection. Aaahhh, you’re plugged in again. Your body rewards you with a nice hit of dopamine, like a drug fix without drugs. The problem is after a few seconds of scrolling, you start feeling numb, angry or hopeless about the human race. Your spirit sort of checks out and your human ego checks in. Maybe there’s a cute cat gif that makes you smile for a second, but that’s quickly replaced by the next story in your feed, an online friend’s opinionated rant about the latest happenings in the White House, or their views on eating meat, or fill-in-the-blank for anything that causes your blood pressure to spike.

A heavy knot in your stomach starts to grow. You HAVE TO comment. You HAVE TO enlighten them. You HAVE TO explain why this is so wrong. Because, maybe, just maybe, something you write will spark a glimmer of reason, sensitivity and compassion within them that they might finally see the truth. You tell yourself you don’t want to get into it, you could just let it go and scroll up to the next story, but you can’t help yourself and start typing anyway.

Except your friend doesn’t respond the way you’d hoped, and not only that, their like-minded friends have chimed in and now you’re in a heated commentary war with no resolution and you carry that knot with you long after you’ve closed the app.

If you’ve learned to stay away from social media comments, maybe you saw another friend’s post asking for prayers for her friend over the tragic injustice that happened to their little daughter and now you’re carrying the sadness of your friend’s friend’s suffering and wondering how God could let such a horrible thing happen and how awful it must be for her family. You don’t even know them but you can feel their sorrow and pain deeply… and it haunts you all day.

Compare that to a second scenario:

Imagine waking up in the morning after a mildly restful night’s sleep. You could use another hour of sleep but you have to get ready for work. Your body’s tired, your neck’s stiff, and you linger in bed, procrastinating the inevitable as you tell yourself “just five more minutes”. You can’t fall back asleep and your mind starts wandering, wondering what you’ve missed while you were sleeping. Alone in bed with only your thoughts, a tinge of isolation and emptiness begins to creep up inside you.

Instead of reaching for your iPhone, you reach for your journal. You write down your thoughts and feelings, and in between sentences, you stop to listen to what else might be percolating inside you. Maybe your inner child springs up out of nowhere to tell you she’s feeling neglected. Maybe you give her the pen for a few minutes and allow her to write out her unexpressed thoughts and feelings. Maybe you hear something else… a whisper from deep within you, a calling to get back in touch with who you are beyond the human ego and all its titles, perceptions, beliefs, desires, struggles and goals.

If you don’t like journaling, you could use these “just five more minutes” moments to meditate, draw, paint, create, stretch, dance, read a chapter from spiritual literature, listen to inspiring music, look at yourself in the mirror and say “hi, how’ve you been? I’ve missed you,” or a myriad of other self-honoring activities that bring you closer to the root of who you are rather than take you further away into your distracted, egoic state.

You can then carry this more grounded YOU into the rest of your day and you’ll find that you’re not as easily upset by the little annoying things that generally pop up throughout the day.

By waking up in the morning and reaching for the phone to check emails or scroll the news or social media feeds, you’re missing the opportunity for a quiet, sacred moment with yourself at the beginning of the day. You’re missing out on giving yourself a strong mental, emotional and spiritual grounding before your feet even touch the floor.

This, my friend, is my new standard for FOMO. I fear that by consistently consuming other people’s opinions, beliefs and experiences (on social media, news, TV, internet, books or otherwise), I’m missing out on nourishing my own soul.

This doesn’t only apply to mornings. I carry this standard with me throughout the day.

We’ve become so addicted to that quick dopamine spike from checking emails, texts, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and more, we’re caught in an endless, unconscious loop all day every day. Like any addiction, it takes a lot of self control to get out of it. I’ve found that most habits are easier to break when we replace it with a more positive action.

And it doesn’t have to be drastic. No need to throw our phones away or go offline completely forevermore. For example, instead of checking emails on your phone for the thousandth time in 2 minutes, you could open your Rumi app just one of those times and read a couple passages of his poetry, if that’s what inspires you. Or you can pause for a moment, take a deep breath and check in with yourself before rushing off to the next thing on your To-Do list. Small actions like this, repeated consistently over time, spins you out of the unconscious loop and into a new, more mindful loop that serves your soul rather than your ego.

Before long, you’ll find that when you do spend time online, it will be with intention, focused and highly productive. And the extra time you have (which used to be spent mindlessly scrolling) will be filled with more enjoyable, meaningful and impactful activities.

Don’t let Fear of Missing Out make you miss out on the important things in life. 

In fact, use it to your advantage by changing your standards of what you’re missing out on.

Would you rather miss out on taking mindful action or repeating mindless activity?

Would you rather miss out on connecting with your soul or connecting with a Facebook friend who you don’t even remember how they became your Facebook friend in the first place because you’ve never met them in real life?  

Would you rather miss out on gaining deep spiritual insight about yourself or gaining information about the random car chase that’s happening 5 states over and has nothing to do with you or your life?

If you want more examples of simple morning grounding techniques, you can download my Top 10 Morning Actions for free. You don’t have to use all of them, of course, and a few of them take about as long as it takes to pick up your phone, tap the Facebook icon, and scroll. 

For those of us who are sensitive to other people’s energy in person or online, it’s important to start our day rooted in strength & positivity. Ever feel good in the morning at home but by the time you get to the office, you’re moody and want to kill everyone? Point made. Use any of these 10 simple actions to make sure you don’t turn homicidal throughout the day. Just click here to let us know where to send your free PDF.

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