The fear of “missing out.”


In many ways, we humans are competitive by nature. We compare our results to others in subjects like, social and economical status, physical items and of course – physical abilities. Naginata, being a competitive Budo is no different.

Being competitive not only by results of engi and shiai but also by steady rise in the grades, most of us are likely to experience emotional stress when dealing with failure.

We may experience distress when losing in a competition, failing an exam, losing long-term training partners or students who stopped coming to practice or even by watching a footage of Japanese teenagers who already in their teens have better level then many of us will have for many years.

While being aware to the reality is a positive thing, we all have the potential of experiencing the “missing out” syndrome, which is known as “Fear of missing out” (FoMO).

While the fear may take several directions, one of its major turns is to force us into continuous re-experience of our failure. We imagine our failure time after time and feel that we are literally stuck and can’t move on, even though the events that caused our failure are long since passed and are not changeable.

Before we can treat our problem we need to look inside and realize that the reason that we feel distress is deeper then what we think. Each one of us has a different breaking point. Some will experience a difficult event (Like not passing a dan exam) and take it well, and others will not. So while the traumatic event is subjective, the real source of our distress is the same for everyone – we simply feel that we are guilty\not able to put up with that situation.

We might experience disillusion with our previous accomplishments, anger at our friends or teachers and take it very hard that we can’t just come back and fix the situation.

Such emotions are very counter-productive. We might have difficulty in taking new decisions, pessimism and obsession of comparing ourselves to others.

In order to deal with FoMO we must first realize that we must take responsibility over our self. No one else can do it – only we can. Two people can attend the same amount of trainings with the same teacher and still have different level in their performance. Why? Because one was simply present at the trainings and did the necessary drills while the other was giving his heart into each and every move.

A famous story in the Jewish Talmud is about a great spiritual leader whose name was rabbi Akiva. While he was one of the most significant mentors in the Talmudic Israel (1st century AD) and was probably the most quoted teacher in the Talmud (his name is mentioned over 1,500 times) he was actually an illiterate shepherd who only began his studies at the age of 40.

The Talmud tells us that once Rabbi Akiva stumbled upon a stone which changed its form due to constant drops of water through the ages. As he was amazed that water can change the form of a stone, he realized that he too can change for the better if he will only put extra effort in it. In the beginning he went to children’s class to learn how to read and write, and in his next twenty years he devoted himself to studying and eventually became one of the most important scholars of his age whose ideas added a lot to the course of his time. Pretty amazing.

So please remember – constant drops of water can polish a stone. And everyday practice will polish your technique. If you see that the stone is still in an imperfect shape – just continue pouring water on it. Time will do the rest.

Or you can sum it all in my beloved idiom:

One thousand jogeburi a day will keep the bullshit away.

by Gur Nedzvetsky 10/2017