Haven’t heard of FOMO? Allow me to explain, because I’m super hip and cool. It stands for “fear of missing out,” and it’s a feeling that runs rampant in our age of social media.
We see our friends and family post pictures online. They are clearly having the best time. All the time. Like seriously, why don’t I have that much fun? And why didn’t they call me to hang out? And why didn’t my child’s birthday party have custom embroidered super hero capes for every attendee? And…I digress; you get the point.
The problem is, I see this same phenomenon present in our culture of therapists – especially in pediatrics. In a world of Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram-worthy shots of everything, the expectation of fabulous-ness feels a little too high.
As you may know, I do a series called Pinned on Pinterest, Tested in Therapy, where I search for inspiring treatment ideas on Pinterest and actually give them a try in therapy sessions. I started it as a way to keep my treatment approaches fresh and interesting (and it’s still pretty darn fun), but as I scroll through the images, I often feel a tiny little twinge of guilt. Wait, why didn’t I already think of that? Why aren’t my treatment materials that creative all the time?
Some of these therapists are like MacGyver out there, creating some amazing new treatment approach out of a paperclip and some loose change. I was just proud of myself for rinsing and recycling my old plastic containers, but now I feel guilty for not turning them all into life changing treatment materials. Am I supposed to tirelessly radiate that sort of unbounded creativity? Should it be embedded in my therapist DNA?
Then you might also find that you are comparing your work to others around you. Maybe it’s that co-worker who already knew today was Earth Day and had pre-prepared three to four environmentally friendly activities. Maybe it’s seeing the content of others online that sparks a feeling of guilt – Oh man, I should really be more active in our national association. I should be more creative in my fine motor development activities. Wait, are others better at their job because they make fancier custom worksheets? Because they aren’t so jaded? Agh!
This feeling can also surface when it comes to giving your patients advice and recommendations. Things are always changing, and we truly do our best to keep up with it all. However, you can still find yourself locked in a conversation which exposes your lack of omnipresent knowledge. “Wait, you haven’t heard about this new vitamin that’s all-natural and cures all sensory processing issues?” or “Don’t tell me you haven’t seen the Facebook post about the mom that made all of her own sensory equipment for only $7?”
Here’s a message to you, and to me. Stop. You are good enough. You care, and you do your job first and foremost to help others. Whether that means you grab an ugly scrap of construction paper you find within arm’s reach and partially wedged behind a table, or a carefully crafted holiday-themed print out. To each her own. Sure, we all strive to be better, to provide services which are evidence based, effective, and importantly – motivational. Find what helps you provide the best services you can. It’s not about being “perfect” anyway, it’s about the process and the patient’s progress.
Oh, and while you’re at it, can you just make me a few copies of that adorable worksheet you found online?