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Do You Have 'FOPO'? Here's How To Spot The Damaging Habit.

If you’re a human being, you’ve likely worried what your colleagues think of your outfit or if you said something dumb at a neighborhood barbecue. Our society centers other people’s opinions, making them hard to ignore ― but the fear of them is also holding you back from your full potential, experts say.

This occurrence is known as “FOPO,” or fear of people’s opinions, a concept named by psychologist Michael Gervais who also authored a book on the topic, “The First Rule of Mastery: Stop Worrying About What People Think of You.”

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,” Gervais told HuffPost. “And it’s characterized mostly by a hypervigilance and social readiness — and what we end up doing is we scan our world for approval.”

For example, you may fall into the FOPO trap every time you panic about a text message that reads “OK,” or you might study your friend’s face for any negative reactions to a funny story.

“And the reason that we’re doing that is because, 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,” Gervais explained. Getting “rejected by another person now is not a near death sentence, but it still feels that way.”

While Gervais coined the term, Aparna Sagaram, a licensed marriage and family therapist and owner of Space to Reflect in Philadelphia, said the concept is also evident in her work with clients. “This is just so familiar for a lot of… immigrant families, where this concept of ‘what will people think?’ has just been ingrained in

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