#67: How is FOPO (fear of people’s opinions) costing you your agency?

Aug 31, 2023
Kirsten Parker
#67: How is FOPO (fear of people’s opinions) costing you your agency?

FOPO: Fear of people's opinions.

Not just super annoying and we wish we were over it by now...but also, a big decision influence!

For the next few episodes, we're going to explore exactly how FOPO mucks up your decision-making and what to do about it. 

(Because truth be told, if it were something we could "get over" we would've by now.)

I want to help you stop judging yourself for having human habits — and feel more empowered in changing them!

To start, let's remember why we're even here: to make powerful, authentic, self-honoring decisions. 

  • Powerful: You feel in charge of them
  • Authentic: They’re aligned with what you want 
  • Self-honoring: They honor today’s truth (your boundaries, your capacity, your needs)

FOPO (fear of people’s opinions) gets oh-so-in-the-way of this.

This episode will tell you how to spot (often sneaky, subtle) signs that FOPO is costing you some of your agency — and how to get it back!

 Want a super digestible but really comprehensive crash course in letting go of FOPO?

Get the Free Crash Course on How to Say No!

We make disempowered decisions when we think someone’s opinions are SO much more important than ours, that we conclude we don’t have a choice.

We think we don’t have agency in our own life to decide something.

I see this in dealing with bosses, family members, even friends.

Your boss says “This is mandatory” so you think “I have to do it” right?

Kirsten, why are you even wasting our time with this.

BECAUSE: When you don’t bother to own the choice you’re making, even if it did come from “high up,” you disconnect from your agency. 

There’s an important difference between doing things all day “because you have to” vs. knowing why you’re choosing to do all those things.

So if all it takes for you to feel like you have no choice is a boss or a pushy sibling or a guilt-tripping friend to say “I need you to work Saturday” or “We’re doing Thanksgiving in Vegas” or “I’m moving next week if you wanna help”...that’s a problem.

Those requests (or demands) are dictating your choices, instead of YOU feeling like you’re in charge.

And when that’s your decision-making system, it’s a slippery slope to making bigger decisions you don’t think you have a choice in: You agree to a career track or a job change or a partnership or a MOVE you think you have to. This is how big life choices get made from a disempowered place, which we can recover from, but clearly would rather avoid if we can! 


If you notice this happening to you, what I’d like you to try is inserting a step between receiving a request and responding to it, to choose your reasons for whatever you decide.

This is where all those arguments that came up in your head when we started the episode can come in handy: You know, that little arguing voice that said “Kirsten, my boss says I have to do something, what am I gonna do, NOT be a good professional?”

Great, there’s a reason. Use that, if you like it.  

This is subtle, so pay attention or you’ll miss it. This is the difference between:

“I have no choice so I’m going to do this.”

Vs…“I choose to do this because I want to be a good professional.”

Did you see it? Powerful, right? You can see the 0% agency vs 100% agency in how these choices get made.

And even if they end up looking the same on the outside, what’s FUELING your decisions is what counts. Where you’re operating from. The mindset & energy you’re running your days (aka your life) with.

Which fuel do you think creates the most fulfilling, positive results? Disempowerment, or empowerment? No agency, or agency? YES.

The bonus of inserting this step into your decision-making is that it’ll help you make different choices when you really want to.

If you cannot find a reason you like to do a thing you’re being asked / directed / invited to…you do not have to make that decision!

If you can find ZERO reasons you like to go meet the annoying half of your family for Thanksgiving…even if your cousin has always been in charge of this holiday, and this is the way it’s always been done, and up until now you’ve bought into the collective agreement that they get to tell you what you’re doing…you don’t have to feel beholden to that choice!

Who wants to go to Vegas anyway, let alone for Thanksgiving?!

If the reason you’d say yes to helping a friend move is “That’s what you have to do in these situations”...and you do not like that reason…you don’t have to do it.

Send a rec for the movers you used, send well-wishes, send buckets of love. But don’t do it if you can’t honestly find a reason you like.

 Important caveat: We don’t always love what we DO, but we can always love what we DECIDE.

You can 100% decide it’s worth packin’ your sh** and getting on a plane full of bachelor parties and sweating out in the November desert heat if you really wanna see Grandma and this is the most convenient way for you to do it. That’s fine. You get to own your choice.

That doesn’t mean you now owe it to the universe to love every second of that trip, however.

We do things we don’t like all the time. Humaning. We work overtime without getting paid, we take the trash out, we smile at annoying people. 

But having decision mastery means your decision-making foundation is strong. Deep down, you know you own your choices – you know you have a choice in everything you do. 

I hope this episode helps you look for “Whose opinion am I so afraid of, that I’m letting them make my decisions for me” – and really look for this with LOVE. Nothing’s gone wrong here – you get to take your power back, that’s a great thing. Have fun owning more of your choices this week!

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