How to overcome a “Scarcity Mindset”
When we think of the word ‘scarcity’, many of us will immediately think about money. It is expensive to live, and many of us concern ourselves by stretching each dollar, or stress over bills.
Scarcity is a MINDSET. This mindset affects us negatively in many other forms – time, relationships, judgment, health, willpower, self-fulfillment, advancement in life, etc. This mindset guarantees that there will never enough, and feelings of low value to what we do have.
Having thoughts and feelings of scarcity (lack) automatically orients the mind towards unfulfilled wants and needs. Scarcity mindset often leads to lapses in self-control while draining our problem-solving skills needed to use good judgment. Willpower also is depleted, which makes you prone to feeling like giving up. People in this state often attend to the urgent needs while neglecting important choices that will have a drastic effect on the future.
It’s important to understand that a scarcity mindset is exactly that: a mindset. We can choose to change our way of thinking to an abundance mindset and open a new world of opportunity and self-satisfaction.
But first, we need to be aware of the pits in order to avoid the fall.
When we come from a space of ‘lack’ we always sell ourselves and others short.
There will never be enough of whatever it is we think we need or want. Never enough love, connection, attention, money, time, praise, self-worth, fulfillment, physical beauty, satisfaction. When we come from lack, we can seek something outside of ourselves to fulfill us, so we feel ‘whole’, important, or abundant (temporarily) .
An example of scarcity/lack mentality:
If I look through the ‘window’ of my dating life and say “I hate dating. There are no good men out there. It’s a hassle. Why risk heartbreak? But fine, I’ll do it. Being single sucks.” That will be all I would see – repeated crappy experiences heading down the chute right to me. (Scarcity mentality)
If I look through the ‘window’ of my dating life and say, “Everything is okay. I can do this. I’m open to making a friendship first and see where it goes. I let go of expectations, and I focus on taking good care of myself. I will meet my match one day.” This mentality means I’m making conscious choices. I’m allowing myself to experience life in a way that is positive, flexible, and will work for me. (Abundance mentality)
SIGNS OF A SCARCITY MINDSET? HERE ARE 5 IMPORTANT ONES:
1. THE ILLUSION THAT SITUATIONS ARE PERMANENT
Believing that life’s situations are fixed is perhaps the biggest pitfall of the scarcity mindset. We think, “well, that’s just the way it is” or “nothing will ever change” instead of changing our frame of mind and seeking out our own happiness.
Thinking this way has a negative effect in many regards – it depletes our energy, harms our self-esteem, and makes life a burden in general.
Nothing is permanent. No matter how bad a situation is, it will pass. Is the situation daunting or scary? Maybe … but it’s just that – a situation; a period of time.
There are moments in our lives that will take our breath away and we will be glad that we’re alive.
An abundant mentality thinks this way. An abundant mentality see’s life as dynamic and pliable – something that is ours to shape and make to our liking through choice, action and effort. Most importantly, an abundant mentality sees life as an adventure. A scary and uncertain adventure at times, but an adventure, nonetheless.
2. USING THOUGHTS AND WORDS OF SCARCITY
What we tell ourselves ultimately becomes an extension of us if left unchecked. It’s important to understand that negative thoughts and words alone cannot negatively affect us if we realize them for what they are – knee-jerk responses without merit. But when we start believing those negative thoughts or words, they can become an extension of our daily outlook and our character.
It’s important to refrain from using words or thoughts of scarcity when possible.
For example, “I’m not smart enough”, “I don’t have enough money”, “They are just going to leave me”, “I can’t do this”, or “I’ll have to go without”.
Instead, start using words of abundance: “I can handle this”, “I can always make more money”, “My mind is powerful”, “I’ll always have enough”, “I am safe and I trust myself”.
We all know it’s normal to have negative thoughts from time to time. When negative thoughts arise, simply become an observer and refuse to engage with them. Do not allow these thoughts to manifest into words that we tell ourselves or anyone else daily. Words have energy.
3. BEING ENVIOUS, AND COMPARING OURSELVES TO OTHERS
Feeling envious or comparing ourselves to others is a knife that cuts deep: it kills gratitude, personal satisfaction, and stokes the fire of scarcity. Envy does absolutely nothing to better personal circumstances in any way.
Why do many of us feel envious? Because we’re in someone else’s space and not our own. The grass must be greener over there. Does someone have a larger home, better-paying job, loving spouse, or more close friends? … It does not matter, it doesn’t affect you.
And who says they are happier than you? No one has the ‘whole enchilada’ and it is not required for happiness. We would stop any personal growth; we’d become stagnant and unhappy if we had nothing to try for or hope for.
We are here to EXPERIENCE life, not acquire the most we can or escape all hardship.
The things we may envy, they are achievable things.
All of this is only achievable if the mindset of ‘scarcity’ is systematically replaced for that of ‘abundance.’
When it comes to bettering our circumstances, we can consciously choose to devote our time and energy towards what makes us feel good – and not wasting it on envious thoughts.
4. NOT BEING GENEROUS
When one lives with a scarcity mindset, they’re more apt to “skim off the top” with time, money, relationships, etc. Life has a strong tendency to reflect what we see, which is why our energy and actions are so important.
If we believe in lack – we believe in giving less of ourselves to everyone and everything in some capacity. We can mistakenly believe others are doing the same by projecting our bad feelings onto them.
We can overcome this false perception by making a conscious decision to give more of ourselves, not less. Understand that this does not mean money.
It can mean being generous by smiling, saying kind words, investing our time in people, help a neighbor with something simple, making time for family/friends more regularly, or volunteering a few hours to a cause we like.
Please use healthy boundaries with others. Also, let go of harsh expectations of how things must be for us to give to others. Many of us have been the givers and others the takers. The good thing is that now you have learned the importance of clear boundaries so you can easily deal with or avoid these draining situations.
It is possible to overindulge with a scarcity mindset. When one thinks in terms of scarcity, we are most likely to overeat, overspend and keep trying to fill that imaginary void with anything that we can.
This is because of another temptation: instant gratification. I must feel better right now.
We become so uncomfortable with any form of discomfort or pain that we can do anything to feel better QUICKLY. This has many disadvantages. Weight gain, lethargy, money problems, low self-esteem, staying in a lousy relationship, enabling others, repeatedly doing what does not work, etc.
Remember that discomfort, and emotional pain, are always temporary situations.
You can feel them and be okay emotionally and mentally. Deal with the issue, don’t bury it. Then distract yourself with things that feel good but cost you nothing.
The simple act of consistently doing one positive thing at a time to help yourself will naturally build resilience and fortitude.
There are many examples of overindulgence, but let’s use one: OVERSPENDING:
When we think of money as a scarce resource, there’s a tendency to use that resource for pleasure. But pleasure is not an antidote to scarcity. In fact, pleasure can reinforce the scarcity mindset that you already have.
Let’s say that we’re having a tough day, feel down on ourselves, and need something positive. As we see it, we have a couple of choices: we could do something constructive like spending some time with the family or friends (abundance) … or … we could put that new, cool gadget that we’ve wanted on our credit card (scarcity).
The impulse purchase will be a temporary feel good moment. You can save for the new gadget and feel great when you buy it because you were financially accountable. Or you can decide to not buy it and move forward in life not needing it any longer.
Notice that the ‘abundant’ choice of spending time with others has absolutely nothing to do with money.
We’re focusing our time on what matters the most and not succumbing to some temporary pleasure that does nothing more than add to the notion that we simply don’t have enough.