Scarcity can be defined as the absence of and a state of lack, being in short supply, inadequate, insufficient and not having enough. In order to bypass this model of being and learn to operate in a new way, we must learn how to rise above and shift it through an openness and a commitment to a continual reframe and change in perspective to then, direct our lives and choose choices from a place that honors the truth and the whole picture. By becoming aware and applying intentionality, we have the opportunity to reallocate our attention and shift into a state of abundance through appreciation- as we begin to see what may seem like a limitation or restriction as a gracious signal that can guide and direct us into becoming and being increasingly more of our true selves, experiencing more and more of our true nature. Here, through the utilization of perspective, we can rewire our systems from a depleted state, where reflexive reactions are readily available, to a state of expansion and growth, where abundance lies and we can finally unwind, exhale and take our time, seeing more of the whole picture and accessing more of ourselves in the process. By honoring who, what and where we truly are, we can begin to remove ourselves from the highs and lows and walk forward on solid ground, knowing that we have everything within ourselves to walk forward in this way. This, however, takes intentionality, commitment and faith- faith in yourself and the process of life- where we can begin to affirm life before it affirms us.
It also takes a commitment to continual learning and engagement in the let go and grow process, where you can choose to show up for and receive the lessons available in each moment while also holding the vision for it to develop and emerge. This sort of mobilization requires courage, as you step forward, and out of a recirculated cycle, with a focus on all that you have, all that is within you and all that you can do.
By shifting your perception, seeing the opportunity and extracting the lessons, you opt out as you go with the flow- ending the war and the fatigue that comes with it. In a state of survival, where scarcity dwells, you will never be enough and you will never have enough- a constant scramble- which is why, once seen, becomes an increasingly clear choice that you can either buy into or opt out of. Although alluring, because comfortable, even if distressing and seemingly protective, this model simply does not work.
Furthermore, you can make all of the same choices that you would otherwise make with the energy of empowerment, which creates confidence, momentum and the pure productivity only creation can bring about. Here, when the mind messages that you can’t, breathe through it, be with it until you remember you can, even if you can’t see the how just yet. Choosing to connect with a possibility you can’t see just yet is the first step in allowing it to develop.
In this article, we will explore exactly how to shift the dial of our perception through a connection to what brings about expansion versus contraction and distress. So often, we invest time in separating the peas from the carrots versus coming home to remember we metabolize it all, and where we waste energy is in thinking in fragments versus focusing in on what matters, releasing control and dropping into the process from the present moment, moving forward with vision, valuing peace and clarity more than momentary discomfort that fixation may temporarily alleviate but never truly resolve- creating perpetual circuits of chaos that build until we are the ones to break. The way out is through, and it starts right here, right now, within you as you begin to remember all that you are, all that you have and all that you can do.
What is the Scarcity Mindset?
Scarcity can direct the mind unconsciously and intensely towards our perceived unfulfilled needs. The scarcity mindset is relatively well-understood in the financial world, but the drawbacks of believing that you ‘have less’ can be far-reaching and affect you on both a physiological and psychological level. Scarcity is a mindset that can come in many other forms besides money, it can show up in every thought such as: time, space, energy, diet, and inner resources seen in relationships, health, finances etc.
People who feel that they lack the necessary tools, skills, or resources to work and live happily or effectively are more likely to end up with a scarcity mindset. In this mindset, one spends too much time and energy focused on a specific problem or situation, which limits perspective, neglecting the whole picture, leaving less room to make practical, executive decisions. This can then result in cognitive fatigue and exhaustion- continually trying to fix the problem through a fixation on the problem, narrowing our field of vision. When a person is overloaded mentally, physically, or emotionally, it may cause irrational actions and prevent them from coming into their full potential.
How Scarcity Impacts Our Lives
If the brain detects a state of scarcity, it will create a pinhole focus, or fixation rather, on obtaining what is perceived as a lack thereof. Until the problem is “fixed”, the brain, based on survival may find it difficult to shift out of the scarcity mindset, caught up in what they do not have, falling deeper and deeper into that whole. Here, it serves us to become aware of how the scarcity mindset may influence us in our daily lives:
- Scarcity tends to interrupt our thinking. We are constantly trying to balance many feelings throughout the day and it can be difficult to follow a clear train of thought.
- Scarcity creates an extreme focus on what is unavailable, what we do not have and is lacking, instead of the full picture, focused on all that is available, on what we do have and all that we can do. This causes a person to be much more receptive to what they are lacking and tends to encourage them to create further situations of lack.
- Scarcity, based on depletion and lack thereof, exhausts the mind through a continual chasing of shiny objects focused on fixing and alleviating pain right now versus long terms. A person in a state of scarcity will be trading off decisions and beliefs while developing a short-sighted worldview forgoing the whole and complete picture.
Adopting a scarcity mindset can make one vulnerable and far more prone to distraction, noise and perpetual busyness of mind, preventing individuals from actively utilizing the mind for productivity and to its full capability- this can limit the amount of high-level thinking and ability to stay with a thought and proceed accordingly (Mullainathan, 2013). For most of us, the scarcity mindset, until brought into the light of day, operates on a subconscious and even, unconscious, level. When we buy into the belief that we are lacking, we behave in a manner- whether we know it or not- that gives in to lack itself – creating recirculated cycles. These behaviors are often difficult for us to identify, causing even more problems because we are in a constant, downstream battle to overcome these feelings based on lack and insufficiency.
Since scarcity causes us to constantly direct our energy towards needs that we believe are not being met, we can become mentally and physically exhausted quite quickly. By developing a distorted view of the present and the future, we are taking away from the resources that we already have in the present. People with a scarcity mindset are constantly facing this struggle, and it can be difficult to remain in balance.
As mental reserves become less available, and increasingly distressed, a person becomes more likely to display symptoms of cognitive fatigue: lower self-control, an inability to think clearly or consistently, and decreased ability to make sound decisions and focus on what is important and can bring them through. The latter is a condition known as decision fatigue (Baumeister, 2012).
Forgoing the Present and the Future
Those suffering from decision fatigue are much less likely to consider delaying their decisions, even if there is a clear indication that there could be a greater kickback in the future. In the rapid desire to make a quick decision, they often make rash, reflexive choice, predicated on reaction versus intentionality and response, even if it could impact them negatively in the long-run. This can lead to something identified as planning fallacy, a condition in which people think that they can easily borrow time for the future- temporarily alleviating pain but equally avoiding the solution.
For example, someone suffering from decision fatigue might schedule an appointment for a week in the future because they feel overwhelmed in the present, incapable of addressing what is coming up. This person may feel that there is a lack of in the present moment, falling into the fallacious belief that the future will be able to lend them more time.
How To Make The Shift – Scarcity to Abundance
It is very important to understand that a scarcity mindset is exactly that- A mindset. Shifting from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset is a process of awareness and changing our thoughts/behaviors. Scarcity says, “why is this happening to me?”, while abundance says, “why is this happening for me (what is here for me)?”
The abundance mentality flows from inner confidence and security, and it is easier for people with this mindset to appreciate what they have in the present moment. Gratitude is about having appreciation for all of the good in your life, or lessons learned along the way- which can help develop an abundance mindset. The word appreciation actually means “to increase in value” in the financial world, but we can also relate this definition back to other aspects of our lives. When you start focusing on the good, those positive feelings will increase, and so will the good things in your life because you will start to recognize them more often.
When situations are not going our way, it is easy (and normal) to get caught up in a scarcity mindset. You might catch yourself saying things like, “I can’t believe this is happening to me,” or “I can’t seem to ever get ahead.” When you recognize that you are in this scarcity mode, try to think, “is there another perspective that I can look at the situation from?” There are lessons to be learned from every situation, and these can help you grow and develop, creating more possibilities available to you!
You Are Enough
Many people struggle with lack of self-worth, where believing that you are enough is easier said than done. Experiences from our past may have lead us to believe that we are not good enough to get what we truly want in life- or maybe what we want is silly, absurd, or never going to happen. Let’s start by exploring these questions: Do you believe that you deserve all of the good things in your life right now? Do you feel guilty for what you have?
In a scarcity mindset, it is easy to answer in a negative way to these questions. Shifting your mind to believe that you are inherently worthy- by virtue of just simply being here- will help you develop an abundance mindset. You truly deserve to have anything you want in this world!
It is also important to note that believing that you deserve more does not mean someone else gets less. It’s normal to think something like, “why do I deserve this when there are so many other people in this world suffering?” You get to choose how you think about this situation. You can either choose guilt/comparison because you don’t believe you are worthy of what you have, or you can choose to use what you have to make an impact in the world and help those who are suffering. It is all about reframing your thoughts!
The Courage to Live Life Abundantly
Now that we are aware of the impact that scarcity has on our lives, we can use this knowledge to work on changing our mindset from scarcity to abundance. When you can look at situations in your life from a different perspective, you’ll create more abundance. Remember that it is normal to have negative thoughts from time to time- but it is also valuable to know that we can simply become an observer of these negative thoughts. Make the negative thoughts work for you instead of against you. We can choose to reframe and focus our time on what matters the most- not surrendering to the ideas in our own minds that we simply don’t have enough. I hope that this article could give some insight toward positive changes that can improve your resource management and outlook on life. You can do this! and if you don’t know where to start, check here.
For more information and support that can help you address the fundamentals and put these principles into practice, you can check out Let Go & Grow or schedule a free 20 min. holistic consultation with Dr. Brooke Stuart! We would love to help you in any way that we can and hope to connect with you soon.
Baumeister, R. F., & Tierney, J., (2012). Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, New York: Penguin Books.
Mullainathan, S., & Shafir, E. (2013). Scarcity: Why having too little means so much. New York, NY: Times Books.