Scarcity: The quality or state of being scarce; especially: want of provisions for the support of life.
In other words- not enough!
Initially, many of us might have a hard time revealing how this theme plays out in our daily lives, and yet it’s very much alive in our daily thought patterns, especially now with so much fear being activated. Exposing where it likes to live (usually in the shadows) can be a valuable exercise!
Scarcity affects our thinking and also how we feel. It can tend to orient us toward automatically focusing on our unfulfilled needs. It can make us feel anxious, fearful and grasping. For example, the idea of needing a partner in order to feel fulfilled. We might settle for someone as a partner even if he/she/they are not the exact right fit for us because we believe that another opportunity won’t come knocking. This is scarcity thinking at play. To look fearfully at our future and expect the worst or to anticipate all of the ways we are not prepared - yep! scarcity thinking.
Scarcity thinking is actually harmful to us in a myriad of ways because our thinking is activated in our being. Stress, anxiety and fear lower our immune system and makes us more susceptible to sickness and disease.
An everyday example might be around food: food grabs our focus and we feel the need to gorge to fill the hollow or feeling of lack within us. For the lonely person, scarcity may come in the form of social isolation and a void of companionship.
There is also this tendency to obsess on that one thing we thing we need or the thing that's currently happening (hello Corona!) because in a strange way the obsession fulfills us.
It's looking more closely to how we behave in response to scarcity and how many aspects of our lives it taints, but doing so from a place of curiosity rather than judgement.
Because I am always someone that loves turning things upside down, I also like to point out that scarcity is not always bad, and abundance is not always good!
The flip side of scarcity is that it makes us prioritize our choices and it can make us more effective in how we work or perform. Scarcity can create a powerful goal when faced with pressing needs or deadlines. When this is the case, distractions are less tempting. When we have little time left, we get very intentional. For example, we are more frugal with the cream when the coffee pot is full and there is a house full of people, or when someone we love receives an early prognosis of death - suddenly each moment with them becomes so valuable that we no longer waste our time on bickering, or avoiding plans to see one another.
Scarcity has the ability to contribute to an interesting and meaningful life because when there is always time for everything, there is no urgency for anything. A life without boundaries or limits would mean that we would lose the beauty of its more precious moments. If we had all the time in the world, life would be boring and there would be no emotion entwined in our experience.
For soon-to-be-graduates, some feel that they did not experience all that they set out to experience in their 4 years of college, or graduate year. Mothers of pre-school children reflect on how quickly babyhood flew by and consider how fast the rest of childhood will pass. Those in their mid-life start to realize they have lived half of their “available” time on this planet and now must face their own mortality. Milestones such as these often heighten the feeling that there is no more time left to waste. We might begin getting very clear about what it is we really want to accomplish, forcing us to restructure our lives around aligning with it is we want to do with the time or resources we have.
Scarcity forces us to begin what I call "trade-off thinking." We get very clear about what we are willing to trade in order to gain what we feel will allow us to be most fulfilled.
Scarcity “mindset” can be a problem when our way of thinking gets stuck on limiting beliefs such as:
Life is always in flow, and yet I can’t tell you how many people I have encountered that tell me, “that’s just the way it is" instead of seeking their own happiness outside of situations like the ones they have been born into. A scarcity mindset in this realm can leave us feeling depleted of energy, while eroding self-esteem making life feel burdensome, heavy and fixed.
Alternatively, an abundant mindset allows us to explore possibilities and while change might present some scary truths, it might also be a risk that offers adventure, and even excitement.
I have a dear friend who is always telling me how bad she is with money.
What we repeat to ourselves becomes what we believe and how we continue to behave. It’s important to understand that negative thoughts and words alone cannot negatively affect us if we realize them for what they are. It’s different, however, when we start believing those negative thoughts or words, because they can become an extension of our character, and can unintentionally create a limited mindset for those we are modeling to, such as our children or even peers.
In my experience, this is one of the big mistakes we make as women. When we gather, we tend to self-deprecate and criticize ourselves as a way of bonding with each other. Not only does it make us feel worse, it also undermines our true capabilities, beauty and character! It’s so important to stop the cycle of self-abuse and refrain from using words or thoughts of scarcity when possible. For example, “I’m not smart enough," or “I’m terrible with money or don’t have money," “I can’t do this," or, “I’ll have to go without."
An alternative way of working with this is to 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, “money is energy," “ I am smart and capable, and trust myself to figure it out."
Feeling envious towards others stokes the flame of scarcity.
Usually, when we are in a state of comparison, we tend to notice and judge - the nicer car, a larger home, a bigger paycheck. Anything that we notice we might want is totally achievable, but only if we can expand our mind into knowing that we need not be envious. A more abundant way of being with the noticing is to recognize that instead of envy, it can show up as admiration, and a gratitude for seeing how this person has helped us tap into a deeper desire you might not have known you had until it stirred within you. This is a great moment to practice gratitude.
Even thinking about how stingy we can tend to be with our acknowledgment of what others bring to our lives, and how much we appreciate them. I always say that people are starving to feel seen and known; and if that’s not true than why are so many of us just blown away when someone truly shares with us how wonderful we are? Because it’s rare! We can tend to be stingy with our time, our words, any our things. When we freely give, not only do we create a feeling of lightness within ourselves, but we spread goodwill and bring joy to others. Life has a strong tendency to reflect back to us where we might be withholding, so if we want to create more abundance - we have to allow ourselves to be in the flow of generosity and giving. Have you ever heard the term "The Giver's Gain"? It’s the idea that by giving, we gain everything. The trick is being unattached, and trusting that life will respond in kind in some way - perhaps not in the way we thought, but maybe even better!
Just to throw another thought out there: As women, we are often socialized to continually give of ourselves and without the balance of also receiving, we can be left feeling depleted vs. nourished- this is also an experience of scarcity.
I’m curious - where do you see scarcity showing up in your life and what’s something that resonated with you in this blog post? Please email me at [email protected] - I would love to hear from you and promise to respond!
If you are interested in joining us as we explore the contrast of Scarcity and Abundance in more depth, please consider our monthly membership, Remembering Sisterhood.
This month, not only are we exploring this theme, but we are reading Tosha Silvers Book "It's not your money!" and have a very special guest planned for later in the month. Check out the link to learn more because I brag that our community is awesome!
Each month we explore and grow through group discussions, videos, companion material, journal prompts, monthly coaching calls, our book club, and so much more!
We'd love to welcome into our expanding circle of sisterhood where we get to remember who we are and where everything and every ONE gets to belong: Mess, Magnificence and all.
Here's to revealing more,