How to Stop Living in Scarcity

How to Stop Living in Scarcity

The feeling of scarcity is alive and well in our culture. Advertisers use it to make us feel like we need their products to be happy. Politicians use it to exploit our fear of not having enough, marginalize us, and look to them to give us more. We tell ourselves that there isn’t enough time and money to go back to school. We tell others that we don’t have enough time to call or see them. We tell ourselves that we have to work more, earn more, do more, acquire more, achieve more.

We are not telling ourselves these things because we feel driven to fulfill our life’s purpose. We’re telling ourselves this because we are coming from a deep place of fear and lack. And we are looking for a way out. We tell ourselves this because we’re afraid we don’t or won’t have enough to be happy- enough money, enough stuff, enough accomplishments, enough praise, enough status, enough respect. And if we don’t have enough of these things we’re not happy; we’re unfulfilled. If we don’t have enough of these things we’ll have to pay more attention to why this feeling of fear and lack is surfacing in the first place. So we run ourselves into the ground trying to get money to get more stuff.

The bummer part of all this is that the more we tell ourselves we don’t have enough, the more we don’t have enough. It creates an even greater imbalance. If I’m afraid I don’t have enough money, I’m going to work more which means I’ll have less time to spend with loved ones and do things that nurture me. If I feel like I don’t have enough stuff, I’m going to spend more money consuming the things I think I need or want. Time spent consuming will also cut down on time I could be spending with loved ones, working on a cause about which I am passionate, or doing things that nurture me. I’ll need to work more to make sure I can both pay my bills and consume more stuff. Pretty soon, I’ll be tired from all this working and consuming, more isolated because I miss my loved ones. I might spend more time watching TV or going online. I might eat and drink more. It’s kind of a rough cycle.

There are plenty of times in our lives when we feel capable and grounded in our ability to manage scarcity, times when this cycle isn’t a problem for us because we can keep our feelings in check. But sometimes we find ourselves more vulnerable, less able to evaluate what’s happening for us. We have more difficulty identifying what we need and the healthy steps it will take to get there.

We might fall into this scarcity cycle when we’re feeling insecure about something- our relationships, our economic status, a failure we’ve recently experienced (or a failure we are trying to avoid), the anticipation of a major discomfort. Sometimes stuff/emotional burden might pile up over time. It’ll sneakily cloud our judgment. We might not even notice we’ve fallen into this cycle until we realize how unhappy we’ve been for the past few months.

Getting out of the pit of scarcity-living isn’t easy, but it’s worth the challenge. People just feel better when we’re not dominated by this fear of not having enough. And it’s much more satisfying to uncover how we came to believe that there isn’t enough than to keep throwing clothes, food, money, substances into a sieve.

I often suggest a slow start:

  • Identify cravings, impulses, compulsions.
  • Identify thoughts and feelings of scarcity
  • Be curious about how you feel before and after engaging in craving/impulse/compulsive behavior
  • Exercise self-compassion. You’re definitely not going to judge your way out of this so, just be gentle with yourself.

This will be a good start. If you need further help, let me know and we will set up a time to talk.


Love and Be Loved,

There is Enough.

There is Enough.

Experiencing deprivation is painful. Whether we’ve experienced deprivation in a neglectful or abusive relationship, financially, or otherwise; the lived experience of “not enough” hurts. Even when we are no longer in that same situation where we experienced the deprivation we often find ourselves in the same mindset. We can be in a totally lucrative career, making plenty of money or in a healthy, stable relationship with plenty of love and affection and still feel like there’s “not enough.”

And that scarcity mindset is a harsh landscape. It prevents us from allowing ourselves to really enjoy what we have and keeps us stuck in fear of losing it. We want to feel gratitude and excitement for how far we’ve come and where we’re at now, but we won’t allow ourselves to experience it for fear of jinxing the whole thing.

I find that, for myself, whenever I’m coming from a scarcity mindset it feels so much more dangerous to take a risk, put myself out there and get what I want. I think to myself, “Don’t rock the boat, man. You’re lucky to have what you have.” It feels safer to hold back.

It can almost feel like we’re getting away with something when we find ourselves in a good place. Any second it could all come crashing down, and we’ll lose it only this time we’ll end up worse off because we know how much better life can be. We end up holding ourselves back. Some of us protested against the deprivation we experienced in the past and got burned. The person we wanted more from rejected or abandoned us. The boss we confronted fired us. It taught us that it really is too risky to rock the boat, that we should just shut up and take what we’re offered if we know what’s good for us. So we stay stuck. It makes us more fearful and resentful. Years pass and it feels like life is just happening to us.

Often, I post about a subject and then write about some helpful tips to try. I won’t do that this time. For some reason, it seems like it would be somehow misleading. There’s no quick fix for overcoming a scarcity mindset. (I mean, there’s no quick fix for anything.) It’s a process of very deliberate practice. Some might find strength in cultivating a mindfulness practice. Others will find it in a therapeutic relationship. Some might find it using a combination of tools.

I will encourage you to try this, though. See what it’s like to notice whatever it is you’re afraid of losing. Notice how much you like having it in your life, what it does for you, how it nurtures you. Whenever the panic shows up and tells you that these are the exact reasons you’re afraid of losing this aspect of your life, acknowledge it with compassion. Remind yourself again how grateful you are to have whatever it is at the focus if this exercise.

I’ll be honest. It will be hard at first, and you’ll freak out about losing whatever it is you’re afraid of losing. You’ll probably feel anxious and irritated. When I first started, I would think, “Whatever. This is stupid.” Sometimes I’d cry, filled with anxiety about losing what I loved. It’s fine. There is no right way. You’re only job is to notice that part of yourself with compassion and remind yourself of your gratitude. Maybe you’ll only feel like you can do it for a few seconds. That’s enough. Maybe you’ll be able to do it for a minute and a half. That’s enough, too. It’s enough because there is enough.


Love and Be Loved,