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What is a Scarcity Mindset and How to Overcome One

A scarcity mindset is the belief or feeling that there will never be enough. Keep reading to find out if you have one and how to overcome it if you do.

Let’s talk about the scarcity mindset. 

Do you find yourself constantly stressing about money? Do you feel as though you will never have enough to fulfill your purpose because you don’t have the resources? Do you feel like everything is working against you? Or, do you feel like the universe is there to support you? 

Does any of that sound familiar? Well, whether you realize it or not, you may have a scarcity mindset.

But don’t worry because you are not alone. In fact, the very nature of our supply and demand economy encourages a scarcity mindset in all of us. After-all, it’s principles are built on the idea that we are all competing over scarce resources! 

What is a scarcity mindset?

A scarcity mindset is the belief or feeling that there will never be enough. It is a deep-seated sense of lack that drives your thoughts and actions and causes irrational fear, stress, and anxiety.

Your focus determines your reality and with a scarcity mindset, you are always focused on what could go wrong. Ultimately, fear drives your entire life, limiting you mentally, emotionally, professionally, and spiritually. 

In fact, a 2017 experiment from researchers at Harvard found that a scarcity mindset “imposes a cognitive load and impedes cognitive capacity”. Ultimately, our brains have limited bandwidth and if your attention is trapped focusing on what could go wrong, it cannot be used for thinking creatively.

You might have a scarcity mindset if:

1. You get caught up in comparison traps

A comparison trap is the habit of measuring your life against others and is one of the most toxic behaviors you can engage in. The idea “the grass is greener” is a wild misconception fueled by jealous evaluation, and often leads to stress and anxiety. 

Ultimately, no matter what you accomplish, it will never be enough because your ego will find something it perceives as better to compare it to. Think about how your measure of success has changed over time. Only if you don’t understand the Truth that you are enough, will you need to validate yourself in relation to others. Those with an abundance mindset, would never feel the need to compare themselves to others, because they already inherently feel that they have enough. 

2. You’ve got subconscious money blocks

Money blocks are like a scarcity mindset’s offspring. They are negative subconscious beliefs about money that limit you from achieving your conscious desires. 

They stem from the messages and lessons we receive about money during the most formidable years of our upbringing. They can be things we hear (overt) from our family, community, social groups, etc. or messages we pick up from watching others, reading, or the media. As a result, we formulate these narratives or subconscious beliefs that dominate how we think about money. 

overcome a scarcity mindset

Some typical narratives are:

– I can’t trust anyone with my money.

– People only want me for my money.

– Making money is hard./I have to work hard for my money.

-I shouldn’t spend money on myself or others.

– I am only as successful as the amount of money I make.

– Others will like me if I have more money/nice things.

– Money will give me meaning in life.

– The more money I have, the happier I will be.

– I can never be happy if I am poor.

– If I had more money, things would be better.

3. You’re constrained by limiting beliefs 

Limiting beliefs are those things you believe about yourself that ultimately place limitations on your abilities. They are subconscious thoughts creeping in and telling you something that is ultimately not true. 

For example, “bad things always happen to me”, “I’m no good at speaking to people”, “all my relationships are painful”, “I’d never make a good leader” or “I could never start my own business”.

Limiting beliefs are simply assumptions about your reality that come from your perceptions of life experiences . In order for our actions to have the greatest positive effect, we need to have beliefs that are as close to reality as possible. Deceiving ourselves with false realities and limiting beliefs could mean that we never fulfil our goals and dreams.

4. You believe that situations are permanent  

A major misconception common with a scarcity mindset (and limited beliefs) is that life’s circumstances are fixed. “That’s just the way things are” or “I’d never be able to do that” are two examples of how believing that your current situation is permanent can confine you. Don’t forget: nothing is permanent, nothing! 

An abundant mindset sees life as a dynamic and moldable; something that is ours to shape and make to our liking. Perhaps most importantly, an abundant mentality sees life as an adventure. Not only do they accept uncertainty but they embrace it. In fact, accepting that the only guarantee in life is change is critical in attaining inner peace. 

5. You are excessively frugal

This one is obvious. Naturally, one with a scarcity mindset is going to want to save for their future, which means trying not to spend money. And for the most part, saving for your future is a good thing. However, there can be a point where it becomes an issue.

Deepak Chopra summarizes this perfectly when writing about money: “Another word for money is currency, which also reflects the flowing nature of energy. The word currency comes from the Latin word currere which means to run or to flow. Therefore, if we stop the circulation of money if our only intention is to hold on to our money and hoard it  since it is life energy, we will stop its circulation back into our lives as well. In order to keep that energy coming to us, we have to keep the energy circulating.”

When you become a slave to saving, you are no longer present. You are always living for the future, some undetermined period when you will finally be financially free. Saving is fine so long as it is balanced with a healthy amount of spending as well. 

6. You tend to overindulge (especially after a pay day) 

Ironic isn’t it? 

On one end of the scarcity mindset spectrum has people spending recklessly while the other has people afraid to spend at all. Ultimately, the scarcity mindset itself is the imbalance, which side of the spectrum it manifests on doesn’t matter. 

While it may seem contradictory, it is definitely possible to overindulge with a scarcity mindset. In fact, those that think in terms of scarcity are more likely to spend recklessly, eat too much and, in general, become more gluttonous than those with an abundance mindset. Why? Because When we think of money as a scarce resource, there’s a tendency to use that resource for pleasure. They haven’t discovered the infinite well of abundance that lies within so often need to externally validate to feel sufficient. 

Of course, pleasure is not an antidote to scarcity. While that instant gratification can help you escape, this pleasure-seeking behavior actually reinforces the scarcity mindset that one already possesses.

How to overcome a scarcity mindset

1. (Re)Write Your Money Story 

If you’re realizing that you really do possess a scarcity mindset (or are possessed by one), well that is the first step. However, that doesn’t mean that you should fight it. Fighting it will only further fuel it. In fact, the more you resist it, the more you focus on it and the more it will dominate your life. Rather than fighting it, try to understand it. This can be done by writing your personal money story. 

Start by remembering your earliest experiences with money, and the circumstances you were surrounded by when you were growing up. Did you see your parents have a lot of money? What was their relationship with it? How did that make you feel? How did you perceive yourself in comparison to your friends in regards to money? 

Write the story of your relationship with money, and see what sticks out most to you. This will give you a deep insight into what’s going on in your subconscious. Rather than fighting that voice in your head when it tells you you’re not enough, understand the trauma from which that narrative stems. Bringing conscious awareness to these unconscious mental-emotional patterns is the beginning of their demise! 

From a Scarcity Mindset to an Abundance Mindset

2. Accept that financial freedom is now or never

Are you waiting for your next promotion to finally be free? Are you just one pay raise or investment way from finally attaining that golden number that means financial freedom? 

Well guess what? So long as you believe that financial freedom is in the future, it will always be in the future. 

That’s right, the Truth is that financial freedom can only be found in the present moment. The idea that you are just a pay raise or an investment away is an illusion. There is no number that you must arrive at to be financially free, it will never be enough. Whatever you attain will become normalized and your ego will seek more. 

Why? Because this structural dysfunction, which is one of the bedrocks of the scarcity mindset, has not been addressed. An inner problem cannot be resolved with an external solution. The illusion that you are not free now is an inner issue that must be addressed internally, not with some arbitrary number of what you think you’ll need to become financially free. Freedom comes now or never. Start to affirm that mindset and you will find true financial freedom – an abundance mindset. Then just let the rest manifest. 

3. Find abundance practices that work for you

While bringing awareness to facets of your scarcity mindset is the paramount, there are an abundance of practices you can do to help develop new thinking patterns regarding money. 

From Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) to Hypnosis to EFT to even a simple digital detox, there are countless tools that can help you communicate with your subconscious and shift your beliefs so that you’re open to receiving everything that’s possible for you. 

4. Pay Attention To How You Talk About Money

Let’s take a look at what feelings and behaviors come up when you talk about money…To this end, 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”, “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”, and “I’ll always have enough”.

…Or would you rather not talk about money at all?(I get it…as I told you, I used to avoid talking about money at all costs!) Since so many of us were taught that it’s not okay to talk about money…or even that it’s rude to talk about money…it’s no wonder that you might not feel comfortable talking about it at all.

5. Shift your focus to what you have 

Never forget: Gratitude is the attitude. Instead of saying “I can’t afford it,” say “I have other priorities right now.” Shift your thinking, and focus on the abundance that you do have.

6. Let go of “stuff” 

That’s right, less is more. The scarcity mindset can often manifest as hoarding, as people often hold onto things long past their usefulness for fear they will have to go without. Let go. Donate unused or unwanted items to a worthy cause, and you’ll instantly feel wealthier. 

It’s not always a bad thing

The point is not to deny that scarcity exists. The point is to put faith in yourself and your abilities to develop a mindset of abundance. The scarcity mindset is not always a bad thing; it was once an evolutionary advantage. When early humans lacked essential resources like food and shelter, this mindset helped them focus on acquiring what was most important. Even today, it can help us concentrate on tasks in the face of deadlines.

Scarcity prioritizes our choices and it can make us more effective and creates a powerful goal dealing with pressing needs and ignoring other goals. Scarcity contributes to an interesting and a meaningful life. In the words of Professor Todd May, when there is always time for everything, there is no urgency for anything. A life without limits would lose the beauty of its moments, and it would become boring. For example, resolution of midlife crises consists in accepting mortality. Midlife often heightens the feeling that there is not enough time left in life to waste. We overcome the illusion that we can be anything, do anything, and experience everything. We restructure our lives around the needs that are essential. This means that we accept that there will be many things we won’t do in our lives.

From a Scarcity Mindset to an Abundance Mindset 

If you work to overcome a scarcity mindset, then what are you left with? A mindset of abundance, of course! An abundance mindset believes there is plenty of everything in the world from resources, love, relationships, wealth and opportunities (because, my friend, there are!).

One with an abundance mindset has come to the spiritual realization that they are already enough. Rather than constantly seeking superficial pleasures (like money) to feel complete, they’ve tapped into the infinite well of love, joy, and inner peace for their security and happiness. 

With this love and peace than can just be here in the present moment, rather than constantly try to become, than continuing to chase the carrot on the stick, some illusory concept of financial freedom. 

The best part? Our inner state is always reflected externally. So what do those with inner states of abundance find in the world? Outer abundance. As written in the bible: “For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” That’s right, this spiritual law was recorded thousands of years ago. And if this isn’t proof enough, then go ahead and try it for yourself. See what happens. We dare you.

Ready to overcome a scarcity mindset? 

Are you a Soulprenuer that feels you’re limited by a scarcity mindset? Need help understanding it and developing an abundance mindset? No worries, helping clients develop an abundance mindset is one of the core facets of my holistic coaching philosophy

Apply here
 for private coaching. 

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  1. […] For more mindset shifts discover the blog post on what is a scarcity mindset & how to overcome it […]

  2. […] go hand-in-hand with the business goals I’m helping them reach – so I integrated mindset + energy into my business coaching. My background is very much strategy oriented and I was used to measuring […]

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