“I didn’t sleep enough.”
“There’s not enough time.”
“I wish I had more opportunities.”
“I should’ve said more.”
“I wonder what bad news I’ll get today.”
Any of those sound familiar? Are you frustrated because all of your money goes towards bills, and you have nothing physical to show for your hard work? Well let me tell you something, it’s all in your head.
If you’re someone who’s said those phrases, or anything remotely similar, then you’re dealing with a scarcity mindset, and this post is for you. The truth is – the way you think can make or break your outlook in life; it’s important to recognize the thoughts we’re putting into our heads and addressing them.
But don’t worry, I’m going to help you learn how to shift your mindset from scarcity to abundance. In this post you’re not only going to learn how the scarcity mindset makes problems worse, but also learn why you have a scarcity mindset, the differences between scarcity and abundance, exercises for shifting your mindset, and more.
I hope you’re ready to dive in, cause we got a lot to cover!
What is a Scarcity Mindset?
To discover whether or not you have a scarcity mindset, you should first know what a scarcity mindset even is.
The scarcity mindset believes that there is, or never will be, enough – whether related to money, time, opportunity, love, etc. If you’re operating from scarcity, you may be focused on everything you think you lack in life.
Most people are deeply scripted in what I call the Scarcity Mentality. They see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everyone else.Stephen Covey
3 Signs of a Scarcity Mindset
- Believing that situations are permanent, or inevitable. I’m going to share something real, something personal. From a young age I was inspired by my youth leader to pursue one relationship in life. She had one boyfriend who became her husband, and her first of many. I wanted, and still want, that for myself.
According to the world, having multiple heartbreaks “is just the way it is.” It’s inevitable. But you know what I think? I think that the world’s way of thinking is harming our self-esteem and depleting our energy. We can change our mindset and choose to seek our own happiness. This applies to more than just relationships; it applies to various situations in life that the world, or even yourself, is telling you is permanent…when that isn’t the case.
- Being envious of others. This. is. HUGE. We often waste our time being envious of the material items that others have, when instead we could choose to think abundantly and be thankful for the things we do have. Think about it. What good does being jealous of others have in your life? None.
- Overindulgence. This is the one that I most resonate with. When we operate from a place of scarcity, we tend to overindulge in several areas of life. This could be different for everyone – for me, it’s overspending. If you’re anything like me, you may be wondering how in the world overspending could be a sign of scarcity. Well, it’s more subconscious than anything.
If we subconsciously think of money as a scarce resource, we can and likely will use that resource for pleasure. This is really just a source of instant gratification. When I’d have a rough day, and strongly felt I could use something positive, I would indulge in my favorite meal from my local Chinese restaurant. Or, I’d buy pens (I might have a slight obsession.)
If you need some questions to help determine if you’re in scarcity, here’s a few that I’ve come up with:
- What do you complain about most often?
- Do you feel that you’re lacking something in life?
- Do you find yourself wishing that you had what others have?
- Do you find yourself undertipping your server?
- Are you someone who limits your travel to save gas? (I may or may not have done this a few times.)
You may think you’re unlucky. Or that you’re a victim of your circumstances.
You may even cling to the money, people, or material things you have out of fear they’ll go away.
If you’re reading this and this sounds like you, then it’s possible that you’re just like everyone else and operating from scarcity. And that’s okay. Often when we realize something we desire is missing in life, our brain will only focus on that one thing. Scarcity is a natural place to fall; it’s human nature!
Now that you’re aware that this is you (and totally normal), you should continue reading to dig deeper and understand why you may be coming from a place of lack.
Why Do You Have a Scarcity Mindset?
According to Psychology Today, being poor changes the way we feel and think. Not surprising, right?
Our brain can’t function properly without first meeting its basic needs. If you grew up in an environment where your basic needs were scarce, then naturally you’re going to carry a feeling of scarcity, even if your environment improves.
If you didn’t grow up where your basic needs weren’t met, then you picked up the feeling of scarcity somewhere along the way. This could’ve been passed down from your parents if they continuously stressed the need to survive.
Businesses use urgency and scarcity to improve their conversions – they make you think that there’s fewer resources than needed to fill our wants and needs. They’re using the idea of scarcity to make you buy their products.
How does the Scarcity Mindset Make Problems Worse?
The scarcity mindset keeps you focused on the things that you have out of fear of losing them. Because of this, you don’t seek new opportunities and your growth is limited.
For example, you could be fearful of becoming an entrepreneur due to a false sense of security from your 9-5 paycheck, which is really putting your financial wellbeing into the hands of someone else.
Because the scarcity mindset focuses on things you don’t have, you’ll naturally spend less time focusing on other things. Have you seen the Harvard Experiment demonstrating that we miss a lot of what goes on around us when we have a laser focus?
I would like to point out, though, that the scarcity mindset isn’t necessarily always bad. The scarcity mindset can prioritize our choices by focusing on what we may need to do to achieve or goals, for example, and ignore irrelevant tasks. Realistically, I know that when I have an assignment that’s due in an hour, I’ll realize the lack of time more than if it was due a week from now. That scarcity mindset will urge me to jump on my assignment.
What is an Abundance Mindset?
Abundance is most commonly defined as “having plenty of.” Those who think abundantly recognize that they can be in the driver’s seat of their lives. They work on things bigger than themselves.
The Abundance Mentality, on the other hand, flows out of a deep inner sense of personal worth and security. It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. It results in sharing of prestige, of recognition, of profits, of decision making. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives, and creativity.Stephen Covey
You believe that there is always enough, that there is room for everyone.
There is plenty of money, opportunity, time, love, etc.
You can get that job you’ve been dreaming of.
You are worthy of receiving and giving love.
Those with an abundance mindset celebrate the successes of others.
Of course, it’s unrealistic to think that we’ll think abundantly all the time, but being able to recognize when you’re thinking from a place of scarcity will help you be able to make the shift to thinking abundantly.
Scarcity Mindset vs Abundance Mindset
While the scarcity mindset thinks there isn’t enough for everyone, the abundance mindset says there is more than enough for everyone.
This is one of my favorite images that demonstrate the difference between scarcity and abundance – provided by Megan Hallier.
In The 7 habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons of Personal Change, Stephen Covey tells us that coming from a place of lack causes us to compete for available resources even when there’s an abundance of them.
Here are a few differences between scarcity and abundance:
- Take Risks vs Playing it Safe
When you have a lens of abundance, you realize that in order to grow you’ll have to leave your comfort zone. Those that think scarcely live in fear and avoid risks.
- There is Plenty vs We Have a Deficit
As I mentioned before, a person with a lens of abundance believes there is always more than enough for everyone. Alternatively, a person living in a scarcity paradigm lives in fear that they’ll lose, won’t have a seat at the table, and are in constant competition with others.
- Thinking Positively vs Thinking Negatively
The Abundance mindset says that the glass is half full, whereas the Scarcity mindset says the glass is half empty. If you choose to live in abundance, you’ll think positively about various things that happen in life, whether good or bad. You’ll see the lesson from a bad experience. Those who live in scarcity have a victim mentality, and blame others rather than taking responsibility. They don’t tend to see the lessons from a bad experience.
- Embracing Change vs Fearing Change
Change is inevitable. The abundance mindset recognizes that, and is open to accepting change. Fear of change limits the scarcity mindset.
How to Reverse a Scarcity Mindset?
Alright – so you know you have a scarcity mindset, how it makes problems worse, and the differences between scarcity and abundance. Now what? How do you stop living with a scarcity mindset?
It’s time to overcome the scarcity paradigm and switch to a lens of abundance!
Here are some actionable steps you can take to reverse your scarcity mindset:
- Use the language of prosperity. Shift your thinking from focusing on what you don’t have, and focus on the abundance that you do have. Reprogram your brain by making a conscious choice to think positively; your words have a huge effect on your mindset. Tell your brain what to focus on. Practicing abundance affirmations on a daily basis can help shift your mentality from scarcity to abundance.
- Focus on what you have. Avoid comparisons! It doesn’t benefit you to remind yourself of the things that you don’t have. Instead, make an effort to think about what you DO have. It may even help to write a list of things that you’re grateful for every morning, which leads me to my next bullet.
- Recognize how your past has impacted you. If you were unconsciously taught to live in scarcity, it’s important to realize where that thinking came from. Knowing where your mindset stems from will help you be able to tackle it more effectively and shift your mindset. And, dare I suggest, rewrite your past. The past exists only in your head, and you can make it mean whatever you want. Is it possible that you had the exact past you needed in order to create your future?
- Don’t accept “it is what it is” as an answer. Remember what I said about my youth leader marrying her only boyfriend? Yeah, that might be a rare sight, but it is possible. Don’t limit yourself to what the world says is and is not achievable.
- Practice gratitude. Oprah Winfrey once said, “If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.” This is easier said than done, BUT you can start to practice gratitude by writing down 5 things that you’re grateful for every day. It could even be as simple as having a roof over your head, or clean water to drink. The Five Minute Journal is a great way to start practicing gratitude.
- Acknowledge others’ success. Typically a consequence of scarcity is jealousy. To overcome that, make a conscious effort to improve your outlook by applauding their achievements.
- Surround yourself with abundance-minded people. You know that saying that goes “if you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room?” The same thing applied with abundance. You should surround yourself with people who are positive and see the glass as half-full. This could even be people you don’t know. Find an inspiring or educational Youtube channel. Find an Instagram influencer who has something of value to give. Do you look up to the people that you surround yourself with? That’s a good indicator of if you’re surrounding yourself with the right people!
- Visualize the future version of yourself. The past exists only in your memory; the future exists only in your imagination. Try to imagine your future with the goals you have in mind, and live that life. (Perhaps you need a refresher on creating effective goals.) Natalie Bacon says living in your future is incredibly powerful, and she has a podcast episode where she teaches you how to do just that.
- Apply a Beginner’s Mindset. Those who practice abundance crave opportunities to learn and grow. Recognize that you don’t know everything and remain open with a willingness to learn.
It’s not uncommon to operate from a place of scarcity. Negative thoughts enter our minds on a daily basis, so it’s only natural for us to fall into a scarcity paradigm.
You can reverse a scarcity mindset and increase your abundance mentality by implementing the strategies I’ve listed above. The reverse may not happen overnight, but gradually you’ll start to recognize the possibilities and see changes of your outlook in life.
Remember, you’ve got this and I’m rooting for you! I promise you this – shifting from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset won’t be easy, and it won’t happen without intention and effort. But it is worth it because there is love, money, opportunities, and more waiting for you.
And you deserve it.
Let me know in the comments what you thought about this post! What are your experiences with having a scarcity mindset? Are you ready to make the shift?