Down to our DNA, we crave connection, adventure and a life of meaning and purpose. If you are living from a story fueled by a “scarcity mindset” instead of confidence, the world can quickly become small, lonely and scary, shrouded in judgement and entrenched in the never-ending hustle for safety.

When we do not believe that we are enough, that we are doing enough, or that there is enough opportunity in the world for us, then a scarcity mindset is the driving lens on self and the world. Scarcity is a cocktail of shame; it’s obsessive comparison and competition and a disengagement from taking risks which may result in failure, being misunderstood and seen as flawed. Leading and living from a scarcity mindset leads to constant exhaustion and a distrust of self and others.

The following are warning signs that a scarcity mindset is impacting your confidence. You:

  • Are in a constant state of comparison.
  • Find yourself wishing others do not succeed and are consumed by competition.
  • Find your worth and identity are externally motivated.
  • Feel worse about yourself after an interaction with someone in person or on social media.
  • Are constantly anxious but do not know why.
  • Are clinging to perfection as the ideal way of being/doing.

 

Becoming a wise consumer of information is crucial in our culture of ‘never enough.’ Relentless messages about whether you are enough, there is enough or your are doing enough takes a toll on the brain and the body. Scarcity mindset can hijack your confidence, your trust and confuse what you value by using the fear of disconnection and rejection as your guide on how to think and act. Scarcity mindset is a powerful force, indeed, and allows fear and shame to be the leading emotions in your decision making process.

Scarcity mindset can hijack your confidence, your trust and confuse what you value by using the fear of disconnection and rejection as your guide …

Marketers, advertisers and anyone desiring to get you to buy, vote, share, move, believe all deeply understand the psychology of human behavior and the power of scarcity mindset.

At the root of scarcity mindset is fear. Now fear is an important and protective emotion. But too much fear and scarcity mindset can leave the nervous system in a constant state of hypervigilance, seeking immediate relief and comfort. This intense state chips away at the resilience needed to tolerate sitting in the space of suffering and struggle. Choosing to care about people and invest in relationships and dreams leaves all of us vulnerable to scarcity mindset.

Left unchecked, it infects the ability to trust and stay grounded in the confidence that things will be ok when the outcome is uncertain. When worth becomes intertwined with what you do, look like or have, confidence disappears and the chase for the approval of others becomes the norm. Claiming the power and agency given to all of us is a crucial practice and a powerful resource in response to the messages of scarcity.

scarcity mindset tips

In her book “Presence: Bringing your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges,” Amy Cuddy, PhD writes that personal power is crucial in staying grounded in our self-confidence. She states that not all power corrupts and that power can also positively impact the way we think, feel and act. She elaborates further on the importance of claiming our personal power:

“Personal Power is characterized by freedom from dominance of others. It is infinite, as opposed to zero-sum – it’s about access to and control of limitless inner resources, such as our skills and abilities, our deeply held values, our true personalities, our boldest selves…Personal power makes us more open, optimistic, and risk tolerant and therefore more likely to notice and take advantage of opportunities.”

Identifying a Scarcity Mindset

Here is the curve ball on scarcity mindset: It has a noble cause. It’s trying to protect you from failure, rejection, being separated from needed connection. Scarcity mindset is actually a protective part of your inner world and is not to be loathed, fixed, or banished. It is one of the brain’s many ways of trying to keep you safe.

It’s easy to over-identify with the pain and suffering we see around us. Approach the scarcity mindset part of you with curiosity and compassion. Confidence combined with the lens of common humanity — we are in this human journey together — reminds you to stay grounded in the truth that your imperfections, failures, mistakes and difficult life experiences are what unites us all. It is a part of being human.

One question will help you get clarity and to the heart of how scarcity mindset is impacting your life today:

What are you afraid of?

Most of the threats we experience these days are to our sense of self — keeping our nervous system on high alert. This is exhausting and can have a detrimental impact on your physical and emotional well-being. Scarcity mindset gets you to turn on yourself in an attempt to get safe.

Self-awareness is crucial. When you take the time to be honest about your fears, you are then able begin to re-wire your brain’s responses to these threats. When you develop confidence in the face of uncertainty, fear has a way of cleansing and clarifying instead of paralyzing.

Scarcity mindset gets you to turn on yourself in an attempt to get safe.

scarcity mindset hope

Responding to a Scarcity Mindset

Respond to self-critical thoughts with compassion and curiosity. Instead of viewing these thoughts at the enemy and something to be eliminated, recognize this part of your inner life is trying to protect you and serves a purpose.

On the hard days, give yourself permission to:

  • Unfollow
  • Unplug
  • Reach out and connect with someone, in person
  • Practice self-kindness, which may feel awkward and inauthentic at first
  • Rest
  • Move
  • Get outside

 

Scarcity mindset is not going anywhere, especially in our information age. Fight to claim your power and confidence in this culture of never enough and know the space you create will be contagious.

Does a scarcity mindset sound familiar to you? What is is one way you can challenge yourself to live outside of fear this week?

Images via Aysegül Karatekin

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16 comments

  1. Great article. Trading scarcity mindset for an abundance mindset it something I work on with my clients on a regular basis. It’s nice to see it being brought to light more and more.

    I’ve personally health with scarcity mindset on many different levels, and letting go of comparison was one of my major breakthroughs. Now, whenever I find myself falling into a negative pattern of these sorts, I take that thought captive, recognize it’s a lie and declare the truth over my life. It’s one of the best tools I’ve adopted.

    1. Brittany – Hello and thank you for reading + responding! I often wonder if the opposite of scarcity mindset is just “enough” as opposed to abundance. For me, there is abundance not in having/doing/being more but just in the space of enough. It is a constant rumble for sure to stay in that mindset! And yes, comparison is a beast to reckon with and I love your way of responding when it shows up.

  2. As an art student who hasn’t fully embarked on her career, I can say that the scarcity mindset has been a survival tactic throughout my life. The fear of not being able to continue creating, or find and maintain decent employment in my beloved field have impacted my every action for as long as I can remember, honestly. This article has opened my eyes quite a bit, and although scary in itself, I’m going to apply these things you’ve mentioned to find more peace. Thank you very much for the insight.

    1. Steph – Thank you for reading and responding. Wow, yes! Scarcity mindset can sure be a survival tactic – an exhausting one, though! Go make your art- the world needs it and so does your soul. 🙂

  3. I so appreciated reading this article, Rebecca! The points you make resonated with me deeply, and they reminded me about how when I hold the scarity mindset, I’m much more guarded and hesitant to share my knowledge and resources with others (particularly in a professional / networking setting), but I feel eager to give and help others when I remember that there are more than enough opportunities, positivity, etc. to go around.

  4. Thanks for your article! I have dealt with this for years, especially the comparing and competitiveness aspects. I have learned and am continuing to learn to be more present, and to be more accepting of myself. It helps me be more sane!
    I love this sentence from it: “Approach the scarcity mindset part of you with curiosity and compassion.”
    Thanks again,
    Katie

  5. I just discovered Darling today, and was so very moved by your article. Powerful stuff here! I’ll can already tell that I’ll be thinking about this in the coming days and re-reading… Thank you!

    1. Susan – Yes – I think you are spot on! Scarcity mindset can really overwhelm our emotional system and the parts that want to protect that from happening go into over-drive to regulate our emotions – and shopping is most definitely one of them. This is why advertising and politics – both previous careers of mine – utilize scarcity mindset because it is so effective – but at the detriment of feeling peace and grounded. Thanks foe reading and sharing!

  6. Thank you so much for this, it is absolutely relevant in everything I am trying to push through right now. Beautifully written and so helpful.

    1. Chloe – Thanks so much for reading and responding! Glad it was helpful. Scarcity mindset is a beast to recking with but I have found when I name it and get curious about it, this highjacking mindset has let power. You are not alone on this journey!

  7. Thanks Rebecca. I really identify with the scarcity mindset, especially when it comes to my business and the way I look (which are both just great!) so this was really helpful to me.

    1. Kate – Thanks for reading and sharing your reflections. Yeah, Scarcity mindset goes for the jugular sometimes. Whew! Press on and keep making your art in business and life! 🙂

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