Scarcity vs Abundance Mentality

Part One: Scarcity

There are two places we can live from – scarcity and abundance. Neither of these places is real – they represent two different mindsets. These mindsets can play a significant role in how we make decisions, how we spend, what we buy, and how we live day by day. Understanding the difference and practice the one that suits us better is life-changing and can help us understand the world and experience of life.

The Scarcity Mentality

The Scarcity Mentality is a zero-sum game. People who have a Scarcity mentality have a very difficult time sharing the resources, recognition, power, or profit with others. Even with those who help in the production of them. They also have a hard time being genuinely happy for the success of other people. 

Most of the time, these people, usually quite unconsciously, focus on what is wrong in their lives, how they’re not enough, what they don’t have, what is missing, and how people around them need to change. They live in constant fear, anxiety, and insecurity. It’s a fixed mindset where they never have enough, and there is not much they can do about it.

There are two forms of scarcity

  • In the first, people seek how to protect themselves from the outside world by retreating into their comfort zone by avoiding failure, rejection, and discomfort. In their eyes, it’s better to avoid losing than to win. 
  • In the second, people seek to win a ‘life game’ by accumulating more of whatever they told themselves they need in order to feel successful. More money, more stuff, more power, status, popularity, achievements, etc. 

 

With the Scarcity mentality, people only focus on the present. Immediate and urgent needs are addressed at the expense of the future, and there is not enough to do both. For example, there is not enough money to pay the bills and save money for the trip or invest it for retirement. 

A Scarcity mindset is suffering, never-ending anxiety, fear of the unknown, disappointment, worry, doubt, and frustration about what could go wrong with our lives. Not a fun way to live

In his best-selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey describes the Scarcity mentality as a zero-sum paradigm of life – when one wins, someone else loses. The ‘pie’ is only so big. If you’re lucky enough to get a piece, better keep it to yourself because it could be gone tomorrow.

Reasons for Scarcity Mentality

  • Our brain is a 50,000-year-old machine with the sole purpose of protecting us from harm. It’s always on the lookup what could go wrong, and if there are threats to our life. Everything is dangerous, and we need to be careful. 
  • Human beings are wired to see their weaknesses and inadequacies easier than their strengths and opportunities, and thereby form false beliefs about themselves which can lead to fear, worry, doubt, disappointment, anxiety and not having enough. 

It seems logical to believe that happiness is outside us, and it depends on factors we cannot control. ‘If only we would have more money, our lives would be easier. It would be nice if I have a perfect partner who can support me and listen to all my problems. I could be happy if only I lived in a huge mansion on a tropical island.’

Signs of Scarcity Mentality

1. Using Thoughts and Words of Scarcity

It’s believed that around 60,000 different thoughts go through a person’s mind over the course of a day. 95% of them are thoughts of previous thinking, and 80% of them are believed to be negative. What we think and tell ourselves ultimately becomes our truth. We believe it, and consequently, we live it. It’s important to understand that negative thoughts and words alone cannot affect us if we realize what they are – just words and thoughts. But when we start believing in them, they become an extension of our character, thus they become us.

2. Overspending or Underspending

Spending is fun. I will buy everything I can and spend everything I have because there is no sure way to know if there is a tomorrow.”

Spending is evil. Every penny I spend today will be one less I will have for the future when I may need it more.”

People with a Scarcity mentality are more prone to overspending or underspending. When they think of money as a scarce resource, there is a tendency to use it for pleasure and instant gratification or to pile it up for an uncertain future.

3. Beliefs that Situations are Permanent and Goals are Outside Our Reach No Matter What

Believing that life is as it is and that we cannot change it and reach our goals no matter what is the Scarcity mentality talking. But nothing is permanent, nothing. Every bad situation or crisis, whatever it is, will pass. Is it scary? Maybe, but it’s nothing more than a bad period of time. There is always the end of the tunnel, and after rain, there will always come the sun. You want to reach your goals but a lot of things can go wrong? So what? Failure is not the end. It’s just a stepping stone and a way how not to do something.

4. You’re Envious of Others and on A Subconscious Level You Hope They Fail

You get happy when others don’t accomplish what they said. Suddenly you want to support them when they have a hard time, but deep inside you’re happy because if they get this, then maybe you won’t. For example: If you’re not promoted, then there is a chance that I will be. 

And if they do get promoted, you cannot be happy for them because they got something that was supposed to be yours. It’s important to know that envy won’t change personal circumstances in any way. It can only cost you a friend or colleague.

5. Judgment and Comparison

Judgment (aka secret envy), Rich people are lucky, spoiled, rude, arrogant, don’t know how hard life is, etc. 

Comparison (keep up with the Joneses), Why does my neighbor have more than me? Why was my colleague promoted and I was not? 

People with a Scarcity mentality think that when others acquire something, they have less chance of acquiring those same things. There is a limited amount of everything, and whenever someone reaches and grabs something that is supposed to be ours, we can no longer get it.

Final Words

The Scarcity Mentality is not a genetic disposition; therefore, it can be changed. There is an old saying: “Change your attitude, change your life.” We can decide how we want to live. In scarcity or abundance. In the next blog post, we will talk more about abundance and why is it a better way to live with an abundant mentality.  

Remember: our thoughts are our power.

Frank Outlaw put it best:

Watch your thoughts, they become words;
Watch your words, they become actions;
Watch your actions, they become habits;
Watch your habits, they become character;
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

Cheers!

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