At one time or another, we’ve all wrestled with the insecurity of thinking we’re not “enough” – whether that’s toned enough for a bikini, smart enough for a promotion or special enough to be loved. Believing we need to change before we can be happy not only kills self-confidence, but also gives life to the anxiety-driven “scarcity mindset,” a toxic mentality that can keep us from the happiness we deserve.
The following essay from Darling Magazine contributor, Rebecca Bass-Ching, explores and untangles the scarcity mindset. Read on for tools to identify it, ways to shake it off, and what we’ll gain by learning to love our imperfections…
What Is The Scarcity Mindset?
Down to our DNA, we crave connection, adventure and a life of meaning and purpose. If you are living from a narrative 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 don’t believe we are enough – that we are doing enough, or that there is enough opportunity in the world for us – then a scarcity mindset is in the driver’s seat where you belong. 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 or being seen as flawed. Living from a scarcity mindset leads to emotional exhaustion and constant distrust.
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. Marketers, advertisers and others desiring to get you to buy, vote, share, or believe are attuned to the psychology of human behavior, and are aware that a scarcity mindset is a powerful force of influence that allows fear and shame to be the leading emotions driving 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 …
At the root of scarcity mindset is fear. Fear is an important and protective emotion, but too much fear can leave the nervous system in a constant state of hyper-vigilance, seeking immediate relief and comfort. This intense, emotional state chips away at the resilience needed to tolerate sitting in the space of suffering and struggle, and finding ways to grow from it.
Choosing to invest in relationships and dreams leaves all of us vulnerable to a scarcity mindset. Left unchecked, it infects our ability to trust and stay grounded in knowing that things will be okay, even when the outcome is uncertain. When self-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.
How To Manage 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.
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.
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?
This 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 – we become powerful instead of paralyzed.
Scarcity mindset gets you to turn on yourself in an attempt to get safe.
In her book, Presence: Bringing your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges, Amy Cuddy, Ph.D. writes about the importance of claiming our personal power to stay grounded in our self-confidence: “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.”
How To Let Go of a Scarcity Mindset
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.
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:
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?