Have you ever been angry that another person or another group has gotten a lot of attention?
Or have you ever been jealous of hearing about something amazing that someone achieved, received, or participated in?
I’m willing to bet we’ve all been there at some point in our lives. I know I have! And I’ve come to learn that we can chalk a lot of it up to a particular way of viewing what is available to us in this world.
There are two different mindsets that I’d love to reflect with you on today.
There is the scarcity mindset, and then there is the abundance mindset.
These mindsets have both been around in human history for many generations. However, overall, the scarcity mindset has been much more prominent within our human race as a whole.
For millions of years, we humans had to find resources to survive. We needed to find food, water, shelter, and other things to keep us safe, warm, and secure. Many times in history, these resources were pooled and shared with everyone in a single community. Each person, family, or tribe would only get so much if the resources were shared, or they would only acquire enough so that they’d be able to survive. Acquiring these resources was often hard, tedious work. So the idea of an abundance of them likely didn’t take hold in our collective consciousness.
That is, until very recently. Now, we have countries, including the ones you may live in if you’re reading this blog, which have great riches and an abundance of resources, although they are not often equally shared. Yet, the things we need to survive, such as food, water, and shelter, are plentiful and generally much easier to obtain than they ever were at other times in human history, due to industrialization and for many other reasons. We have so much to go around, so that everyone can have more than their fair share.
However, even though we now have so much, our human brains have been wired for generations to be used to scarcity. Not all of us have come to understand that this world that we live in now is truly a world full of abundance, because truthfully, for so many, it can feel or be a reality that many basic resources can still be scarce. For those reasons, many of us, even, I believe, some of the richest people in our country, still seem to live in a mindset of scarcity.
Here’s how the scarcity mindset can present itself in our thoughts and actions. Many of these thoughts we may not even be aware that we have, but deep inside, they may be there.
“I’m jealous of you and/or angry with you because you seem to have more than me—love, attention, stuff, money, freedom, happiness, etc. I’m secretly afraid that because of that, I can never have or will never get what you have. If there’s only so much to go around and you took my share, then maybe there isn’t enough left for me. I'm told there is abundance, but it certainly doesn't seem that way in my own life.”
“Because I feel jealous of or angry with you, I feel like I have to be defensive with you. I feel like I have to defend my right to have my share of the attention (or love, freedom, money, happiness, stuff, etc.) because I believe there’s only so much to go around. Since you got some, I’m secretly afraid that I have to compete with you for what you’ve gotten.”
“I’m secretly afraid that even if I do have more and give some to you, I won’t have enough left for me, whether now or in the future.”
“I’m afraid that if you give a lot of attention to someone else or to another group of people, there may not be enough attention left for me.”
“I’m afraid that if you give attention to someone else or to another group, you’re actually taking away attention from me, because I believe there’s only so much attention to go around.”
The scarcity mindset has its roots deeply embedded in the genes of generations of human history, and in our lifetimes, we’re all prone to picking up on it in some way, shape, or form.
Maybe we picked it up as children when we felt that we didn’t get enough attention from our mother or father, or that our siblings got more attention than we did. “There must not be enough attention for me.”
Maybe we picked it up more literally if our family struggled to provide us with our basic physical necessities. “There’s not enough food, warmth, sleep, or shelter for me.”
Maybe we picked it up in school when we felt excluded or bullied. “There must not be enough love for me."
Maybe we picked it up as teens or adults when we endured a heartbreak. “This relationship didn’t work out. Maybe that means there’s not enough love or there isn’t the right person out there for me.”
Maybe we picked it up through some very difficult life experiences.
“I’m not treated in the same way others are. There must not be enough privilege for me.”
“I was physically/emotionally abused. I was abandoned. I was neglected. I was betrayed. I was ostracized from a community. I was shamed or guilted by others. There must not be enough love for me.”
“I lost my father/mother/best friend to a natural death/a difficult disease/any other way. I’m struggling with the grief. I don’t understand how there can be a different way for me to look at life now that they’re gone. Maybe life doesn’t matter as much if they’re not here.”
“I’m supposedly well-off, but I just feel so bored/unsatisfied/unhappy. There must not be a job, hobby, or other thing out there that could really let me use my natural gifts or that could really make me happy.”
“I endured a very challenging experience/failure/great loss. There just must not be enough for me.”
No matter how we may have picked it up, it’s likely we have at some point. And truthfully, I believe it’s no one’s fault in particular. It’s not our fault. And it’s not anyone else’s. It’s simply a mentality that has existed in the human race for so very long.
To put it in even more concrete terms relating to some of our current events, this mentality is what I believe is behind many of the attitudes and behaviors we are now very overtly witnessing and may possibly, without realizing it, be participating in.
The scarcity mentality is what I believe drives people to defensively state “All lives matter!” in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. Of course, we all know that all lives do indeed matter. But the movement was started to bring attention to the fact that black lives have not seemed to have mattered as much, as evidenced by the very founding of the United States itself.
When our nation’s ancestors stated that “all men” are entitled to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and then they allowed for slave ownership, they were living a double standard from the get-go that automatically allowed for the lives of African Americans and people of color to be treated very inferior to their own lives. Over the history of our country, we have needed to come to terms with this truth, no matter how painful. And we are indeed coming to terms with it in much deeper ways now, with hopefully continued greater understanding and healing for all of us.
The scarcity mentality is also what I believe drives some very financially well-off people, including some of our elected representatives, to close their hearts and minds to the survival needs and emotional needs of others who are not in the same financial situations. Even though some of those well-off people have more than they need, perhaps they feel they don’t need to care as much about others in different situations. Why? Because they’re possibly still stuck in a mindset of scarcity and believe that if others get more privileges or money, then that will somehow threaten their own.
The scarcity mentality is what I believe drives people to call for borders around our country, increased military, the feeling of a need to carry a gun around constantly for the illusion of personal protection, and any other fear-based action that people may participate in. All of these things indicate that “we must keep possible threats away from our land.” They indicate that “we are so afraid of the possible loss of our own life that we can’t put trust in some of the people around us.”
“I’m secretly afraid (as a person, or as a nation) that if I trust you and stop carrying my weapons, then you might kill me.”
“I’m secretly afraid that there is not enough trust and love in the world to go around, which could protect all of our lives without the need for any killing, if we collectively could simply shift our perspective.”
Yes—I truly believe war, and any idea of defense that uses justification to kill, involves this very mindset.
Because when we believe there is enough love to go around, we know that we don’t need to carry weapons or to kill anyone for the hope of our own protection. We know that we can protect ourselves in many other ways before we make a choice to kill another human being.
We know that others may not think the same way, but we know that whatever may or may not happen, love can be the ultimate protector in our hearts and have the final say, so that we can find peace and love in our hearts, joy and satisfaction with our lives, and truly come to feel safe and protected overall until our time here has passed.
When we work through these very natural and primal human fears and realize that the greatest, best, and ultimate form of protection can come from right within our hearts and is always there for us to access, no matter what may happen in the outside world, we can have less fear over whatever may or may not happen. We can walk in this world in greater peace and security, because we can know that we can live in love. And no matter what may happen to our physical bodies, I believe love is the best protection for our minds and hearts.
As I’ve written previously, when we know our lives matter--even if society may say and show otherwise--and when we feel we are living our lives fully and with great love, the fear of our own mortality can begin to drop away.
And when we understand that the truth is that we live in an abundant world even if it may really feel or prove to be scarce in resources at times, we can adopt the abundance mindset and open our minds and hearts in ways we may never have dreamed possible.
Here are some examples of the abundance mindset in thought and in action:
“I know there is enough love, safety, and resources to go around for everyone even if society tries to live otherwise. Therefore, I don’t advocate shutting anyone or any group out of our country, or out of my heart.”
“I know there is enough love for me. I know that the greatest source of love is already present inside of me. Therefore, I believe that a new relationship is definitely possible for me, if that is something I'm looking for."
“I know that my life matters so very greatly. Therefore, I can believe that everyone else’s life matters equally, and I can do my part to try to help bring that belief into reality in a society where people are still so frequently treated unequally.”
“I know that I have within me the capacity to achieve great things. Therefore, I can come to be truly happy for others when they achieve or receive things or attention as well, even if I may still feel the very human and normal emotion of jealousy at times."
“I know that my heart’s deep love always protects me, no matter what may happen to my physical body. Therefore, I can live freely, in peace, and with less fear, because I know I am doing my best in this world and am living my life in the fullest ways I am able to. I know that there is always more than enough love, meaning, and true inner security for me, no matter what else may happen in the world, and even if I don't feel like it or believe it some days.”
“I know that no matter what may have happened in my past, no matter what losses or experiences I have endured, I have the amazing power to forgive myself and others, to learn, to grow in greater love, understanding and compassion for all those people I’ve encountered. I know that my past may have offered me some of my greatest lessons. I know that the lessons are abundant and there for the taking, especially when I get still and listen to my heart. I know that no matter what may happen in my future, the lessons will also be there. I know I will be okay.”
My wish is that many more of us can become aware of what may bring up the scarcity mindset within our own minds and hearts, let ourselves heal those wounds, and move into the reality of the abundance that truly does exist in this world. It's natural in such difficult times to feel a sense of scarcity and lack. It may even be our reality in certain areas of life. And yet, I really believe that there is so, so much love, attention, resources, necessities, goodness, happiness, and peace to go around. But it will take all of us to begin or continue following our hearts so that we can work to make abundance a true, living reality for so many more people.
And how abundantly wonderful can that be?
It’s up to us to find out!
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I’d love to hear from you! Shoot me a personal note through my Contact page, or leave a comment below. Have you ever experienced the scarcity mindset? Have you been able to shift into a mindset of abundance? How did you do so?
Looking to become more aware of what is in your own mind and heart, which may help you heal certain parts which may feel in pain? Check out my first book right here.
No matter what, always remember this: You are deserving, you are worthy, and you are good enough. Keep being you, keep shining, and keep growing!
With great love,