Imagine that all the love available in the world is in one extra-large giant pizza. Like a real pizza, there are a limited number of pieces. If you take more than your share than someone else gets less. It doesn’t matter whether it’s love, money, career, opportunities, luck, or adventures. When we come from a place of scarcity, we only see a limited number of pieces.

In scarcity mode, life is like that pizza, no matter how large, life has a finite number of pieces. There is only so much love to go around. If others get more love than you get less, or if you get more, they get less. There is only so much money or love or power or customers or whatever. In the scarcity model, there is only so much to go around, and some will get less and others may get more or none.

The focus is on one of two extremes, “I better take my share so I don’t get left out or I give up my share so others can have theirs.” Stephen Covey in Habit 4 of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, refers to this as a zero sum game. Win or lose, in this game there are no other options. This is the model of scarcity.

Scarcity Mindset is operating below the line. When you operate below the line, you are living life as a victim. You have a feeling of lack of control over what is happening in your life. You feel overwhelmed and stuck.operating below the line. When you operate below the line, you are living life as a victim. You have a feeling of lack of control over what is happening in your life. You feel overwhelmed and stuck.

When our body feels tight and tense, your shoulders are up to your ears, and your mind is racing, you are caught in the grip of scarcity. Not enough jobs, money, love. We have a language around scarcity punctuated by I’ll never…always…but…should and not enough…never enough…I’m not enough.

When you’re stuck in the grip of scarcity, you’re also stuck in the grip of fear. When you’re stuck in the grip of scarcity – the scarcity mindset – your thoughts and actions are literally different than when you are not.

Have you ever had any of these scarcity thoughts, racing in your head?

  • I’ll never get a good job. Nobody would hire me. It’s too hard to get a job. It’s unfair the way job seekers are treated. The deck is stacked against me…
  • I’ll never find love. The only way I’ll ever be happy is if I find the love of my love. I’m unlovable. No one wants to be with me. If someone wants me, I don’t want to be with them. All men are scum. All the good men are taken…
  • I’ll never have enough money to retire…to buy a home… to travel… I’ve never had a job that pays well. I can’t save money. I’ve had lots of expenses that other people haven’t had. It’s not fair being a single Mom. It’s not fair as a woman I’m not paid the same as a man.

No complaint… is more common than that of a scarcity of money.  Adam Smith

Lots of excuses lots of reasons but most only long held unquestioned beliefs of the person trapped in the grip of scarcity. I love Victoria Castle’s term (and the name of her book): The Trance of Scarcity.  When we are caught in the grip of scarcity we are unconscious. It is like we are in a trance.

When we are in scarcity we are indeed unconscious and in a trance. We are in the fear based fight of flight mode. Our bodies, still functioning in caveman mode prepare to fight or to flee. Blood flow is diverted from our rational brain – our prefrontal cortex and our digestive systems to our legs and arms so we may fight or flee. We are incapable of making rational choices, of thinking of possibilities. We’re stuck.

Scarcity Mindset:

1. Win-lose: I win and you lose or if I lose you win.
2. Stuck: It will ALWAYS be like this. Can’t see possibilities, choices or alternatives.
3. Need to be in charge. Only I can do it right and I can’t trust you anyway.
4. Not happy when others succeed: If they win you lose and you can’t trust them anyway.
5. Instant gratification:  At the expense of long-term goals. You better to it now because it may not be available later. Advertisers are great at promoting scarcity. Only 3 left. Today only….
6. Full of reasons and excuses: Why you did not reach your goals
7. Blame: Blames everything on others.
8. Never forgive or forget: Holds grudges
9. Procrastinate: Have you ever “flown by the seat of your pants.”
10. Criticize others: Nobody does it good enough.
11. Struggle is required: Life is hard.
12. Push Pull, Stress: Constantly pushing or pulling to try to make things happen.

Are You Ready to Shift Out of Your Scarcity Mindset?

Scarcity has been so familiar to many of my coaching clients that they did not even realize there was another option. Consider if any of the above feels familiar to you and then realize that yes you do have another option, in fact, lots of options. Midlife is a time awakening. First, you must realize that you have been caught in the trap of scarcity. Don’t despair. Awareness is the first step in the process of change.

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