What is Scarcity Mindset and How is it Hurting You?

I want to take a minute and step away from the Holiday theme to talk about something called the Scarcity Mindset. In short, this is the feeling that there is not enough ______ to go around. This perception is stressful and ultimately harmful to our success, and you can let it go.


There are enough jobs, enough clients, enough hours in the day, and enough money for everything you need. Once you fall into the trap of thinking that there isn't enough of these things, then you set yourself up for anxiety, stress, bitterness, and missed opportunities.


What is Scarcity Mindset?

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We have all heard some version of the term “Predetermined Destiny”, meaning that what you focus on is what you get. As it turns out, there is a lot of truth in that, and it has to do with how your subconscious mind receives information.


Some of you will remember when I told you that you are the smartest person you know, and you believe everything you say. And some of you have heard me say that you are what you say you are. These basic principles of behavior are the driving force behind how you are influenced by what you are focused on.


Scarcity affects our thinking and feeling. Scarcity orients the mind automatically and powerfully toward unfulfilled needs. For example, when we are very hungry, food grabs our focus. It is difficult to think about anything else when you are very hungry. For someone who is lonely, scarcity may come in social isolation and a lack of companionship.


On the positive side, scarcity prioritizes our choices and can make us more effective. The feeling of not having enough creates a powerful goal of dealing with pressing needs and ignoring other goals. For example, the time pressure of a deadline focuses our attention on using what we have most effectively. Distractions are less tempting, and when we only have a little left, we are more aware. For example, we pay more attention to how much toothpaste we are using when the tube starts to run low, and college seniors tend to get the most out of their time before graduation.


What happens to our minds when we feel we have too little?

In the simplest terms, the scarcity mindset is the belief that there will never be enough, whether it’s money, food, emotions or something else entirely. As a result, your actions and thoughts stem from a place of lack. Instead of believing that you have enough and there is plenty to go around, you cling to everything you have out of fear of coming up short.


In this mindset, we operate out of fear. Either we are afraid of not getting something you want, or afraid of losing something that we have. It manifests itself as something as small as under-tipping a server to keep your bill small, to a more substantial decision, such as not investing in the market because you’re afraid to lose money. When you have a scarcity mindset, all decision-making is based on the false notion that there isn’t anything else coming or that you can’t make more money.


When you’re constantly focused on keeping what you have, you don’t seek new opportunities. The scarcity mindset often makes you feel as if you aren’t worthy of wealth and success. You might be focused on just “getting by” and avoiding imminent disaster. Never mind that there’s no reason to believe that things will fall apart; you just want to stay afloat that so you’re reluctant to take any chances


Imagine that you are wearing goggles that limit your vision to whatever is directly in front of you. And just for a second, think about all the things that need your attention right now. Bills that need to be payed, groceries and gas, and holiday shopping. All with the same amount of resources you had last month. Does it feel like you have enough money to do all that you want to do? Are there enough hours in the day to get done all that you need to do?


Now, with your “scarcity goggles” on, you can only see what you are lacking, the things you don’t have enough of. There may be piles of money, great opportunities, and plenty of help right next to you, but you can’t notice them, because all of your focus is on what you feel like you don’t have.


Scarcity forces us into trade-off thinking. We recognize that having one thing means not having something else. If you spend $10 on anything, it is $10 less left for something else. Doing one thing means neglecting other things. However, slack frees us from making trade-offs. For example, as your budget grows, the purchase of the iPad takes up a smaller and smaller portion of your disposable income. Using your time more wisely means that you have more flexibility in your schedule. A bigger budget means that decisions are less consequential, and feelings of scarcity dissolve.


Poverty, whether its financial, emotional, or energetic poverty, changes the way that we understand our potential options and causes self-control failure. Poverty means making painful trade-offs and sacrifices. When we are struggling financially, we juggle rent, loans, late bills, and count the days until the next paycheck. When you can only afford so little, so many things need to be resisted. Resisting more temptations depletes our cognitive resources, and makes it more difficult to change something else, like giving up a smoking habit. To attend to the future we need those cognitive resources depleted by scarcity.


The Role of Hypnosis

Hypnosis is all about adjusting your mindset, shifting your focus, and breaking out of whatever had you stuck.


Hypnotic techniques can be used to shift your focus onto the things that you do have, instead of the things that you are lacking. Doing this decreases the amount of worry and stress, and gives you more resources to manage the future. Using hypnosis you can program yourself to respond with the language of prosperity. Instead of saying “I can’t afford it,” you can say “I have other priorities right now.” Shift your thinking, and focus on the abundance that you do have.


I see clients almost daily to resolve issues from the past. Forgiveness, healing, and letting go of the past are all important parts of moving forward. Let go of “stuff.” The scarcity mindset can often manifest as hoarding, as people often hold onto things long past their usefulness for fear they will have to go without. Let go. Donate unused or unwanted items to a worthy cause, and you’ll instantly feel wealthier.


Use self-hypnosis to build your self confidence. Avoid comparisons. Scarcity thinking often causes overspending, usually because you want to keep up with others. You let envy guide your decisions, causing huge bills. Don’t compare yourself to others; they may be overspending as well.


Acknowledge others’ success. The scarcity mindset leads to jealousy not only in the material sense, but also in feelings of inadequacy or competition when others have success. To improve your own outlook, acknowledge the success of others and applaud their achievements. They may just inspire you to improve your own situation.


Once you begin to move away from the scarcity mindset, you open yourself up to new opportunities, notice more, and draw more positive things your way.∎


Karen Gray is a Certified Hypnotist, a Registered Nurse, and the Director of Green Mountain Hypnosis. For more information on how you can use hypnosis to change your life, you can visit www.greenmountainhypnosis.com, contact Karen at karengray@greenmountainhypnosis.com, or call (802) 566-0464.

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