Deb Sofield


The Emotion of Scarcity

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I was on a plane this week and read an interesting book called Scarcity by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir. It was thought provoking from the standpoint that many people make serious life decisions based on a scarcity mindset. The book’s definition of scarcity is having less then you feel you need.

Now, that definition is important on many levels, but today I want to discuss a few thoughts that really stood out to me especially when I think about how the mental emotion of scarcity can limit your vision for your life and your hopes and dreams for your future.

Ben Sweetland said, “The world is full of abundance and opportunity, but far too many people come to the fountain of life with a sieve instead of a tank car… a teaspoon instead of a steam shovel. They expect little and as a result they get little.”

Because, friend, if you believe the definition of scarcity is having less then you feel you need…then, as I say all the time on my show, you can and need to change how you feel. At any moment you choose, you can change how you feel about a situation. You may feel like you’re in jail, but, friend, let me remind you, you are the jailer, and you can unlock the door and step into freedom anytime you choose, because you can change the way you feel even when you feel like you don’t have enough.

If you were to sit with me over a cup of coffee and I asked you the question, what do you expect out of life? what would you say to me about your vision of your future?

  • Would you tell me that you’re just happy to get by in life because subconsciously you expect little?
  • Have you told yourself that you have no need to expect more than you think you’ll experience?

Here is the problem with this mindset, if you expect little, no doubt, that is all you will get. Now, to be realistic, just because you expect much, doesn’t mean that you will receive much in the way of tangible goods; you might—in fact, I hope you do—but most of us will tell you that sometimes the best gifts are the ones you cannot buy or pay anyone back for, because they come from a place of love. But, friends, hear me—starting today, let’s think in a new way, and set aside our fear for the lack of anything because once you change your scarcity mindset into one that is free of fear, you’ve opened doors of opportunity that might have been previously shut.

When you look at life with the mindset that there is not enough—with that deep emotion of the scarcity mindset—there is no doubt that it will permeate into all aspects of your life and leave you with less of the things you have worked for, hoped for and dreamed about, all because you choose to see the little instead of the much in life.

There are libraries full of articles about what is popularly called the abundance mentality and how, if you will see the world through rose colored glasses, all good things will come your way. Now, I am not discounting that (okay, I am just a little), but the bigger thought is this: If you will—by a force of internal will or character or whatever you call it—allow yourself to live in such a way that is large and full and caring (and I’ll add, has love for you and your fellow man), it will be hard to fall into the mindset of scarcity, because the two are not compatible.

Stephen R. Covey once said, “People with a scarcity mentality tend to see everything in terms of win-lose. There is only so much; and if someone else has it, that means there will be less for me. The more principle-centered we become, the more we develop an abundance mentality; the more we are genuinely happy for the successes, well-being, achievements, recognition, and good fortune of other people. We believe their success adds to…rather than detracts from…our lives.”

Having a scarcity mindset about life alters how you look at things. The impending fear of having less than you feel you need, may make you choose differently to the detriment of your amazing future, because scarcity has been described as a famine mentality, in a sense, you are starving yourself when the table is full for your taking.

So I have to ask, why? Why are you not living up to your full potential? Why are you not giving yourself the benefit of the doubt? Why are you not stepping into the light to be who you were born to be? Did it ever occur to you that you are enough…and you have enough…and there will be enough if you will reach out before you fall and ask for help from those who love and care for you?

What are you afraid of? Being hurt again? So, really, what you’re telling me is that you won’t step out because of scarcity—having less then you feel you need. Let me counter that argument and ask you, isn’t something better than nothing? And we can agree that something has at least a chance to grow when given the right resources—light, food, love, and water? You’re giving up before the end? You’re giving up because you “feel” like you have less than you need?

I can understand, for some, scarcity with all its lies and faults will capture your mind and convince you that this is all there is, so no need to put yourself out there to love again, to build again, to dream again, because it will not work out. Let’s just stay where you are, doing what you do and not rocking the boat, because scarcity never packs a life jacket. Scarcity would rather you sink to the bottom of the lake than hand you a way out, because scarcity loves to lie when it tells you there is not enough, and, certainly, not enough for you. Ah, friends, that lie alters how you look at things, and it may make you choose differently…wrongly, leading to a dead-end.

So what can I say and how can I convince you not to let scarcity capture your mind and convince you that you are not enough and there is not enough to go around? Friend, you are, and there is! In fact, if I can move you to an abundance mentality you’ll see there is more than plenty to go around, and everyone can have a seat at the table of success….especially you.

I am concerned that the scarcity mindset is taking over the minds of good people who have hit hard times, rough places or lonely days and nights, and, because of the fear that scarcity places on so many, that the world is limited, that they are locked into a place that feeds the fear that paralyzed them from taking the chance on life and love and happiness.
In author Brené Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, she says the root of the problem of why so many are struggling is that we are living in a “culture of scarcity.” For example, if I give you the phrase: Never ________ enough, it only takes a second before people fill in the blanks with:

  • Never good enough
  • Never perfect enough
  • Never thin enough
  • Never powerful enough
  • Never smart enough
  • Never certain enough
  • Never safe enough
  • Never extraordinary enough

Brown says:

Scarcity is the “never enough” problem.

Scarcity thrives in a culture where everyone is hyper-aware of lack.

Everything from safety and love to money and resources feels restricted and lacking.

We spend inordinate amounts of time calculating how much we have, want, and don’t have, and how much everyone else has, needs, and wants.

So, how to address the problem?

The solution to scarcity is simply enough. “Knowing,” as Brown writes, “that you are enough.”

To be “enough” is to become vulnerable, to expose your weaknesses, insecurities, and failures to yourself and others and to know that you are enough…

Friends, the emotion of scarcity is a lie. Don’t waste another day in the fear of something that can change. For the good of your amazing future…

You are enough!

There is enough!

Take your seat at the banquet table of life and live…out loud!

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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