Scarcity Mindset: what it is, how to overcome it, and most importantly, how to pronounce it correctly.

I have a little problem, and it shows up in a lot of areas in my life. It affects my finances, my weight, my generosity…it affects more than I ever even knew. I didn’t even know it was a thing until about a year or so ago – but I’m finding that a lot of people also have this problem. I’m ready to deal with it and overcome it. Or at least learn to manage it.

My problem (ha, as if I only have one) is that I have a Scarcity Mindset.

If you don’t know what that is, a scarcity mentality is forever thinking “there’s not enough”. There’s not enough money, there’s not enough food, there’s not enough time…it just feels like there is never enough of anything. If you find yourself saying “I can’t afford that”, or “I’ll wait until payday and then I’ll buy all of these things that I can’t get right now”, or “it must be nice that the neighbors can afford xyz”…then you too probably have that same lack mentality. This mindset can lead to over-spending, over-eating, needless worry, and basically it can just suck the joy out of your life, which is no bueno.

How does feeling scarce lead to the “overages” (over spending, over weight, over working) in life? Here’s an excellent example I heard recently: Let’s say you are having a dinner party with your family and friends – you wake up the day of the party and think “I don’t think I have enough food. I should have gotten more to drink. What if no one brings a dessert? I should probably go get some more just in case.” So you go to the store to get more more more, and when the party finally rolls around and everyone has eaten and is stuffed to the gills, you notice ALL THE LEFTOVER FOOD. There is so much food still uneaten, that you make up plates for everyone to take home because there is just no way you are ever going to eat it all. See? Now you’ve spent more money than you needed to because of your fear that there wouldn’t be enough, when in fact, there was and still is PLENTY.

For me, this mentality really shows itself like this: Cash flow is tight, so I put off buying things, then when payday hits I BUY ALL OF THE THINGS because HURRY I HAVE TO BUY THESE THINGS BEFORE THE MONEY RUNS OUT AGAIN BECAUSE THERE’S NEVER ENOUGH MONEY. And when I say “things” I mean stuff like getting my hair cut, doing a big grocery shop, buying whatever gifts need to be purchased, paying as many bills as I can…so then in just a few days, the money is tight again and the cycle starts all over. It’s exhausting. And with a self-employed husband, sometimes money is genuinely tight (hello winter), but because I’ve never developed habits to s p r e a d  t h e  m o n e y  o u t, it always feels like feast or famine, even when it’s really not.

Also, I feel like there’s not enough time – not enough time to do what I want to do and need to do, so my weekends end up being either SUPER PRODUCTIVE (do all the things because there are only 2 days to get everything done!!!) or I am as lazy as can be because I’m exhausted and just don’t want to do anything. Again, if I could figure out how to spread it all out over the week, I don’t think I would feel quite so frantic about not wasting time (because time is precious) (because there’s not enough of it) (see?).

Does anyone else see the restrict/binge cycle happening here??? I thought it only showed up when I was dieting (which I no longer do) but apparently I’ve also been restricting and bingeing my money and time. :/ Interesting.

In my research (let’s be real, I Googled it) about how to overcome this mindset of “not enough”, I found that the first thing usually suggested is gratitude and appreciation. In all of the articles I read, in all of the videos I’ve watched on this subject, incorporating the practice of gratitude is the number one habit to cultivate in order to combat that scarcity feeling. Appreciating what we have and being grateful can help us see that there is indeed, enough. Whether that means writing down what you are grateful for at the end of the day, or just simply thinking about things you appreciate while you are brushing your teeth, focusing on all of the abundance in your life will help dissipate that feeling of lack over time.

Now, I will admit to you that writing down 3 things I’m grateful for each day sounds like something I will never do. In fact, it makes me want to roll my eyes and never think about it again, so I need to come up with a way to work this into my life in such a way that feels effortless so that it will eventually stick. I’m thinking it needs to be in the middle of the day when my energy is at its peak. Is there an app for that? Maybe I need an app to remind me. I’m still working all of this out right now (obviously) – I don’t have any answers as of yet, so if you do, please share!

All of the above is well and good, but my stupid little grammar-police brain cannot get over something else. Yesterday I watched a video about this wherein a 20-something girl had a 20 minute video about this very subject, and I’m sure she had some good info to share, but I couldn’t concentrate on what she was saying because she kept pronouncing it “SCAR-city”. Spoiler alert: it’s pronounced “SCARE-city” – it comes from the word SCARCE. At first I thought she just messed up, but she kept saying it like that over and over again – I couldn’t even watch the whole thing because I was so distracted by the way she was saying it! Yes I realize this probably makes me an asshole, but I can’t help it. If you’re going to make an entire video about a certain subject, make sure you know how to pronounce it correctly otherwise you don’t sound credible. (Cranky rant is now over)

So, I genuinely want to know: have any of you overcome this mindset? Or at least learned how to manage it? How did you do it? Do you have a regular gratitude practice and if so, what does it look like in your life (if you don’t mind sharing)?

This was a longer post than usual – thanks for sticking around if you’ve gotten to the end!! You are a warrior!

My name is Inigo Montoya. This is a scar. Prepare to die. 





17 thoughts on “Scarcity Mindset: what it is, how to overcome it, and most importantly, how to pronounce it correctly.

  1. I haven’t felt like that for a long time. Of course, maybe its because I have enough money. But anyway, when I visited the slums in Kenya and Haiti, and saw that the people were HAPPY there, it had a big affect on how I thought. I like helping people who don’t have as much as I do. Some people I know like to help people here in the USA, but I like to help people in other countries.

    1. Yeah, there’s another layer that I struggle with – it feels super petty when I think about how I need something but I won’t let myself just go buy it, because I think “well there are people in this world who don’t even have running water, who have to walk a mile or more just fill up a jug at the well…and you are complaining because you want new clothes???” It bothers me that I struggle with my first world problems when there are so many other “worthy” problems to worry about.

      I love that you help people in Haiti – I want to be like you when I grow up! 🙂

  2. Very interesting post, Jill. I don’t have it but wow did I ever recognize my son with this. Hmmm. I have to ponder this more because as you know, you can’t just go tell your child to change what they’re doing and life will be better, LOL.

  3. I do have a regular gratitude practice. I picked up a business card at the car dealership I was at that stated “Start each day with a grateful heart”. I keep it on my computer at work as a reminder & I thank God for the good things in my life everyday. The other card I have states”The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they make the best of what they do have”. Both of these remind me each day how blessed I am and have helped me make gratitude a habit.

  4. I struggle with this, too. It has gotten better as I’ve gotten older but I still struggle. I tried the writing things down. Didn’t work. Did it a day or two and then forgot. But I try to end the day with a prayer of thanksgiving for all the good things that day. I often fall asleep in the middle of it but that’s just a sign that I really do have a lot to be thankful for.

  5. I wouldn’t be able to get past the “SCAR-city” thing. That’s the sort of thing that would keep me up all night, replaying every time she said it like that.

    I used to do the same thing as you, especially if I was having people over. Worried that I didn’t have enough food, or enough drinks, or enough ice. Then I’d over-buy and have way too much stuff.

    The root of it, for me, was that I was raised to be codependent. It was my job to make sure everyone was comfortable, to keep people entertained. The idea that somebody might be uncomfortable was like death to me and I couldn’t take it. The only thing that worked for me to get over it is a combination of age and therapy! Accepting that nobody is perfect, that you can’t plan for every twist and turn in life. I still struggle with it, but I go a lot easier on myself when I run out of ice at a party. 😊

    1. I’d like to go back and watch that video because I have no idea if her information was good or not – I seriously could not focus on her words!!

      One thing my therapist and I have talked about a lot is that there is always more – I can go to the store and get more ice, I can get a part time job to make more money or I can get a BETTER job to make more money, etc. I still struggle with it, but I’m making progress. 🙂

  6. This post has honestly blown my mind. This is me in literally every aspect of my life – eating, spending money, time management, freaking everything is a restrict/binge. I never thought of it that way.

    I actually am one of those people who tries to do the “write down three things I’m grateful for” practice. I have a pretty journal and I sit down each morning before I get ready for work and write my three things, plus a quote I find online about happiness or gratitude. I’m hoping over time this habit will help counteract my “life binges”. We shall see!

    1. Veronica – I KNOW, RIGHT??? The first time I heard the term “scarcity mentality”, my therapist and I were talking and she just casually mentioned it and I went “wait…what?!” MIND BLOWN. I had no idea it had a name. I am making it a practice to tell myself “I have enough. There is enough.” and that helps calm my anxiety about it. I hadn’t thought about it as a “restrict/binge” either until I was writing this post, but that’s exactly what it feels like, doesn’t it??

      I love your idea of writing your grateful list down in the morning – finding a quote about it is excellent too!! As much as I love a pretty notebook, you would think I’d be all over it, but for some reason I have a mental block about it. Maybe I need to explore that further. :/

    1. Interesting! At least you are aware of it – do you feel like it’s something that you want to change or have you just accepted it as part of who you are? (no wrong answer, just curious!!)

  7. Hi, Jill nice post. I’m looking at scarcity as where your focus is. Let’s say there is a half empty cup. I may see it as half full while somebody else may see it it hall empty. While you believe you don’t have money somebody elso would kill to have that amount ot cash. I believe we humans always focus on the negative and what we are loosing instead of what we are gaining. What really helped me with this is a book by Tony Robbins – Awaken the giant within. If you want give it a look.

  8. Thank you! very well written.

    My husband and i have been trying a ton of different diets , but for years we were not successful. we literally tried almost every thing. Untill we tried PROVEN . It saved us . I lost 45 pounds in 7 months! Even though i cheated here and there, ( dont tell him that lol). Check it out its really worth it . Im going to put the link here ,so you dont have to waste 2 hours looking for it like I did Thank me later!

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