A Scarcity Mindset Will Destroy Your Dreams

What’s at stake when considering a mindset of abundance?

Amy Hartsough
Sep 22 · 6 min read
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Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia on Unsplash

you have an abundant mindset or a scarcity mindset? Do you believe in lack or plenty? (To answer that, take a look at your bank balance.)

Last month, I wrote a story about leveling up your learning in 2020 by creating a syllabus for yourself. In it, I talk about how much I miss having a syllabus to guide me each “semester” of my life. So, I decided to create my own syllabus for the fall of 2020.

The course I created for myself is called “Abundance Mindset for Writers.” In it, I established the objective to develop my own spirituality of abundance that includes philosophy and practice. Before I get to that, though, I want to solidify in my mind (and yours) the downsides of a scarcity mindset.

The prompt I’ve given myself for this assignment (which has turned into this story) is:

What’s at stake when considering a mindset of abundance?

In answering this question, I’ll provide some research about therapeutic approaches to emotions and how they impact what happens in our lives.

If this sounds academic to you, it is. But I know you’re up to it. I’ll try to impart what I learn in a way that’s relatable by sharing experiences from my own life. I invite you to consider your approach to life while reading this article.

To understand what a mindset is and how it affects our lives, let’s consider two things:

  • The Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) theory of emotions
  • The Positive Psychology theory of emotions

These theories will provide a framework for our own understanding of our emotions and how they affect our mindset, and therefore, our lives.

The Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Approach to Emotions

Here’s what the Beck Institute of Cognitive Behavior Therapy says about emotions (emphasis added):

The cognitive model describes how people’s perceptions of, or spontaneous thoughts about, situations influence their emotional, behavioral (and often physiological) reactions. Individuals’ perceptions are often distorted and dysfunctional when they are distressed . . .

Individuals also learn to identify and modify their distorted beliefs: their basic understanding of themselves, their worlds, and other people. These distorted beliefs influence their processing of information, and give rise to their distorted thoughts. Thus, the cognitive model explains individuals’ emotional, physiological, and behavioral responses as mediated by their perceptions of experience, which are influenced by their beliefs and by their characteristic ways of interacting with the world, as well as by the experiences themselves.

In other words, it’s our experience of our experiences that determines how we feel and behave. Our thoughts about our lives and daily interactions determine our actions, which in turn determine our outcomes.

CBT works to help people evaluate their automatic thoughts and change them as needed to produce better results (like happiness).

I’ve been in therapy for seven years and in my experience, CBT tools like thought records (where you write down and evaluate your thoughts) help me externalize my thinking process. That way, I can literally see my thoughts because I’ve written them down. That makes the process of evaluating and adjusting my thinking much easier.

The Positive Psychology Theory of Emotions

Now, this is interesting. The National Institute of Health’s website has a research paper from 2001 on Positive Psychology that says (emphasis added):

According to these perspectives [in previous research], positive emotions signal flourishing. But this is not the whole story: Positive emotions also produce flourishing. Moreover, they do so not simply within the present, pleasant moment but over the long term as well. The take-home message is that positive emotions are worth cultivating, not just as end states in themselves but also as a means to achieving psychological growth and improved well-being over time.

This is fascinating to me because it indicates that our emotions actually create our experience. They don’t simply happen as a response to our experience. This is empowering because it means that we can consciously create our experiences in life by cultivating positive emotions.

In the past several months, I’ve made a conscious effort to seek out self-help books that encourage positive psychology practices. I’ve also been deliberate about trying these practices in my own life.

My Journey to Abundance

First, a confession: I’ve been writing full-time for two years and I have yet to make a living wage. I’ve made far more than $7.25 an hour on many freelance projects, but overall, I haven’t made enough money to support myself financially.

The good news is that I live with my parents and they are very supportive of my career goals. They also understand the nature of entrepreneurship; namely, that it takes time to build a business.

As a blogger, there are several things I’m doing to make more money:

  • I’m writing five days a week.
  • I’m promoting my work on social media.
  • I’m engaging with my readers.
  • I’m setting goals and creating content calendars with new topics.

These are all important, practical steps. But there’s something else I’m doing, too. I’m deliberately learning to replace my scarcity mindset with a mindset of abundance.

My scarcity mindset is based on what I’ve learned from my culture: “Life is a competition because there’s not enough to go around. It’s a zero-sum game; if someone has what you want, that means there’s less for you.”

In addition to being paralyzing, this mindset is not helpful because I believe that ultimately, it’s not true.

It’s time to get my deeply rooted beliefs in line with a new philosophy. A mindset of abundance says: “There is more than enough to go around and all life is supported by universal intelligence. Life is not merely a random series of events. My flourishing is supported by a universal master plan of some kind.”

I like that approach to life much better. It makes me feel empowered to pursue my dreams because I know that my efforts are aided by the universe itself. Not only does this mindset feel better, I think it’s actually true.

So, how do I change my mindset from scarcity to abundance? It doesn’t happen overnight. But there are practices that I find helpful. The first is to answer the question posed at the beginning of this story:

What’s at stake when considering a mindset of abundance?

What’s at Stake?

In a word, everything.

To be more specific, if I don’t change my mindset from scarcity to abundance, I will go through the rest of my life living in fear of never being enough. I’ll be afraid that there isn’t enough to go around and that I will always be missing out on important things. Like money, friendship, love, and fulfillment.

More specifically, if I continue to live with the belief that I can’t get what I want and need in this world, I won’t put forth the effort to create the life I really want. Why would I? How could I, if I didn’t really think my efforts would make a difference?

If I’m just one person, acting completely independently and without support, what can I really hope to accomplish? Of course, I recognize that every aspect of my life depends on other people. I couldn’t write this story without the laptop that someone else created, for example.

But that belief in interdependence isn’t part of a scarcity model. It indicates an abundance mindset. Without it, I literally can’t do anything. Think about it. Without other people, life would end.

That might seem like an extreme example, but it proves a point. We are interconnected, biologically and sociologically. But are we connected spiritually? If we’re not, what’s at stake?

For me, if we’re not all spiritually connected, that means there’s no universal consciousness to tap into. There’s no way to learn from other people’s experiences. Without a spiritual connection, there’s nothing holding us together as a species. Biology evolves over time; so does society. Without spirituality, what are we evolving into?

So what’s the connection between spirituality and abundance? In my view, we either live in a spiritual, abundant universe or we don’t. They go together because abundance is a spiritual phenomenon.

We can look around our world and see poverty and lack. That’s not hard to do. The practice comes in when we consciously choose to cultivate a view of abundance and plenty. We recognize that creation is an ongoing act and one that we get to participate in.

I’m at a point in my life where I’m ready to step into my full power as a co-creator with the Universe. This isn’t just about making money, although that’s certainly part of it. For me, being a creator means that I get to produce good things in the world. For myself and for other people.

I hope this story has been one of those “good things” for you.

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness and fulfillment.

Amy Hartsough

Written by

Get my FREE 5-day email course for entrepreneurs, Focus Your Vision into a Plan, for journaling tips & prompts: https://amyhartsough.ck.page/free-course

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness & fulfillment. Join 138,000+ others making the climb on one of the fastest-growing pubs on Medium.

Amy Hartsough

Written by

Get my FREE 5-day email course for entrepreneurs, Focus Your Vision into a Plan, for journaling tips & prompts: https://amyhartsough.ck.page/free-course

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness & fulfillment. Join 138,000+ others making the climb on one of the fastest-growing pubs on Medium.

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