The Downward Spiral Of Scarcity

It’s easy to tell when someone is operating from scarcity or operating from abundance. Neither is right or wrong or good or bad; however, this framework for living can have huge impacts on one’s life.

Scarcity is the predominant societal mindset. This societal mindset is what you could call the average baseline for being for human beings.

Notice I didn’t say that the mindset is the average baseline for thinking. The reason is that our culture actually does have space for this kind of thinking today. There are now enough coaches, consultants, and leadership books out there in the popular culture that a lot of people, especially in the workplace, are trained in higher levels of thinking. However, if the state of being doesn’t change, the thinking combined with the old ways of being will just lead to more of the same, and there won’t be many breakthroughs to be had. And that is why I say baseline for being and not thinking because the mental awareness, especially amongst the business world is already there. 

When people in some kind of scarcity way of being are able to get beyond something they know to be possible, they’ll tell you reasons why they can’t do something or why something isn’t possible. If something is too much money, they’ll give you all the reasons why they can’t afford it vs. creating structures to create affording something. I use the money example because the relationship people have to money is a common scarcity conversation that goes undistinguished for most people.

Scarcity Is A Mindset

Scarcity is this mindset that there isn’t enough of something. Scarcity is based in survival. This is purely evolutionary as dealing with threats for most of human history was more important than creating something. Yes, you can be great at building huts, but it’s even more important to avoid being mauled by a tiger. Not staying on guard for most of human history got you killed. Our minds are still wired like that, even though we live in a very different world.

When you operate from scarcity there’s usually never enough: resources, love, people, friends, money, time, etc.

Scarcity is all about protecting, surviving, and defending. It’s about taking action out of fear of what could happen. It’s very limiting of the Self.

And scarcity creates a downward spiral.

If you asked someone whether they would rather live in scarcity or abundance, most people would say abundance. However, the truth is most people really don’t know what they want as most people still operate from a space that who they are is their identity and all the automatic stuff that comes with that. Therefore, their life is constructed around their problems and if they actually had everything they said they wanted in their lives, they’d be literally fucked. It would literally kill off who they thought themselves to be. Just look at the countless stories of people who became famous and went batshit insane or child actors whose identity was predicated on them being a child actor.

If you were to ask the average person whether they’d rather drink an elixir that produced the following outcomes: made their skin glow, made them age slower, made them feel amazing, made them physically more attractive, and then based off emotional and physical health were more likely to make more money—and then with all that positive self esteem—their circles of influence kept growing and growing and they kept bringing in really high-quality people into their life which then allowed them to stay more grounded and motivated and make even more money which led to a higher quality of life emotionally, physically, spiritually, sexually, and financially—and then—you offered them another elixir that would make them age quicker, shorten their lifespan, make them emotionally worse off which then increased their probability of attracting lower quality people in their life, made them overall less physically attractive, less emotionally healthy, and reduced their energy levels—

One would assume that almost everybody would say they wanted the first drink. However, if you asked the average person if they wanted a kale, spinach, celery, ginger, turmeric juice OR a can of Coke, most people would ask for the Coke! They said they wanted one thing, but their actions said otherwise.

There’s this distinction that the hungry don’t get fed. Essentially, when you’re attached to something—your attachment gets in the way of you getting the result. At the level of neuroscience, you’re literally creating more wiring in the brain of what you don’t have. That’s always operating from the framework or context of scarcity. This leads to more scarcity which then further validates your shortage of resources, love, people, friends, money, time, etc.

There’s a well-known phenomenon called the poverty-cycle which has been documented not just through anecdotal observation but through statistical analysis and extensive data analytics. Without getting too deep into it, if you’re born poor and have a scarcity mindset around your own poverty, your actions have an increased chance of leading you to more poverty instead of taking you out of it, and that cycle can last not just a lifetime but over many generations. It’s mental patterns created in language passed on from one generation to the next.

The Root Of What Doesn’t Work

This literal scarcity mindset is at the root of a lot of what goes on in the world that doesn’t work. And I’m not just talking about big things but often tiny things that just seemingly go unnoticed in the day-to-day minutia matters of the world. Consider the clingy girl who is so afraid to lose her man that he ends up breaking up with her due to her constant demands of attention with those demands of attention coming from a place of scarcity. Demands of attention from a space of abundance create an entirely different experience.

Consider the guy whose girlfriend has just broken up with him, and he’s decided to immediately go to the bar to meet another girl to get his mind off things. Then he goes to the bar really fucking desperate to meet someone, and he ends up having a hard time “getting” anyone to hang out with him and just pushes women away as they can feel the neediness and desperation in who he’s being. 

Now think about the person who nails an interview for a job or college. I got into Babson College (a prestigious business school on the East Coast) while having one of the lowest SAT scores and GPAs amongst my peers. I got in because of my interview.

When I was interviewed, here I was in high school with no money, no business experience, really low self-esteem at the time, and didn’t really like who I was. However, for this interview, I decided I was going to be someone who already got into the school. I shared about my business ambitions, what I wanted to create around building an investment firm. I shared about my love for Warren Buffett. Not once did I give a reason of why I should be accepted, I just knew I should, and it came out with every ounce of my being.

For those of you who have interviewed applicants for a job: who is more likely to get the job assuming their skillset is roughly the same? The one who gives off that needy and desperate way of being or the one who is being grounded, secure, and calm, and is naturally excited to share about the value they would love to add to the company.

A Background Concern

If you look at desperation or neediness, it’s always coming from a space of scarcity.

There’s some concern in the background:

“If I don’t get this job I won’t be able to feed my family.”

“If this girl doesn’t go out with me, I’ll never find another girl like her.”

“My looks aren’t good enough; therefore, I need to compensate.”

“My skills aren’t good enough; therefore, I need to compensate.”

There’s something either insufficient, not enough, or knowing your world will fall if you don’t get the outcome you want. People can sniff out that attachment a mile away and operating from that space leads to an ever-increasing probability of creating a continuous self-fulfilling prophecy.

To use one of the examples from before and expand on it: “My looks aren’t good enough; therefore, I need to compensate. Then whatever I compensated for didn’t work so I need to adjust again and compensate for what’s now not working. Do this for many years, and you’ll be trapped in inauthentic layer upon inauthentic layer of survival rooted in some scarcity conversation you probably made up many years ago.”

Abundance

Abundance works the opposite. Operating from a space of abundance is amazing. Knowing that you’re already whole and complete. Knowing that there’s no such thing as failure, just correctable results. Trusting your Self and operating from that space vs. reacting to some sort of circumstance most likely leads to more enjoyable outcomes than had you been coming from a place of scarcity. 

When you run into an issue thinking about ways you can create a solution vs. get reactive and start letting a circumstance give you the excuse to play smaller. Abundance leads to an increased probability of an upward spiral in life of wonderful outcomes in life.

This isn’t rocket science. It’s also not about fake positive thinking either and being one of those obnoxious fake it ’till you make it people.

There’s what I call fake spiritual growth or fake growth. It’s some weird form of positive thinking where your growth is literally meditating and isolating yourself somewhere and pretending all the issues in the world don’t actually exist. Now there’s nothing wrong with meditating or having alone time–that’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is doing that as a way to avoid reality is just as spiritually stunted as the cynic who sees all the ills in the world and is resigned and cynical about it.

To me, growth is being unwavering and tackling life. Letting the big things you’re up to shape you and make you stronger. Being a truth seeker. Having an insatiable learning for trying to understand the way the world works and the nature of being human and the human experience. That’s a conversation worth devoting a lifetime to.

I want to go back to the clingy girlfriend example for a moment—

Now if you took one of those people whose growth was their identity and who was living a life hiding behind their mantras, meditation practices, and positive affirmations while pretending the world didn’t exist—and then you took another person who was resigned and cynical about the world and in constant survival—and then you took someone who really loved taking life by the horns and letting it shape them—you could say the following are three possibilities of what could happen with those three kinds of people as related to the’d interact with the hypothetical clingy girlfriend. Let’s call her Clarissa the Clinger.

Fake Spiritual Identity.

He’d invalidate Clarissa. Then give her some New Age spiritual advice as a way to fix her which would really just be his way of not being able to hold space for her. It would be his way to resist.

The Cynic.

He’d invalidate Clarissa and would not be polite about it. Then he’d complain about how psychologically fucked up women are.

The Truth Seeker.

He gets the nature of Clarissa and understands the importance of validation and honoring someone’s core regardless of where they’re at. He would love her where she’s at and would not try to change a thing about her. He’d give her some validation, not from a place of trying to get a reaction or some kind of validation but would simply be coming from a space of really worshipping her heart at her core while at the same time not sucking up to her or completely falling apart to giving into her shit. This doesn’t mean he wouldn’t break off the romantic relationship if that’s what was an authentic expression of his love.

Resistance And The Limited Box Of Belief

Your access to that kind of grounded-ness is through simply not resisting things. It’s the difference between allowing yourself to feel good vs. trying to feel good and exerting force with positive thinking and a fake personality. Owning where you’re at gives you access to creating something new and creating in it of its very nature isn’t rooted in reaction. It’s in a space of abundance where you naturally have the opportunity to create authentically; you’re operating from a space of limitless possibilities vs. your limited box of beliefs which are based in the past.

 

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