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  • Melanie Lopes, MFT

How Is A Scarcity Mindset Impacting You?

You may have heard of a scarcity mindset, but what is it exactly?

A scarcity mindset stems from the belief that there is not enough for everybody so you have to take what you can get and cling onto what you have. With a scarcity mindset you tend to focus on what’s missing, what’s lacking, or what's not working, instead of seeing what is working and everything that you do have. You tend to see the limitations instead of considering the opportunities or potential to attain more for yourself.

This mindset often develops for valid and practical reasons, particularly if you are living with the reality of having limited resources or you have gone through a period in your life where resources were scarce. Or you may have learned this mindset from your parents or other caregivers who struggled with limited resources.

Either way, when resources are scarce, you are faced with some very real limitations and it makes sense that it would impact how you view things. And there are some benefits to holding a scarcity mindset in that it can lead to being frugal and cautious with your investments, and it can lead you to be more resourceful.

However, the scarcity mindset goes beyond your access to resources and how you manage money - it’s linked to self-worth and limiting beliefs about what you are capable of and what is possible.

The scarcity mindset often includes the underlying beliefs that you are stuck in scarcity, that there's never enough, that you’ll never get to where you want to be, that others are more deserving than you, or that the odds are stacked against you. And because of these perceptions and beliefs, you can end up limiting yourself by not taking risks or considering opportunities to change your circumstances, which can leave you stuck in sadness, jealousy, dissatisfaction, fear, and resentment.

In other words, the scarcity mindset can show up in all areas of your life, impacting the choices you make and how you live your life.

Here are some ways that a scarcity mindset can show up in different areas of your life:


  • Not going after a raise or promotion or not applying for certain jobs because you feel unworthy or think there are other people who are more qualified and more deserving

  • Working twice as hard as other colleagues to get ahead and feeling resentful because it never seems like enough

  • Staying in a job that isn’t right for you out of fear that you won’t find anything better

  • Not allowing yourself to think about what you really want to do for a living


  • Being extremely frugal, sometimes beyond what is necessary, out of fear that you’ll come up short in the future

  • Putting off paying bills until the last second or waiting until after they are due

  • Always focusing on getting by in the short term and struggling to plan for the future or take risks

  • Spending money as soon as you have it because you’re not sure when you’ll have it again

Home & material possessions:

  • Hoarding, holding on to things because you might need it “someday”, or buying a lot more than you need out of fear of running out

  • Convincing yourself that you don’t really want or need certain items because you believe you’ll never be able to get them

  • Feeling guilty about wanting more for yourself or receiving more when there are so many others who get less

  • Staying in a less than ideal living situation out of fear of not finding anything better


  • Being a people-pleaser or staying in relationships that aren’t right for you out of fear that you won’t find anything better

  • Entering into relationships quickly out of fear that you won’t find anyone better and settling for less than you deserve

Health & wellness:

  • Living with a scarcity mindset can create chronic stress, worry, and fear which impact physical and mental health

You may notice that a central theme to all of these impacts is fear – letting fear guide your choices and actions. And of course, as I mentioned previously, there are benefits to being cautious and frugal, and there will be times when you can rationalize and justify your fears and actions, but…

What if instead of focusing on fears, limitations, and what’s not working, you had a more expansive view of what’s possible?

What if instead of waiting for something to change and then reacting to it, you were more pro-active and embraced change as an opportunity for learning and growth?

What if instead of believing that others are more deserving than you, you started to believe that you are inherently worthy, no more or less deserving than anyone else?

These are some of the key components of an abundance mindset. An abundance mindset empowers you and puts you in the driver's seat - instead of feeling stuck, limited, and pessimistic, you are more engaged, adaptable, and optimistic. You are able to find happiness and satisfaction, despite the circumstances, because you believe in yourself and your ability to navigate challenges and create the life you want for yourself.

Shifting out of a scarcity mindset and into an abundant mindset takes persistence and practice. You have to be willing to slow down and watch your thinking and your habits so that you can begin making adjustments.

Here are 10 ways to help you develop an abundance mindset:

Notice when the scarcity mindset is present.

When you are struggling in a certain area of your life or you are feeling stuck, pay attention to how you are thinking about the situation and ask yourself, "Are these thoughts coming from a place of fear or scarcity?"

Take time each day to focus on what you have and what’s working and practice gratitude.

Make a concerted effort to shift your focus and take note of what you are grateful for, down to the simplest things. This allows you to shift perspective and it can help calm your fears.

Move away from limiting language and move toward more empowering language.

Catch yourself whenever you say "I can't..." and rephrase it to a more supportive or empowering statement. For example, instead of saying “I can’t afford it”, you might say “I have other priorities right now.” Notice how the second statement is more empowering because it implies that you are making a choice about how you spend your money.

Use affirmations.

Listen to or write down affirmations that highlight your strengths, support your goals, remind you that you are capable, and remind you of what is possible.

Listen to guided meditations.

Take time to listen to guided meditations focused on abundance, empowerment, visualizing positive outcomes, and building belief in yourself.

Allow yourself to dream.

Take time to think about your bigger picture goals and dreams without limiting yourself or making judgments on how realistic they may be. Practice opening your mind to the possibilities.

See the opportunities for learning and growth.

Instead of thinking “why does this always happen to me?”, look for the lesson or greater meaning behind what’s happening. This can include identifying areas where you need further knowledge, experience, or support to keep moving forward toward your goals.

Practice letting go.

Let go of what you don't need or what no longer serves you and know that when you let go of something you are making room for something even better to come in.

Avoid comparisons.

Comparing yourself to others can generate feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, and resentment. Acknowledge other people's successes, be curious about how they got there, and learn from what they have to say, rather than putting yourself down or putting them on a pedestal.

Surround yourself with more people with an abundant mindset.

Seek out people who are inspired and inspiring, people who are invested in personal growth, people who are empowered to go after their goals. This can include following them on social media, listening to them on podcasts, watching their presentations or interviews, or reading their books, articles, etc.

Changing your mindset and how much you believe in yourself can take time but if you can remind yourself that you have a choice in how you view things and how you respond, you can start making the changes that will lead you to feel more secure and confident in your approach towards life and enjoy the new opportunities that come your way.

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