my success does not equal your failure.
For decades I’ve beaten to death the notion there’s room enough for us all to rock.
For close to 17 years (!) I’ve shared online how one woman’s success does not equal another woman’s failure.
Only recently, however, have I been repeatedly reminded it’s not enough to feel brazen and unstoppable if beneath it all lurks a scarcity mindset.
What is a scarcity mindset?
Scarcity mindsets create trade-off mindsets. If we have/achieve ____ then we cannot simultaneously possess/experience _____.
Scarcity mindsets tell us there will never be enough (money, time, joy…).They insist we guard what we have as it will run out.
Scarcity mindsets originate from a place of lack (I don’t have enough. I need to find/hoard more) and stagnate there mired in a place of fear.
Scarcity mindsets are exhausting.
This mindset puts us on the defensive (“Gotta hold on tightly to what I have”), it lies to us and tells us we’re incapable of making/having more (all decisions begin to stem from that place) and, instead of creating excess, a scarcity mindset conspires to make us stuck.
If not scarcity then what?
Id slipped into a mindset of lack in a few areas of my life.
In my job search, in relationships and even with regards to the notion of happiness.
While I could have chosen to view this as a natural reaction to shift in life circumstances—scarcity was not a response I was OK embracing long-term.
I believed in abundance in nature.
I didn’t question abundance with regards to success.
I needed to remind myself abundance exists everywhere even when, in the most literal of financial of ways, it appears to not.
Seize personal responsibility.
Scarcity is blame talk. Scarcity is victim speak. Scarcity is wanting to make someone else responsible for how we’re feeling and send all our energy in that negative direction.
I’ve done this. I’m done doing this.
Shit happens. We make choices. We may even look back and think Huh. A different choice might have worked better back there. Regardless, we need to take responsibility for our lives.
When we have an abundance mindset we consistently remind ourselves we’re only as far from the life to which we aspire as our very next choice.
Ask How may I contribute?
This shift has been the most challenging mindset for me to appropriate and yet simultaneously the most life-altering.
We get when we give. Service is the rent we pay for living. I believe these things wholeheartedly. I was not conducting myself this way when it came to my world of work (thankfully in relationships I’d already grasped this).
I no longer show up for anything work-related with an attitude of What can I get out of this call/meeting/experience but instead with the mindset of What do I have to contribute here?
Remember abundance is not simply money.
If abundance were only about money there would exist a clear definition around precisely what an abundance of cash/a scarcity of wealth is.
Spoiler alert: There isn’t.
Abundance is about how you choose to relate to what you do or do not have.
Abundance a vague and general attitude and perspective and this is a great thing.
This means wherever you are in this moment, whether it’s happily debt-free or saddled with loans and credit card billd, you can choose to lead an abundance filled life.
This choice may mean surrounding yourself with new people, overhauling your attitude, or even radically shifting how you interact with everything around you—but can quite literally happen in a moment.
Identify desires…and release them.
I’ve written so much about this recently. Partly because I believe it so fervently and partly as a reminder to my own damn self.
This mindset shift has been challenging for me. First, even though I’m not goal-centric by nature, goals are an easy way to define if we are living a successful life. As a result, in order to attract abundance, I needed to reframe the way I set my goals and created my vision board.
Gone is my mantra of Goals are dreams with timelines. In its place will be an as of yet uncreated personal catchphrase to remind me of the importance of feelings and of releasing attachment to the outcome of what I seek.
Possessing an abundance mindset will mean I have the ability to find positives in situations which, on the surface, appear to be losses. It’s the concurrent (and oxymoronic) reminder I’m lucky and there exists no luck. It’s living in the silver-lining even when it seems my wants haven’t been fulfilled.
I’m a work in progress with regards to abundance.
I’m reminding myself when I change the way I look at things the things I look at change…slowly.
When I feel the pull of old habits I pause and focus all my attention on the most abundant thing around me: Air. Oxygen.
I stop, I breathe, I re-frame, I try again.
- Do you find yourself more naturally pulled toward an abundance or a scarcity mindset?
Bea saysJune 26, 2017 at 5:08 am
I think I focus on abundance and only however relates to money.
I need to revisit this because I like what you say about it’s how we relate to what we do or do not have.
Allie saysJune 26, 2017 at 5:20 am
I can relate to oh-so-much of this and definitely think in terms of scarcity or what is always lacking instead of “oh look at all I have and have accomplished.” BUT, I’m aware of that and so I do try to recognize it and stop it in it’s tracks. Please let me know when you do come up with that catchphrase…I need it 🙂
Coco saysJune 26, 2017 at 6:07 am
I think my work paradigm pushes me towards scarcity. If I’m not drowning I’m not busy enough. If you meet your targets, they get moved higher. In the rest of my life, I know I’m abundantly blessed.
cherry saysJune 26, 2017 at 6:35 am
I’m enjoying life too much to even pause to think about living it. Get up, get out, do something for someone else, be responsible for yourself (financially especially) and do some good in the world. Why does EVERY. LITTLE. THOUGHT/ACTION. need to be dissected and turned over and over?
Susie @ Suzlyfe saysJune 26, 2017 at 6:43 am
This might sound totally superficial, but if you are in need of a reminder that there is room for a great many people at the top, visit a city like Chicago and look at the real estate. Think of how many people there are that can afford those prices.
Now, yes, that is very much THEIR notion of success, but I think that if it is your notion of success as well, the image is very powerful.
Now, if you idea of success is to be happy and to have a family, well, the only person standing in your way is yourself. Because you can be happy in a great many circumstances and a family is not always through bloodlines.
messymimi saysJune 26, 2017 at 6:43 am
My brain has been stuck in scarcity in some areas for a long time, and i am working on changing that. When i move toward thinking of what i don’t have, i ask myself what i do have to be thankful for in that area and what can i do to have more.
jen saysJune 26, 2017 at 6:58 am
I lean more toward abundance, my husband toward scarcity . . . when I think about it and the attitudes/actions of each of our sets of parents, I can see why this is so. Regardless, I think you are in charge of your own mindset.
Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home saysJune 26, 2017 at 7:31 am
“Service is the rent we pay for living”.
Yes. We live in this world of “what’s in it for me?” It’s not only individuals but corporations and employers have this attitude. How do we shift the collective consciousness?
michelle saysJune 26, 2017 at 7:34 am
Wow. You gave my brain just what it needed this morning.
Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au saysJune 26, 2017 at 7:56 am
My word for 2017 is “Enough” and it’s in response to the scarcity/abundance dilemma. We will always have ‘scarcity’ if we focus on the things we’ve missed out on and we’ll always have ‘abundance’ if we focus on what we have so much of in this first world society we live in, but I like the idea of ‘enough’ because it feels just right for me – too much or too little just messes with my head.
Haralee saysJune 26, 2017 at 8:01 am
I love this Carla. Scarcity talk I think can be passed down. Recently I was at a party for a happy occasion and after chatting with a few people I knew they were related because of how they talked, it was scarcity speak. 2 generations!
Renee saysJune 26, 2017 at 8:07 am
I never did before, I always just assumed my wants and needs would be taken care of…and they were…but recently I have some how gotten the scarcity disease. I think it had to do with my forced retirement and Social Security…(it isn’t very secure)…and I am trying to remind myself that for over 60 some years I did it…whatever it it took, I managed to do it and here I am…so I am going to be ok!
Kate saysJune 26, 2017 at 9:02 am
This is easy to say coming from certain backgrounds. I’m not a big fan of “abundance”. Seems to me that people who talk about abundance/scarcity have little idea of what scarcity is, and the problem isn’t that they’re moving into abundance, but recognizing they have abundance. You’re not going to talk to any of my neighbors about “abundance”. They’re sitting at the lowest level of Maslow’s hierarchy.
The problem here is that this is an American idea that comes out of the original premise of the American Dream: that if you work hard, you can be and have anything you want. That this is a land of opportunity. The problem is, the flip side of the concept involves victim blaming: If you don’t have everything, you haven’t worked hard enough.
Recent iterations of the theme tend to avoid obviously stating that later part… but it’s still there. When The Secret came out, the idea was if you were in tune with the universe and asked with sincere belief you’d receive, you would. That put failure back on the shoulders of those who didn’t receive. One of the stories used to tout The Secret was the story of a little boy who wanted a bike. One morning, grandpa bought him a bike… because, apparently, the little boy visualized himself with the bike hard enough. If grandpa didn’t have money for the bike, or if the little boy were unable to ride the bike because of some physical condition, it must ONLY be because the boy failed in visualizing and giving it up to the universe, right?
There are religious beliefs that contain this ideology as well, some Christian faiths (and those arguably Christian) believe that you will be blessed in THIS life if you’re right with god. So there must be something wrong or sinful about those who are sick, poor, or whose marriages fail.
And now we have abundance, which, like The Secret, is a liberal version of The American Dream. I see a lot of abundance workshops, all lead by white homeowners, an idea of capitalism that’s spread around the world. Once again, there’s the constant use of religious (Old Testament) language, talking about “birthrights” and “blessings”. The fact of the matter is, that not everyone has a birthright of abundance. They aren’t born into stable families with a legacy of education or financial security. Not everyone has the same opportunity, although we like to think they do. The fact is, the world is still full of -isms. Racism, classism, genderism…
So what’s the answer to this? Perhaps we want to think that “abundance” for the poor and disadvantages is complacency. That they should find that not having secure homes, food, and medical care is irrelevant if they simply enjoy their freedom and the beauty of a sunset (I’ve heard so many people say this) and that “abundance” means something quite different for the “haves” than it does for the “have nots”
Sorry for the blogment… the whole abundance movement is getting on my last nerve these days. What the move from “the victim mentality” doesn’t take into account is that there ARE victims in this world: Victims of crime, disease, prejudice… these aren’t things that people may have a heck of a lot of control over. The abundance they do have is not sufficient. I think about the abundance of Philando Castile, an example of a man who did everything right, and yet suffered the ultimate in scarcity.
I’m sure this all comes from a place of well meaning. Hope is a good thing, so long as we realize that hope and effort do not always yield benefits, and that we stop assuming that the reason people don’t make it in today’s society is from a lack of some quality of goodness: faith, being right with the universe, right thought, work ethic… whatever.
Nancy Fox saysJune 26, 2017 at 9:35 am
Wow Carla. So many new revelations. Lots of food for thought. I love the work-related one. Instead of, “What can I get out of this call/meeting/experience …What do I have to contribute here?”
Karen saysJune 26, 2017 at 11:16 am
Love this Carla!!!
“releasing the attachment to the outcome of what I seek”
So many nuggets of wisdom in here! Thank you for the reminder.
michele@hellolovelystudio saysJune 26, 2017 at 2:09 pm
Thank you for this. It’s so important. I feel as though I’m wired for the scarcity mindset, which to me is anchored in a fear-based mode. To overcome it, I had to discover life-giving sources of abundance and then daily seek them intentionally to start changing those neural pathways, right? Meditation helps. When you discover the spaciousness available at all times in the stillness, you get a taste of eternity and big time abundance. And you can’t untaste it. 🙂
Roxanne Jones saysJune 26, 2017 at 3:37 pm
So much wisdom in this post, Carla–talk about abundance! The older I get, the more I lean toward an abundance mindset, and I think it’s because I practice gratitude more, and the idea that all I have is all I need.
shelley saysJune 26, 2017 at 5:40 pm
Did you write this one just for me? I’ve been focusing too much on scarcity lately and not focusing on what IS plentiful in my life. A mind shift is definitely needed – thanks for the reminder.
Karen Austin saysJune 27, 2017 at 7:17 am
Agreed. I have a really rich friend with a scarcity mentality, and she’s always wants more is miserable. I have a SAHM friend with 7 kids who is married to a public school teacher, and she focuses on the abundance she experiences. She is always talking about how blessed she is.
Belle saysJune 27, 2017 at 3:26 pm
Abundance can also relate to free time too. We’re so time poor these days, we really need to cherish time away from work (money earning) and focus on the value of relaxation, hobbies, fulfilling relationships, learning, and even alone time.
Hempsoft saysJune 29, 2017 at 2:43 pm
Thanks for sharing great information i love this Carla.
Rebecca Brown saysJuly 1, 2017 at 1:35 am
I love this article and appreciable, hope you will share this type of articles.
Christian Chavez saysJuly 7, 2017 at 3:56 am
So nice article! It changed my mind and its thinking towards life. Really appreciate you.