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Scarcity and Abundance

In the reality show, Hoarders, the accumulation of material possessions, especially with items deemed worthless (such as yogurt containers) may evoke our wonder as to possible underlying psychologically reasons for such behaviour.

When we accumulate or have difficulty in giving, we are working from a scarcity mindset. This worldview believes that there is not enough success, money, food, friendship, sale items or parking spaces. Even the first syllable (“scar”) suggests fear. It creates power and control, withholding, stinginess, forcing and the seeking of security.

Scarcity mentality believes in a win-lose situation that isolates people and establishes a ‘me-you’ or ‘us-them’ camp. A sense of comparing and competition is established. We often relate with people from a position of what we can get from them. Scarcity based people believe, “Don’t trust anyone; they’re out to get you.”

Despite having enough and knowing we are capable of getting more, there persists a wanting for more and a feeling that the good will not last. These scarcity driven attitudes are symbolic of deeply feeling that we are not good enough. We cope by taking an attitude that life is about struggle, competition, and grasping for items and experiences to boost our ego. As Gary Zukav, author of Seat of the Soul, noted, “Scarcity of self value cannot be remedied by money, recognition, affection, attention or influence.” 

The opposite of scarcity is abundance. This worldview is based upon the principle that there is enough for everyone. It works from an attitude of generosity, patience, trust, and the letting go of security and control. We deeply feel we have enough and wholeheartedly belief, “I am enough.”

Abundance relies heavily upon the principle of interconnectedness. As author of the book, The Trance of Scarcity, Victoria Castle stated, “An abundance paradigm views the world in terms of boundless potential, where there is the possibility of enough for everyone.” 

When we work from abundance, we rejoice in the successes of others, knowing that we have and will continue to receive our own successes. Stephen Covey suggested we take an attitude of believing that other people’s success “adds to … rather than detracts from … our lives.”

We learn about scarcity and abundance in childhood.If we experienced childhoods in which our physical, emotional or psychological needs were regularly unmet, we received messages that there is ‘not enough.’

Conversely, with ‘good enough’ parenting, where our needs were met to some level of healthy ego development, we learned to trust that our needs will be meet and tend to feel we are ‘good enough.’ We develop early an abundance or scarcity complex that relates to seeing the world through an optimistic or pessimistic lens.

We also need to be conscious of in what realms we are abundant. Franklin Roosevelt wisely stated, “The test of our progress is not whether we add to the abundance of those who have much. It is whether we provide enough to those who have little.”

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Diane Hancox, MA, CCC provides counselling services to Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Nanaimo and Vancouver Island.